The RamblerÂ® Classic is available in
Tobacco or Cherry Sunburst, I choose the Tobacco burst. I recall seeing some early Gibson and Ibanez
guitars, back in the 1970s, and was drawn to the color and shading of a Tobacco
burst, perhaps connecting the color to smoke-filled Blues and Jazz clubs â€“
difficult to say what my teenage mind was thinking. Nonetheless, both the body and neck sport a
high quality lacquer finish, and the neck feels exceptionally smooth and
comfortable when fretting. The guitar
was set up rather well, with decent action and playability. I prefer my action a touch lower, but have
not tried to lower the strings since it does play well enough without
experimenting with the action (and possibly causing string buzzâ€¦ as the saying
goes, â€œif it isnâ€™t broken, donâ€™t fix it!â€).
The pickup heights were well adjusted as they produce excellent output
and clarity â€“ neither too boisterous nor subdued in sound quality. The flamed maple top did not have to be
bookmatched, since the overall dimensions of the body are small enough that one
single sheet of maple could be used. The
quality of the tobacco burst also is excellent, with black (very dark brown)
edging that fades perfectly inward. The
controls (volume and tone) are quiet, even when playing around with some
high-gain pedal/amp output and while adjusting both volume and tone.
About the only minor flaw would be the odd fret
edge, which is felt only by running a finger tip along the edge, but which is
not felt while playing. I felt better
fret dressing, but on guitars costing 3-4 times the price, and so Iâ€™m not
complaining on this barely noticeable issue.
On this particular guitar there are no paint flaws, no misaligned parts
or loose tuning pegs, or poorly cut nuts, loose controls, etc. At $599 USD this guitar is put together well
and easily is stage ready â€“ not typical of all â€˜travelâ€™ guitars.I tend to prefer â€˜smallâ€™ guitars, which means those headless
beasts with small bodies. They feel more
â€˜intimateâ€™ and a part of my playing as opposed to overpowering me (I canâ€™t
imagine playing one of those large Mexican mariachi guitars). I play both a Kiesel Vader VM7 and a
Strandberg Singularity, both of which are three times the price of the Strobel
RamblerÂ® Classic. The
quality of sound is comparable, although different (after all, different
pickups among all three). The
playability (particularly the neck) is as good, although the action of the
Strandberg is lower and feels slinkier.
However, string bending is very easy on the RamblerÂ® Classic, which is not
the case with the more expensive Kiesel Vader.
Overall, the RamblerÂ®
Classic offers as much in a guitar, albeit in different respects, than the more
expensive Strandberg and Kiesel models.
And you cannot deny the value of its portability and the ability to
disassemble the body and neck for even more compact travelling.
Typically, I compose and play a vast array of music,
including pieces that rely on clean picking and rhythm all the way to high-gain
riffing. I find the RamblerÂ® Classic has superior
cleans (particularly the Neck pickup and middle pickup selections) to the
Strandberg and Kiesel models, as the Belcat pickups have a lovely bell-like
tone or ring to them, as well as a ton of harmonics. When venturing into high-gain territory, the
RamblerÂ® Classic does
not perform as well (although the pickups were not designed as such), but does
an equal if not better job with Classic Rock type tones to the Kiesel and
Strandbergâ€¦ very much like a standard Les Paul.
There are two features that stand out with this guitar,
although I do like its finish, playability, etc. First, the pickups are excellent in tone and
output, and very much something between the Strandberg and Kiesel (thus making
it an ideal middle choice when looking for the right axe). Second, I simply love the ability to take
this instrument apart (without tools!), which means stowing it in some luggage
as opposed to carrying it around in its own gig bag, which is still a fine
option with the RamblerÂ® Classic.
When disassembled, the neck measures 17.5 inches and the body
15-inches. Thereâ€™s not much else you
could add to such an innovative design and small package with so many features,
although a tremolo arm would be interesting.
No idea how that would fit, however, as it would mean a different body
design and less compactness. Regardless,
the RamblerÂ® Classicâ€™s small size would make an excellent
guitar for a young beginner, and still be of sufficient quality to last for
years into adulthood and onto a stage. Iâ€™m
curious to know if Russ Strobel is up for a 24-fret â€˜Modernâ€™ version. For more information you can visit this link: