The new Rapier 33 guitars recreate a classic guitar that screams British 1960s design. The original, of course, is the Watkins Rapier 33, with its characteristic forward-slanted middle pickup. A result of a collaboration between distributor JHS and UK guitar designer Alan Entwistle, the modern Rapier 33s are moderately priced, giving you an affordable way to buy into some groovy 60’s-era chic.
The original ’60s Watkins Rapier 33 will be familiar to many players in the UK, and is a design that a lot of them would have encountered at some point in their lifetime. Now, JHS (the UK distributor, not to be confused with the pedal-maker) has teamed up with UK guitar designer Alan Entwistle – who owns the names and rights to the Rapier guitars – to recreate a retro-looking guitars for today’s players. This hopefully means a more solid instrument, using modern construction techniques, while still maintaining the charm of the originals.
The Rapier 33 features an Okoume body, with a 4-bolt, soft ‘C’ profiled hard rock Canadian maple neck which has a fully adjustable truss rod, and comes with a 12″ radius rosewood fingerboard fitted with 23 medium jumbo frets. Yes, there are 23 frets! That is because one of them is a zero fret and should help to keep it playing evenly on open strings.
Other appointments include the vibrato design of the original Rapier paired with a 43mm GraphTech Nubone nut, a set of Wilkinson E-Z-Lok machine heads, plus a roller bridge. I imagine these enhancements should give you much better tuning stability that the original ’60s model.
The pickups are three Entwistle EWR64 mini-humbucker pickups, with twin blades instead of standard polepieces. Then, on the scratchplate, you have Bass Cut and Pickup selector switches. The 3-way pickup selector accesses neck, neck/bridge, and bridge units, while the second slide switch introduces the middle unit, so 7 pickup permutations are on offer. Finally, you have controls for two Volumes and a single Tone.
They are available in Fiesta Red, Daphne Blue, Arctic White, or 3 Tone Sunburst finishes. Each guitar sports the newly redesigned Rapier logo, which looks in keeping with the overall ’60s aesthetic. They should be perfect for players looking for that ’60s/’70s British guitar vibe.
I think the price is reasonable and, if you have a soft spot for those old Watkins Rapiers, you may want to check these modern interpretations out. You can get more details by clicking the link below.
RRP – GBP 429 / EUR 494 / USD 649
More about the Rapier 33
Video: The original Watkins Rapier 33