Vik Guitars Domineer FF9 - The NGD.

Discussion in 'Extended Range Guitars' started by Winspear, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    cSo here it is, after 3 years of dreaming and a year of building, the first Vik 9 string is done :D

    Build: http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/lu...er-9-string-multiscale-build.html#post2685334

    Final specs:
    scale: 24.75"-29.25" - Perpendicular fret at the 8th
    frets: 24 stainless steel jumbo 6100
    tuning: EA EADGBE A (All flat)
    neck/body system: ViK ISNC deeply set-in
    fingerboard: Madagascar ebony, no radius flat, bound in claro walnut
    neck wood: wenge/purpleheart/flame maple
    body wood: swamp ash
    top/headstock wood: Curly claro marble walnut
    nut: buffalo horn
    inlays: glow in the dark side dots, Gold Mother of Pearl custom design
    bridge: fixed ABM with Graphtech piezo saddles
    tuners: Gotoh 510 locking with plastic buttons, 1:21 ratio
    pickups: ViK slanted 9s - maple/ebony bobbins,
    GraphTech piezo pickups + Acoustiphonic preamp, Parallel switching on magnetics
    knobs: Gotoh speed
    strap buttons: Dunlop recessed
    finish: Satin

    Needless to say there is a lot to talk about! Received her safely to my parents place 2 days ago and went over to pick it up. Been playing nonstop ever since!
    I'll try and cover everything from end to end of the guitar but I am sure I will forget some things!

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    Hooooly shit :scream:

    Didn't quite know what to do at this point haha. I kinda poked at it for a few moments and then spent a good while just looking it over.
    First impressions were how small and light this guitar is! I don't know how much it weighs but it's quite the same as my RG7321. Turns out that despite the extra 4" on the strings, due to the bridge position and split headstock it actually comes up an inch or so shorter than the Ibby :hbang:I was expecting this guitar to be pretty huge as it seemed that way throughout the build pics.

    I was able to give it some playing but it needed a truss adjustment due to the climate change coming from Belarus so I took off the strings to put on my pretty specific set of Circle K's very soon.

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    Look at those stainless steels shining away! :D

    And because no NGD thread is complete without an approving kitty, I have borrowed one especially for this photoshoot:

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    9 string barre chords all day!

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    So..from head to toe, here is the review! WALL.OF.TEXT. I think you can only put 10 pics in a post so I'll do one immediately after this with what I have taken and a few of Viks pro shoots for the details!



    Tuners: The Gotoh 510 locking tuners are fantastic. I've barely touched them as they held even a brand new set of strings pretty much in tune through 2 days of playing without even stretching them up. I've never used locking tuners before - the mechanism is very handy. The buttons are amazingly comfortable, and operation is so smooth and precise with the 1:21 gear ratio.

    Truss rods: It has two, a double action on the treble side from the headstock and a single action on the bass side from the bridge. Sturdy!

    Nut: The buffalo horn nut is really well cut, nice and rounded so touching it a little due to the fan sometimes is perfectly comfortable.

    Neck, board, frets: Wow. Of course, this thing is big. The string spacing is as normal, 6.8-10.16mm so the nut is about 64mm I think. Like I said, my first thoughts were how small this guitar is, relatively. Funnily enough, that also applies to the neck, to an extent!
    The profile is very thin (19.5mm to 22.5mm), nice D shape. It's the most comfortable neck I have ever felt - I'd be very interested to feel what it is like on a normal guitar as it's hard to have perspective here.
    Fretboard: The flat fingerboard is not something I have tried outside of classical guitars but it seemed logical for such a wide instrument. Definitely the right choice - incredibly comfortable and the action is even and real low across the board.
    Fretjob: Feel very sorry for Vik having to shape 24 very long stainless steels haha! :yesway: The fret job is perfect - stainless steels are great - so shiny and it's nice to know they'll last a long time! Bends on these are an absolute breeze. I feel like my tension is lower when bending even though it is exactly the same which is awesome.
    Inlays: Vik totally nailed the design I sent him. Spot on, and the gold MOP is beautiful, brilliant compliment to the lighter woods on this guitar. The side dots look perfect on the walnut binding - I haven't had a look at them glowing in the dark yet! There are no fretboard inlays, which I haven't experienced for about 4 years now but I've gotten used to it very quickly. The side dots being misaligned in your line of sight on a fanned fret, like some people have reported, is a non issue. My eye seems to navigate down the fret no problem, despite the fan being on the more extreme end of things.

