After a certain point of price versus items produced, there is a diminishing return on creativity. What I mean is, originality is hard to find when the guitar price falls beyond a certain price. Why? Because some designs are so much easier to produce at this point, and have such a big return on investment, that manufacturers don’t want to risk creating something new and never getting out of it. So, when building cheap, they will go with the good, old and tried. They will also name the guitar some asinine name, like “Sawtooth”. Let us take a look at the Sawtooth ST-EES-SBB-KIT-3 and see whether this less than original piece of wood is any good.
We are going to discuss the design of the guitar first, because it is the most prominent quality of the guitar and also the easiest for me to call unoriginal. You see, while I do love myself a good strat, I also find the design to be over used and over copied. Every guitar manufacturer looking for a quick buck goes for the design, producing nothing original and yet getting a good review for it. I am against that. Which is why this start lookalike with a black pickguard gets no love from me. The only thing the guitar has going for it is the sunburst design, and even that could have been handled better.
The body of the guitar is made out of Sycamore. You don’t see this tonewood a lot among the guitars. The reason is simple – most of the time Sycamore is not fit to produce a good enough instrument. Though there are some manufacturers who seem to have mastered the art of using Sycamore. In the case of this instrument I have yet to encounter debilitating issues with the instrument, but time fixes everything. Anyway, the tonewood is known to closer to mahogany in terms of tone than it is to maple. This means you get a nice and warm resonance out of the body. Where the tonewood suffers is in terms of density – the guitar has a problem with being sturdy. Sycamore is known to be extremely soft and not too consistent with its density. Which is why I find it risky to purchase one of these instruments. Weight wise the guitar is lighter than most, which is good, but pointless if the guitar breaks and dents easily.
The neck of the guitar is made out of maple. Maple is at this point the go to hardwood for the neck of most guitars, being sturdy and hard enough to not be easily damaged by most impacts. It is a nice detail to have really. It is bolted onto the guitar, without examples of alignment issues. The fretboard of the guitar is made out of rosewood.
The bridge of the guitar is a Synchronous Tremolo. This means alright string stability, alright action and a lot of tremolo bar. Sometimes too much for a beginner, since they don’t know how to be responsible with one.
The nut of the guitar is made out of plastic, which is a sad fate for any guitar. It results in a lot of string buzz, which can be annoying on a single coil.
The most surprising part of this guitar to me is the fact that the tuning stability on it is so much better than what you would expect of a guitar this cheap. It tends to last more than a few days and withstands tremolo bar abuse well enough to make me smile.
The guitar is setup with a combination of three single coil pickups. They are decent enough, producing an interesting sound that is smooth and warm to the ear. The only problem is that they do not filter out the string buzz. The beginner player will find these single coils to be perfectly fine and enjoyable to their playing.
The controls are simple, with one knob for volume, one for tone and a lever controlling the pickup configuration.
The sound of the guitar is something I have a hard time reconciling with. The guitar has the potential to sound interesting, with Sycamore being such a rarely used tonewood, and yet it doesn’t. It sounds just like any other basswood guitar, maybe a little more float even. If there is any character to the guitar, you will have a hard time seeing it, since the string buzz will be getting in the way. Still the single coil setup is nice enough that most beginners will find the sound adequate enough for their tastes.
This guitar was created for the sole purpose of being cheap and being sold. It succeeds at this task marvelously, but has a hard time doing anything else. Adequate enough for a beginner, but don’t even think about insulting an intermediate player with it.