Vanguard FR440S Review

manufacturer: Kramer date: 11/25/2010 category: Electric Guitars
Kramer: Vanguard FR440S
24 Fret, Elliptical Slim-Taper Neck, Licensed Floyd Rose Tremolo, Designed in the USA Quad-Rail Pickups.
 Sound: 7
 Overall Impression: 8.5
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Action, Fit & Finish: 9
 Features: 8.7
 Overall rating:
 8.6 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.4 
 Users rating:
 8.8 
 Votes:
 108 
reviews (6) 40 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.6
Vanguard FR440S Reviewed by: enter_rancid, on february 27, 2004
8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Features: This guitar was fairly recently made (don't know the exact year). It has 24 frets and a black metallic solid top. It has a 3 way Switch, coil tapping, a volume and a tone nob. It has an H/H configuration and it has 2 quadrail pickups. Each quadrail is 2 humbuckers so it's 4 total. With the coil tapping it changes, and makes it sound more like a regular humbucker. In the middle it has a M4S and at the bridge it has B4S. Canadian Hard Maple, elliptical, slim taper, bolt-on neck. The body is North american alder. It has a "v" type body but it is more along the lines of a Jackson Randy Rhoads model. It has a licensed Floyd. It has non locking Gotoh SG tuners. Came with a cable, and allen wrenches sets to make adjustments. // 8

Sound: I play mostly like the old Metallica, some Led Zepplin, Pantera, you know the normal rock/metal groups. It suits this great the pickups are amazingly crunchy for beign stock. I use it through and Ibanez TB25R for the time being, and it sounds great. It is not overly noisy, but it has the normal amounts of feedback when close to the amp. I don't often even use that many effects I use a Korg AX1500G or a Korg AX30G and it sounds amazing through both. It has a very ballsy sound. It has a crunch, and lets of great harmonics. It can make some of the oldHendrix sounds but with an acoustic pedal I can make it do country if I would like (I have tried this for the fun of It) I have played blues, rock, heavy metal... It seems to be able to do all of them with a good amount of satisfaction. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: It was set up fairly well, I had to lower the action slightly and fix the intonation but other than that it was good. The pickups were perfect. The bridge was great it is routed into the body for upwardpitch shifting on the Floyd. It all semmed like it was good to me, I didn't see any flaws in the finish the neck was right, the nut-everyhting seemed fine. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I have played this guitar live, and it stands up just fine. The hardware has lasted for a while so far, and hopefully will last for a long time-being that I have had no problems with it. None of the finish has worn off though I have put a couple of marks on it by mistake, but those were my fault. The finish seems very think and appears to last well. The strap buttons are solid but I definitely reccomend strap locks no matter what kind of strap you use. I depend on it, definately, it has never given me any problems. I would never gig without a backup, but I wouldn't think that with this guitar you should need one. // 10

Overall Impression: like I said before I play alot of hard stuff, but I do play some blues and jazzy riffs on it as well, and it works wel for all of them. I have been playing for about 5 years and own many other guitars. I own a Jackson Soloist, a Gibson Les Paul Custom, a Gibson Les Paul Standard along with many others. I also own many amps such as my Ibanez and my Marshall's. I would definately buy it again if it hapenend to get lost or stolen. I love this guitar just because of the variety of sounds you can get out of it. I compared it to other Kramers such as the Baretta line, and I chose this one for not only the looks it just sounded like an overall bette tguitar than most of them. // 10

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overall: 9
Vanguard FR440S Reviewed by: stevevai87, on june 01, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 200

Purchased from: musicyo.com

Features: This is a guitar made with 24 frets of furry. The neck is super slim... meaning it was meant for solo player. Since musicyo.com is limited on how many Kramer guitars they can sell, there aren't a lot of options for color schemes or neck finishes. The neck is rosewood, take it or leave it. The body copies the aysemertical Rhoads 'V' shape. Meaning, one side of the point is longer than the other side, making hard to put on a single guitar stand. The bridge comes with a great Floyd Rose tremelo, which will keep the guitar in-tune for days upon days of using the vibrato bar. The two knobs (volume and tone) come in a stock black color which match the Licensed Floyd Rose. The tone knob is a coil tap, but the only way I will ever use a tone knob is by mistake. Tone knobs aren't needed on guitars, nobody uses a tone knob. The pickups are flat-out "junk". The only way to get a semi-good non trashy sound of out the pickups is by raising or lowering them into the pickup cavity. The Vanguard comes with two humbuckers placed in the bridge and middle cavities of the guitar. The middle pickup should really be lowered into the pickup cavity to take away most of the distorted sound when trying to do a solo. As for the bridge pickup, it should be raised slightly to get away from the wood-sy sound and get a little more distortion to achieve hitting the artificial harmonics and natural harmonics. // 9

