Kramer/Musicyo Imperial FR-404S - Guitar Review

By: Patrick Neville

To Begin, I should give a bit about myself. I’m a 15 year old who’s been playing guitar for almost 6 years. I play a lot, from Classic, to Modern Rock. I do all my own setups, and the sort, and I really enjoy the guitar as an instrument.

This will be my first guitar review, ever, and I’m proud to say, it’s a Kramer. My Father grew up playing a Striker 600ST, and we’ve recently purchased a ProAxe, and a Nightswan. This will be our 8th guitar between the two of us.

First Impressions (Taken out of Box)
As soon as I took this beauty out of the box, it was evident that it needed a setup. Coming from a warehouse in nice warm Tennessee, to blisteringly cold Pennsylvania, that neck needed some serious Trussrod Adjustment. Thee strings were tuned to C, and it was nice and dusty. There were no imperfections, just regular TLC.

Budget 5/5
This is one of the best, it not THE best guitars for the money. I picked mine up for 161$ shipped on Black Friday, 2006 (It normally retails for $207). It easily plays as well as my Jackson Rhodes RR3 did (which new, retails for $749.) So, in essence, you’re getting a Mid Range to Low-Upper-End guitar at THE r
ock bottom price. The price you’ll pay won’t even pay for PARTS!

The Parts/Hardware 4/5
I like the hardware, I can deal with the Kramer licensed style Floyd Rose, but my biggest gripe is that you have to drill a new strap button to put on standard Schaller Straplocks, or modify your existing neckplate screw. This is possibly a feature that could be dealt with in the future. The Gotoh machine heads are wonderful. They stay in tune PERFECTLY. (Not that this is a big deal on a FR guitar, but it’s nice not to have slippage.) Knobs and other misc parts are coated black. Very nice, easy to clean up, and very slick. The only thing that can be really “upgraded” is the FR!

Playability: 4/5
This isn’t your top-of-the-line Nightswan, but it’s deserving for some credit, where credit is due. For $150, you can’t pick up a real Fender Strat. About the only thing you can get at this price is a laminated Squire Strat, and the Imperial it easily outplays most anything within the $500-$750 price range. The neck is a perfect shape, a nice “C/D” shaped hybrid. The action will get nice and low, and with a little bit of work, there’s little to no buzzing on all strings.

Tone: 4/5
This guitar is HUGE. It’s got a body that’s at LEAST 1 and ¾ inches thick, and with the Explorer styling, there’s PLENTY of wood there for resonance. The Quadrails are very nice, but one dimensional. They scream, and that’s about it. There’s no warmth here folks, just a hardened killing pickup. A very nice “shred” pickup, but it leaves much to be desired.

Appearance: 5
This guitar looks killer out under the spotlights. The metal flake just goes crazy. It has commanding stage presence, and is just a rock guitar through and through. It’s very nice.

Fit & Finish: 4.5/5
What more can I say. The finish is beautiful. I think this could only be topped by custom artwork on the guitar. The Metallic Black looks very retro, with different sized flakes, and a beautiful smooth finish. No nicks or dings whatsoever.

Overall: 4.5 Nana’s out of 5.
This guitar just can’t be beaten for the pricing, and the quality of what’s here. This is a “must have” for any beginner, and a wonderful addition to any shredder’s collection. Pick one up of you’re even REMOTELY interested, you won’t be disappointed! (Don’t forget to use Mike’s VK link!!!)

(Authors Note: This guitar does NOT come with a case, however, you can pick one up for a steal at $50 when MusicYo has them in stock)

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