Japan is a place where the cutting edge meets the old world mastery born of thousands of years of perfectionism. Caparison is a Japanese company that was started in 1995 by former Charvel and Jackson designers who seemed to embody this attitude in both design approach and production, and now they continue to produce top-notch guitars for the rock and metal market. New in their lineup is the Brocken series, a stripped-down, simple but deadly design of bolt-on metal machines, one of which has found its way into my hands for this review.
The Brocken 8 I reviewed was a trans charcoal black matte finish, and the body is walnut and mahogany. When I say that, you’ll notice I didn’t say a walnut top on a mahogany body. That’s because the body is literally half and half, like there was a march for equal rights for guitar tops that I missed. It’s just split evenly down the middle of the body, lengthwise, which is something I’ve never seen before. The neck is a bolt-on, 27 fret beast with an ebony board and locking Gotoh tuners, and no front dots (because they presume that you must be amazing to even approach such an instrument). The 27″ scale length did a pretty good job keeping the low string tight while not making the higher strings too tight. The control layout is dead simple, with a single knob for volume and a 5-way pickup selector switch.
The look of the guitar is stunning, with dangerous curves and a pointy headstock that wouldn’t look out of place in any shred metal band, but isn’t obnoxious. Holding the thing just made me look way cooler than I really am. The cutaway provides excellent access to the high frets, and the body contours make for a very comfortable playing experience. The guitar came set up to rip, with very low and cozy action with no dead spots or buzz. The Hipshot fixed bridge has become a staple for modern stoptail guitars, and that’s because it’s solid as hell, easy to adjust, and comfortable to rest your hand on. It was also surprisingly light for such a large guitar.
The pickups are great. I wasn’t able to make the guitar sound bad even if I tried, and that’s in part because the pickups are extremely well balanced and very clean sounding. This made it very easy to dial in tones quickly, and the mix went pretty fast as well.
Now the part that you’re gonna want to brace yourself for – the price. At about $3399 retail, this guitar is not cheap. For that price, I would have expected some more premium features and fancier tops perhaps, but it seems they have put all their eggs in the performance and sound basket on this one. It plays and sounds top notch, so if you’re in the market for a high-end 8 string, you’re definitely going to want to lay hands on the attractive and dangerous Caparison Guitars Brocken 8 FX-WM.