Fender Squire Stagemaster 7-string Reviews 4

I have been composing music since 1994. My work has evolved from pure midi electronica to what it is now: a hybrid of electronica and complex metal/rock. I use a variety of weapons in my arsenal, but the Squire Stagemaster 7 is the center of all of my compositions. I am currently writing under the band name "3rd Rail" and can be found on acidplanet. I am most influenced by Tool, Deftones, NIN, and a slew of electronica artists like Portishead, Sneakerpimps, and the like. They all teach me lessons, and I take what I need from them, reflecting soloing styles, minimalism, wall-of-sound, and other techniques to the large variety of styles I compose in.

I bought this unit at a Guitar Center on clearance for $99. It reguarly goes for $200 or so. I was looking for a better instrument than my Fender Sun Mustang and wanted to expand my range by learning 7-string techniques.

The unit is rock solid. It is a tank. The ability to do my heavy chords and soloing on the same unit is definately a time saver in the studio. The bridge is wide, but not too thick to be easy unless you have small hands. The striking area for the pick is enormous and allows for a wide range of tones (depending on where you strum or pick it). The two octaves available on each string make soloing fast and dynamic. This is certainly a plus over a standard Stratocaster (similar to my former Sun mustang). The guitar has been with me for nearly 8 years (I think) and has been reliably in tune for months between sessions.

The weight is a real shocker. It weighs more than my Les Paul. But it is a solid type of weight. Unlike my Les Paul, it can be banged around a lot more without chipping, changing its tuning, or suffering permanent tone-altering damage. The knobs on the thing do not seem to do much. The three position switch has only two decent settings. But considering I use external means to alter its sound, the built in effects are not that important. It can scream, with the right pedal, but normally offers a muted-darker-lower tone. Of course, that makes it perfect for metal. But don't expect to play the blues on this thing. It can sound a bit sterile. The soul of this guitar is that of a drunk cyborg, which is fun for only certain types of music. Not great for jazz or playing clean either. With a great pedal arangement and some compression, however, it still outshines any guitar I have tried to write heavy rock with.

It is a laminated maple semi-hollowbody with a center block. The set maple neck provides great sustain and tonal solidity. The rosewood fretboard is pretty and durable. Could be smoother from the factory. With 22 jumbo nickel-silver frets, you have enough metal to really grip those notes. Great for separation. Sliding through a glissando sounds horrible because of these big frets, though... Kinda like wanting a trombone slide, and getting a trumpet doing a chromatic scale. 3-ply pickguards are pretty much stock on fenders, and even lists in the Stagemaster 7's specs, but there is no pickguard on the unit. Bare wood under the strings and around the knobs. A pickguard would be nice, but it seems the guitar has a ton of paint on it and shows no signs of pick scrape after many many years of rocking hard.

For anyone on a budget that needs a good axe to get going, or for anyone who wants a 7 string guitar and doesn't care for Ibenez, the Squire is a reliable old cannon of sound. The reverse head might throw you at first when tuning, but you get used to it. And many guitars that cost more sound weaker compared to this one. This can be a long term guitar that can stand up to the road and the hardest stage shows. Plus for its price, you can slam it around without feeling sick to your stomach every time it is dropped. Just be sure you have at least a couple pedals if you want to use this guitar as its clean sound leaves much to be desired, though its distorted sound is utterly fantastic. Soloing on a 7-string might seem lazy, but this one has the two octaves to make it worthy of delivering both punnishingly thick chords and screamingly high solos all on the same machine. A must buy for collectors as well as aspiring artists that want to restart the 7-string revolution.

Gregory P. Dearth rated this unit 4 on 2008-01-07.

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