HEAD TO HEAD
Making the cut with a mean shredding machine
In terms of sheer power, the LTD EC-401 will take your breath away. With its pristine Olympic White finish, its three-ply binding on body and headstock, it exudes a quiet class yet deals in atom-splitting tone. Yes, the cleans are snappy, sharp and responsive in the bridge’s EMG 81; bold and with great bass response in the neck’s EMG 60. But this is a guitar designed to deal in maximum distortion. When using high-gain to the point of saturation, the EMG active circuitry comes into its own, killing the hum and the unwanted feedback, and delivering powerful, focused metal tone. The articulation when playing open chords is exceptional, each note ringing out. The EMG 60 trims some of the treble and the harshness, ideal for sweep-picking arpeggios, but the rendering of a powerchord in the EMG 81, or harmonic squeal, will bring out the devil in anyone.
The Jackson MF-1’S EMG set is a little more traditional, calling to mind the Seymour Duncan Trembucker/jazz combo Friedman favoured in the 90s. Allied to the nato/ mahogany construction, it has a warm, organic tone, that’s great for spongy blues and jazz-funk noodling, and yet aggressive and punchy when the gain is dialled up. Friedman is an eclectic player and tonally the MF-1 reflects that. Its sustain is excellent, but that is a feature of all four of these guitars.
Perhaps less metal but no less capable of it is the heavyweight Tremonti. The new PRS Tremonti S pickups articulate a classic rock tone that can be pushed deep into metal territory, but nonetheless excels in that sweet spot as the signal breaks up into pure overdrive. You could say similar for Hagstrom’s Ultra Swede, but its basswood construction and lighter construction gives it a wholly different feel. More manageable? Maybe. But all four are fun to play and are giggable instruments with premium tone. How do you choose the right one for you?
THE LTD EXUDES A QUIET CLASS YET DEALS IN ATOM-SPLITTING TONE
Jacksonx: supreme playability andversatiletone
Setremonti:arecess hasbeencarvedon thebottomakintoa Floydrosedesign