    The stupidly large fan:
    4.5" fan on this. I began with a question of what range/tuning do I want, and what would be tonally ideal? I wanted to not rely on Octave4Plus strings for the high Ab, so did some testing and calculations with readily available gauges between 7 and 9 to decide on 24.75" as a sturdy scale length for this string. It would also give a great sweet tone on the high end - I did not want to go above ~26" regardless of breakage. The low end was especially a concern because of drop tuning to Eb rather than F. I am not happy with the sound or feel of thick gauges on short scales, not liking the sound of anything above 65 on 25.5", even 27". This adds further problems as I don't like light tension. Despite the long 29.25" scale, the Eb string is a .086 gauge to give around the same tension as a .049 E string on a standard guitar.
    The 29.25" scale allows this string to sing unhindered. I will talk more about the tone later.
    As for the feel of the huge fan (0.5625" per string - 3.375" on a 7 string or 3.9375 on an 8, for perspective), which many of you had shown concern for, it is absolutely fine. I have never played a fanned fret before and have limited experience on baritones (I do however play a 35" 6 string bass). As I mentioned earlier, this guitar seemed very small. I barely even noticed the fan and it took zero adaption. It is comfortable to play all kinds of things at both ends of the fretboard. The only thing which threw me off temporarily was of course the string to string navigation, and the lack of fret markers. I've only had it 2 days and am now completely comfortable.
    I told you my method of choosing the scale lengths - beyond that it was a simple question of can I learn to play it comfortably, which, with the help of some templates, was a yes. I did expect it to be very strange but very nice, and take a while of adaption. As it is, it's just perfectly natural. I urge anyone considering ERGs to try a fan if it is an option and to push it as wide as you can. The tonal benefits are astounding. I look forward to trying an ordinary sized fan at some time, if one this huge is so easy I can only imagine what a smaller fan is like!

    Heel/joint: The set neck heel on this is amazing. Completely unobstructed access all the way to that sweet Ab6! The way it should be. The neck joint surely adds a lot to the tone - you can see in the construction pics that it is visible in the bridge pup cavity!

    Body: Really glad Vik sent me this shape which didn't happen to be on the main page of the website, only used in one bass guitar before. It's perfect and makes this guitar look incredibly natural/organic in terms of proportion and the angle of the fan etc. The horn is huge, with the strap button on the back at about the 11th fret! Balance is, of course, absolutely perfect. You will be seeing a lot more of this body shape in the future!
    The body carve is fantastic. Quite thin, very aesthetic, and a very comfortable arm contour and belly carve.

    Bridge: ABM fixed singles, one of the very few options for a fanned fret especially with piezo. Top loading. I love them. Very comfortable, I don't even notice they are there. They adjust nicely - The only complaint is that intonation is a bit slow because you need to loosen the string a touch to get to the intonation screw. They look great!

    Pickups+tone: Aesthetically brilliant of course, they sound just as good as they look. The neck is a fat, warm PAF type tone - the leads just sing and a beautifully smooth. It is an Alnico II magnet, I am unsure on the specs of the bridge but it is much hotter. A very nice throaty midrange growl and fat attack. I compared it to some BKP DI's through the same tone for perspective and found it to be quite similar to the Riff Raff, though hotter - moving towards a Painkiller type tone. Upon playing my usual tone testing chord on the 6 strings, I immediately noticed some kind of classic rock tone to it, which is definitely a welcome flavour. It has all the power and clarity it needs across the entire range of the guitar, with a very colourful character. There's almost a single coil spank to them even on high gain.
    The piezo is fantastic, coupled with the Acoustiphonic Preamp. Not so harsh and snappy as many piezos I have heard, enough body to put out a full sound without needing to crank the bass.
    Both pickups have pushpull switching for series/parallel. Parallel is not something I have tried before - I'm very happy with it. It thins out the sound a little and gives a tone somewhere towards a Strat. It's great for rhythm and lead on high gain, not just cleans!
    The variety of tones available from this guitar is just nuts. And what shocked me is how almost every pickup, setting, or combination, including the piezo, is viable for any application. :hbang:

    Controls: Love them. The positioning allows very easy adjustment whilst playing and doesn't get in the way at all like I have found on many guitars. The Gotoh speed dials have the position marker that I requested for obsessive recording precision which is great, haha. The have a textured band around them which makes them very easy to adjust. The pots are incredibly smooth. Both the toggle and minitoggle (mag settings, piezo blend) are really sturdy. Vik did a real nice trick with the piezo blend switch so that the battery for the Graphtech preamp is not engaged unless in piezo position. And there was me considering taking the battery out if I were not playing the piezo for a while!
    Oh, almost forgot to mention the angle of the output jack is a really nice touch. The strap button is further up the body than usual and the cable leads straight up and through it for safe playing!
    The battery box was a nice surprise. Never seen a cool one like this before..just the cheapos with a ribbon to pull and a snap on. This has a box that rotates out of the guitar and then the battery slides into it.

    Finish: Incredible - never seen anything like it in person. The satin finish makes for really smooth playing on the neck and just as smooth on the body. It's nice to feel the wood and not have any stickiness from a gloss or paint finish. I've actually been wearing long sleeves or a sock over my picking hand to avoid my forearm sticking on the body this last year. With this finish, it's not at all necessary. My forearm glides along the body smoothly allowing me to pick up and down the strings comfortably without lifting my arm.