Sound: This guitar is meant for one thing, hard rock. Hard rock can go into anything with a blistering solo. I played hard rock/classic rock/80s metal. I use a Line 6 Spider III 150 watt with two 12 inch speakers. Since my Line 6 Spider III has many different settings I can disguise the pickups with how I set my amp. The guitar has a bright sound, but it depends on mostly how you raise or lower your pickups. The Quad Rail pickups, which are both the same model for middle and bridge are basically crap when it comes down to it. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar comes from Kramer guitars, that is basically all you need to know. Kramer has been supplying guitars for George Lynch, Mick Mars, and Eddie Van Halen (to name a few). Every guitar is great from the day it was made. Kramer puts a polish into every piece they make. There are no defects and nothing was wrong with anything. // 10

Reliability & Durability: With the Floyd Rose tremelo system on this guitar, it is always worth bringing to a Live show. As long as the guitar isn't thrown around on stage, it will survive for years. The electronics within the cavity aren't mangled or in a ball like some of the other guitars I've had from previous companies. This guitar is a dependant of mine for years to come. If all I had was my Vanguard at my house, while my other guitars were getting repaired, I would play it for a long time. // 10

Overall Impression: Kramer prints for their moto: "made to rock hard", well it certainly is. If this guitar was stolen from me then I would be pretty pissed off. This Kramer was the first Kramer I ever bought. The only thing that this guitar needs is a well made humbucker, it doesn't have to be anything expensive, it just has to be something that people recognize as a humbucker. The middle pickup should have been moved to the. // 9

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overall: 8
Vanguard FR440S Reviewed by: unregistered, on april 14, 2008
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Features: This guitar was probably made around 2006/2007 in Indonesia. It has 24 medium jumbo frets with pearl Dot inlays. The body is solid alder, the neck is two piece maple and the fret board is Indian rosewood. It has a black metallic finish, but they come in red, yellow and blue as well. The body is a laminated Rhandy Roads style asymmetrical Flying V. The bridge is a Kramer licensed Floyd-rose tremolo. It comes stock with passive quad-rail pickups. It has 1 volume, 1 tone (with coil tap) and 3-way selector switch. It has 1 bridge quad-rail humbucker and 1 middle quad-rail humbucker. It has Gotoh locking tuners. // 9

Sound: I play hardcore, metalcore, grindcore and anything around those genres. These pickups suit these styles beautifully with distortion, but I still decided to replace them with Seymour Duncan 59 Model Humbucker and a JB Model Trembucker. The stock pickups aren't very versatile but the motto 'Made to rock hard' on the neck plate doesn't mean it will play country, blues or even soft rock unless you have a shit load of effects. Surprisingly these pickups have minimal hum even on the highest gain that quality humbuckers would have slight hum. With distortion, the bridge pickup has a sort of thick tin sound. The middle pickup is useless, it's just a really thick, chunky, muddy sound most likely there to produce nothing but noise. Coil tap doesn't really do anything with distortion. In clean, the bridge pickup gives a warm yet still tinny sound. The middle pickup gives a thick warm sound. With coil tap it thins them both down a bit. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: When it arrived, it was playable. Action was low and there seemed to be minimal fret buzz. It arrived with the cheapest most pathetic strings in history. They broke after about 2 hours of use. Something I like personally is that the strap button is on one of the neck bolts. I think this is an excellent idea. The pickups were cosy and didn't seem to be uneven or loose. The paint was perfect and everything appeared to be routed smoothly. I took off the electronics cavity cover and there was a shit load of wood shavings in it. But it easily came out because it was painted and glossed inside all of the routes. The electronics all seem to be of high quality. This guitar was set up to be tuned with .9 to .54 in drop B to C. It had a helluva lot of fret buzz in the top frets, possibly because the action was so low you could barely fit a birthday card between the strings and the fret board. I had this fixed by a local guitar repairer called Cargills, if you have heard of it then yes it is the same man Who made several beautiful acoustics, and a guitar for jimmy page. for about 150 dollars I had this guitar set up like a dream, and with it's new pickups, could easily outplay a $1200+ guitar. Stock I'd give it a 6, but now I'd easily give it a 10. A big note I'd have to make is that a majority of necks of these guitars seem to get a small crack from the top of the nut to the first fret on the back of the neck, but needless to worry. This small crack wouldn't cause any hassle and if you really were worried I would probably sand it back slightly and fill it with a tiny bit of wood filler and put a small coat of enamel over it. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I've had this guitar for around 6 months now, and apart from the crappy set up I've had no problems what'soever. This guitar would certainly withstand Live playing, and I think it would withstand small drops without even going out of tune. I would go to a gig without a backup because I have played this guitar for hours on end almost everyday and I have not had any problem with it ever. All the finish on the hardware and guitar itself seems to be of good quality, and even after the heavy use I've given this guitar it has not worn off in the slightest. // 10

