Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston, MA
MB: Spector Legend 4
Rig: Axe-Fx 3 / Kemper / 5150
iTrader: 34 (100%)
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: NY, USA
ME: Kramer Baretta
MA: PRS Angelus Alex Lifeson
I bought a Baretta 84 Bullseye reissue from a seller on the Kramer forum a few years ago. Since then, it has been the first guitar that I grab. It has a maple body, and it plays and sounds fantastic.
Saturday I went to Music Zoo on Long Island, NY. It was about 10 minutes from my cousin's house, so I just happened to add a stop before the family visit. The place is really nice. Some very nice people work there, and even the other customers were very friendly, and I had some nice conversations about gear.
I asked one of the workers where the Kramers were. I knew their website said they have everything in stock, except for the NightSwan, which was by pre-order only. He showed me to one of several glassed in areas, and there was only one Kramer Baretta 84 reissue out ( https://www.themusiczoo.com/products...-blue-metallic ). He asked me which one I was interested in, and I told him I wanted to check out the SM-1 ( https://www.themusiczoo.com/products...-maximum-steel ).
He said he would get it from the warehouse, which was stunning to me. They would go out of their way to pull something from the warehouse. I guess all these years of Sam Ash and Guitar Center have jaded me.
While he was gone, I picked up the Kramer Baretta 84 reissue. I was stunned at how differently it felt to mine. It wasn't even close. The neck felt thicker, the fret ends were slightly sharp, it just was nowhere near the Baretta I own. I was actually thinking of getting a backup, and playing it made me realize that the new reissues are not the same. I hated it so much that I never plugged it in.
He still wasn't back, so I played the Charvel that was next to the Baretta ( https://www.themusiczoo.com/products...-zoo-exclusive ). This blew the doors off the Baretta in every way. Then I looked at the price tag and realized why
The salesman came back with the exact guitar I said I was interested in, fresh out of the box. It was the Black SM-1. Let me say that the photos do not do this guitar justice. The guitar is beautiful, and a much deeper black than the photos, which must shine on the metal flake and make it look lighter grey. The guitar felt great. It obviously needed a setup, but the feel was really nice. The neck was done really well. I'm just not a huge fan of a finished neck. Even with the finished neck, I was seriously thinking of just buying it....it was that nice. Then I plugged it in..... I fucking hated it.
I tried it in 4 different amps, a Victory, PRS, Marshall, and 5150, and hated the sound in every single one of them. It sounded lifeless. It's supposed to have Seymour Duncan pickups, but if they were actual Duncans, it must be the way they don't fit the body wood. I really don't know. But this guitar went from a "I'm ready to buy this now" to a "this guitar is a piece of crap". I tried everything. I figured I needed to adjust the amp settings, or I had the single coil switch on. The pickups actually sounded better in single coil mode than humbucker mode.
After trying to like it, after 15 minutes, I gave up and handed back to the salesman. He said I'm not the first person to comment on the sound. He said he thinks they use Duncan Designed instead of real Duncans. That's kind of weird since it's a $1000+ guitar. I thanked him for taking the time to get me the guitar. I had never seen that before in any guitar store.
If you're in Long Island, stop into The Music Zoo. It's the anti-Guitar Center. They do it right. Glassed in areas where you can play, and not have to compete with every Saturday afternoon kid, who wants to be discovered. This was a huge step above. I can't wait for their next show. The last one that I attended, I had the pleasure of meeting Richie Faulkner(Judas Priest) and Andy Aledort, but that was at their old location. Definitely check The Music Zoo out.
I have picked up a Pacer reissue and a Baretta Special recently and they are both kickass guitars. I think I have like $700 combined in them.
Also the SM1 uses real Duncan’s they just ordered them without the logos. I can see how the JB isn’t the perfect pickup for the SM1. Honestly I preferred the ones they had with EMG’s.