Have I lost my head? Somewhat, yes… But not for the reasons you think.
Recently I started asking questions about one of the newest trends in electric guitars, and all of its benefits and drawbacks. The main benefit is weight distribution! Holy Molly, definitely an improvement and extreme relief. Besides, headless guitars seem to be “the new thing” (Sorry, not sorry, Steinberger!) and I’ve seen a few people that I admire getting these and swearing by them, so I found me a cheap one on Amazon and went to town for it.
This guitar is extremely well built. Period! The fact that anyone is able to make this and sell it for that price is beyond amazing! The frets are a work of art, stainless steel art, to be precise, the neck finish is impeccable, even if the woods themselves are a little grainy, the satin finishes are top quality and the body work is excellent. No rough edges, nothing to complain about, no splinters, etc…
I’m not a huge fan of the finished top, but beggars can’t be choosers at $439 Canadian Maple Cookies.
The neck profile is extremely comfortable to play with and it adapts well for most people’s needs. Even though the strings that it ships with can be questionable (They look like D’Addario XLs but feel like 6-monthold Slinkies) but this might be due to my preference for coated strings and also affected by the 10-46 gauge installed at the factory vs my 9-42 delicate hands’ preference.
And unfortunately, this is where the good ends: well built, comfortable, and extremely inexpensive.
Hardware… The cavity electronics are okay at best, which is expected for a guitar of that cost. I was expecting to replace all of these with higher quality components and it would have been an extremely welcome upgrade. Pickups were nothing to write home about but they did the job. Every time I tried to record something real though, I found myself processing the bejeesus out of the tracks since they were dull and lifeless in the raw track (This was all using my own patches on the Headrush Pedalboard) So I know these patches can sound really good.
No worries, I ordered a set of Fishman Fluence Modern pickups that I was planning on putting in to replace the stock ones and it would all have been good.
The top veneer can be a little unpleasant to look at, but this is extremely subjective. (I am extremely partial to the Natural look, but it wasn’t available at the time of my purchase) I’ve had people tell me that they love the way it looks, so it might just be me, but I’m still knocking some points because of that.
And The Reason Why It’s Going Back…
The bridge is short of unusable, that’s it. Plainly said, it makes the guitar almost unplayable. It requires a separate tool to tune the guitar, which is kind of silly on its own, but then the slightest turn on the peg, and the pitch changes by an entire postal code it seems, then there’s the fact that it stays in tune kiiiiinda okay ish, and that getting it to an acceptable recording standard will take longer than changing strings on 10 Floyd Rose equipped guitars, makes the W1 very difficult to recommend.
Setting string height and intonation can be little challenging, but if you’ve done it on other guitars, it’s not difficult to figure out.
Imagine having the opportunity to jam live on stream with rock legend, Thomas McRocklin (Bad for Good anyone?) and have your guitar legit quit and go incredibly out of tune in front of hundreds of people… Well, that really happened and it was at that exact moment that I decided that the W1 would not be sticking around for much longer… And it’s going back to Amazon.
So… What Now?
Well… I’m tainted and will definitely transition over to headless guitars. For those interested in giving them a chance, I certainly recommend the EART W2 with a hardtail bridge and covered pickups. Definitely worth for the price, and a hardtail bridge will be a lot easier to upgrade in the future.
I will be shopping around, even though I’m certainly swayed into the Kiesel bandwagon and that’s probably where I’m going to be looking at…