Strandberg Boden 6 – a full and honest review

Update: Soundsamples Video

Preface

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.

strandberg_boden_601I 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.

strandberg_boden_605Also: 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.

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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!

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Ergonomics

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.

strandberg_boden_611

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.

strandberg_boden_602

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!

Craftmanship

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.

strandberg_boden_604

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…

Sound

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.

Pickups

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.

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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)

strandberg_boden_607

Conclusion

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.

strandberg_boden_609

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 :-)

See all the .strandberg* headless guitars collection here – have fun!
If you live in the EU, go here instead: www.strandbergguitars.eu

Comments

  1. Mr303 says

    Thank you for a great sound selection and articulate review.
    I am very lucky to have stumbled on your review. I won’t buy a Hohner headless, I’ll have to get a real Strandberg.
    Great review

  2. rico says

    Here is my Review after 2 hours of play:

    My test out opinion is, very even, clear sound, no muddiness at all, really picks up on the amp simulator settings and tone, able to get good clean tones and rock, blues to Holdsworth depending on the amp in pro logic, in fact I had all the amp bass-mid-highs at 5 and it was so neutral, 5 way switch gives you some variety, pu’s a little hot so amp at 5 and 5 has some distortion on many amps, but I think it is about right, notes from lowest to high very even and clear, sustain even through out as well but not a super sustaining guitar but about right.

    Very light and compact, the radius is pretty flat, the frets are narrow but highish, Tuning and intonation spot on, Neck is thicker than I am use to and has that flat spot that changes as you get higher on the neck, not sure about it but you can play it easy enough, trem is firm but works well for small enhancements and reverse use, trem stays in tune. The only thing I found is that the low E string at the 17 fret area has a little fret buzz so I would raise it a bit, or adjust the trust, Action is low and even, Neck/fretboard very straight-slight bow or relief. I thought the fanned frets would be a awkward but are not.

    Review after a few days:

    Things I do not like about the Strandberg: I notice I slide a lot with chords and single notes, The frets are a little sharp or abrupt on the edge of the high E string? This does hurt your finger some when sliding on the high E, Not sure on all the gauge strings? (says 10-46 on site) But pressing on the B string made my finger tips a bit soar? The tuning is hard to turn and not smooth, it takes some force with your thumb and index finger and it moves in unpredictable amounts. Once tuned the guitar is set. The neck with the straight corner I am not sure about? Usually my thumb is high on the neck and barely touching as I get higher up but when I do chords and legato it is more in the middle and even lower on difficult stretches and I hit that corner/edge sometimes?
    I also ran it into an old Pod Pro, stereo out into a old L5 Lab Series amp and it sounded very good.

  3. says

    Thank you for that very helpful review. I must admit that when I first tried a Strandberg, I found the trapezoid neck strange but after twenty minutes of playing, I was completely won over by it. I now wish all my electric guitar necks were trapezoid. I also loved the lightness of it. When I was eighteen and had no back problems, I probably wouldn’t have cared about weight but I do now! My only problem now is; can I really justify spending £1700 on another electric guitar?

  4. Armand Q. says

    Hello,

    Good to read about the instrument that I have been considering.

    I have never played fanned frets.

    It is one the biggest concerns of mine.

    The fingerboard looks postmodern.

    Still trying to understand without playing the instrument

    what it is like when chording?

    I have not read anything about that!

    I have seen guitarists shredding the hell out of the instrument;

    super fast horizontal line playing and also tapping –

    not much if any chord playing.

    You seem to do it just fine!

    Is finger classical style right hand playing comfortable?

    Does it have a wide – thin neck profile?

    You answered my question about playing while sitting;

    how comfortable is it?

    If this finds you, I hope it finds you well,

    Armand

    • bernd says

      Sorry for replying so late –
      Fact is, you won’t know the frets on the boden are fanned if you close your eyes and don’t know. It makes no diferrence whatsoever – in my opinion.
      More difference is the EndureNEck – you have to get confortable with it. And if you change between it and other guitars often, you will have some minutes of adjustement each time you change instruments. Hope that helps!

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