Hohner 'ST Metal' Guitar
Love 'em or hate 'em, 'SuperStrats' are easily today's most popular guitars. But with so many 'Hot' guitars of this type on the market, which do you go for if you're looking for a new axe? ITs reviewers have been wrapping their mitts round the latest challenger from Hohner, the ST Metal, to assess its potential.
It wasn't so many years ago that guitars from West Germany's giant Hohner company were nothing so very much to shout about, but the past few years have seen them storm up the charts to the point when a Hohner guitar has become very much an instrument to reckon with. Take, for example, their headless Steinberger-licensed Hohner Professional models (see our review in Issue 9) which impressed our reviewers no end. Likewise, at the lower priced end of the market their highly praised Arbor Series copies, which ITs reviewers have concluded represent outstanding value for money. But if a basic 'copy' (say an Arbor) or a headless type aren't to your taste, how about Hohner's version of that current love object of the HM guitarist, the Strat-based instrument with hot pickups, an 'advanced' trem and a fast neck — what our illustrious Editor (we have to say that or he'll sack us!) has delighted in dubbing the 'SuperStrat'? To see what Hohner can offer the HM stylist, we borrowed one of their latest UK arrivals: the RRP £199 'ST Metal'.
Here's yet another handsome looking Korean-produced guitar, further evidence that Japan's makers had better start looking to their (Datsun?) laurels pretty fast, lest their Taiwanese and Korean rivals whip the market away from under their very noses.
Handsome in its very American looking white with black stripey body finish, this model Hohner has two close 'ST' relatives, one coming in Purple Sunburst, the other in bright Red. Both of these have Rosewood fingerboards, as opposed to the ST Metal's one piece Canadian Rock Maple 22 fret bolt on neck/fingerboard assembly. Maple necks are, of course, very much down to personal taste. Some players prefer the harder, less oily feel of Maple against their fingers, whereas others like the sensation of Rosewood or (despite its price) Ebony. Objectively, no one material has any significant advantage over any other; though we must say that the Maple used on the Hohner's neck was really excellent — yet another sign of the rising quality standards in the lower priced guitar sector. Finishing standards on our ST were very generally very good, too, just a slight bit of extra attention being needed to get the fat frets on the flat fretboard to perfectly even height and smoothness. The standard of the ST Metal's hardware, however, was really first rate. The Hohner's machines were tight and accurate, and the 3 bolt nut-locked tremolo (one of the makers' own devising) worked well. Hohner call this their 'Super Tremolo', by the way. As demanded by today's HM players, it's slinky and easy to use, fully adjustable brass roller saddles allowing free movement of the strings when de- (and re-)tuned.
We weren't, however, quite so keen on the bright chromed right-hand tuners fitted to the bridge, which seemed a bit small and rather too stiff for fast adjustment. Nevertheless, if the Hohner device isn't quite as snazzy as, say a Kahler or a Floyd Rose (being a spring-loaded system), it does work a heck of a lot better than many other lower priced 'advanced' types — especially so for this sort of money.
Again in keeping with the latest trends, the ST features just a single pickup, a humbucker positioned back by the bridge, from which position it delivers a really searing and hot overdrive. We've commented before on how good Hohner's Korean-made pickups are (notably the one on their Professional Series G2 guitar) and this sample's was yet more evidence of the design quality and manufacturing skill which has gone into one of their transducers. O.K., it mayn't be a Seymour Duncan or an EMG, but when you consider this guitar's price and then play it, you soon realise just how much high quality sound you're getting for your money.
We tested the G2 through a number of different amps, ranging from transistorised bog standard types to more professional ones, and found that in every case the Hohner proved able to overdrive any of them, developing a really nice aggressive 'metal' with plenty of top and pretty good sustain. Usefully, the single humbucker also has a split coil facility, via a micro flick switch sensibly situated between the guitar's volume and tone controls. If you're the sort of player who enjoys using a single coil sound for rhythm and then pinning your audiences against the back wall when you switch to a humbucker for your solos, you're very likely to enjoy this guitar's versatile sound. It's a good single coil effect, too, much like the clean toppiness of a Strat — another sure sign of a well developed pickup.
At an RRP of £199 inc. VAT, this is a very impressive guitar — aimed to appeal to Hard Rock/Heavy Metal players who would, ideally perhaps, like a Charvel, a Kramer, a JayDee Hooligan or whatever, but haven't managed to finalise their plans for the necessary bank raid! Despite our (really very minor) worries about the fretting we're inclined not to worry overmuch about this, as it looks like an individual flaw, the sort of thing that you could encounter on any lower cost instrument and which any reputable dealer would be able to sort out for you.
At the RRP of a sliver under £200 the Hohner ST Metal appears to represent very good value for money ana looks like continuing this maker's current run of success.
RRP £199 inc. VAT
More from M. Hohner Ltd., (Contact Details).
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!