Cavallo ST-FR review by DBZ Guitars

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 6
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.8 Neat
  • Users' score: 5.1 (17 votes)
DBZ Guitars: Cavallo ST-FR
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Price paid: C$ 699

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Sound — 6
I play mainly Melodic Death Metal and other kinds of thrashy type heavy-metal stuff; everything else isn't really relevant to this review. I play quite a bit of Arch Enemy, and to be honest the tone I use is me trying to imitate theirs. I can also get an alright Dethklok sound out of this guitar even though I have passive pickups. I usually have the tone knob somewhere in the middle and the volume knob turned down from full just a little bit. Turning down the volume knob to about 70% of full makes a rather loud buzzing that I don't think anyone would really like. I find turning the volume down just slightly gives the tone a bit more "punch" with palm muting while using the bridge pickup. One thing I instantly noticed with this guitar is how it vibrates as you are playing it. Of course it would, duh, but it really surprised me just how much the whole instrument vibrated. I don't really know what to say about this, but the guitar seems to have pretty good sustain. With the neck pickup this guitar has some kind of "chimey" lead tones with that kind of hollow sound that neck pickups typically have. This guitar has quite a decent general "heavy metal" tone. There are YouTube videos out there which describe the variety of sounds this guitar has better than I can. Again, I am probably going to replace the pickups in the future. While I would encourage the reader to not take these scores too seriously, I give the sound a 6. This number is only relevant if you have the same tastes in music that I do. I am confident that with ideal electronics for me I could give this guitar a 9 or a 10 here. I will say that these pickups are actually alright though; I wouldn't say that they're crap, just not EXACTLY what I would want and I am also still figuring out what I want as well. Keep in mind that a 10 is supposed to be absolutely perfect in every way.

Overall Impression — 7
I touched on this a bit earlier, but I play mostly Melodic Death Metal and a bit of Thrash Metal; this guitar has some fairly good sounds for that. Compared to my other electric, this one fits my style and plays FAR better. I have been playing guitar for a year and a half at the time of writing this, and I own two other guitars: one of them is some tiny, crappy acoustic that has its action WAY too high and the other is a low-to-mid level Washburn X300Pro fixed bridge electric. Clearly, I play the Washburn the most of the two and I also know every inch of it as well. This isn't a review about those guitars though, so anyways... I regularly research everything I can comprehend about guitar, and I like to think that I know a great deal about how guitars work despite my meager experience with the instrument. I set up my guitars myself, without sending them into a shop and paying money and I am proud to say that I do it all rather well. With that said, I put most of my confidence in this review in my knowledge of hardware. At the same time, I admit that I could use more experience to be better qualified to comment on the sound of my instrument because I know that my tastes, as well as my ear, are still developing. The whole point of this paragraph was to try and give you a better idea of how credible this review is because I have read a lot of complaints about this in other people's reviews. I bought this guitar because I really wanted a Flying V. I was aware that for sitting-on-your-lap functionality the traditional Strat shape is (arguably) the best. However, I have found that this guitar is really comfortable to play sitting down as long as you're wearing a strap - which I was prepared to do when I bought it. You can use it strapless, by having one "wing" of the guitar underneath your right leg, but I find it rather tedious. Standing up and playing is what I think this guitar is really made for; it sits very comfortably when you're standing up, and I can tell that quite a bit of thought went behind the design of this quality instrument. In my honest opinion, this guitar completely blew every other Flying V in the store out of the water easily. If I remember correctly, there were 3 others in the store besides this one, so that's not quite that bold of a statement I think. The two that I would compare to this one were an ESP (or LTD?) Alexi-300 (or maybe 200) for... $800 CDN I think. The other was a '67 style Gibson (Thunderbird was it called?) V for either $1200 or $1300. I didn't really look at the Alexi too much, because I wanted more variety than just one humbucker. The Gibson just seemed overpriced to me. Don't know what pickups the Gibson came with, but just handling its rather square form, it was painfully clear to me that I should go with the much curvier DBZ. Also, I wanted a Floyd for the first time, so that sweetened the deal. If you research how a Floyd works before you buy it, you can rather easily avoid the problems you hear people whining about regarding them. They really are rather intuitive to figure out I found. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a fixed bridge and each has their own implications which are out of the scope of this review. Anyways, my favourite part of this guitar is easily the design of the body. It is a very eye-catching guitar, and it is also a surprisingly practical design with all the contouring it has. Out of all the Flying V shapes I have seen I like this one the most. I have no doubt that there is definitely some bias in there somewhere, but I believe many others would agree with me. The typical Dean headstock fits perfectly for a V also. Not to sound like a fanboy, I really believe that you have to look at each guitar individually, but I have to say that I am very impressed with DBZ Guitars as a whole. They really do put some well-thought ideas to work. In all the time I have spent researching DBZ and reading the other reviews on UG, it seems like they have some amazing quality control and bang for your buck on their other guitars as well. All said and done, I wouldn't put much Faith in this scoring system but I would give the Dbz Cavallo ST/FR (black) a 7/10. However, I really bought this guitar for the body; at some point, when I know more about what I want, I plan to get some different pickups. Maybe I'll mess around with the other electronics after I am a bit more experienced. So, in my overall opinion of this guitar with the electronics taken out of consideration, I would give this guitar a biased 9/10. It really was exactly what I wanted for a guitar, and this is the guitar I plan to use for pretty much everything. If I get another guitar, I was thinking a SSH (H in bridge) configuration Strat type thing because I would like to get some single coil lead action as well. I can't think of anything more to say. I hope you have found this review helpful, and if you have any questions/comments/criticism I would be glad to try and help you for at least the first week or so after this is posted... It depends I guess.

