Bring me up to speed... Japanese ’bergs

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by TMM, Jul 17, 2018.

  1. TMM

    TMM UUDDLRLRBAStart

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    I have admittedly been out of the loop on this forum for 3+ years. What’s the deal with current Strandbergs?

    I was in the loop back when S7 had just stopped their failed launch at mass-produced Bodens (huge variance in quality), and Washburn had just been engaged to be the new producer.

    FF >> a little while, and it looks like there are now Washburn (USA), Japanese, and (something else... Indonesian?) Bodens on the market, alongside the ever amazing (looking, anyway) handbuilt / M2M monsters.

    So, what’s the deal with each?

    My experience so far has been:

    1) an S7-built Boden 8 - loved the concept, and the crazy neck contours, but the guitar was overall pretty flawed, gave me a bad taste for Strandbergs

    2) last year, on a whim, I picked up a USA custom Boden 8. It was okay, but didn’t strike me as anything special, and I moved on

    To-date, I’ve owned 6 Vaders of varying configurations (6, 7, multiscale, standard), and every one of them left the 2 Strandbergs I’ve experienced in the dust in every aspect.

    The only thing I wished the Vaders had was that interesting neck contour, so I could experience that on a more inspiring instrument, but their own more traditional neck shape is already awesome as-is.

    So, maybe I need to try a 6 or 7 string Boden? Talking to a ‘berg-experienced user yesterday, I was told 7’s are the sweet spot for IPNP... true?

    And what’s the deal with all the different lines? USA, Japan, elsewhere... casual observer says the Japanese Bodens look eons more appealing than the other lines in terms of finish, wood choices, electronics, and attention to detail. All the models GC offers look like high-school woodshop slabs of lackluster, Boden-shaped wood.

    Thoughts? Recommendations?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    Boden J are probably the nicest overall right now. Sweden custom shop and M2M are dead, and the US custom shop is pretty lacking in options. Production models got moved out of Korea to Indonesia so YMMV on that one. Boden Classics are great as far as China guitars go but they're also not all that exciting.

    I'd likely wait for next year to see what they come up with.
     
  3. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire hardtail crusader

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    I've owned 3 vaders (1 straight scale, 2 multiscale) and 3 strandbergs (2 MIK OS8s and a S7 custom 8).
    vaders were better guitars straight out of the box, they have better options for the price point and I find the design to be more comfortable.
    My custom boden has the IPNP neck, and I think it's a way better neck than the endurneck, which is horrendously thick on 8 strings (and also the least comfortable neck of any 8 string I've owned). The IPNP feels great, the tapering profile is a lot less gimmicky than the endurneck and conforms better to my hand.
    My first OS8 was fine looking, nothing amazing, but set up and played well. The second was neither set up well, or looked that great. I really soured on that guitar since strandberg was charging people extra $$ to get a gloss finish/quilt top/ebony board and the tops were in some cases (like mine) bargain bin quilt tops you'd see on low end guitars. That experience coupled with the less than optimal ergonomics (strap button digs into my chest and had to be relocated/forearm contour isn't as comfortable as my vader) basically pushed me away from the brand. YMMV but I found vaders and the ormsby goliath to be far better guitars in terms of specs to price point ratio/overall comfort for me.

    I've heard the japanese ones are better quality, but I think that price point is absurd to pay for a production guitar. 3K+ is custom mayones/waghorn/etc territory. Strandberg also doesn't make anything with the IPNP profile anymore ( Toone doesn't license it out anymore afaik), so I doubt you'll be seeing a production guitar with that feature anytime.
     
  4. oracles

    oracles Australian in Canada

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    Strandberg is the lowest overall value headless guitar there is at all their respective price points. The appeal is solely in the shape and hardware, and if you arent married to those things, competitor headless models are simply built better and are more customizable. The J-Bodens are their best quality guitars, but they're priced uncompetitively against others. The CS Strandberg I played was quite a poor instrument, and it certainly wasnt cheap. Granted it was an early build, but I was sorely disappointed.
     