Overall Impression: I generally play hardcore and metalcore. This guitars sound matches excellent with this sound, but I still replaced the pickups. I have played since I was about 9 and have been playing for 7 years. I own a Kramer ferrington, Kramer Focus, Fender Telecaster, a couple of beautiful matons, Danolectro DANOWAH, Daphon Delay pedal and Compression pedal, Peavey Rage 158 amp, and a cheap Daphon GA160R guitar amp @ 60 watts. Personally, after this guitar has been set up and all, It would have to be my favorite. If it were stolen or lost, I wouldn't buy it again, I would go for a classic Kramer vanguard from the '80s. I love how unique this guitar is and how even more unique about it is the fact I live in Australia, and hardly anyone knows about Kramer guitars. The only thing I hate is that Kramer has been bought out by Gibson and is now mass producing products in korea and indonesia. I could easily compare this product @ stock to medium quality LTD's. Now after it's been set up I would compare it to high end LTDs and Ibanezes. // 8

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overall: 6.4
Vanguard FR440S Reviewed by: vogi77, on november 15, 2007
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 226.8

Purchased from: musicyo.com

Features: Mine came with a maple neck with rosewood fingerboard and 24 frets. Alder body, licensed Floyd Rose, 2 QuadRail passive pick ups (neck and bridge)with one volume and one tone knob with coil tapping and a 3-way pickup selector, some Gotoh tuners and a case. // 8

Sound: I'm quite an allround player, means that I play from death metal to blues to the sweedest ballads. So I looked for a guitar which can handle both, clean an distorted. My teacher recommended to by a PRS but I didn't have that much money so he told to buy a Kramer. I play it through a Laney amp and a Boss OS-2 and I have to be honest: The distorted tone really sucks. A lot of buzz and fuzz. And this is not a matter of my other equipment. When I play with the Gibson Les Paul of my father, there is no buzz but a real great tone. The other thing is that, when distorted, there is not really a diffrence between bridge and neck pick up. So there is a real lack varity you even can't adjust with the coil tapping. There is one good thing about this Kramer: the clean tone. with coil tapping, you can get a real thick bluesy tone or a thin funk tone. But, I mean, this guitar is "meant to rock hard" so it would've been better for Kramer to concentrate more on the distortion. // 5

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar came set up quite good with some cheapy strings. The only things I had to do was to change the strings and some minor adjustments like fixing the intonation, raising the pick ups, putting in a extra spring for the floyd (because I use 0.10 strings, so I recommend to buy some extra springs) and so on. The finish was in good condition. // 8

Reliability & Durability: So there was a very huge problem: everytime I did a divebomb my guitar went out of tune because I wasn't able to tighten the locking nut so it wouldn't move. I had to go to a friend to make some kind of neck-through nut which was a little risky. So, in stock it could withstand Live playing only as long as you don't use the Floyd. The other things, like the strap buttons, finish and so on, seem to be of quite high quality. // 5

Overall Impression: Well like I said before, I'm an allround player and if you are kind of the same, don't buy it. Spare your money for a PRS. I bought a month ago the PRS Tremonti SE of about 600 bucks and this is a real allround guitar. So if you don't have the money, spare as long if you can buy anything better. It's not worth it. If you're a beginner I think you can go for it but there I would recommend a Kramer Striker because it's more comfortably. But if you are an intermediate player, don't go for it. // 6

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overall: 8.8
Vanguard FR440S Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 28, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 420

Purchased from: Gallin's Guitars, Melbourne

Features: The guitar is made of Alder from North America, and the neck is Canadian Maple, with a Rosewood fretboard. I'm not sure where the guitar was made. I bought this recently, but know that the model is discontinued, so I'd assume it's at least 5 years old. 24 Frets, Jumbo (maybe super jumbo, I'm not sure). The finish is solid metallic black. The style is a Rhoads uneven V. The bridge is a licensed Floyd Rose. The pickups are 2 Quad-Rail humbuckers in the middle and bridge positions. The guitar has Volume and Tone knobs, a 3 way blade switch. The tone knob is a push/pull coil tap. A 9, because you don't get much better for 400AU. // 9

