There’s nothing like walking around a bunch of music shops with a list of ‘must try’ guitars and a few hundred quid burning a hole in your pocket. If you’re on the sniff for a good quality semi then you’re in for a fun day’s hunting we reckon. At the very least, you’ll come away pleasantly surprised by just how much guitar you can get for your money here.
All four guitars perform well from the word go, proving that Hagstrom, LTD, Ibanez and Washburn put as much effort into the playability of their guitars as they do building a product that looks the part. Aside from the disappointing vibrato on the Ibanez, we didn’t experience any other problems with our semi-finalists.
All offer excellent value for money. The LTD PS-1 is the obvious wild card in this pack. It isn’t designed for the semi-hollow purist in either looks or tone. The PS-1 is designed for rock and metal players who want a brutal sounding guitar with looks that set it apart from the pointy headstock and LP-influenced brigade.
The other three guitars are for those of us who would like to own a Gibson ES-335 but find one out of reach for the time being. In that respect, the AS73T, HB-35 and Viking Deluxe offer a level of playability, tone and aesthetics that satisfies our craving for an ES-335-inspired guitar without ever feeling like a booby prize.
But the Hagstrom Viking Deluxe stands out because it’s the complete package. It’s been some years since we played an original Swedish-made Viking, but we can testify that no matter what angle we take, this new Chinese-built version delivers the goods.
The finish on our review model is flawless and we have no complaints with the set-up either. The action is set low (lower than we would usually set our own guitars, in fact) with no annoying buzzes or rattles to spoil our time together. Playability is first class and the pickups offer some terrific tones.
Warm jazz, bluesy sustain, punk power chords, the Viking really does cover just about all the bases, extreme metal excepted. The £575 price tag is well justified and actually quite modest in our opinion. You should try as many different semis in your price range as you can before you plump for your own winner. We just think you’ll be hard pushed to find a better example, with a sub-£1,000 price tag, than the Hagstrom Viking Deluxe.