Anyone who follows Gear Gods closely knows that we like Strandberg guitars. I’m personally a bit of a futurist, and I think that Ola Strandberg is one of the most innovative guitar builders in the game. They’re also real damn pretty – form and function intersect elegantly on all his guitars. Anything that makes traditionalists turn up their noses and whine is something I want to try reeeeeaaaaalllll badly.
So when they announced the Boden OS series late last year, I was beyond stoked to hear that a more affordable import version would be available. The chances of getting an Ola’berg, or even playing one to try it, are extremely slim, and although the custom shop ones are more widely available, they’re still few and far between. But now the same groundbreaking design is available as an in-stock model that you can order directly from their website and have in your hands very quickly (with a 2-week return policy, no less).
I was also a little apprehensive – could a Korean import possibly live up to the hype of the originals? When I finally got to play the OS 7, my fears were assuaged – although the appointments on the guitar were a bit less fancy, the build and playability were spectacular. The guitar played just like I’d hoped it would.
So now a new model has arrived – the Strandberg Boden OS 6. I confidently assumed it would be just like the OS 7, naturally just one string lighter. I was as wrong as I was right.
The quality is identical. All of the OS series are inspected and set up in the US (pretty close to me, actually) and they don’t let any lemons through. The setups are on point, all the ones I’ve played have been similarly comfy and fast. The hardware is all the same, and the features as well (EndurNeck, chambered swamp ash body, flame maple top, 20″ radius, etc) with a couple exceptions.
This is where the differences start to become very obvious. I had thoughtlessly assumed that because the difference in scale from one side to the other was smaller (a difference of .5 inches as compared to .75 inches on the 7) that the fan would be more gentle. Upon picking up the guitar, I immediately realized my error in thinking – because the fretboard was narrower, the fan was in fact more extreme, rather than less. Also, the parallel, or neutral, fret, was now at the first fret, rather than the 7th. This resulted in an entirely different feel to the fretboard.
Here’s my super scientific diagram of a 6 superimposed onto a 7 for reference:
Interestingly (and I compared them in real life as well), the bodies are almost exactly the same size. Also not something I expected. Other differences include different pickups (Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz set), the pickups are not slanted, and a 5-way pickup selector switch rather than 3 for increased tonal options.
The feel of the guitar is one of the main points I would like to stress in this review: this guitar feels spectacular. String tension plays a huge part in this – the 25.5-25″ multiscale makes for a tight low end and a slinky high end, with a perfect continuous progression from one to the other. It makes the tension of the strings pretty much perfect all the way across, and combined with the EndurNeck and extremely light weight, it feels like I always imagined a guitar should feel. There are many factors that play into the elusive feel element, so I’m sure I’m missing some of them in my vain attempt to quantify the visceral, but whatever it is they did, be it wizard wand or witch’s brew, there is some indescribable magic going on in this guitar.
I do think this one sounds better than the 7. The EMG 707Xs in the 7 were pretty good, but the JB/Jazz combo is really tough to beat. They were definitely going for broad appeal on that decision – it’s one of Duncan’s most popular combination sets (and Seymour’s personal favorite). It’s a versatile set, and although the brand’s description doesn’t mention metal as its strong suit, as you can hear from my demo, it certainly shines in any scenario.
This guitar (and its 7 string counterpart) suit me very well. I know they’re not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey, but if you think the design is up your alley, don’t hesitate because you’re worried about the quality. They have an easy return policy if it turns out I’m wrong, so what have you got to lose? These guitars are made to play, and they’re worth every penny.
If it does tickle your fancy, you can pick up your own Strandberg here.