In Toronto for a few days, I happened to spy some nice looking Michael Kelly Valor guitars over at LA Music on Lakeshore Road East. Michael Kelly is a smaller west coast guitar manufacturer bought out by Hanser Music Group who also owns the OLP, BC Rich and Floyd Rose brands. Michael Kelly's "Built on sound" tagline puts the emphasis rightly where it belongs: on tone and playability coming from years of manufacturing experience in mandolins and acoustic guitars.
While Michael Kelly's electric guitars have not skimped on sound, the first thing that struck me about these guitars was the elegance of the natural flametop maple finish. The Valor is a classic double cut-away guitar, but more in line with a Paul Reed Smith than your typical Stratocaster clone. The body is mahogany with a set neck and an easy to play 24 3/4" scale. It's equipped with "Zebra" double humbuckers with push/pull coil split so that you get a range of sounds from chunky metal to a spanky clean lead when you really need to be in Strat territory. The other impressive thing about these guitars is they weigh only 7 1/2 pounds. Not quite a light as a Parker, but a whole lot less than a typical Les Paul.
LA Music has the remaining stock of last year's made-in-Korea Valor Q's for the low low price of $349 CDN, which is a tremendous deal.