Reliability & Durability — 6
This guitar has pointy edges (more fragile than rounded ones) and a Floyd Rose. Just holding it, it doesn't seem like the kind of guitar that could really take a beating. If you're not being an idiot however, I don't think that this will be a problem at all. The Cavallo keeps its tuning very well also; I only tune it every few days, and even then it is only less than 10 cents off (or 1/100th of an octave). For all practical playing purposes, I have to say that this guitar seems pretty reliable to me. Unless you're slamming it around like a savage, you're unlikely to have problems with the Floyd or detuning by hitting the fine-tuners on the bridge. If I was good enough to play live, I would by all means use this guitar. Due to the locking nut and Floyd Rose being made of solid metal, (not sure what metal it is) I don't think I will have to worry about wear for a long time. Personally, I take care of my things and I can't see this guitar breaking down on me any time soon. The electronics seem pretty solid as well, and I don't anticipate any malfunctions at all. Except for the pickup selector switch, which seems like it would just snap off with one hit in the right place, I don't see any possible durability problems with the electronics. The knobs seem like they're on there good too, but that doesn't mean I really pulled on them that much. All said and done, if you don't intend to beat on this guitar you shouldn't have any problems at all. You can play it pretty hard and it still keeps its tune. I would imagine that it would make a pretty good live guitar, but I admit that playing live is still an unfulfilled dream of mine and I don't have the experience to actually say it would. Still, just playing it for hours on end, I have had no problems and I haven't noticed it go out of tune within a playing Session either. It is dependable, that is a fact. I feel that giving this section one score is unfair. While this guitar has a rather delicate feel to me, it plays very well. For sheer bash-me-around durability, I would give this guitar a 3 if you were comparing it to something like a stratocaster. So, if you want to play by running the neck up and down your speaker cabinet and throwing it up in the air... No, this guitar is definitely not for you. However, for sheer reliability and durability in proper use I would give this guitar an 8 because it keeps its tune very well although the floyd seems like it may be tempermental sometimes. Again, I have had no problems but it definitely isn't as solid as a fixed bridge. Averaging out the scores, I give this a 5.5 (rounded to a six for practical purposes) because while it is a very solid playing guitar, it has a delicate feel and a Floyd clearly isn't as solid as a fixed bridge. I would encourage you to not put too much Faith in just the scores I am giving though, because they are all put in a certain context.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Right out of the factory, this is where this guitar really shines (actually, it is pretty shiny) I don't know much about finishes, but I have accidentally bumped my guitar into things (lightly, of course) and I couldn't find any marks. I also noticed that the neck is ridiculously smooth; you'll find this on all DBZ guitars. The intonation was set almost perfectly when I got it. I have had no reason at all to adjust the action either. The only problem I had was that when I changed strings and downtuned this guitar, the A (now F) string's allen screw (to hold the intonation) was loose enough that the "thing" that the string is clamped to just shot against the allen screw and the intonation for that string went a bit out of whack. Easily fixed. I also winced a few times when I was tightening the springs on the Floyd Rose because my screwdriver slipped and I stripped a screw slightly. Can't complain though, and I never intend to touch those screws ever again. Other than those little things, I was not able to find ANY other flaws what'soever. I'm giving this section an 8 out of 10 because the adjustments weren't absolutely perfect, and Dean Zelinsky didn't read my mind and have this guitar set up to C tuning from the factory. Damn him for not catering to me specifically, and doing exactly what I would want! I was impressed with how well this guitar was set up. Also, as far as I can tell (and I looked hard) this guitar is perfectly symmetrical and I have to reiterate that there are ABSOLUTELY NO manufacturing flaws as far as I can tell, so if it wasn't for the setup not being absolutely perfect I would have probably given this section a 10.