  5. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    I'll always go with Strandberg over Kiesel because their guitars look less dumb and aren't tied in with Jeff's shenanigans and flakey track record.

    But realistically you're not missing much by not getting an endurneck profile on a 6 or 7 -- it'll always be a subjective preference things, but naturally it'll makes a bigger difference on bigger necks. If that's the only thing holding you back on a Kiesel, go for it.
     
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  6. Emperor Guillotine

    Emperor Guillotine The Almighty Ruler

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    In a nutshell, here is what Strandberg production is looking like:

    Import line: the OS line that was being built in Korean has stopped and production has shifted over to China (for the Classics and the Singularity models) while all of the rest has gone to Indonesia (Standard, Prog, Fusion, and Metal models). Market prices have gone up (of course) and the cost of production has now gone down with this shift. Ola said that he could guarantee the same quality as previously; although with the track records of the Indonesian and Chinese factories in recent years, I rather question that guarantee.

    USA line: after S7G tanked their own business, production moved to the Washburn/Parker factory which shut down awhile back. After that, Ola ceased USA production altogether and focused production in the Asian factories (at the time, this was the Korean-made OS line). The USA Custom Shop recently popped up, but it doesn't look like they are getting any orders. There aren't many options offered, and the USA prices are ridiculous when compared to the Japanese-built Bodens and the Swedish-built Bodens (both which offer more options).

    Japanese line: the J-Bodens are built in Japan for the Japanese market (since Japan has this big thing about pride in domestic products and Japanese-built guitars dominate the music scenes there). Same as how there is Schecter Japan, Fender Japan (until Fender took over), Edwards (from ESP), etc. All of these companies are manufacturing guitars in Japan for the Japanese market. The J-Bodens aren't priced competitively, which is why you pretty much never see any outside of Japan. You'll see maybe one or two here or there, but not many. The high price must reflect something about the Japanese market and demand because if the J-Bodens were targeted for the global market then they would HAVE TO be priced smarter and more competitively. With that said, the J-Bodens have a vast amounts of options to choose from as far as woods, finish colors, and pickups available. So, that is a good thing. (Still not sure if it even remotely justifies the high prices though.)

    Swedish line: the Swedish Custom Shop was established and took over M2M operations so that Ola no longer has to build guitars himself. The Swedish Custom Shop also has moved (not sure if it only moved once or twice); but since then, I have seen far less Swedish Strandbergs around the online guitarist community. I'll see an occasional M2M that was built awhile back before the big reshuffling of everything, but that's about it. Nothing recent (like post-2016/2017) that is touted as a "Swedish Custom Shop" guitar. It seems as though less and less people are wanting Swedish-built Strandbergs because of the now astronomically high asking prices for a commission as well as the wait-times. More people would rather opt for a production model from one of the other lines (mainly the Indonesian or Chinese import line) that is ready to go and then just mod it themselves to see fit. Like Avedas said above, I too would venture to say that the Swedish Custom Shop and M2M are dead. Or maybe the hype behind Strandberg has just diminished?

    With so many readily available production models with solid specs available (not just from Strandberg but from other companies as well), it just makes sense as to why people are gravitating away from the "custom guitar" hype that saturated the guitarist community for the past eight to ten years.
     
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  7. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    I love japan more then anything. But let’s be honest when you say pride in domestic production you mean wildly racist xenophobic culture with massive protectionist tariffs.
     
  8. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    What @Avedas meant was that they are literally dead / i.e., they have officially shut down. It has nothing to do with demand and more to due with the profitability of building one-at-a-time guitars in Sweden vs. the more "mass market" ventures Ola has been pursuing more recently.

    And dude, all your analyses of the Japanese guitar market is way off.
     
  9. Emperor Guillotine

    Emperor Guillotine The Almighty Ruler

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    Woah. Did not know that they actually shut down. I've been out of the loop as well since I sold my Strandberg.

