Price paid: £ 200
Purchased from: GAK
Sound — 7
Back in the good old days of rock n roll, Kramer was one of the world's biggest brands, competing with Fender and Gibson in terms of sales. This was helped no end by the endorsement of a certain Eddie Van Halen, although he was by no means the only famous guitarist to have used Kramer guitars. Mick Mars, Richie Sambora, Tom Morello and Jeff LaBar, Vivian Campbell, George Lynch...all these and many others have endorsed Kramer guitars at some point. Kramer's success coincided with the success of 1980s glam metal/hard rock, and shortly after the 80s came to an end, and with it, the reign of glam metal, Kramer went bankrupt. After spending many years out of the limelight, Kramer was recently bought by Gibson, and several models are now available. As you can probably work out, I play mostly 1980s hard rock, and my influences include Van Halen, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Cinderella etc. This guitar doesn't come with the world's greatest pickups, but the sound is still satisfactory, and it can be used for both screaming lead guitar as well as nice, chunky rhythm guitar. It copes well with both distortion and clean guitar, and can certainly be used for recording demos with. I use my various Line 6 devices (which I'm not overly fond of), and if I'm honest, I'm considering a change of amp/effects as well as pick ups. The mahogany body certainly shouldn't hold back this thing's potential, and I see no reason why I can't get an even better sound out of it in the future. For now, though, I'm generally pretty pleased with what I've got, and for home/band rocking out purposes, it's more than good enough.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing guitar for a few years now. I own a fair few guitars, including 1 ( beginner's)classical, 2 Strat styled guitars, a Harley Benton V styled guitar and a soon to be sold Ibanez RG370DX. I've never been much of an elitist when it comes to buying guitars, since rocking out is something I do for fun, not for a living. Therefore, I've gone for quantity over quality, and I'd say I have quite the eye for spotting excellent value for money as far as low-end guitars go. Excluding the Ibanez, my guitar collection comes to about 450, which would be the equivalent of perhaps a nice Epiphone Les Paul, or a good quality ESP-LTD or something. Instead, I have chosen carefully, and instead own several great looking guitars which are just as good as guitars two or three times the price. My collection is relatively diverse given its low cost, and the Kramer certainly fits in well. Anyone else who wishes to buy a distinctive guitar, with a big name and excellent value for money should really consider this. Its main rivals, Ibanez GRG series, Jackson JS30 etc., are similarly priced but by no means are they any better. It depends on your music taste really. If you prefer Van Halen to Linkin Park, Dokken to BFMV, Whitesnake to Trivium, then you should really consider this based on its genuinely excellent, flamboyant, over-the-top 1980s looks. If you prefer contemporary metal, then you should still consider this as far as value for money is concerned, but it just might not look heavy or brutal enough. In all, its a very cool guitar, that plays very well indeed and sounds good, and its by no means too expensive for anyone looking to build up a collection on a relatively small budget. Its not really a beginner's guitar, but at 200 you're getting something that's just as good as guitars 100+ more expensive, and, if it suits your music taste, 100X cooler.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Apart from taking a while for the tuning stability to sort itself out, there's not much wrong with this guitar at all. Its well made, and I see no reason why it won't last me for many, many gigs to come. I treat my guitars rough when rocking out on a stage, even in band practices. This guitar should certainly last a good long time, although truth be told, I haven't owned it long enough to give a definitive answer here. Certainly, it's well made and I can't see any reason to have cause to worry about it at all.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action was set up as high as it could be when it arrived, which was actually rather low. It was relatively easy to adjust the action to a slightly lower height that suits me, although it's certainly possible to get even lower. If you like your action high, then don't get this guitar. High action is not an option. To be honest, medium string height is barely just an option. Other than being a bit out of tune, the guitar was ready to play, and there were certainly no flaws/technical problems. GAK, I salute you. The action is great for shredding on, and I feel the only thing limiting the speed I can reach is my (gradually increasing) technical abilty, whereas on previous guitars, I had felt the guitar was the limiting factor. I chose the trans purple option, and it certainly looks like its travelled in time from 1985. Its a very good looking guitar, which stands out from all the 21st century Ibanez and ESP superstrats out there. I'm surprised it didn't come with a free bandana or can of hairspray if I'm honest. If 1980's glam metal is your sort of thing, then this guitar is certainly one you should consider.
Features — 8
This Indonesian-made superstrat has a 24 fret maple neck, mahogany body and some of the coolest 1980s looks available today. It is available in trans black, trans fireburst and trans purple, all with a flamed maple finish. This model is the one with the string-through HardTail bridge, as opposed to the slightly more expensive Striker 211 FR Custom, which has a liscenced Floyd Rose. It has HB-S-S pickups, and a volume control along with 2 tone controls and a 5 way pick up selector. All in all, this guitar has everything you need to rock out 1980s style, and very little to go wrong. In particular, I like the 'banana' headstock, which looks sincerely excellent, especially with the name "KRAMER" on it. It came with allen keys and a lead as well, which is fair enough really. Overall, some pretty good set of features for its price.