Features — 7
- Made in China, probably in 2009. - Flying V shape - Soft "V" shaped neck - Set neck, 24.75" scale - Floyd Rose Bridge - 22 Jumbo frets - Ebonized rosewood fretboard - Mahogany body & neck - Grover tuners - Locking nut - Passive electronics - DBZB/DBZ5 humbucker pickups (HH) - Vintage style (toggleswitch) 3-way pickup selector - Volume knob and a coil-tapping tone knob I don't have any problems with this guitar's features. Personally, I think I would have preferred the other style pickup selector (the one that pivots deeper in the guitar) because the toggleswitch design seems a bit fragile to me. At the same time, one good thing I noticed about the toggleswitch is it isn't very audible when you flip it compared to the deeper-swinging one; I guess that would be ideal for live playing. So, I guess it boils down to preference for the pickup selector. I also don't really know what to make of the pickups; they're alright I guess, but I plan to change them out eventually. I bought this guitar for everything but the electronics. I absolutely LOVE the shape of this guitar. Being a Flying V, I wouldn't try to play it without a strap though. That said, this guitar is very well contoured for extra comfort and isn't awkward to play. I would recommend getting a wall-mount or a stand made for a V guitar though, because a strap button will probably get in the way if the stand has one of those "forks" for supporting the body. Out of everything I know of, I give the features of this guitar a 7 because the pickups are questionable (way better than passive EMGs though) and I might replace other electronics in the future as well. Other than that, this guitar is exactly what I would want out of a Flying V guitar. I can't find ANY manufacturing flaws on it what'soever; DBZ is known for quality control. Due to this being a V guitar however, it doesn't fit some stands well at all and you really should get a strap with it. But, I knew that when I got it and you should too. With the electronics replaced, this would be my dream guitar.

