Features — 8
Made in Korea in mid to late 1980's Viper KR-564 GPSK part of an with the graphics carved into the body not just painted on.
- Construction / Scale Bolt on / 25.1". Contoured Top. Angled headstock*.
- Body: solid Alder
- Neck / Fingerboard: Birdseye Maple / Rosewood
- Inlays: Sharkfins (Plastic)
- Hardware: All Black. 6 in line Samick enclosed tuners, 16:1 ratio.
- Bridge: licensed under Floyd Rose, you feed the strings through the tremolo on this one, no need to cut the balls off the strings, where you usually use an allen key to loosed/tighten the block the string sits in you feed the string through on this tremolo, recessed cavity.
- Binding: Double bound body and neck profiling.
- Frets: 24 Dunlop XJ
- Pickups: 3 Seymour Duncan, 1 humbucker and 2 single coil humbuckers, not sure what models
- Electronics: 1 volume, two tone controls, 5-way selector
- Passive electronics
- Standard Colors and Finishing Hand carved motif with Skulls and Snakes Custom Graphics.
Sound — 8
The story goes this is the predecessor to the George Lynch signature ESP there is a webpage dedicated to a long discussion the history of these 2 guitars here - there is huge debate on the internet about Samick and the guitars they have produced for other big companies. I play metal and decided to put this guitar through the paces. I have tended to let it sit in a case for a while and dragged it out for this review. I decided to learn some Marco Sfogli songs it which goes from sweet ballads with some guitar gymnastics thrown in to crunchy heavy rock borderline Metal Shred. This guitar was built to rock. The amp I use is a Carvin XB 212 and just use the hi lead channel with reverb. No outside effects at all. I am not a fan of single coils and the hum they produce so this guitar is great in that is has the single coil sized humbuckers in the neck and middle positions. I was flicking the toggle switch from neck to bridge as I whizzed down the fretboard just like you see Ritchie Blackmore do in a solo and this guitar performs extremely well. You get a nice change in tone and no drop in volume. The clean sound from the pickups is great on a clean channel. It is a little hard to get them to clean right up on a lead channel though.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Since it is second hand it was set up fine. It has really good low low action and the strings sit very even across the fretboard. The picks ups are great I always tweak things to my own satisfaction. I have noticed that on this guitar I think the previous owner may well have changed the bridge pick up and disconnected the tone controls, I get no difference in tone when I turn them no matter what pick up it is on. There is no option for coil splitting either. It stays in tune well with a lot of whamy bar abuse and it is nicely finished all round. The locking tremolo is good.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is surprising thin on the body and light, the neck is amazing, it is ultra thin and real easy to play on, arpeggios and fast legato runs are require no effort at all. Upper access is extra good because the neck joint has a nice slant on it so your hand is not obstructed by a big bulky joint. Good deep cutaway on the lower horn too. Because this is an Alternative series with the graphic a quote from the Gunthermoose site echoes my thoughts well - "these custom graphics are not just painted, but CARVED and painted instead. I've got to admit that is indeed surprising to find this kind of craft on any guitar today, regardless of price range. As far as I can tell, this job was not done using fillers, epoxy or special painting or profiling materials, but true painstaking hand (or at most carefully machine) carving instead, chiselling relevant details on the graphic pattern, creating 3D trimmings and profiling contours (e.g. sword's grips and blades, snake's rings, eyes, fangs and rattles, saliva drops, inter alia) that greatly enhance the motif itself." There is a little scuffing on the back but no noticeable marks on the front. It seems real reliable but I would have a back up just because restringing can be a pain with a Floyd despite this one having the string through the Floyd feed and no need to cut the balls off. The strap buttons are fine on this guitar I have not got around to replacing them with strap locks yet.
Overall Impression — 9
With the cool sounds you can pull from this guitar it is versatile with been able to hammer out massive crashing power chords screaming lead solos and subtle mellow sounds it suits playing rock and metal well as well as many other styles. I have been playing for over 20 years and mainly play shreddy type stuff Dan Mumm, Marco Sfgoli, some Deep Purple and the like. The note articulation from this instrument is great really good for sliding into notes and wide string skipping. The neck is reasonable wide, sort of like a Fender HM Strat.
I am really impressed with this guitar, it gets dismissed as a bit of a novelty item because of the graphic (as good as it is ) However with he popularity of one George Lynch I guess it can't be all that bad and yes I know it is not the ESP but a Samick. The story behind this guitar is too long to go into detail here but the given link will answer a lot of questions.
If it were possible to replace I would in a heartbeat these guitars don't come up often and some asking prices are a bit obscene. It sat in a pawnbrokers here for well over a week and I snapped it up. A friend of mine played it and said it was the best (in his opinion ) guitar I had at that time I had a Jackson JDR94 and a Charvel Model 4, Charvel 650XL, Peavey Tracer LT and a couple of others. I now have a Jackson PC3, Godin G4000, B.C. Rich Ironbird NJ Series and the beast, Jackson DK2, Kramer Focus 6000, Kramer Assault 220, Fender HM Strat, Hearfield Talon. I guess in a way it is close to the Fender Heartfield which often gets compared to an Ibanez because they look the same and came out of the same factory as the Jem line.
There is not really anything I would change except for getting the tone controls working but the tremolo is good easy to pull back on for squeals and you can do cool whammy bar flutters with it too.
I think if you dig the looks of Alternative series and have the chance to grab one at a reasonable price you may well be surprised at the build quality and playability of these guitars It is a good solid rock /metal machine with a superb fretboard for fast shredding and good note articulation.