    Aesthetic: I don't even need to comment on this. See the pics. :eek: You can't even imagine how much better it looks in real life, even! The detail is overwhelming. I could list all the little cool things here and there but just check out the pics!

    Overall tone/feel: It was amazing to experience such a long scale length coupled with correct gauges and perfect setup for the first time. Acoustically, the bass strings, whilst nice and tight, have a smooth flexibility given by the long vibrating area. Very pleasant to play. They do not sound or feel like dead planks as was the case with the gauges necessary to tune much below B on 25.5". They sing with a full, incredibly clear tone with a great balance of fundamental/harmonic. You can feel how powerfully the guitar resonates through your body whilst playing. The wide fan range gives a perfect tonal balance across the entire guitar. Volume levels are perfect and no string takes up more space tonally than another. It's truly amazing.
    It plays like butter. If I had to describe this guitar with one word it would be 'transparent' - despite the crazy dimensions I simply don't notice it whilst I am playing. There is no obstruction at all - the scales, perp fret placement, flat fingerboard, low action, wonderful neck carve, and short reach to the low frets all add up to a feel you need to experience to understand! :agreed: Oh - the bending issue that some talk about on fanned frets is not noticeable either for me.

    I'm overwhelmed. It's exactly what I imagined and so much more. The whole experience was fantastic and Vik was a pleasure to work with. Top notch communication and very helpful, updates every step of the way! Can't wait for the next one :lol: Highly, highly recommended. Vik - thank you so much!

    I promise I'll have clips and vids and stuff within a week! But for now more pictures :)
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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  3. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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  4. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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  5. kruneh

    kruneh SS.org Regular

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    Congrats, that is sick!
    Now, back to reading the review :yesway:
     
  6. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    I almost forgot to mention something interesting. I mentioned how the guitar feels very small. However, going back to the 7 or the bass - they both feel and look absolutely tiny. It's very strange. The Ibby feels and looks like a banjo, and the bass frets don't feel a stretch anymore. The neck doesn't seem wide either.

    So, the Vik clearly IS a stretch in all directions (obviously) but somehow the design makes it very transparent and comfortable allowing me to get used to it in minutes.
     
  7. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Eek, also forgot to mention my reaction to the additional range! I had ideas for how to use all the range which is why I ordered a 9 string, of course - but I did not expect the addition of notes to go almost unnoticed. The extra strings have worked seamlessly into my playing without effort, surely helped by the incredible tone. You don't feel as if you shouldn't play certain things on the lowest string because it will be too muddy, for example. I find myself using it on the higher frets plenty, which on shorter guitars really doesn't sound good.
    This is also the first time playing a standard tuning shape since March - my Ibby has been in an open tuning since then.
     
  8. Fiction

    Fiction For Mod

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    So epic! and my jaw is still at the ground at the size and the everything!

    Congrats, man!

    :D
     
  9. SuperMutant

    SuperMutant Banned

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    Dat neck...
     
  10. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    You can see this whole gallery in the build thread or on Viks facebook, but here are a few of my favourite details:

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    Serial 12802 - 2012, 8th series (Domineer) 2nd build, 01 being the bass
    Nice signature from the man himself :)


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  11. Kwampis

    Kwampis Well-Known Member

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    That guitar is astoundingly gorgeous.
     
  12. Thrashmanzac

    Thrashmanzac plays in 69/42

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  13. Dead Undead

    Dead Undead New again

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    Looks absolutely stunning, man! Congrats!
     
  14. elq

    elq (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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    9 strings of hot buttered sex. Congrats!
     
  15. TRENCHLORD

    TRENCHLORD Banned

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    That's surely one of the most functionaly crazy sick guitars ever!!! congrats
     
  16. XxSilverburstDiezelxX

    XxSilverburstDiezelxX Audio Engineer

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    Is it rude for me to ask about price? Just curious as to how much a build similar to these specs would run.
     
  17. ikarus

    ikarus SS.org Regular

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    awesome!!!
     
  18. whilstmyguitardjentlyweep

    whilstmyguitardjentlyweep SS.org Regular

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    Congratulations! The level of detail, beauty and craftsmanship looks incredible.

    Thank you for writing up a full review, I can happily cope with a text wall when the guitar is so unique and interesting.
     
  19. Syriel

    Syriel owns a .strandberg*

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    I don't know what I would do with 9 strings, when I'm already full with the 7 strings I use.

    But damn that's a work of art. I want it. Just for the sake of having one. :lol:

    HNGD MAN! Enjoy it to the fullest of its 9 strings of glory. Oh and I demand a vid. :D
     
  20. jjcor

    jjcor SS.org Regular

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    All I have to say is :bowdown:
     

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