Price paid: $ 995
Purchased from: Zager
Sound — 9
I favor finger picking but also flatpick. Acoustically the sound is surprisingly full and warm for a smaller body. Not as loud as my 1979 Sigma DR28 but it is more than adequate volume and more balanced across all the strings. I bought a Fishman Loudbox mini amp to go with. I found the A string was too strong but playing with the notch filter and phase corrected that; preamp controls work very well. No extraneous humming. I am inexperienced with amps so I need more time to experiment. Overall, the more I play it, the more I like it.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm a self-taught guitarist (former professional trumpet player). Bought my first guitar in 1979: A Japanese made Sigma DR-28. I've mostly played for myself or acoustically as an accompanist to singers in Church, small venues, parties, and open mikes. I favor folk-rock of the 60's & 70's. I recently retired and have spent more time with my guitar. I love my Sigma but thought I could benefit from a guitar with a thinner or more comfortable neck profile. I read scores of reviews on this site and others. In my mind I wanted a Martin since that was always considered the standard. I finally went to GC and played all the Martins, Taylors, Gibsons, Seagulls, Takamines, Breedloves, and YaDaYadas. In the end, the closest thing that felt and sounded right was a Martin D28 of which is my Sigma is an exact replica. My 33 year old Sigma sounded better. I also liked a Gibson L-00 but it was a little pricey. I then came across Zager in a Google search. It sounded like what I was looking for and it had nice specs. After reading some positive and several negative reviews on this site I had some reservations. It seemed that the good reviews were from owners and the negative ones were from observers so I decided to give Zager a try (they had a money back guarantee so it looked safe). I ordered the guitar and it arrived a few days later. It looked beautiful and the molded case was just as impressive. I went with an OM body because I wanted a more comfortable feel and was prepared to give up some volume. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and warmth of the sound. Not a substantial loss of volume. Love the red Cedar and rosewood combination. The main thing was the ease of playing. I literally play for hours at a time now. I'm very pleased with the Zager and would not hesitate to buy another.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I do not play guitar in a regular band. Mostly just play at home, parties, small jams, open mikes and the like. I'm sure this guitar will more than serve my needs. I recently played a party of about 30 people in a large rec room and my Zager/Fishman combination did fine. Amp and guitar at half volume, gain 1/3, touch of reverb. Mostly standard Christmas tunes with audience sing along. Judging durability without long term experience is subjective. The guitar hardware is top notch (Grover, Fishman) and the construction with gloss finish seems top notch so I see no reason for the guitar to fair any worse than any other instrument in this class if properly cared for. The guitar does have a very thin neck profile so that might be more susceptible to climate and abuse.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action is the primary feature of Zager guitars. The low action, custom string spacing and thin neck make playing effortless. I can play much longer without hand fatigue and I find picking this guitar a true joy. I am generally a light player so the action is perfect for me. I encountered some minor buzzing here and there but I'm quickly adjusting to the neck. In fact my dr28 now seems hard to play in comparison. The look and finish are flawless. The western red cedar, rosewood 2-piece back, and abalone trim really are a stunning combination. I found no defects so far.
Features — 9
Purchased New 11/29/12 from Zager in Lincoln Nebraska (Online web store). - Style - Venetian Cutaway - Style - OM - Top - Western Red Cedar - Back & Sides - Indian Rosewood - Neck - Mahogany, Standard scale, thin profile, 1 3/4" at nut - Headstock - Indian Rosewood - Bracework - Zager Design (hand scalloped) - Inlay - Full Abalone - Fret Marker - Pearl Cross - Pick Guard - Tortoise Shell - Back Detail - Zipper Stripe - Finish - High Gloss - Truss Rod - Custom Adjustment Setting - Built In Transducer - Fishman Clearwave60 - Built in Automatic Tuner - Fishman Chromatic - Built in Equalizer - Fishman Bass, Mid, Treble, Notch, Brilliance, Phase - Tuning Machines - Grover - Nut - Zager Hand Carved - Saddle - Tusq Hand Carved - Strings - Zager Custom Lights (by Martin) - Frets - Zager Soft Touch (hand filed) - Warranty - Lifetime - Dimensions - 40 x 19 x 9.75 - Thank You packet with T-Shirt, Picks, Strings, Autograhed Photo of Denny Zager, Helpful Information, and Web links for Tips, Care, Lessons - Molded Case and Humidity Indicator - $95 Extra and it's very nice