Hey guys! This is gonna be a lengthy post, so scroll downwards if pics are all you care about... For those of you who want
a little background and review on this build, read on.
Back in December of 2011, I was still playing my Suhr Modern. I wasn't really happy with it after the initial honeymoon
phase of owning my first custom guitar, namely being the upper fret access. The lower horn was cramped and narrow, and long
stretches on the higher frets were very tough to do.
I had seen strandbergs around before, and being a superstrat kinda guy, I wasn't really interested in the whole aesthetic
of it. However, after checking out Tosin's and Misha's beautiful builds, I was intrigued. I started reading up on the whole
EGS guitar concept and really loved all the improvements he made to the existing idea of what a guitar should be. Also, the
shape began to grow on me, since the top half of the guitar looked like a superstrat, and the bottom half was like a
petite/compact outline to my thighs to rest on. The whole design just looked really futuristic and ergonomic, and I loved
how thick the body was despite it being so small. And after finding out that I didn't have to put a deposit to get on the
list, I knew I had to sign up.
Fast forward to Jan 2014. My spot was ready and I began to spec the guitar. Ola was SUPER patient during this phase, and if
you know how OCD I am about details (ie. diameter of luminlays, nut width, offset of face dots, control positions and other
questions about his hardware and EGS design), you would have an idea of what I had to put him through. I had asked for a
quilt maple top, and unfortunately, the samples Ola sent me were just lack lustre. At the time, Narad's build(#60) was just
being completed and I loved his top, so I approached him on where Ola could purchase one for me. Narad, being the perfect
gentleman and gearhead, told me about all I needed to know about quilt tops and at the end of the conversation, he asked me
to ask Ola if there was any left from his build, and if there was, I could have it. Needless to say, there was left over,
and I was stoked that my guitar was gonna have such an amazing top. From there on, it was about a 10 month wait before the
next steps commenced, such as control postions etc.
In April 2015, pictures of the body were posted on the facebook page. As I had requested for a prs tiger eye kind of
finish, I asked Ola for more yellow/gold to be applied onto the finish. Also the bronze hardware took quite awhile to
collate and get together due to the volatile nature of anodising. The build took so long as I was hoping to get the trem
stopper on it, but Ola could not complete the design on time. Also the bronze string clamps were lost in transit and needed
to be found by Ola's anodiser.
All in all, by Christmas Eve, the guitar arrived. I was stoked. The finish, while not as golden as I would like, was a nice
shade, and really made the quilt top pop. Pics ahead.
These are the basic specs, though I have the entire build sheet and I'll try to see if I can attach it here.
Quilt Maple Top
Honduran Mahogany Body(Non-chambered)
Indian Rosewood neck with carbon-fiber fillets
African Ebony Fretboard
Glow in the dark inlays
Bare Knuckle Alnico Nailbomb and VHII pups
Strandberg Trem and string locks (bronze coloured anodized aircraft aluminium)
Review and thoughts
Even though I've only had 4 days with this guitar, I've played it incessantly and shall pen down some of my thoughts about it. Hopefully this will help those considering the Bodens, OS or even the made to measure range.
Workmanship is fantastic. Joints were really tight. Aside from the wierd blemish that was probably filling in of a dent(shall try to get pics of this tomorrow) and the neck feeling abit rough at places though it could be the satin feel of rosewood(probably needs to be worn in after playing it for a few months), the workmanship is impeccable. It's not super polished like some other brands eg. prs private stock, knaggs or vigier, but really really really close. Also, wierdly the face dots on the 19th and 21st and 24th fret do not line up with the rest. Not too sure why this is the case. Maybe its meant to be compensated when viewed from above?
Fretwork is terrific. No sharp fret ends, frets were smooth as well. I think suhr's fretwork is slightly better though since they do plek their frets, but this is close. Probably will get even smoother with more playing perhaps. Action was set up really low. I love it for leads, but for chords, striking too hard will result in some buzz. The attack is amazing in this instrument. So loud, even though mine is not chambered.
