Jul 13, 2017

Stedman "Pro" Flying V Review (Spoiler - it's pretty rubbish)

What kind of guitar can you get on Craigslist for $10, an old airsoft scope, and some magic beans?  Well... quite possibly the worst guitar I've ever seen, and I build instruments out of garbage like it's an extreme sport.

Poorly named things from China aren't anything new, but the audacity of adding "Pro" to the title of this guitar indicates they have some serious cojones.  

Granted, I didn't get this guitar new, and the previous owner's, er, setup probably didn't help.  For the uninitiated, "it's downtuned to play Alter Bridge" can be understood as, "the strings are rusted and flopping off the fretboard."

It's hard to tell in the light in many of these pictures, but it's a dark green burst that doesn't look too bad.  The "V" shape and green burst seems to say, "I'll make you a cool rockstar", while the quality gives that statement all the authenticity and credibility of a plastic Guitar Hero controller.

This one was fairly banged up - doesn't bother me much, although I wonder how some of the chunks end up missing in the first place.

Picking it up, the first thing I noticed was that the body was seemingly made of cardboard.  It's probably paulownia wood, but whatever it is, it's extremely lightweight.  Put this bad boy on a strap, take away your hands, and the headstock will hit the ground before you can say "neck heavy".

Perhaps the second thing you notice is the feel of the neck.  It has all the finesse and elegance of the lovechild of a sledgehammer and a bag of bricks.  I had to come up with a suitably clumsy and uncomfortable metaphor just to convey the awful lack of any proper shape this neck had.  

Okay, that might be a touch too harsh, but the neck is the fattest, most unrefined baseball bat shape I have ever held.  For a guitar that looks like a shredder, this one is uncomfortable to play slow power chords on.

The tuners were pretty lousy, but functional (I have low standards for tuners).  The nut was usable, although I was near the point of stripping threads to actually lock the strings in the nut.

The frets didn't look too terrible, especially if you held it at a distance and squinted really hard.  Action has to be high to keep fret buzz bearable, but I guess this isn't vastly worse than the average ~$100 guitar.

The tremolo was mediocre quality, but surviving, sort of.  It was sandwiched in between some broken fiberglass and a fragment of a poker chip.  Hey, at least it had character.  Problem with this was it was such a tight, compressed fit, it actually seemed to choke up the tone and make it even more tinny and cheap sounding, astonishingly.  

I fixed up the tremolo by un-blocking it, then adding two more springs to give it proper tension.  Customarily, I dampened the springs with a bit of aquarium tubing, although in hindsight it probably wasn't even worth bothering.

You sit on a throne of lies, Stedman

Other things?  Sound was okay after fixing the trem and giving it new strings, nothing great but usable enough for some 80's rock.  Problem was, even after giving it a quick setup (for practice more than anything) and fixing the trem, it was still a terrible, terrible feeling guitar.  The monstrously thick neck and paper-light body combine to make a clumsy clunker that makes an okay wall-hanger, but is a misfortune to play.

After fixing it up, I listed it for $40, the maximum I felt I could ethically ask.  Within hours I had sold it to someone lacking either taste in guitars or a moral compass, who promptly relisted it at $80.  I do not know if he sold it, but legends say that the cursed guitar still wanders aimlessly in search of its next victim.

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