Experiences with Subzero guitars?

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by LostTheTone, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    I'm looking to buy my first seven string. The plan is to get something cheap so I can get used to playing a seven and figure out what I really want and need from a pricier one, while leaving enough cash in my budget to upgrade pickups if needed.

    I'm very tempted by either this one or possibly this one if I get saucy and go after a fanned fret guitar. Both are from little known brand SubZero, which I understand is the house brand of Gear4Music here in the UK.

    Obviously, they are pretty damn cheap, so that's helpful, but there's other reasons why I'm interested beyond price.

    The straight-fret SubZero one has a 27" scale neck, which is a huge plus to me compared to the cheapest Ibanez and Jackson sevens which are 25.5". My present down tuned guitar is a 25.5" and I've never liked the string tension of the low C even with really chonky strings. It is also routed for soapbar pickups, so I get the benefits of direct mounting and if/when I upgrade the pickups I have the option of EMG707s, which are surprisingly cheap here but only available in soapbars.

    I'm not expecting a spectacular guitar for £180, I know there's compromises. I know stock pickups are generally disappointing for both low tunings and high gain. I know I might want/need to upgrade there, and I'm leaving space in my budget for that.

    My question is - Are these guitars too good to be true? Has anyone had a bad experience with them?

    If I were to buy this random house brand, am I going to be really disappointed compared to a cheap Jackson or ESP? Just based on specs, the SubZero should have more stuff I want, but is it also going to be hot garbage?

    Oh and... Should I get the fanned one? I mean, it's prettier, and people say that fanned is just directly better. I don't know if I 100% need it, but is it wiser to learn on a fanned fret seven? Just... I can afford it and I could be convinced...
     
  2. Zado

    Zado SS.org Regular

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    Sorry I had to.
     
  3. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    If you’ve tried the house brand instruments and founds them acceptable for the price, I’d be willing to be the OEM line would also meet your needs.
     
  4. MetalDaze

    MetalDaze Repless in Seattle

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    Best advice for situations like this is to confirm the return policy.

    As a lefty, I have to buy most guitars sight unseen. You might have to pay return shipping, but that’s better than being stuck with something you don’t enjoy.
     
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  5. couverdure

    couverdure No Gear Day

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    Someone made a review on one of their Bass VI-type models. They seem to have the same type of quality Harley Benton has, which is also another store-based house brand.


    One of the guitarists from Loathe also used it in their newest guitar playthrough.
     
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  6. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    Gear4Music's return policy is pretty solid. There's 30 days to return anything, as long as it comes back in good shape. I would likely have to pay return shipping, although they will refund it if items are dead on arrival.

    Gear4Music are a reputable vendor, and I don't think they'd jack me up.
     
  7. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    my Redsub fan fret bass (same company) is killer. On par with Harley Benton in build and returns policy.
    I say DO IT and see whats what.
     
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  8. cip 123

    cip 123 Vendor

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    I’m actually pretty intrigued by this too.

    I’ve emailed about the availability of the fanned 8.

    for the money you’re getting a boatload of specs, including stainless frets and luminous side dots. And it doesn’t even look badly designed, the fan looks to have a good positioning of the perpendicular fret so it doesn’t look too extreme down the low end.


    I have some fishmans laying around, if the 8 is available I may well take the dive
     
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  9. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    That's really the right word, isn't it? Intriguing. They aren't so cheap that they make you skeptical, and they seem to be designed to be 7 and 8 strings, not just an afterthought.

    I think I am going to pull the trigger once I get to payday. Just see what happens!
     
  10. Phlegethon

    Phlegethon SS.org Regular

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    There is a good chance they're made in the same factory as Jackson/LTD guitars. So at least the people doing it are presumably familiar with guitar building

    The guitar is likely going to have similar quality to a Jackson/LTD of similar price. Resale value is laughable because it's a store brand, and that's usually how it goes. The only exception I'm aware of regarding store brands and inability to get money from selling them used is Traynor. That being said, if the guitar arrives at your house and doesn't have something wrong with it that would prompt a return? There's worse things to spend 300 pounds on.

    I would personally buy a 25.5" scale length for my first 7 string. I haven't had problems in getting things to sound appropriate on the low B, but then again the lowest I'll ever go is whole step down on the low B. But from what I remember playing on a fanned fret Ibanez RG7 in a music store once? The fan was noticeable, and wouldn't buy a fanned fret as my first kick at the 7 string can.
     
  11. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    There is a reasonable chance that I'm just being too picky about my downtuned six, but man I really do want a 27" guitar.

