Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
Hello Again Leftyland!
Apparently I have poor impulse control and decided to grab a guitar that I had my eye on for many years. A guitar that was never even close to available in left-handed form. A guitar that had my optimal pickup setup and a fairly unique body. Dave at XLGuitars made the impossible…possible yet again, and my wallet paid the price! He’s the best thing to happen to southpaws since Jimi
I’m an apparent sucker for anything that is a custom or limited run. Let’s see what’s inside
This is a gig bag like no other gig bag. It’s real sturdy, padded, solid. Very high-end feel to it. So far so good! Anything inside the pocket?
Nice assortment of XLG stuff to go along with the case candy, love these picks Dave! Ok, enough of that stuff…did the guitar make it here alive?
That’s a fine looking guitar. I really really really wanted the ebony fretboard but they were all sold out. Still, this looks killer.
Alright, now we’re ready to see what’s going on with this thing. As I’m writing this I’ve played about 1.5 hours on the guitar. Needless to say, I’m not used to it yet so this is a very preliminary review. This guitar is quite a departure from the guitars I am used to playing for several reasons. They are as follows:
1. The neck. The majority of my guitars have been Ibanez models, which all share a fairly common neck profile. This guitar feels definitely more like a Jackson, which makes sense as Caparison was formed by ex-Jackson Japan guys.
2. The bridge. My biggest disappointment in the guitar is that the bridge is raised off the body. Every guitar I’ve ever owned has had the bridge/trem flush with the body. This will take some getting used to. I recall this setup on several of LEFTYGUITARFREAK’s ESPs and Charvels when I went to his house. I have to change the way I hold my hand when I pick, so right now I’m experiencing some uncomfortable times.
These guitars are hand-made in Japan, and the quality shows. The frets gleam like they are stainless steel. The construction is A+ in every way. I’d say the only knock I can find on the guitar is that there was a touch of rusting on the trem cavity screw holes (one of the springs came off during shipping). The Schaller floyd plays just as good as an original Floyd (I hear they might be better actually). The 25-27 frets scream notes I’ve never heard before and the neck and headstock have a classy beige binding.
The clock inlays are gorgeous, and remind me how much hotter they would have looked against an ebony fretboard. Fear not, they still look awesome on maple. Tuners are Gotoh H.A.P. , which are individually height adjustable…which I will NOT be touching (imagine the nightmare I’d turn that into).
Electronics are simple, which I prefer. One volume, one three-way switch. I need nothing more. Pickups are in-house Caparison. They are….ok. I can’t quite say that I love them, but they certainly aren’t crap. I think I might prefer a traditional single coil in the neck. This has a dual rail mini humbucker or “single size humbucker”. The bridge is Caparison’s PH-R, an Alnico V model. It picks up harmonics well and sounds good under gain. Hard to tell how it does clean as I’m playing this through my “all gain, all the time” 5150iii. Neck is the Caparison SH-27F. This is designed for a 27 fret guitar, where the neck pickup is near the middle of the body. It tries to recreate the warmth of a typical neck pickup, but I think it misses the mark. Whether that is due to positioning or the pickup, I cannot say. The guitar definitely excels under gain, above all.
These guitars are fairly pricy, in line with ESP’s stuff for the most part.
*waits an hour*
Ok, I ran the guitar through my XXX as well. Cleans sounded a bit better, but this will never be your “go to” guitar for cleans. I swapped in my EVH and I can definitely say that the EVH takes it easily. To be fair, though, it takes almost everything easily.
Also, the guitar came setup terrific from the factory in Japan. The action is L-O-W, but I wonder if they could have made it so that the trem is flush with the body…ahh, who knows.
Ok that’s it for now, I’ll update this is anything changes
First edit: I was hoping the blue would look like this in person
As some of you might know, I had a very interesting weekend. I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet up with one of our oldest members, LEFTYGUITARFREAK, at his home and was allowed to play through a large portion of his collection. I would have been able to play a lot more if we didn’t run into a PayPal issue that took up way too much time with customer service (either way, I got my JS2400).
Mike has one of the best collections I have ever seen. I feel compelled to do a mini-review of everything I saw and played while I was there…so here goes
First off is the Ibanez JCustom. Right off the bat, it needs to be said that pictures do not do this guitar justice. This is a high-end work of art. The inlay work was flawless and beautiful. The fretwork was perfect. The finish looks even better in person as you can really see the grain of the wood beneath the red finish. The guitar had nice touches like a protective finish on the back and slightly recessed knobs that were JUST sunk a bit into the body.
The guitar had an Edge Zero trem which felt smooth as a Kahler. What’s also cool about it is that on the back there is a roller that you can use to block the trem, effectively making it a hard tail guitar.
You’ll probably never get to play one of these, as they are ridiculously limited and rare. If you get a chance, however, I would absolutely say to go for it. I believe you can get one (if you can find one) for about $3,000 delivered. As Mike noted, this blows away the Jem in every way.
