GEAR 2021: The year is 2021 but at Kramer HQ it is always somewhere in the mid-80s, a decade of veritable decadence when it came to tricking out the electric guitar with new go-faster features and louder finishes.
In this age of tumult, it is reassuringly familiar that Kramer's new product launch should be so unashamedly retro. That said, if you are looking for a guitar for metal, they remain ever-relevant, offering a speedy ride, high-performance specs such as double-locking Floyd Rose units, and a price that's achievable for most
Let's start by looking at the three new models in the Artist Series.
- NAMM 2021 is cancelled, but we'll be covering all the big January gear announcements right here on MusicRadar.
Kramer Artist Series 2021
Snake Sabo Baretta
Long-time Kramer endorsee and guitarist of Skid Row fame, Dave "the Snake" Sabo's signature model is based on his favourite Baretta and has a Snake graphic over Snake Green Gloss finish.
Not one for the reptile averse, but with its reverse headstock, a three-piece maple neck that's carved into a K-Speed SlimTaper profile and left with a natural Satin finish, it is designed to put some zip in your playing.
It has bolt-on build with an alder body, an Indian laurel fingerboard dressed with 22 jumbo frets, plus a Floyd Rose 1000 series vibrato with EVH D-Tuna for executing drop D tunings on the fly.
There is a solitary Kramer 85-T humbucker in the bridge position, with CTS volume and tone pots.
It'll set you back $949 and comes with a gigbag.
Tracii Guns Gunstar Voyager
The Kramer Gunstar Voyager is what you'd call a shape, its star profile mahogany Voyager body has a Black Metallic finish and flame graphic. It has a three-piece maple neck that's carved into a slim C and glued to the body. The headstock could take out your eye.,
For pickups, you've got a pair of Epiphone ProBuckers, with a volume control each and a push/pull coil-splitter for single-coil fun. It has a Floyd Rose 1000 series vibrato and top-mounted R2 Locking Nut. It is priced $899.
Charlie Parra Vanguard
The Charlie Parra Vanguard is finished in Candy Apple Red Gloss and has a Rhoads-esque asymmetric V-shaped body with a sculpted area that exposes more of the upper-frets on the treble-side of the fingerboard.
It has a solid mahogany body, with a bolt-on three-piece maple neck, a bound ebony fretboard with 22 jumbo frets, dot inlays with a Day of the Dead owl at the 12th
It has a set of EMG 57 and 66 humbuckers with chrome covers at the neck and bridge positions, and these are controlled by a three-way pickup selector and a single chrome knurled master volume control.
Elsewhere, you've got a LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and Stop Bar tailpiece, and you'll find Charlie Parra's John Hancock engraved on the truss rod cover. Again, it ships with a premium gigbag and is priced $899.
Kramer Modern Collection 2021
Nite V and Nite V Plus
The Nite V models feature contoured V-shaped mahogany bodies, slim maple necks, and 12" radius ebony fingerboards with 22 medium jumbo frets.
There are a pair of Alnico 5 humbuckers and a Floyd Rose Licensed Tremolo with locking nut on the Nite V, while the Nite V Plus has a string-through bridge with Seymour Duncan open-coil Alternative 8 and ‘59 humbuckers.
The Nite V is offered in Satin Black, priced $399, and the Nite V Plus is Alpine White with grey panels and it is priced $659 – that extra money going towards the better pickups.
At $829, the Assault Plus is the priciest in the Modern Collection. It is available in in Bengal Burst and Trans Purple Burst, has a Les Paul-style mahogany body with flame maple veneer top, and a K-Speed SlimTaper “C” profile maple neck and maple fingerboard.
That traditional silhouette is augmented by a six-in-line reverse headstock. Pickup-wise, there is a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker at the bridge and a JN “zebra coil” neck humbucker. A double-locking Floyd Rose 1000 series unit completes the look.