Sound: This guitar suits my style down to the ground. I play mostly modern metal such as Darkest Hour, Unearth and Bullet for My Valentine, and I love this guitar. Even through a Yamaha practice amp, the guitar is pulling a really good tone. I use it on a Randall RG40R through the distortion channel, and it sounds really good. The sound is very thick and beefy, and you can pull some really cool noises out of the floyd rose, like some really high squeals, thanks to the recessed trem routing. The sustain on this guitar is IMMENSE. I tuned it to drop C and strummed an open C chord, I swear it rang out for about 25 seconds, without any effects, through the Randall's distortion channel. The only thing that could make this guitar sound any better would be some active pickups, but on a $420 AU guitar, I doubt that's likely. Overall sound would be a 7 because of the pickups being a little too beefy. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was set up well, the pickups were in the perfect position at stock. The action was low, but I like low action on my guitars. The neck was seated properly, the bridge was sitting slightly in the 'pull up' position. This took a few seconds to fix. The guitar's only flaws was the Floyd Rose's nut. The screws and blocks were rusty and slightly oversized. I think this is due to the age of the guitar mostly, not a quality issue on Kramer's part, especially considering that it's imported. No other complaints in this department, I give it a 10, because it's insane for a 420 dollar guitar. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I believe the guitar will withstand live playing, I'm yet to test this out however. The hardware, with the exception of the nut, is all fantastic. The strap buttons are really good, my strap hasn't even felt loose once. I would depend on this guitar live, I'd keep my Yamaha for alternate tunings however. The finish is good enough to last for a few years. In this department a 9 because of the dodgy nut. // 9

Overall Impression: I play anything from Progressive Rock to Melodic Death Metal, and this guitar is a really good match for my playing. I have been playing for about a year and a half, and I have a Yamaha Pacifica 112 as my other guitar. If this was stolen, I'd probably cry, because I really like this guitar, other than the nut issue (which is really inexpensive to get fixed anyway) My favourite feature other than the actual body of this guitar would be the Floyd Rose tremolo. That thing is insane. Even though I've seen people bitching about the Licensed Version I think the thing rocks. I compared this guitar to an ESP Alexi 200 and a Jackson Rhoads of some description. I thought the Alexi 200 was the best of the two before I had played the Kramer, but I just didn't think something was right with the ESP. The Jackson I played was good, but it was WAY out of my price range, by like 2000 bucks. I found out about Kramer from an Aussie guitarist I saw on youtube, Casey Jones. I looked up Kramer and found out they made the Vanguard, and I immediately searched it up. I found the guitar and got it straight away once I learned its RRP of 600 bucks. The only thing I think would make this guitar are some SD Blackouts or a set of EMG Actives. 9 because it's brilliant for the price, with the exception of one dodgy nut piece, the guitar is perfect. The pickups would be better replaced by EMGs or SD Blackouts though. // 9

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overall: 8.8
Vanguard FR440S Reviewed by: Whiteboy_az, on november 25, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 125

Purchased from: eBay

Features: It's an 06 model, 24 frets, Trem changed to an Original Floyd Rose (I don't care what anyone says, the licensed floyds are NOT as good), Reverse head stock, and two quad rail humbuckers in Bridge and "middle" position, and a master volume and push pull tone. Pickups not the greatest in the world, thats why I'm getting them switched with EMG's, I would use Bare Knuckles, but Tim ain't making them anymore so I won't waste my time. I believe its an alder body and maple neck with rosewood fretboard with the gloss blue finish. Came with a hardshell case from the guy I bought it from. Tuners are Schaller knockoffs, I think, not the best but not the worst. Overall, it works and if you like this type of guitar, it can be made to work. // 9

Sound: I play mostly Metal and other assorted rock styles, thats why I'm getting EMG's. The quad rails are ok for stock pickups, but have very little bottom end and are kinda brittle sounding. I run it all through an Arion SCH-1 chorus, Crybaby wah, a delay pedal I can't remember the name of and a MXR 10 Band EQ to an old Randall like the ones Dime used to use. I can get some good tones out of the rig, not really crazy about the pickups, but they'll work until I can replace them. // 6

Action, Fit & Finish: Great playability, since I've had it worked by my good friend Billy at B&D guitars in Phoenix, AZ. Plays like a dream that I don't have to sleep to achieve. Low action, ridiculously easy bends and transitions and scales and sweeping were never this easy. Still has a few cosmetic flaws that need tending to, but nothing that will cause problems with sound or playing. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This is a workhorse if I've ever played one. I put on a DiMarzio Cliplok on to keep it from going anywhere while I play. I play it a lot at my church (play a V at church, ya I know it sounds odd) and it gives no problems whatsoever. The only this thing is gonna give me a problem, is if I intentionally try to break it, which ain't happening. // 10

Overall Impression: This is a great match for my style and playing. I've been playing for the last 8 years and I'm still learning. I'm not sure I could ever part with this guitar I've grown so attached to it. Some would probably say its not as great as say an RR1, but it is mine and I love it. // 9

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