Vanguard FR440S review by Kramer

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (108 votes)
Kramer: Vanguard FR440S

Purchased from: Ebay

Sound — 7
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.

Overall Impression — 8
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.

Reliability & Durability — 10
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.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
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.

Features — 9
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.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The first thing i always do with any guitar, cheap or expensive is to replace the crappy stock pickups. Of course stock pickups suck. I would be really interested to hear how a cheapo kramer sounds with better pu's.
    i have this guitar aswell, and its an okay guitar. i would take out the pickups and put better ones in, cuz these ones suck lol, but i wouldnt recommend this guitar at all, not that great of a guitar dosnt stay in tune at all and sounds horrable, but if u do get one take out the picks up and but better ones in!!!!
    Can't believe anyone would say anything bad about this guitar, it slays.
    the vangaurd can't compare at all to the jackson js30rr! i've owned both and the jackson has to come through with the win. The vangaurd may have the floyd but if you knew what good for you, you'd get the jackson! The pickups on the vangaurd are muddy sounding and on the other hand, you got the js30rr, perfect for metal or any other genre out there! The js30rr sells now about for $279.99 now, and the vangaurd sells about $225.99, but the price for the jackson is worth it. hope this helped \m/