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Frontline 301 Guitar

Article from Making Music, March 1987


We don't say Strat copy any more, we say Jackson, or Charvel, or something like that. It's hip to be angular, obviously.

Note that increasingly popular sloped-back headstock on top of a contoured double cutaway body, with the pickups bunged straight into the holes in the body.

The Frontline borrows the 'traditional' old-fashioned spring tremolo from the Charvel Model 1, the 22 fret neck of Models 2 & 3, the pickup configuration and three toggle switches of Models 4 & 6, plus the huge triangular fingerboard markers of the top-of-line Model 6.

The 301 has two knobs, overall volume and tone, and no active circuitry. It does have a fingerboard made of ebonol, a dark and lustrous plastic which bears more than a passing resemblance to ebony. I rather liked the feel of this slinky substance which made the neck seem pleasantly slippy when bending the occasional string, not unlike the real ebony thing. This placcy slab is wide and flat, with moderately high rounded frets - suitable for tapping, if anyone's still doing that. The back of said maple neck is shallow in profile, and dressed with a nice smooth satin finish.

One problem of the Jackson/Charvel headstock is that it splays the strings out after they pass the nut on their way to the machines; if the nut slots are not accurately cut, the strings are more prone to sticking than with Fender style heads. They stuck on this guitar, which meant the bloody thing wouldn't stay in tune. Rubbing a pencil over the nut helped, but even then it was still a problem when I used the tremolo.

The three on/off pickup switches give two more possibilities (front and back, plus all three simultaneously) than a regular five-way selector, but there is always a chance that you could accidentally turn the guitar off completely.

One final complaint was that on our review model, the top-E bridge saddle was faulty, with its two adjusting bolts passing through it at a most peculiar angle. This didn't actually cause playing difficulties, but it shouldn't be like that.


I've stopped moaning. It played great (apart from the tuning), and sounded fine. The seven pickup options give good tonal variety, and the humbucker is pleasingly full. Of the variations on the normal Strat five-way theme, I particularly liked the all three simultaneously noise - warmish at the bottom, ringing at the top, but hollow in the middle; nice.

These (mild) irritations aside (and it's reasonable to assume that not all 301s will suffer the same faults), the Frontline 301 is astonishingly good value. The other models in the range of which this is top represent almost as much for even less. How do they do it for the money?


PRICE £150
BODY ply
NECK maple
PICKUPS two single coil, one humbucker
SELECTOR three on/off switches
CONTROLS volume, tone
TREMOLO Strat type

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Moore's Code

Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Mar 1987

Gear in this article:

Guitar > Frontline > 301

Gear Tags:

Electric Guitar

Review by Jon Lewin

Previous article in this issue:

> Wood Of The Month

Next article in this issue:

> Moore's Code

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