The Assault 220 shares much of the vibe and build of its more upscale kin. But here we have a mahogany body (no maple top), Alnico 5 humbuckers, a Floyd Rose Licensed vibrato, and the headstock is more conventional for a solid-body singlecut, with a 3x3 configuration. Again, we've got a shreddable K-Speed SlimTaper “C” profile maple neck.
It retails for $379.
Kramer’s premier full-scale electric bass features a mahogany body, bolt-on maple neck and an ebony fretboard. It has a single Seymour Duncan SMB-4D bass pickup, with volume, bass and active treble controls. It is available in Pearl White and Satin Black and priced $499.
Kramer Original Series 2021
A budget-friendly electric guitar that is ideal for beginners, the Focus VT-211S has an S-style mahogany body and a bolt-on maple neck, and partners an Alnico 5 humbucker in the bridge with two high-output Alnico 5 SC-1 single-coils in the neck and middle positions. It has a 5-way pickup selector switch, two volume and tone controls, and a Kramer Traditional tremolo.
Available in Ruby Red, Pewter Gray, Teal and Purple, the Focus VT-211S is priced $129.
A premium offering for a bang-on Richie Sambora vibe, the triple-humbucker Jersey Star model is one of Kramer's most gregariously dressed electrics, with gold hardware and stars all over the shop.
It has Seymour Duncan JN and JB humbuckers, and a Floyd Rose 1000 vibrato. Available in Alpine White and Candy Apple Red Gloss finishes, the Jersey Star is priced $1,149.
If you are a cat person and that cat is a steel panther, you'll probably dig the Pacer. It's a Kramer classic, and this Original Collection 2021 model comes in the animal print Orange Burst with Tiger Graphic or Pearl White.
Here you have a maple double cutaway offset body, Seymour Duncan JB and JN humbuckers, treble-bleed on the controls so you don't lose any treble as you turn the volume down, and push/pull series/parallel function.
The hardware is quality: a Floyd Rose 1000 Series and R2 Locking Nut. The Pacer is priced $759.
Everyone is familiar with the Baretta, the minimalist hot-rodded S-style of choice for many a shredder. These come with maple bodies, maple necks, a single Seymour Duncan JB zebra-coil bridge humbucker, and a Floyd Rose 1000 series tremolo.
Available in Ruby Red and Pewter Gray, it is priced $699.
What makes the Baretta Special special? Well, it's the price, primarily. This strips down the spec a little. Instead of the Seymour Duncan 'bucker we have an Alnico 5 model, and there is a Kramer tremolo. Elsewhere, you've got a mahogany body and bolt-on maple neck.
At $179, with a choice of cool finishes, it's another entry-level proposition for those aspiring to master that Sunset Strip sound.
The NightSwan is like if Buddy Guy took a detour into shred guitar. Well, at least we can't think of any other polka-dotted S-styles.
This one is a little more premium and comes equipped with a Seymour Duncan JB™ humbucker – one of the best rock guitar pickups you can get – a Floyd Rose 1000 Series tremolo and R2 locking nut, plus a 24 jumbo-fret ebony fretboard.
An optional hardshell case is available, but without it costs $899.
The SM-1 is a more evolutionary advanced S-style, with a contoured arched-top and HSS pickup configuration that sees a Seymour Duncan JB at the bridge joining two Cool Rails single-coils, with five-way switching, treble-bleed volume pot, tone and a mini-switch for coil-tapping the humbucker.
Versatile and speedy, it has a mahogany neck-through build, an ebony fingerboard and 24 medium jumbo frets. Heck, it should sound warm and huge. Available in Candy Blue, Orange Crush, and Maximum Steel (our favourite), it is priced $1,049.
The 84 is another hardy perennial in the Kramer lookbook, with its headstock conforming to the banana or hockey stick archetype.
Here you've got a lightweight alder body, a Seymour Duncan JB bridge 'bucker, a push/pull volume control for series/parallel switching and a Floyd Rose 1000 series double-locking vibrato.
The 2021 finishes comprise Metallic Blue, Radiant Red, Alpine White, Matte White and Green Soda, and it is priced $799.