Cavallo ST-FR Review

manufacturer: DBZ Guitars date: 10/28/2011 category: Electric Guitars
DBZ Guitars: Cavallo ST-FR
I play mostly Melodic Death Metal and a bit of Thrash Metal; this guitar has some fairly good sounds for that.
 Sound: 6
 Overall Impression: 7
 Reliability & Durability: 6
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8
 Features: 7
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
review (1) pictures (3) 30 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 6.8
Cavallo ST-FR Reviewed by: JimDawson, on october 28, 2011
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 699

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Features: - 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. // 7

Sound: 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. // 6

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 6

Overall Impression: 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. // 7

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