Vanguard FR440S review by Kramer

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

Price paid: A$ 420

Purchased from: Gallin's Guitars, Melbourne

Sound — 7
This guitar suits my style down to the ground. I play mostly modern metal such as Darkest Hour, Unearth and Bullet for My Valentine, and I love this guitar. Even through a Yamaha practice amp, the guitar is pulling a really good tone. I use it on a Randall RG40R through the distortion channel, and it sounds really good. The sound is very thick and beefy, and you can pull some really cool noises out of the floyd rose, like some really high squeals, thanks to the recessed trem routing. The sustain on this guitar is IMMENSE. I tuned it to drop C and strummed an open C chord, I swear it rang out for about 25 seconds, without any effects, through the Randall's distortion channel. The only thing that could make this guitar sound any better would be some active pickups, but on a $420 AU guitar, I doubt that's likely. Overall sound would be a 7 because of the pickups being a little too beefy.

Overall Impression — 9
I play anything from Progressive Rock to Melodic Death Metal, and this guitar is a really good match for my playing. I have been playing for about a year and a half, and I have a Yamaha Pacifica 112 as my other guitar. If this was stolen, I'd probably cry, because I really like this guitar, other than the nut issue (which is really inexpensive to get fixed anyway) My favourite feature other than the actual body of this guitar would be the Floyd Rose tremolo. That thing is insane. Even though I've seen people bitching about the Licensed Version I think the thing rocks. I compared this guitar to an ESP Alexi 200 and a Jackson Rhoads of some description. I thought the Alexi 200 was the best of the two before I had played the Kramer, but I just didn't think something was right with the ESP. The Jackson I played was good, but it was WAY out of my price range, by like 2000 bucks. I found out about Kramer from an Aussie guitarist I saw on youtube, Casey Jones. I looked up Kramer and found out they made the Vanguard, and I immediately searched it up. I found the guitar and got it straight away once I learned its RRP of 600 bucks. The only thing I think would make this guitar are some SD Blackouts or a set of EMG Actives. 9 because it's brilliant for the price, with the exception of one dodgy nut piece, the guitar is perfect. The pickups would be better replaced by EMGs or SD Blackouts though.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I believe the guitar will withstand live playing, I'm yet to test this out however. The hardware, with the exception of the nut, is all fantastic. The strap buttons are really good, my strap hasn't even felt loose once. I would depend on this guitar live, I'd keep my Yamaha for alternate tunings however. The finish is good enough to last for a few years. In this department a 9 because of the dodgy nut.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar was set up well, the pickups were in the perfect position at stock. The action was low, but I like low action on my guitars. The neck was seated properly, the bridge was sitting slightly in the 'pull up' position. This took a few seconds to fix. The guitar's only flaws was the Floyd Rose's nut. The screws and blocks were rusty and slightly oversized. I think this is due to the age of the guitar mostly, not a quality issue on Kramer's part, especially considering that it's imported. No other complaints in this department, I give it a 10, because it's insane for a 420 dollar guitar.

Features — 9
The guitar is made of Alder from North America, and the neck is Canadian Maple, with a Rosewood fretboard. I'm not sure where the guitar was made. I bought this recently, but know that the model is discontinued, so I'd assume it's at least 5 years old. 24 Frets, Jumbo (maybe super jumbo, I'm not sure). The finish is solid metallic black. The style is a Rhoads uneven V. The bridge is a licensed Floyd Rose. The pickups are 2 Quad-Rail humbuckers in the middle and bridge positions. The guitar has Volume and Tone knobs, a 3 way blade switch. The tone knob is a push/pull coil tap. A 9, because you don't get much better for 400AU.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Spirit_Crusher wrote: will an OFR fit on this guitar?
    Slight routing will need to be done, but it will fit.
    Trivium_XXX wrote: 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/
    Those JS series Jacksons are pieces of crap, the only thing they're good for is firewood.