I purchased this guitar very spontaneously as a personal christmas-gift. Though I am not a metal-player or not strictly a metal-player I felt very tempted by the construction and the design. Never before I had played a neck-through-design and also never before I had made experiences with a wraparound-tailpiece. From the reviews I had read before and from what I know about Chucks playing style I hoped for an unmatched response of the guitar. A direct response is something I was longing for a long time and I had never found it so far in the way I am familiar with it from my main instrument, the violin. So my expectation with this kind of construction was: Less components will lead to a very fast and tight attack and response. So I ordered it full of hopes, but also with some fears in mind. First thing, what bothered me was the neck-overweight and bad balance of the guitar. Many players had complained about that. Second I bothered about the DiMarzio X2N, regarding to some reviews this biest should be just capable of producing ultra-brutal death-metal-tones. As I mentioned above I love Metal and also Chucks music with Death, but my own music goes more in the Progressive rock direction and I need more flexible and traditional tones also. So would it fit for my needs?
When the instrument arrived I checked first the build-quality: The korean-made guitar shines with a perfect black finish, everything is stable. The factory-setup was very good, good intonation, even the strings (D’Addario) were still in a good condition. For the first time (and I have bought many guitars over the years) I have not changed the strings of a new guitar. The action was quite good right out of the box, no need to adjust anything, so I could immediately start to play.
Phew! The X2N blows everything out of the water concerning aggressiveness. I had to lower the gain a lot to get a suitable tone with the volume on full. The PU is sounding like a standard PU combined with a booster pushing all frequencies equally. If I lower the volume-knob the boost is fading away until I reach normal PAF-level. At all positions of the volume the highs are still very present, while the aggressiveness is gone. It’s easy to dial in traditional rocksounds and even good cleans, if you lower the volume three quarters. After trying many combinations of amp and volume-settings i can sum up, that this guitar is very flexible, I am still not totally shure, but the longer I play it the more I think, that it can functioning as a main instrument. The tone of this instrument is just as expected: An amazing fast attack and response over the whole fretboard. I observe, that I prefer to play alternate picking on this guitar and though I am not a shredder I can tell you, that in my opinion it’s easier to pick ever note on this guitar. I know my own limitations very well from my old and trusty metronome. After some practicing I could play alternate picking twenty bpm faster than on my usual guitars. I can not give any garantees for this effect, but in my case with a sloppy technique it works. So my fears about the X2N faded away, but what’ s about the neck-overweight?
To be honest the guitar is very neck-heavy. If you don’t rest the arm on the upper body-horn you are totally lost. But if you place the right arm on the body and (and this is important) hang the guitar very high you can control the overweight with ease and playing becomes very comfortable. So this is definitely not the right guitar for people, who hang the guitar on waist-height, this is not the right guitar for Slash ( though Slash possesses a Mockingbird).
Now I am telling you something about the downsides of this instrument:
First it’s hard to find a case or a gigbag, because the body has no standard shape. At last I ended up with a Ritter gigbag made for Jackson Kellys and it works pretty well. Unfortunately the instrument is not coming with a gigbag or case (germany).
Second I ran into problems, when I changed the strings for the first time. Suddenly the intonation was gone and I struggled a lot to find the good setup again. I recognised the wraparound as the weak point. In the moment, when you remove the strings the position of the bridge will easily change, because the screws can move and the bridge is not fixed very tight. I had serious problems to compensate the intonation of the low E. The way to adjust the string-length seems too short. Maybe you have to stick to D’addarios, otherwise you are destroying the good factory-setting. The tuners are fine, Grover Minis, though I had preferred locking tuners. The space to wind up and down between the tuners seems to be very small, so I guess that people with chubby fingers could get problems with the handling.
Relating these issues to the price I consider to replace the bridge. The overall quality of the guitar is very worth the investment. Overall i am very happy with the purchase, highly recommended to all players specialized in alternate picking.