    Yeah, I didn't want to put it that way, but you're right @diagrammatiks. Some of my favorite guitars have been built in Japan, exclusively for the Japanese market, and I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to get one or two imported to me here in the USA. But aside from that, the prices on some Japanese-built guitars are nuts for what they are. (Granted, some Japanese companies do produce high quality instruments that merit such as price tag; whereas, others don't.) Then on the flip side, the tariffs that are imposed on goods being imported into Japan are nuts as well. I see why USA PRS models, USA Fenders, Gibsons, etc. are so pricey and so desirable over in Japan now.
     
  10. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    Imports are pretty reasonably priced unless they're USA built, which is why a typical EBMM or PRS can easily go over $4000 here :lol:

    I really wish Aristides would pick up another dealer here. Right now it's just one shop in Chiba which is far out of the way of everything. I think they'd slay in this market just like Mayones has been doing as an import brand. Pretty much every high end shop is stocking Mayos at a reasonable price and you can see them being played at local shows relatively frequently.
     
  11. TMM

    TMM UUDDLRLRBAStart

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    Thanks for all the info everyone! Sounds like the little is gathered from my buddy Google + my limited experience wasn’t far off. I’ll probably stop actively trying to find a ‘Berg.

    More than that, this is actually making me 2nd guess parting with my Mayo Hydra 7, which is an absolute monster, and flawless (it’s only fault is retaining too much gear capital!).

    Not understanding all the negativity around Kiesel... like I said, I’ve owned 6 Vaders (including 1 I ordered for myself, and a Zeus on the way any day now), and have nothing but good things to say about them (and although I’ve been absent on this forum for a little while, if you search my posting history, you’ll see I’ve had a decent guitar or two to compare with). All the (limited) customer service I’ve required from Kiesel has been prompt and helpful. What’s the deal?
     
  12. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    It's all great until it's not.
     
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  13. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    I dunno why’d you sell the hydra if you don’t need a longer scale or a multiscale.
     
  14. AdenM

    AdenM Illuminaughty

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    I didn't realize that the M2M side of Strandberg was over... sucks, esp. with the production on the mass-produced line moving to Indonesia. Anyone know why Ola is focusing on that side of the business?
     
  15. Avedas

    Avedas SS.org Regular

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    Production guitars bring in a lot more revenue than custom?
     
  16. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    In business we generally try to focus on the parts that make money.
     
  17. TMM

    TMM UUDDLRLRBAStart

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    Straight up $... would like to sink some of that capital elsewhere than in a guitar, especially when I know there are other similar, great options (Vaders) that can be acquired for much less and still meet my needs.

    Years into the “tone search”, I’m realizing, in retrospect, that I’ve managed to sound just as much like myself with an AX7521 + a Peavey XXX as I have with a Mayo through a Diezel. I’m not saying all gear is equal, but as long as it’s playable and responsive, the rest of the equation is ears + hands.

    I got the Mayo out of sheer curiosity... I love headless guitars, and wanted to see what all the Mayo hype was about. I can subjectively say the hype is well-justified, it’s a crazy nice guitar. My favorite ever? No... but probably top 10... maybe top 5.
     
  18. AdenM

    AdenM Illuminaughty

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    Didn't mean to ask a naive question, sorry; just felt that the boutique M2M stuff was really what advanced Strandberg/headless guitars in general and Ola was pushing those concepts. It seemed like as of late the headless market has begun to be colonized by other makers (esp. boutique).
     
  19. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Classic case of someone having a great idea but so-so execution.

    With all the issues Strandberg [brand] has had, I’m actually surprised they’re where they are. It shows how great the EGS concept is and Ola’s commitment to it.
     
  20. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    My Korean OS6 is much nicer than my old Washburn Boden 7. Once my Padalka Neptune showed up though (maybe in Feb?) I’ve played the Strandberg maybe all of 20 minutes. I like my buddy’s Zeus quite a bit, but I still prefer my OS6 over it. Maybe just because I’m used to it, but I could happily play either. I prefer the Neptune over any other headless I’ve played.
    Maybe you can score a deal on a used OS?
     

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