Kramer Custom (LP Styling) Review
Mike Wolverton - September, 2004
Rating: 4 Bananas out of 5

I must admit that generally, I’m not big fan of Les Pauls or Paul “like” guitars. I think that mostly comes from me being a huge S-style body fan via my Kramer addiction. However, when I noticed Musicyo had released a Les Paul type of Kramer that was just absolutely stunning looking on their website, I knew I needed to try one out to determine if it lived up to its label on the headstock.


Cosmetics and Hardware
First, opening up the case, I was stunned at the quilt top. Mind you, this is an overseas made guitar, so I wasn’t expecting a quality quilt-top as seen on many American produced guitars such as the Paul Reed Smith line, etc. The abalone inlay work was phenomenal as well, I think I could have just left it in the case and stared at it because of its beauty. The Kramer logo itself is inlayed in the headstock, which is yet another selling point as to the detail that has been put into this instrument. The tuners are black Grovers, very nice tuners for such an affordable guitar. Additionally, the control knobs are black metal dome knobs for quick adjustment while playing. The back of the body is sculpted in more of a V pattern, and sits quite comfortably when being played. Again, I can’t say enough about this quilt top and abalone inlay that runs up the body and neck edges, it is truly stunning work. I recently brought the Custom to the Kramer Konvention in Nashville last month, and everyone that walked by it was stunned at its beauty. They couldn’t keep their hands off of it.

Sound and Playability
Again, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this guitar because of its price range and the fact that I’m not a huge Paul fan. I was surprised by the rich, PHAT tone that the Custom delivers. It has that driving Paul deep chunk that most are familiar with. I tested the guitar on a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier with no effects, and it could go from that nu-metal, heavy distorted tone, to classic, lower gain richness. The Bridge pickup is very clean, low noise, and had killer metal/rock tone. The neck pickup is very buttery without being muddy for warm solos and runs. The instrument I received was setup very nicely too; the action was set low and was very playable. I’m not a huge fan of painted back necks, but that’s not to say it still didn’t play good. The tummy cut and the balance of the instrument when sitting down was nice, very much like a Paul. However, when standing up, it did seem to be a little awkward, but once again, I’m an S-type body fan. The Custom has killer sustain too, and resonance. In fact, when not plugged in, its one of the “loudest” electric guitars I’ve played.

The Kramer Custom in Amber Stain

Other comparible instruments in its class
One thing I did notice right off the bat, this guitar is very similar to the LTD EC-1000 Deluxe. Simply said though, the Kramer Custom is a much more affordable counterpart – and lets be honest – Gibson invented the Les Paul, so why shouldn’t the Gibson owned Kramer make a competing model with the ESP. I haven’t tried an EC-1000 to compare the two instruments, but seeing first hand the quality of the Kramer Custom, you can’t go wrong if you decide to go the Kramer route over the ESP or LTD models if you base your decision on price point alone. To be fair, the LTD does offer a few more creature comforts than the Custom, but the price of the LTD reflects that and then some.

ESP made LTD EC-1000 Deluxe

Quick Pros and Cons

These were the things I enjoyed most about the Custom

1. Overall Look – A truly beautiful guitar to look at, without a doubt.
2. Sound – Driving metal sound with rich buttery tone at the neck pickup.
3. Price – Easily challenges any Epiphone or Gibson in this category. I’d tell anyone looking for a Paul or Paul style guitar to check this guitar out first over anything else.
4. Fit and Finish – The finish is extremely shiny, the buff job on this guitar is incredible.

Things I would change or improve upon

1. Floyd Rose Tremolo – While I usually wouldn’t harp on this too much, a Kramer needs a Floyd Rose, or at least an option for a Floyd.
2. Neck - Offer option to have an unfinished, satin, or oiled back on the neck, similar to a Wolfgang.
3. More Colors – The Custom is currently only offered in Black and Red quilt tops. I would offer more options such as a natural top, blue, etc.
4. More Hardware Colors – The addition of gold hardware would really add some sizzle to this instrument.
5. Quality – The only issue quality wise I would improve upon is the tuner placement. The model I received had the tuner holes just a tad bit off center on one side compared to the other. This did not affect playability but was sort of a nit issue that needed to be noted.

In closing, the Kramer Custom is a great value for the money that overall will make all Les Paul fans very happy if they are looking for a viable alternative to the ESP and a great guitar at the price point of $449.99 U.S. I personally give the thumbs up on this guitar to any Kramer head wanting to get their Les Paul fix taken care of – with the added bonus of the Kramer logo on the headstock of course.

The Kramer Custom can be purchased at Musicyo.com when in stock.


Specifications

Neck Mahogany, 16" radius fingerboard, 22 fret, Rosewood, abalone bound
Neck Profile Painted back, Elliptical, Slim-Taper
Headstock Classic design, 14 degree pitch angle, 3 tuners on a side, abalone bound
Construction Set Neck, F/B Inlay: Abalone Kramer "Diamonds"  
Scale Length 24.75 Scale
Body Mahogany with Quilt Maple Top, abalone bound
Pickups Bridge Pickup: Kramer USA (98T) - Neck Pickup: Kramer USA (90R)
Controls 3-Position Pickup Selector Neck Pickup Volume - Neck Pickup Tone - Bridge Pickup Volume - Bridge Pickup Tone
Bridge and Nut Tune-O-Matic with Stopbar  - Nut: Graphite
Machine Heads Grover 18:1  
Nut Width 1.68"  
Colors Translucent Amber, Translucent Black, Translucent Red
Frets  22 - Nickel/Steel
   





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