Next we have another Ibanez duo, a red RG560 and a white JS2400. I did not play the RG560 as I had one of my own. I should also note that there was a dead mint Desert Sun Yellow RG550 that I also got to see. The guitar legit looks like it’s been in a closet for 20 years. Amazing condition, and I was Desert Sun Yellow with envy!
Anyway, I was visiting Mike to purchase the white JS2400 seen in the picture. I had never played a JS series before and wanted to try it out before purchasing. In all honesty, I knew I was going to purchase the guitar the second I picked it up. The body is rather small, which is something I prefer. The neck is a bit strat-like, and the headstock pitches forward. Really easy to play, sounds awesome, and comes with a nice blue felt lined hardshell case.
I originally thought that the 24 fret version looked a bit “off” compared to the red 22 fret versions that came out first. Ibanez had to scoop the lower horn a bit to fit the 2 extra frets. After seeing both in person, however, I have changed my mind and now prefer the 24 fret version. Also, a humbucker and single coil is my preferred pickup configuration.
Hooray for me!
While we’re at it, I need to point out the real MVP of my visit. I played ever guitar through Mike’s EVH 5150iii 1×12 combo. I don’t even know how to adequately describe how awesome this amp is, but I am actively looking to sell my Peavey XXX and some guitars to purchase one immediately. It’s THAT good. I can’t stop thinking about it, I must have this amplifier. Unfortunately, it’s pricey as hell ($1,200 retail) so I’m doing my best to avoid paying full price. Regardless, the gain channel on this amp is beyond crazy. It has 3 channels (clean/crunch/lead) and they all sound absolutely amazing. I had no idea that they were made by Fender, the more you know!
While we’re on the subject, and I can’t believe that I forgot to take pictures, I got to play not one but TWO EVH guitars. We had a USA EVH with a maple fretboard and sunburst finish and a USA EVH Stealth to compare. First off, these guitars are better than you are probably thinking. They are small guitars with really nice necks. They are made of a quality that I think compares to Ernie Ball. Out of the two I have to say that I preferred the Stealth by a mile. I actually feel dirty writing that since it is the “boring” black guitar, but for some reason it felt a ton better than the regular model. I always prefer a maple fretboard, but this was a definite exception. Super axe!
Actually, I did have a picture of Mike holding the stealth. Also in that picture is his full-thickness ESP Eclipse. This guitar felt really big, but sounded like a monster. ESP really makes some consistently nice guitars, too bad about that E-II nonsense.
Also of note is that I got to play Mike’s first guitar, an ESP Kamikaze 3. I was about to purchase a Kamikaze 1 a few weeks ago and the deal fell through. As such, I was really excited to try this guitar out. I forgot to take a picture, ugh. The good news is, I am really glad that the deal did not go through. This guitar is HUGE. I seriously felt like a kid holding it, and I’m not small. The body itself seemed way larger than a soloist-style body. If I had to guess, the guitar was oversized to the portion of approximately 5/4 or maybe 9/8. It’s BIG, really big. It was also wayyyyyy heavier than any other guitar I’ve ever held. Lynch isn’t even 6 feet tall, so I’m not sure what the deal is with this thing! Due to the size, I felt very uncomfortable playing it. I soldiered through, though, and played some Dokken for the moment. Size issues aside, the guitar had a very distinct and bright tone (maple body). It played terrific and I absolutely loved the push/pull pickup selector. This was a guitar I lusted for since high school, so I’m glad I at least got to play it.
Next we have a Charvel USA Warren DiMartini model. I didn’t get to spend that much time with this one as my time to visit was running low. These are really expensive guitars and I’m not quite convinced that they are worth the investment. I may be prejudiced due to the other guitars that I played that day, or I may be losing interest in single pickup guitars. Well-built and had a beautiful finish. This one didn’t grab me like the others, though.
On that note…
I quickly got to play this ESP Horizon. Like the Eclipse, this is a really nice guitar loaded with EMG’s. The neck is fairly thin and narrow, something I usually prefer. This guitar felt premium, but did not hold my attention for long. It sounded killer, though, and looks absolutely beautiful. Admittedly, I’m a bit picky about stupid stuff with guitars
Another guitar I forgot to take a photograph of is Mike’s Jackson Chris Broderick signature model. This comes out of the Jackson Custom Shop and is a total beast. Due to time constraints, I did not get to play this one but I definitely will when I get a chance to visit again.
That’s about it from what I can remember. I would say that the biggest winners of this collection of seriously high-end lefty guitars are the Ibanez JCustom and the EVH Stealth. I will likely never have a JCustom, but I will most definitely pick up a Stealth at some point. Another HUGE winner is that damn 5150iii amp, dammit I want one now!
Big thanks to LEFTYGUITARFREAK for being a super host and an awesome dude. Can’t wait to hang again!
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