The Korean-made Italia range raids the past for inspiration, improving on oddball oldies that often looked rather better than they performed. With nostalgic character and updated abilities, Italias have been at the forefront of the wacky axe market since they appeared in 2000.
This model keeps the Speedster 1’s sports car cosmetics and adds another humbucker – oh, and it now has metal-button tuners as opposed to plastic. The glued-in maple neck has a smoothly flowing neck/body joint and a shallow ‘C’ profile which instantly feels comfy; the gently radiused, bound rosewood fingerboard carries slim-line, split block position markers plus 22 uniformly smooth, medium gauge frets and a well-cut nut.
The lightly arched korina body contributes to a weight of just 3.25kg/7.15lb, and the broad back edge radius makes life comfortable. The Speedster 2 now comes in black, cream or this immaculate metallic blue, contrasted by black or white go-faster stripes on the front and headstock.
Chrome-clad Wilkinson WVC humbuckers are screwed straight to the body rather than being suspended in plastic surrounds, as on the old Speedster 2. Gone is the oval-shaped control panel; now we’ve got body-mounted master volume and tone pots, while the jack moves to the side. Strings anchor in a Wilkinson wrap-over bridge with a staggered saddle section.
The Speedster 2 isn’t short on acoustic sustain, but a somewhat lightweight tonality is eliminated when plugging in, courtesy of the hot Wilkinson WVC humbuckers. These muscle-packed pickups are intended to rock, but an even response comes across under clean conditions.
That said, this six-string is dressed to dig the dirt and can get hard and nasty when the wick is turned up. The bridge pickup’s bright midrange injects plenty of upfront snarl and snap, while the neck position provides a more laid-back, bluesy alternative. The honky centre selection is equally useful, and nicely progressive control pots increase aural versatility.
This Italia behaves pretty much as intended. The Speedster 2’s second pickup and added controls offers the aural versatility that its single-pickup stablemate lacks. Like the latter, this is an all-out rocker, but it can be subtle. It's not as quirky as other Italias, and price-wise it's not exactly entry-level, but it still has enough individuality to help it get noticed in today’s competitive market.