Kiesel Guitars/Carvin Guitars is making waves this year. Between their new Lee McKinney signature models, the Vader headless series, the new Greg Howe model, and their split from the pro audio half of the company, they’ve got a lot going on in 2015.
We brought you some NAMM video of the Vader (in 8 string form), but that wasn’t enough for you raving lunatics. You wanted to know: is it as good as it looks? Are the new Kiesel passive pickups good? Do they come in a color other than green?
Well, we have the answers to all these questions and more in our review of the Vader V7 headless guitar:
The Vader is a chambered, headless guitar that comes in a 6, 7, or 8 string version with Hipshot hardware, Kiesel passive pickups, neck-through construction, and as always, your choice of woods and finish. Normally one of my favorite things about Carvin Guitars is the ability to choose your headstock shape as well, but obviously that doesn’t apply here. You can get the 6 and 7 string versions in either 25.5″ or 27″ scale length or the 8 string in 27″. I forgot to mention it in the video, but as Jeff said in our factory tour video, all Vaders and all their 27″ scale guitars have carbon fiber reinforcement rods in the neck for stability.
I’m normally a 25.5″ scale kinda guy, but I spent some serious time with this guitar and found that 27″ has some serious benefits. I got endless shit from the peanut gallery on my KM-7 review because I said the 26.5″ scale wasn’t all that suited for lead playing. This statement was of course just made because simply based on the fact that I didn’t have a hell of a lot of time to play it. Really, it was only a matter of getting to see how a longer scale length had it’s benefits that were different benefits from a typical length. Also, I don’t have Jeff Loomis spider fingers.
The TL70 I reviewed was a great guitar, but being an opaque finish I didn’t get a feel for the kind of tops that they could do. The Vader I reviewed had a stunning quilted maple top on a nice koa body, and the finish was a deep orange burst that was a wonder to behold. In the same way that Kanye’s greatest regret is that he’ll never be able to see himself perform, the worst part of owning this guitar would be not being able to see it from the audience perspective when you play it in concert.
The new Kiesel passives are really a huge leap forward in terms of Carvin’s pickups. When I reviewed the TL70 my only complaint was that the pickups were alright, but a little lackluster. This is VERY much no longer the case. I would compare them tonally to the Seymour Duncan Nazgul/Sentient set in the Schecter KM-7 I reviewed, but with some unique flavors, and not as blaring high output. The neck pickup was like a liquid laser beam that gave me Petrucci-like leads and really shined during alternate picking runs. The bridge pickup was crunchy in all the right ways, and didn’t have a shrill high end so I felt comfortable turning up the presence control on my amp.
All in all this guitar is off-the-charts awesome, and if headless guitars is your thing, the Vader needs to be on your radar.