Update: Soundsamples Video
When I first saw a .strandberg* guitar, I was instantly reminded of my experiments with a headless hohner steinberger copy, which was a real awful guitar. First big difference were the optics, which I really liked – but at that time I thought you had to use those senseless double ball end strings which were way to expensive. But somehow, this guitar had an impact on me and over the next year or so, I collected some information and stumbled across various very good players who were using strandberg guitars.
I researched a little more and found out that those are probably the lightest guitars on the planet. I play 4-5 hour gigs all the time, and a guitar for under 2 kilo is heaven sent for that purpose.
Also: I found out that you do not have to use the double ball-end strings. You can use standard strings, because there are locking heads on the saddle.
Then, at a meeting organised – ironically – by one of germanys best guitar luthiers, I met someone who happened to have a Boden 7 in his car 🙂 I was able to try it out and then I was sold. It took some month to convince myself to invest that much money in a not handmade, not custom guitar (the american production modell ist build by the washburn custom shop in Illinois), but then I finally made the order just before christmas. Unfortunately, the euro got somewhat weak over the next two month, so the guitar was even more expensive – including taxes, I payd about 3700 euros for it.
So if you read this review you have to consider that for a guitar that costs over 3500 euros, I will demand nothing but perfection. So if I critisize something, keep in mind that I am complaining on a very, very high level.
The Body is made out of Swamp Ash with a nice flamed maple top. The neck is birdseye maple with a ebony fretboard. The body is also chambered to get the guitar under 2 kilograms – and probably to get such a quick response. But we will come to that!
The most special thing about a Boden 6, 7 or 8 ist the fact that Ola Strandberg re-created the electric guitar while always having ergonomics in mind. For guitar players, who in general are very conservative, some of his inventions are quite radical. First thing: the neck. It is not round, but has a quite unique shape you can see in the pictures. But that is not some design-mood Ola was in – the special shape keeps your thumb in the best possible playing position.
At first, when you try it, it is really awkward to play on that neck. But if you play for about 20 minutes it feels very natural. If you then immediately go back to a normal guitar, that feels strange! You get used to the „endure neck“ profile very quickly, and especially when you are standing, it plays like butter.
As for the body, you can stand and sit whith the boden in many real convenient ways. Even if you keep the guitar kind of low while you are standing, every piece of the fretbaord can be reached effortlessly. You have to play it to believe it! And it is such a reliev to have a guitar that light.
The fanned frets look weird, but if you play them with your eyes closed you do not notice them. It just feels natural to play this way. And the different scales for low and high strings give you the best of both worlds. Good response on the low e and easy to bend, lower tension on the high strings.
So to give the boden 6 a 10 out of 10 in playability, it would not do it justice. It has to be a 12 at least. Because no other guitar I played before has better fretboard economics! And that is a BIG exclamationmark!
The Guitar is crafted really well, but as I already stated, I demand absolute perfection for that kind of price. You almost get it… optically, there are some minor flaws on the fretboard. Nothing that gets in the way of your playing, though.
One thing that I did not like – the intonation on the guitar is NOT set up well! Someone must have taken a nap in endcontroll, the G-String ist out of tune starting at about the 7th fret. This can be corrected, but that really should not happen on a guitar of this pricereange.
The tuning, which you have to do on the bridge beacause, well, there is no headstock, is a little on the heavy side, but works very accurate. No problems here. Strandberg even did a video on how to change strings and how to properly setup everything. Good customer service! Oh and before I forget it – Ola Strandberg answered me personally on any question I had, and they were quite a few…
The guitar has the quickest response of ALL guitars I have ever played. The Tone you are playing is there right away, which makes playing fast, Tapping, and percussive playing a total breeze! The sustain is alos very good, of course not comparable to some 4 kilo massive Les paul – if it is as exceptional crafted as this one.
I played standard, expensive guitar which had less sustain.
But for the sound, you should listen to the soundsamples. You can find them in my new youtube video at the beginning of this post.
You can choose between different pickups when you order your Boden. Beeing always interested in new technology, I choose the Lace Alumatones. The are very „Hifi“ in their sound, very dynamic and very clear.
For a humbucker, they have a really great clean sound. I alos like the neck for smooth high-gain soloing, the neck pickup could be a little „dirtier“ for rock and metal sounds. In switch postions 2 and 4, the pickups are split. Because of their different construction, these sounds are very low in volume. I programmed a sound in which I took the level up whith a well setup compressor, and the sound really good. So if you use something like a fractal audio axe fx, kemper or guitar rig, that is not problem and you have great, funky clean sounds. Just if you play a „real“ amp, I would consider ordering the guitar with different pickpups. I made you some soundsamples (coming soon)
The guitar arrived on wednesday, and on saturday I was on my way to morroco for some gigs at a holiday club (well, it is more holidays with some nice relaxed playing). I had no problem at all with the guitar in my handbage. The guitar with the case is considerably smaller than a standard guitar like a strat or similar. And much lighter of course. Also the included bag is of very good quality, too.
All in all – a very special guitar, and if you care about lithgtweight, ergonomics and the best playability on the planet, this is a guitar for you. If you are open-minded and ready to invest quite a bit of money.
I would buy it again, and, unfortunately, will probably have to buy some more. At least on more 6 string with different woods and pickups, and one 8-string. Damn it 🙂