Seiwa SR100 Rockman Guitar
A new budget six string electric guitar being distributed in the UK by Musicians Direct Supply Co.
Bottom of the Seiwa range, the SR100 is one of six guitars now being distributed in the UK by the Musicians' Direct Supply Company - part of Alligator Amplification. Their philosophy is that by selling their products direct to the public, they can lower retail prices right down. Certainly, the SR100 is incredibly cheap - cheaper even than a secondhand guitar of this quality would be.
The Seiwa is a conventional six-string electric guitar with a 22-fret neck, twin single-coil pickups (see later), a one-piece tailpiece/bridge, volume and tone controls and a pickup selector. The headstock is fitted with six (closed) individual machine heads and two dual-string guides for the first and second, and third and fourth strings respectively.
All the hardware (with the exception of the pickups and controls) is finished in chrome, while the body is covered in a thick coat of tough gloss polyvinyl paint, highly polished. Access to the inside of the guitar is through the scratchplate, a strange way of doing things and one that requires a fairly tedious level of work before the internal hardware can be inspected. However, Musicians' Direct Supply guarantee all their instruments to the original purchaser for a year, and this should cover any teething problems that might be experienced, making internal adjustment unnecessary for most users.
A single flat steel plate is held onto the body of the guitar by five crosshead screws. At the base of this is a ninety-degree bend which takes the screws whose job it is to hold the individual string supports. These are pushed forward on springs, allowing the string length to be varied for intonation discrepancies. There are two 'legs' to each string support, and these are moved by the use of a tiny Allen key. This allows the action to be raised or lowered, and while this is a little fiddly, it's still a better system than many, and certainly a lot better than the loose poles that were the trend a few years ago.
The two pickups are mounted directly onto the scratchplate and can be raised and lowered by screws mounted either side. Their sound is bright and powerful, and any hum that does rear its ugly head is probably attributable to the pickups' single coil configuration. Frankly I think this is just one of those things that has to be borne. After all, what do you want for £129?
With an excellent maple fingerboard, the neck is very Strat-like - narrow but with a traditional curvature. The fingerboard itself is fitted with wide frets, more Gibson than Fender in feel, and black markers are repeated on the edge strip. It's a comfortable neck, and the slimness aids playing speed a great deal.
The sounds from the SR100 were good, if a little predictable. The bridge pickup gave a tight, biting treble, though it wasn't in any way harsh. The neck pickup gave a warm, rich sound, which could, by judicious use of the tone control, be mellowed right down to a muddy '335' sound - perfect for rhythm work.
The lead sound is also a mite predictable, but surprisingly clear for a guitar in this price range. The SR100 is capable of delivering both searing lead sounds and deep, forceful tones in the lower registers.
The Seiwa was featured in the Rockschool television programme and a lot of people became aware of the potential of the Seiwa range as a direct result of that coverage.
All in all, the SR100 is an exceptional guitar for the price. Anyone who is interested in embarking on guitar-playing should give it a very close examination, but don't write it off simply as a beginners' guitar and a beginners' guitar only - nothing could be further from the truth. It outperforms many guitars of twice its price, and the standard of workmanship and overall feel of the guitar are very fine indeed. Add to that the fact that the distributors supply a hard case free of charge, and you have a rather special bargain on your hands.