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Kramer SM-1 Seymour Duncan Equipped Electric Guitar

Can it still shred the metal?

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

Despite Kramer’s 40-year history and prolific run in the 70s and 80s, the guitar line continues to exist one level deeper in the pool than, say, a Fender or Gibson, who have name recognition beyond the guitar community. As a testament to its iconic design philosophy, Kramer has stayed the course in creating solid, elegant electric guitars that aren’t afraid to show their edges (both physically and sonically). The Kramer SM-1 is a prime example for this, as it’s all about outstanding quality and playability.

 

What You Need to Know

 

The Kramer SM-1 is a double-cutaway electric guitar built on the rock-solid foundation of through-body mahogany neck with ebony fretboard into a solid mahogany body. The HSS (Humbucker, Single, Single) pickup format features coil-splitting Seymour Duncans and a recessed Floyd Rose FRT-100.

 

The Vintage White Gloss is an eye-catching sharp color, especially as accented by the black chrome appointments, and gives the SM-1 a timeless look (it isn’t as firmly rooted in a specific era as many brighter colors are, but there’s still a touch of Day-Glo white that wouldn’t have been out of place in the 80s). The Seymour Duncan Cool Rails in the neck and middle positions were inset perfectly into the body, and the Seymour Duncan JB bridge humbucker was positioned exactly how I would have liked out of the case. Among the typical Volume, Tone, and pickup selection controls (conveniently within the sweep of the whammy bar), you'll find a small, black toggle switch that allows for coil-splitting the JB. Not so typical is the push-pull Volume knob, which allows use of the bridge pickup in combination with any pickup combo (including using all three at once).

 

The neck is the biggest giveaway that the SM-1 is meant to be played fast… the slim taper is thin but wide, resulting in a very accessible fretboard that’s extremely forgiving while shredding up or down the 24-fret, 25.5 inch neck. The historic Kramer inlays are appropriately metal, with their talon-like evocation of the headstock carving through the ebony fretboard.

 

The Seymour Duncan Cool Rails pickups in the neck and middle positions deliver clean, glassy single-coil tones that are begging for a little chorus, with atypical volume and fullness that are articulate and mid-forward. The Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge ups the ante and brings a powerful rock growl and upper-mid spit in the humbucking mode and a nice, throaty single-coil lead to when split.

 

Functionally, the SM-1 is practically begging to dive-bomb, with the locking nut keeping the guitar in tune during rigorous exercises in pitch-bending excess.

 

Limitations

 

None. If you don’t like the SM-1, it’s down to individual preferences.

 

Conclusion

 

Everything about the Kramer SM-1 speaks to its design goals: simple, elegant, extremely well built, ready to play, and fantastic sounding. Versatile without sacrificing character, there aren’t many applications or genres where the SM-1 wouldn’t shine (although it might stick out at the local acoustic jam).

 

Resources

 

Kramer SM-1 Electric Guitar Product Page

 

Buy Kramer SM-1 Electric Guitar at Sweetwater ($1,533 MSRP, $919.99 Street)

 

__________________________________

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

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