Vola Guitars is a brand that has only recently come to my attention. Just like you, I’d seen a couple YouTube videos about them from Ola Englund and Robert Baker, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!
Vola Guitars is a company based out of Hong Kong, but their guitars are made in the US and Japan. Sort of backwards from the typical guitar company in that sense, they are aiming for a premium guitar market with the Ares, a top-quality shredder axe that looks like it would have been at home in the Cacophony era of shred in the late 80’s.
The model I reviewed (in Tribal Red Gloss) was an interesting twist on the shred guitar format – at first glance, it resembles an Ibanez RG or Caparison to a degree, with an obvious superstrat type of pedigree. But the departure from those kinds of axes is in the specs, not the look – the Ares is a traditional guitar masquerading as a shredder. The neck and fretboard are the first thing you’ll notice when you sit down with this guitar – if you close your eyes, you might think you’re holding a modern Strat. The neck is a pretty chunky D shape with a 41mm nut, and the fretboard is a round-as-hell 12″ radius – certainly not typical speedy guitar fare.
It feels like someone who had played Strats their whole life wanted to rip some metal, and thus the Ares was born – if you’re used to more traditional specs like a narrow, thick neck, and round radius boards, this will be a very familiar playing experience. It’s a killer transition from that world into a more metal guitar.
The Gotoh licensed Floyd Rose is a great whammy system, and it felt really nice to play with – no tuning issues or sticking, and it was set up loose enough to be useful but not so loose to be floppy or cause pitch issues when I wasn’t using it. The Seymour Duncan Pegasus/Sentient set are sort of an unexpected flavor, and are extremely modern sounding for this hybrid design.
The quality of this guitar is absolutely amazing. It’s no surprise, as Japanese luthiers are arguably the world’s finest, and the guitar I reviewed was a great example of that level of craftsmanship. Every detail is extremely well considered (such as the gloss top for visual appeal, but satin finish on every touch surface for superior tactile experience), and the execution is flawless. It’s a great alternative to the wide, flat necks of most shred axes out there, so if the usual brands don’t feel right to you but you still want to metal, the Vola Ares might be the way to go.