So I am going to take a moment and give a quick account of how this guitar came to be. I've played headless guitars (mainly Steinbergers found on the 'bay) for the last 15 years or so. When I got wind Kiesel was doing a 7 string headless, I could NOT get in line fast enough. (my first 7 string was a white UV7 I picked up in the late 90's. I played 7 string exclusively for some time, then went back to 6 when I landed my now full time gig in a cover/show band. The UV is also now pretty much a fretless from all the play time it saw over the years. ). After going over the options 1,000 times, I settled on a slight variation of the now famous blue 8 string from from one of the first NAMM videos, just going with a 7 instead of an 8, and doing maple instead of zebrawood. I triple checked all the options to verify that's what I wanted, and ordered first thing in the morning on February 2nd. (I had a show on the first, and didn't want to make a split decision trying to order on my phone on the road.) So here's what I ordered... Kiesel Vader 7 Deep Aqua Burst over flame 5pc Maple neck with Black Limba stripes Flamed Maple Fingerboard Clear Satin on back of neck Abalone Diamond inlays SS Jumbo Frets Chambered It arrived around April 2nd. (Just in time, as I was leaving the country for shows on the 4th-11th). And here she is... It is a gorgeous guitar, but I had a couple of issues with it. #1, I REALLY wanted the blue hue I saw in all the photos, and this one came in with a bit too much green for my liking. (I realize there is going to be some variation, but I didn't expect it to swing that much to the green side). #2, I was really hoping for a tighter flame, and this was a bit too "washed out". Since I was leaving the country in a couple of days, my 10 day window was going to expire while I was gone, so I had to decide FAST if I was keeping it or not. I was really considering just keeping it and getting another one later, but I called and talked to Keith in the custom shop, and he was VERY cool and basically said, "if you aren't 100%, send it back!". That pretty much sealed the deal. Boxed her up, slapped on the label, and away she went back across the country. So what did I re-build? Well, Keith and I talked at length before I left, and I ended going in a COMPLETELY different direction. (he really helped me with option choice and helped me figure out what I would be most happy with- I will NEVER order another Kiesel without calling first ; it made the process SO much easier.) I'll just get straight to it and post the pics... Options list : V7 Extended Scale Swamp ash body Antique ash treatment Spalted maple top Clear satin matte Chambered 5 piece maple neck w/limba stripes Ebony (light streaking) fingerboard SS Jumbo frets Kiesel Pickups This is, of course, a pretty drastic departure from what I ordered the first time. And truth be told, I STILL want a blue one. But after talking with Keith - and explaining I ALMOST sprung for the spalted top on the first order to set it off, he recommended the satin with that combo would look killer, and I have to agree! I also went with the Antique Ash for the sides/back. I LOVE the AA, and will definitely be doing one sans top with that treatment down the road. Out of the box, it played nicely, but needed minimal adjustment to get to my liking. (I have gravitated to a lighter touch over the years, so I dropped the action a notch and it's BUTTER now. No dead notes and super even across the entire register.) The satin matte feels incredible. Again, coming from the cold, sterile plastic feel of 80's era Steinbergers, this is a welcome change. The neck is a bit fatter than I am accustomed to, but nothing I didn't acclimate to quickly. (my other go to guitar on the road is an old MIJ PGM301. Anyone who has played one of those knows the neck is TINY.) And as far as weight goes, this weighs in right at about 6 lbs.. As far as tone, this thing sounds AWESOME. (but you probably knew that. ). I can only describe it as "like my Steinbergers, but more organic". Having played the bergs for so many years, I got adjusted to a certain amount of "staleness". (graphite necks with EMGs will do that). But this thing is alive. Really the best of both worlds, if you ask me. I am just getting geared up to write for a new side project (one of the reasons I bought the guitar) and I'll get some sound clips up when I have something worth posting. For the inquisitive folks out there, my road rig is a H&K Tubemeister through a 1x12 Mesa open back, and a Soul Food for extra kick on some solos. That last pic is just a quick phone shot I took of the VADER next to the Egan built Strandberg I picked up here a few months ago. That's about it, I imagine. Now, with a RARE Saturday night off, I am away to play some guitar. Cheers.