    I can see what you're saying about the fanned fret model. On the one hand, I am still tempted, because the only way to make the transition is to just start playing a fanned axe. On the other hand, changing too much stuff makes for a stiffer learning curve.
     
  12. cip 123

    cip 123 Vendor

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    It seems to be designed after a VIK style guitar which again lends me to the thought they actually had a player design these. It’s got a VIK headstock and similar style body. So seems like someone who’s in to ERG has been in on the design which is good.
     
  13. p88

    p88 SS.org Regular

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    I have the 27" black 7 string, and it's a great instrument for the money. The specification is so good for what you pay.

    The neck is medium-thin and rounded, but not thick. Nice and playable. It has an alder body (not some mystery wood), a maple neck and a graphite nut. The bridge has a nice tone to it, and the pickups are passable.

    All of this makes it a great candidate for a project, but it's also good as it is if you're strapped for cash.

    I upgraded the pickups to Fishman Fluence Modern's and hooked up a kill switch. This thing sounds ridiculously heavy, tight and clear. It's now easily the best sounding 7 string i've played.

    Tuning stability was fine too, from memory. But I still upgraded to non-locking Gotoh tuners for peace of mind (these were direct drop ins, no modification needed).

    There are a few minor finish imperfections if you look for them, but nothing glaringly bad...but for the price can you really complain?

    I will say that the frets were a little sharp, but a $/€/£5 file from eBay and a few minutes will fix that.

    Also, another thing to note is that if you play in the classical position, this style of arm cut (Blackmachine style, rather than Strat style) can cause wrist discomfort on your picking arm, as there's essentially a corner digging in to it. I also found this to be the case with other guitars with the same style arm cut, so this 'issue' isn't specific to SubZero guitars.

    I'm currently tuned to Drop-A with 9-42+56 D'Addario strings (I prefer the sound of thinner strings), so this scale length really helps with tension and keeping things playable.

    I highly recommend this guitar - for the price you absolutely cannot go wrong. It's a lot of guitar for £189.

    I personally would get the 27" standard scale model, and put the £110 you save towards upgrades (if that's what you're looking to do).

    Pictures attached!
     

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  14. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    Yeah I think that's what I'm going to do.

    I really don't like black super strats, and I had sort of promised myself not to get another one. However, when I'm looking just at getting something to learn with, I'm a lot more worried pickups than either fanned fret or pettiness.

    Cheers for the write up dude, it does give me more confidence that I'll get something playable.
     
  15. p88

    p88 SS.org Regular

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    You absolutely have the right mindset, in my opinion.

    My first 7 string was a custom, and it was immaculately made and played ridiculously well - however, I messed up on some of the fundamental options, and that ruined my experience with the guitar and ultimately resulted in me selling it for quite a big loss.

    Had I experimented with cheaper gear to find out what I really liked, I could have spec'd my ideal custom down the line - something that I would keep and not lose money on.
     
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  16. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Elegant Djentleman

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    That's what I'm trying to remember as I look at fancier guitars - It does feel slightly odd to be right down at the bottom end of the range again, but it's got to be the right choice.

    Honestly, I don't even know how much I'm going to play a seven. It's a hobby thing for a guy who is mostly a singer not a guitarist. So keeping the entry cost down has to be a good idea.

    And, like you did, maybe I'll throw Fishmann's in later in the year and get something really fun. But if it mostly lives on the rack and only comes out when I really fancy it, well at least that's not too much wasted.
     
  17. pondman

    pondman Build Whore.

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    If the neck plays ok I can't see a problem. Changing the pickups and whatever is easy so how can you loose.
     
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  18. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    I just bought the Redsub Fan Fret 6 Coliseum from these guys to go with my Redsub INF fan fret 4 I already have.
    Delivery is tomorrow. Its an absolute beast with basically Dingwall scale length (as good as in this price range anyway)
    Cannot wait.

    its a beauty

    Screenshot 2021-01-16 at 16.50.24.png
    6280B141-1AF7-4BB4-9AD3-B0102E90FE7E.jpeg.b5583e61c0edcfb4b59ef1e8a3160c1a.jpeg
     
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  19. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    assuming you guys have seen this already but if not -

     
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  20. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Do you already have it? The couch pic is throwing me off.

    Either way, let me know what you think. I'm wanting a 6 string bass to tune to F#, and this sounds like the cheapest way to get there. But, I want to make sure it plays really well because I'll have to switch out all of the electronics and pups if I want the classic dingwall tone.
     
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