30 comments sorted by best / new / date

    JKMV11
    great review! well written and a great evaluation of the guitar. though i am interested to know what amp you use. that is a major factor in getting the tone you want. I have the DBZ Imperial and it should have the same pickups. I play the same kinds of style as you and my tone is great. Also if you are using a tube amp then dialing down the volume knob on the guitar can detrimentally affect your frequency response in the first gain stage. This is because it adds more resistance before the amp. The effect is generally a loss in brightness.
    grungelive72
    Looks good on paper, has great features. However, I DESPISE the V shaped necks on DBZ guitars. I love giant les paul necks, and thin Ibanez necks, but I cannot fathom why anyone would think holding a V in your hand would be comfortable. Great guitar from the neck down though.
    Fireballz 1077
    . . . Am i the only person that clicked on the link thinking I'd see a pic of Goku on a guitar?
    El_Bozo
    Satanus wrote: And in case someone gets touchy about the death metal insults, understand I'm not flaming the genre. just this guy who goes around for a year (AND A WHOLE HALF) buying pro equipment.
    Someone is Jelly... Also, great review.
    guusw
    The moment I read DBZ I thought; Hey awesome, a dragonball Z guitar! Such a disappointment after clicking the link
    jeffmetalhead
    Excellent review! Why haven't you changed the electronics yet since you say you've owned this guitar for about a year and a half?!
    Satanus
    whoops, forgot how awesome you are with your effects and amps, coz I'm sure your neighbours care about the awesome tone of MELODIC DEATH METAL. And if you want to have your little methods of keeping your volume and tone dials in a specific place because thats what you've come up with, then keep it to yourself.
    Satanus
    Goddamn you little penis, "I play melodic death metal". "I play thrashy metal" "I have a whole bunch of guitars, yet I have nothing but my idiotic and backwards-and-forwards oppinions." jesus...
    Tonzza
    i have a DBZ Cavallo Ab and its the best guitar i have ever played (i played guitar about 7 years now)
    Satanus
    and because you seem to always fall back to the fact that you've been playing for a year and a half, what have you been doing? googling facts and others oppinions? and on a side note, how'd you get hold of all your equipment(gits, amps, FX.)
    Satanus
    JimDawson wrote: Wow. The least Satanus could have done is put that all in one post...
    **** yooo man
    notryt
    I ended up purchasing a 2nd cavallo (string thru) and have decided to sell the floyd version... One of the easier lefty conversions I have ever done I didn't even change the nut (but I will) didn't have the right size on hand. but it plays great. only real mod was to turn the pickup selector switch around... (personal choice. not necessary. as a lefty all the controls are still out of the way and palm muting is no problem,, If you are left handed and wished this guitar came as a lefty.. just buy one and flip it... about 30-45 mins work total. as far as the pickups go the are very good all around pickups.. but everyone always wants what they don't already have so I leave any review of pickups up to the individual player.
    JimDawson
    Hey cool, I didn't know people were still posting comments here! I'm not a lefty, but just handling my guitar... I don't see how the controls wouldn't be in your way after a flip! Especially the pickup selector switch; it's just exactly where I imagine my wrist would be if I was a lefty. That's me I guess. For a bit of an update- it's been almost two years now- I ended up changing the pickups awhile back. I picked up a set of Dragonfire Hexbuckers for $34.95 US. In my opinion, they work great for modern metal and have nice responsiveness for shred. They're stronger than the stock pickups and all the pole pieces are adjustable. But yeah, the stock pickups really are good all-around pickups; DBZ did a good job with producing stock pickups for their guitars. However, pickier people would probably like something more appropriate for their own niche.
    Satanus
    oooooh, you see, i didn't know you were from Canada.... and as for your best writings, I won't start. let you at least believe it. death metal... dick
    notryt
    I have 2 barchettas and I think they are the best of the dbz line... I owned an imperial for about a month and really didnt like the way it felt and the sustain wasnt what I was expecting either.. one or the other could have been overlooked but not both. I just purchased a cavallo and will have to flip it being a lefty...I know about the bird of prey and it appears to fragile. I have read other opinions on the cavallo and they were always very positive.. Ill have to see if I can get it to work as a lefty and get back to you in the future. I think the dbz line is actually the best value in mid-price range guitars right now.. followed by the schecters
    JimDawson
    Seriously, this is really annoying. If you are going to edit reviews, make sure you are actually correcting things instead of making them worse. What'soever? What the hell is that!? You guys should hire me to do this editing, and it would get done FAR better. How do you guys even reason out the changes you make?!
    JimDawson
    Thanks for the interesting comments section, guys! Also, you DO NOT capitalize letters after a "..." UG! You guys messed up my punctuation in a few spots!
    JimDawson
    Wow. The least Satanus could have done is put that all in one post...
    shecter guy
    if you want suggestions for an amp, head over to the guitar gear and accessories forums on the site. guys over there are super helpful with this type of stuff. But i would look into a Peavey 6505 or 5150 of some sort, Bugera 6262 (clone of the peavey but cheaper) Bugera 333XL, maybe a few randall heads and combos since i think Arch Enemy used them at some point. I think they have also used Krank amps too but i'm not positive. Personally, one of my favorite amps is the Peavey Vypyr Tube 60. You can get it with a Sanpera 1 foot pedal for about $400 if you go used. It would work really well for you. You can find demos of all these amps on youtube. Also, if you go used, at least a combo form of these amps can be found for $500 or less. Also, the reason you probably aren't getting your preffered tone is do to the line six interface you are using. Hope that helps and sorry for the wall of text!
    JimDawson
    jeffmetalhead wrote: Excellent review! Why haven't you changed the electronics yet since you say you've owned this guitar for about a year and a half?!
    I've had this guitar for a month, and I'm still not really sure what I would want yet.
    JKMV11 wrote: great review! well written and a great evaluation of the guitar. though i am interested to know what amp you use. that is a major factor in getting the tone you want. I have the DBZ Imperial and it should have the same pickups. I play the same kinds of style as you and my tone is great. Also if you are using a tube amp then dialing down the volume knob on the guitar can detrimentally affect your frequency response in the first gain stage. This is because it adds more resistance before the amp. The effect is generally a loss in brightness.
    I use a Line 6 Pod Studio GX, which is a purely digital device that hooks up to my PC. I turn down the volume to about 95% because I try to balance it with the level of drive on my amp (Insane amp with some other minor adjustments if you have used other Line 6 stuff before) and it seems to sound a little bit better to me than having the guitar's volume turned up completely full. I have only been playing for a year and a half, so I don't think I would really be the best judge of how this stuff sounds, but my GX has more than exceeded my expectations. I do want to get a real tube amp some time in the future though; what would you recommend?
    grungelive72 wrote: Looks good on paper, has great features. However, I DESPISE the V shaped necks on DBZ guitars. I love giant les paul necks, and thin Ibanez necks, but I cannot fathom why anyone would think holding a V in your hand would be comfortable. Great guitar from the neck down though.
    I find the soft Vs quite comfortable because the thick middle gives you more to hold onto while the thin edges make lead playing really comfortable IMO.
    JKMV11
    grungelive72 wrote: Looks good on paper, has great features. However, I DESPISE the V shaped necks on DBZ guitars. I love giant les paul necks, and thin Ibanez necks, but I cannot fathom why anyone would think holding a V in your hand would be comfortable. Great guitar from the neck down though.
    Have you tried the neck? it is a soft v profile. i personally think if feels great to play.
    Satanus
    And in case someone gets touchy about the death metal insults, understand I'm not flaming the genre. just this guy who goes around for a year (AND A WHOLE HALF) buying pro equipment.