Hardware is FANTASTIC. The strandberg trem was smooth yet sturdy. It is stiffer than a gotoh floyd in feel, but it allows for more control. Doesn't go out on tune if you rest too heavily on the bridge. Also I can make slight tweaks in tuning without the trem going out of balance. Very nice touch. The trem arm is supreme. Its bent nearer to the stalk, so it doesnt hit your leg while practicing ( the way the body is shaped also plays a part in this. Brilliant design.) The fine tuners were stiff, but in a good way. Felt sturdy and well made. Didn't give me too much of a problem while tuning unlike what many people are facing. What I didn't really like, but doesn't really bother me, is that the string locks at the nut are pretty sharp. If i were to do a bend at the 1st or 2nd fret with my fourth finger, and graze my hand on the string locks, they did hurt. Other than that, no complaints. The knobs were nice and smooth, turned really easily. Love them. The pickup selector was also really high quality, clicked very sturdily when switching positions(Could be because its new?)
The body is amazing. The shape makes so much sense. The lack of a headstock means i can be less careful when carrying it around. The cuts around the body make so much sense when sitting down to play. So many positions, and all of them were supremely comfortable. The upper horn was at the right position for me to rest my chin comfortably while playing technical passages, and the strap buttons were placed at the right height and angle, makes the guitar hang balanced no matter how you rotate it around/sling it around your neck.
What I feel could be improved in his design is the shape of the neck heel. The neck heel is big. Like really big. You only have unrestricted access to the 15th fret. Even my suhr modern you get unrestricted access to the 17th or 18th fret. However, the heel is rather thin, and if you place your thumb over the heel to play in a classical position, you can definately reach the 24th fret easily with even your pinky. But takes a bit of getting used to, since your thumb needs to move behind the heel to get access to higher frets, for quick slides and position shifting, it does get in the way, no doubt. However, the lower horn is so wide and comfy, you can do wide wide stretches without the back of your palm hitting wood and being obstructed. Could be cut a little deeper though, imo, to really open up the 23rd and 24th frets, like on the fanned models.
Another triumph is the weight and balance. Once you own a strandberg, other guitars just feel so big and cumbersome.
When ordering my guitar, I knew I wanted a conventional neck. Not cus I didnt trust Ola's endurneck, but it seemed too big of a departure, and I knew I should just get something I like and knew I would love. I wasn't too sure about neck shapes however. I knew my suhr modern's was abit too thin, so I asked for something between medium and thin, with a flat back. Idea was to combat my aches when doing barre chords and legato with the thicker neck as well as make bends and vibrato easier, with a flat back as I do play in classical positioning pretty often( being classically trained and all) and Ola says that it will be more comfortable as the hand doesn't need to counteract the forces in order to balance the fretting hand. Sort of like a cross between a conventional neck and an ipnp if you will. Ola gave me his profile that he used for Misha and Letchford's first build, and let me tell you : It is fabulous. Just the right thickness. Feels chunky and comfortable, esp when playing bends and chords, but feels fast enough due to the flat back. Absolutely love it.
Finally the pickups. Bare Knuckle Nailbomb in the bridge and VHii in the neck. Both alnico. Really great shreddy pickups, pretty similar to the Suhr aldrichs if you have ever tried them, but with more clarity. More sizzle in the high end and lots of attack. And cleans up beautifully. I never knew a volume knob was as good a tool of expression until these bare knuckles came along. Hot and gainy on full, and turn them down, it still stays clear and fat. Coil splitting was fantastic as well. No volume drops whatsoever, no fading off. Just long beautiful sustain. Oh and did I mention the sustain of this? Hit a note and it lasts about 3 seconds longer than my Suhr. Tons of sustain.
I think that covers all the aspects of it I can think of for now. All in all, this guitar is truly a dream come true. Not only is it absolutely beautiful and well built, it addresses all the issues I have had with other guitars and improved upon most of the strengths they had. I simply can't even imagine playing my other electrics from now on. It is THAT good. I highly recommend anyone who has access to one, to try them out. It could change your playing forever.