Price paid: $ 399
Purchased from: Sam Ash-Ontario Mills Mall
Sound — 9
I play mostly rhythm lines in the style of punk rock and metal, so the relatively thin neck profile makes playing Barre and power chords much easier than on a Les Paul Studio I have previously owned, which I found to have a thicker, less comfortable neck. The 24-fret neck also allows for a full two-octave range, which I prefer over a 22-fret neck simply because of the availability of two full octaves of any musical scale. I usually run it through a Fender Frontman amp and Danelectro Black Coffee Distortion pedal. With the tone rolled off, the Bridge pickup has nice, bright twang, and the neck pickup has a warm, dark tone. The middle pickup logically sounds like a blend of the two sounds, albeit softer, as the middle pickup is a lower-output single coil. Overall, the Steinberger is a very well-rounded instrument, capable of playing any style of music you wish.
Overall Impression — 9
This guitar is a perfect match for any playing style. I am not the most skilled guitarist at this point in time, but I know enough to be able to make the statements that I have. Right now, I own only one electric: this Steinberger. But I own several Acoustic guitars, in various states of repair. If this guitar were stolen, I'd likely kill myself, as I have had this guitar signed by all five members of the Black Veil Brides, a band that inspires me deeply to make music. If I managed to survive this, however, I would definitely purchase another Steinberger. There are no major flaws I can cite about this guitar. It is overall a wonderful instrument. The only thing I wish it didn't have is the middle pickup. I really enjoy the tonal variation that the Steinberger has, but I only ever use the Bridge or neck humbuckers, and almost never the humbucker-single combo settings. I would recommend this guitar to any musician: a young guitarist seeking a beginner's instrument, an experienced player seeking a rock-solid touring guitar, or a traveling musician who seeks a small, light, compact instrument with the features of a full-sized guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The neck-thru body design feels rock solid when you are simply holding the guitar in your hands, and the guitar's sturdy truss rod makes the neck feel very rigid, but not uncomfortably so. This guitar could likely survive being slammed against a stage floor multiple times before sustaining damage significant enough to render it unplayable. The strap buttons hold the strap on the guitar very well under normal playing conditions. Also, with the Bridge locked down, the guitar stays in tune after only one tuning, and will not go out of tune unless the Bridge is released (the pitch tends to go flat when the locked Bridge is unlocked). This guitar is very solid as a guitar tuned to Standard E, and can be drop tuned as low as drop D with no problems. Low frets start to buzz if you attempt anything much lower, however. I would use this guitar without a backup with confidence, but knowing how unpredictable a gig can be, this isn't too bright of an idea to do with any guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The factory set-up for this guitar was excellent. The action was perfect, and there were no frets that buzzed to any degree. The pickups were also adjusted to an ideal level. The Bridge was set up perfectly as well, but unfortunately, I have no idea how-or even if-I can adjust the single spring that balances the tremolo system. The string spacing and radius is also very comfortable to play on.
Features — 8
24-fret, 25.5" scale neck with Rosewood fingerboard. Steinberger U-channel neck profile. Neck is thinner than a Les Paul, but thicker than an ESP Standard Thin-U profile. Solid-top maple neck-thru-body with maple wings. Solid white gloss finish. Steinberger Tremolo bridge. One volume knob, one tone knob, one 5-way pickup selector. H-S-H pickup configuration. Passive Steinberger brand pickups. Steinberger 40:1 double-ball tuning system. Gig bag, tremolo arm, 10-foot 1/4" instrument cable, 2 Allen wrenches, and instruction manual included. This category would have been rated a 8, if Steinberger didn't apparently discontinue the Spirit series instruction manual. All Steinberger guitars are now shipped with the manual for the Synapse line.