https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSSP66yNuwM&feature=youtu.beThe Duncan-Solar pickups are
quiet; as are the controls when turned.
The most notable thing about these pickups is that they are â€˜flat,â€™
which means there is a balance among bass, midrange and treble without any of
the three being dominant (you donâ€™t get that overpowering bass response when
playing the lower strings, nor do the upper strings sound weak). Together with the pickups being only moderate
high-gain output makes them ideal for high-gain application â€“ viz., you can use
high-gain gear and still cut through the mix without a bloated muffled
tone. This follows the philosophy of Joe
Satriani â€“ use pickups that are not excessive in output so that you have better
control over your sound and equipment, and let the rest of the gear determine
how intense or high-gain you want to be.
Even when playing melodic lead I tend to use
high-gain gear while keeping the drive reasonable and around 1-2 oâ€™clock,
including the Kraken V4 preamp. The
Solar S1.6ETC not only keeps this signal clear with the Kraken, but works equally
well with Friedman gear, fuzz pedals, etc., in my collection. Although the sound from this guitar may not
be considered â€˜richâ€™ (usually reserved for pickups that have a lot of midrange)
and more on the flat side, they hold up very well with clean tones (a very even
response), as demonstrated in the demo.
There are five pickup selections via the blade switch: Bridge Humbucker,
Neck Humbucker, Split Bridge, Split Neck and Split Bridge/Neck combo. All five positions provide very natural
sounding cleans that make it easy to apply an EQ or effects for customizable
by a Metal touring musician, Solar guitars were developed for home hackers,
professional musicians and anyone between.
There is nothing flimsy or cheap feeling about the S1.6ETC, while
playing or listening. With the EverTune
bridge system in place, it can take far more playing abuse without worry and
when compared to other guitars in its price-range. The Grover tuners (a trusted name in the
industry), knobs, strap buttons, pots, etc., are all up to standard for a
quality instrument. The Solar S1.6ETC
does have a matt finishing, which means as it collects swirls, marks and
scratches they cannot be covered up (fixed) as well as a guitar with a gloss
finish. Regardless, a matt finish looks
so Metal and any scuffs add to the hardcore charm.
Solar guitars are designed by
Ola Englund and then made in Indonesia, which some may consider of lesser
quality based on the country of origin (vs Japan or USA made). Experience has told me otherwise, since
standard issue Strandberg guitars also are made in Indonesia and they are fine
instruments. Likewise, I have a Steve
Vai Ibanez Euphoria with an Aura preamp and it was made in China (it is not a
copy, but actually was manufactured there for Ibanez) and itâ€™s one of the easiest
and lowest action acoustics I have ever played.
The Solar S.16 ETC 6-string
guitar upholds similar standards in quality craftsmanship, and Iâ€™ve never seen
or read a review to suggest otherwise. Its
carbon matte black finish on an Alder Type-S body (with white binding) is
flawless (and very Metal looking), together with a maple 25.5â€ scale neck-thru
neck/body joint design, ebony fingerboard and graphite nut. There are 24 super jumbo nickel frets with
exceptional access to the highest frets, thanks to the deep lower cutaway and
the recessed neck heel. The neck has a
13.78â€ radius and a C-shape, although itâ€™s not baseball fat thick like some
older Les Paul models â€“ itâ€™s a rather small neck considering. I have smaller hands and find it quite
comfortable to play. There are Luminlay
(glow-in-the-dark) side dots of a fair size that are encircled in black (to
make them stand out against the white binding).
Their size and obviousness certainly help since there are no position
markers on the fretboard, aside from the cool looking Solar guitar logo at the
12th fret. The S1.6ETC comes
ready with Dâ€™Addario NYXL (09-46) strings and a truss rod tool.
The pickups are medium-high
output passive Solar/Duncan Alnico V type pickups in both the bridge and neck
positions. Although they respond very
well to distortion or high-gain performance, their flat response (no apparent
bass, midrange or treble output bias) reacts to clean and lower-gain playing
very well. However, I suspect most
people buying a Solar will be into Hard Rock, Metal or Prog and the organic
cleans and clear output will certainly impress.
Other features include a 473K condenser and a mono 2Poval steel jack
There is a Volume and Tone
control, as well as a 5-blade switch for a host of sound options (bridge
humbucker, bridge split, neck humbucker, neck split and neck/bridge split mix). The machine heads are Grover 18:1 tuners (I
believe Ola Englund is now making his own brand of tuners that have a more
modern look) and the headstock has a unique reverse hook, which also looks very
modern and Metal. The S1.6ETC comes with
a gig-bag or case option for an additional fee.
Iâ€™m a studio/home musician, and so opting out of a gig-bag/case just
saved me some closet space. It does come
well packed and double-boxed.
Now, although this guitar plays and sounds like
a dream, the piece de resistance is the EverTune F-type constant-tension Bridge. The internal spring-tension technology of the
bridge returns each string to perfect tuning, no matter how hard and often you
bend or chug power chords (changing string gauges require modest set-up of the
bridge). Itâ€™s amazing when a guitar
arrives fully tuned and remains fully tuned after hours of play, which is
incredible for gigging musicians.Price $1099 USD
The S1.6ETC was set up
beautifully, and since it has an EverTune bridge it was in tune upon arrival
(and remains so). I had to adjust the
tuners/bridge slightly to allow for string bending (as per EverTuneâ€™s instructions),
but that took only a few minutes. Itâ€™s
very interesting to play a guitar that remains in tune no matter how hard you
chug or bend. String action is
relatively low (I experienced lower, but not by much) and definitely low enough
(comfortable enough) that I would not bother messing with it. Pickups are adjusted at a good height with no
concerns in that regard and all routing for pickups and bridge were done with
The black matt finish is even throughout,
although the neck is smoother for obvious reasons (a very nice transition from
the light matt texture at the body, then up the heel and into the neck). The white/natural binding around the body and
along the neck shows no flaws and the frets all are well beveled and smooth. The Luminlay side dots also include a black
circle around each, making for very easy neck positioning as the markers stand
out against the white binding. The neck
heel has an excellent smooth carve, as do the armrest and belly contour. The carbon nut has a proper cut/finish, and
the tuning pegs have a solid feel.
Brian Johnston is a guitar gear enthusiast who
likes to develop reviews and demo videos on stuff he likes. His YouTube channel is CoolGuitarGear.