I understand that many of our fine, registered posters here in the Epiphone Talk ® subforum click threads with a text title, only to be faced with the offensive sight of a post with more text - So let’s get photos out of the way: The recent NGD Kiesel that was sold the next day inspired me to post this thread several days after selling the titular guitar. I’ve wanted to try a Charvel Govan since its 2012 teasing, mainly in hope of it being a worthy competitor to my favored superstrat (a Vigier). The opportunity finally presented itself when someone listed a ‘17 Caramalized Ash on Reverb for a “The Cartel Has Begun Mailing Me Toes” price. My first impression was that the body (supposedly reduced in scale from the standard 22 fret San Dimas shape in order to remain proportionate to the 24 frets) was quite a bit larger than that of my Vigier. To get a sense of the guitar bodies I’m accustomed to, here’s the Charvel pictured next to a Parker and some purple toy guitar my four year-old daughter got at Toys R Us: The body has a very delicate finish that feels oiled and smells of ignited pixie stix. The neck finish feels like more of a standard satin. The neck carve is more substantial than what most would associate with a “shredder”, but by no means is it a baseball bat. The first detail to disturb me was the factory action: That may seem nice and low to some, but it was at a height I associate with 9.5” radius American stratocasters. Apparently this is Guthrie’s preference? In fact, the strings are raised to the necessary height for pulling the trem up to the end of its routed range (More than a major 4th) without the notes choking out. Thankfully, the fretwork is immaculate and, in conjunction with the conical radius, you can indeed lower the action until the strings are effectively sitting on the frets, and they’re not liable to choke while bending. This is where the “failure to integrate” problems begin to present themselves. Guthrie, at the end of the day, essentially looked at a 22 fret San Dimas and said “let’s incorporate stuff from my current signature Suhr into this existing design and sell that.” He then spent about two years deciding what he wanted to glow in the dark. This resulted in a signature guitar that I describe as being a hodgepodge of features that sabotage one another. Firstly, lowering the strings to the action allowed by the radius and fret leveling just lowers them into the non-adjustable bridge pickup that sits twice as tall in the route as the neck and middle pickups do: The direct-mounted pickups are routed so that the baseplate rests snugly against the wood - Meaning they’re very much non-adjustable from their factory-set height unless the owner is willing to route the cavities deeper to lower them, or shim them with foam to raise them. This strictly aesthetic choice undermines the functional choice of the frets and fingerboard radius: The guitar is set up to allow an action lower than what the bridge pickup allows it to be lowered to - The strings just sit against the pole pieces. So I raised the action back to where it was (to ensure I had the factory-set distance between the strings and pickups), and shimmed the neck. Thankfully, this workaround was as effective as it was embarrassing. Next, we have a component that isn’t immediately disturbing, but that gradually exposes the fatally-compromised system that’s been established: The Sperzel locking tuners had multiple string wraps. That detail may elicit a “so what?” reaction from the unacquainted; so I’ll touch on it: When you pull strings taut through locking tuners, lock them in place, then clip the excess, it removes the wraps that slacken and return out-of-tune following bending or trem use. Having multiple wraps of strings around locking tuner posts defeats their singular purpose. It came as no surprise when light trem use wrecked havoc on the tuning. I remedied this puzzling setup, and photographed the tuners just before clipping the A (to give you an idea of how much excess had been wrapped around the posts): I’ll come back to adress the nut. For now, I shift attention to the bridge: The original Floyd Rose bridge was essentially a two-point strat trem with locking saddles - Which is exactly the role being portrayed, here. Guthrie doesn’t like locking nuts or fine tuners, but the saddle radius needs to be much flatter on his signature guitar’s bridge than the ten inch reproductions of the original Floyd Rose are fabricated to. And, so, we arrive at one of the contributions toward why these guitars are so expensive: This Floyd knock-off is proprietary, and produced on a tiny scale. All for the sake of the fixed radius. Apparently, a height-adjustable saddle (such as you’d find on the first prototype of this guitar) wasn’t as ecomically viable as the far more expensive alternative they settled on. Another quirk is that the flange of each trem post is wider than the space routed behind the baseplate. The consequence of this is that you have no room to perform the Floyd trick of pulling the trem out of the guitar for setups while the strings remain attached to the tuners - In fact, you couldnt anyway; due to the strings being pulled taut and locked into the tuners as a condition of their operation resulting in not having the slack necessary to lift the bridge off the posts. Apparently, this is why the strings were wound around the posts of the locking tuners. To reiterate: The tuning stability of the proprietary bridge design chosen for tuning stability was compromised with improper string installation into the tuners chosen for tuning stability, for the sake of ease in adjusting the bridge and non-adjustable pickups. If you want to restore tuning stability, you have to remove the ease of adjustment, necessitating detuning the strings entirely and/or unscrewing the trem posts any time you need to remove the bridge. In case it isn’t clear: Such considerations are not present, much less necessary, when dealing with a standard, double-locking trem. Basically, a non-Floyd user sabotaged every positive effect and biproduct Floyd users take for granted in order to make a guitar with a Floyd Rose more palatable to someone who doesn’t like Floyds, mainly through the effort of reinstating every downside and cause for frustration that the standard Floyd design eliminates: -Strings requiring sufficient headstock angle to exert necessary downward force at the nut -Strings binding or breaking at the tuner post -Strings binding at the nut -The absence of fine-tuners necessitating the frustration of having to tune the strings in increments once the trem is balanced to float -The string length behind the nut creating enough slack for the strings to come out of the saddle-slots when depressing the bar and, finally, -The combination of all the preceding factors necessitating the old stratocaster trick of compensating for detuning by pulling up on the trem to forcibly reseat the strings to their “zero point.” And this is largely accomplished with an expensive, proprietary bridge that is fabricated exclusively for this guitar. Drink in the beauty of it, folks: This is a modern sculpture exploring the concept of fixing something until it’s broke.