We’ve been covering Strandberg pretty much since our inception as a website. How could we not? With an all-star roster of who’s who in progressive metal today, cutting-edge ergonomic design and features, and of course, the sheer controversy of it all. There’s no easier way to troll the daditude right out of someone than by showing them what the future of guitar could be like, and that it just might be better than what’s come before.
The Strandberg concept was not, however, just some stunt to freak out the dads. It’s a re-imagining of what a guitar is without the application of tradition. It has all the basic physical qualities of the guitar, enough that it’s still clearly a member of the same genus, but instead of copying designs from days gone by, it looks at the needs of the player, the way the human body works, and sound ergonomic theory to create a guitar that is as comfortable to play as it is sonorous.
I’ll use the Les Paul for contrast – because it’s the ultimate dad guitar, and pretty much the antithesis of the Strandberg. This isn’t to say that a Les Paul is a bad guitar by any means – I think they’re great, and they’re popular for a number of reasons. But none of those reasons are A.) their light weight B.) their comfortable body contours or C.) their forward-thinking design. People like them because they have a classic look, and sound awesome. Their short scale makes for a slinky feel and sound, without which Guns ‘n Roses wouldn’t sound quite the same. They are steeped in tradition, a tried-and-true formula that has given birth to functional tools for creating art.
But that formula doesn’t work for me. I can’t play one for long without feeling really uncomfortable, wishing for more frets, feeling weighed down, not looking cool with it hiked up to a playable height. I always feel that, like the saying goes, whoever designed high heel shoes hated women, whoever designed the Les Paul hated guitarists (I doubt that’s actually true, Les was a genius of a different stripe on par with Ola). Plus, there’s no shortage of Les Pauls in the world, or their numerous copies and imitators. I have a philosophy that if you only exist to be an imitation of something else, then what is your purpose in being? Even if the thing you imitate is great, you must aspire to be greater, and greater is by definition different, thus the importance of originality.
And so with that, I give you the latest incarnation of Ola Strandberg’s brainchild, the Boden OS 7 string.
The Boden OS is the first (depending on how you define it) import model of Strandberg (technically, if you bought one made by Ola himself you’d have to import it if you didn’t live in Sweden), made in a Korean factory based on his original Boden design and to his exacting specifications. It opens the world of Strandberg to a far larger audience by offering a more affordable entry point without sacrificing quality or features.
The OS is not a fancy guitar by any means. Fan frets aside, the simplicity of the guitar is one of its strengths. A simple matte finish in one of 3 colors, along with your choice of birdseye maple or rosewood fretboard, may seem limiting, but with a total of 6 combinations, you’re actually getting more color options than with any of the stock Washburn shop production models. All the hardware and basic specs are the same as the Washburn Bodens, with the important exception of having a longer scale length (I erroneously stated in the video that the US version was 25.5″-25″ where it’s actually 25.75″-25″. The OS is 26.25″-25.5 like the CL7).
The Boden I reviewed was shockingly similar to the ones I’ve played from the US custom shop, and the build quality was such that I caught myself wondering if I’d ever lust after a Washberg again (Who am I kidding? Like there’s such a thing as enough). The setup was flawless right out of the box (the guitars are set up in LA after they arrive in the US before being shipped to the end buyer) and the feel of the guitar was such that I never wanted to put it down.
The guitar weighed next to nothing, which I appreciate a great deal because of my tendonitis that tends to flare up when the weight of a guitar presses down on my shoulder. The headless design made for minimal neck dive (the chambered body is so light that the neck is actually very marginally heavier so it pulls ever so slightly) and the Endurneck profile is a dream to play. It’s not going to be everyone’s thing, it’s something to get used to, but when I personally picked up the guitar, it felt so natural it made me wonder why guitars hadn’t been like this to begin with.
The super flat 20″ radius is a shredder’s paradise for sure, and as I mention in the video, the fan on the frets is mild enough to make for an effortless switch from straight frets, but enough to make the string tension very balanced and intonated. The changing of strings is a breeze (provided you have an allen wrench on hand, no worse than a Floyd Rose), although the high-ratio tuners can be a bit tough to turn. The EMG 707X pickups defied my expectations of EMGs (can’t say I like them in general) as they were much lower output than their blaring predecessors and sounded much more natural in this guitar.
As of this writing, the OS line only includes the Boden 7 string, and I’m not sure of Ola’s plans to include a 6 and 8 string or the Varberg. It could very well be based on how well they do in the market. But for sure he can chalk one up on the board for at least one happy customer, with many more to come I’d wager.
The Boden OS 7 sells for $1895.00 direct from the Strandberg website.