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Kramer Baretta Special

#1 User is offline   NePb 

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Posted 24 November 2016 - 10:45 PM

So I picked one of these up. I spent a solid two weeks reading reviews about this before I bought it. I'm not a great player so I didn't bother to try it out in store, I just ordered me one online. I figured the only things I would be able to spot would likely be major at that point, plus with only one pickup and a volume pot, it doesn't seem like much electrically could go wrong. Most reviews tended to praise the price point of this guitar, which I can't argue simply because I don't know any better, but I really liked the way it looked so I bought it. I have a nice bass, but I've always wanted a cheap six string to fool around with and this seems to fit that bill. After five...ish hours of playing over two days, I can safely say I really like this guitar. I'm having a lot of fun, and at my skill level, that is all that counts.

With that said, this axe does have a couple of notches against it. I read in many review that the tremolo likes to take the guitar out of tune. The trem was locked out of the box (That seems smart. Moving parts + shipping = returns.) so I have not been able to test whether or not it does indeed take the guitar out of tune. Although, I'm not sure I need to unlock it to test that theory. The guitar comes out of tune fairly easily with a locked trem, so I assume that will get worse unlocked. I want to expand on that, because this was something I never read; The tuners have dead spots. This may be just the six tuners I got, and I believe that is possible based on my six tuners do not all do this evenly but they do all do it. Say I tune down for a song. Next song I play, I have to tune back up. When I begin to operate the tuner in the opposite direction it was previously used, the screw, sprocket or whatever takes quite a bit to catch. The G string tuner takes up to a solid quarter turn to catch and start to tune (Not joking. 90 degrees.). The rest take between about 1/16th to 3/8ths of a rotation to catch., and rather irritatingly, it is not always the same amount. This really bothers me. I have never actually seen tuners do that before (not that I am the be all and end all of tuner knowledge.).

The fretboard has no binding around it, which doesn't actually bother me. Aesthetically, it fits the guitar. But the slots they cut in it to put the frets in are filled kind of poorly. This is very minor and not a playablitiy issue at all, and given some of the QC topics I've seen here on some really expensive Gibson's, I really have nothing to complain about. The fretwork itself seems quite good. Nothing sharp or paper cutty.

The last thing I have to say is IT IS HEAVY, and I never saw that in a review. I don't know how people weigh guitars so I stood on the scale without, then with, then with my bass, then without. The two withouts were the same, so to me, the scale is accurate enough. The Kramer weighs 8.6 pounds. My Jackson CMG weighs 8.4 pounds!! No only that, but the guitar feels about 6 pounds heavier, so I don't think it is super well balanced. I also learned that I lost 40 pounds since I left my ex 5 months ago. Neat.

The finish is great. This black is very black. I love it. I think an EMG would look so slick in this, and a black trem would seal the deal. I already mentioned replacing the tuners, well they were chrome, they will be black. The guitar only comes in two colours, and the "White" seemed a lot more like cream than white to me. When I think of white, I'm thinking snow, not milk snot. Oh, and the guitar came with a patch cord that didn't work. And a sticker and some hex keys. Good times.

So anyhow, that is my initial impression of my Baretta special.
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#2 User is offline   mirrorboy 

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 03:58 PM

Thanks for taking the trouble to post your review. I've had one for a year or so in Vintage white, it's more like primrose yellow!

Mine doesn't seem overly heavy although I've not weighed it. The expensive Baretta models are very heavy, the body on them is solid Maple.

I just about manage with the tuners as I keep mine in standard tuning. To set up the trem to work floating, I fitted a Black Tusq Graphtech nut and it stays in tune all day long using the trem sensibly.

The pickup is Epiphone I think and it does have some character. I think I will try removing the treble bleed mod as I like to turn down the volume and lose some treble.
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#3 User is offline   NePb 

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 03:36 PM

View PostNePb, on 24 November 2016 - 10:45 PM, said:

Although, I'm not sure I need to unlock it to test that theory. The guitar comes out of tune fairly easily with a locked trem, so I assume that will get worse unlocked. I want to expand on that, because this was something I never read; The tuners have dead spots. This may be just the six tuners I got, and I believe that is possible based on my six tuners do not all do this evenly but they do all do it. Say I tune down for a song. Next song I play, I have to tune back up. When I begin to operate the tuner in the opposite direction it was previously used, the screw, sprocket or whatever takes quite a bit to catch. The G string tuner takes up to a solid quarter turn to catch and start to tune (Not joking. 90 degrees.). The rest take between about 1/16th to 3/8ths of a rotation to catch., and rather irritatingly, it is not always the same amount. This really bothers me. I have never actually seen tuners do that before (not that I am the be all and end all of tuner knowledge.).


After a few month of owning this, and you know, learning about the instrument I own, I have come to realize that a binding nut was the issue. I took a pencil and applied graphite to each nut slot and I no longer have massive tuning issues.
String height and intonation out of the box, in retrospect, were not great, but the action was pretty solid. The quality of the bridge is sub par. one of the length screws has filled threads on the upper 1/8th on an inch of the screw, so I'm not super sure how the convinced the screw into the saddle in the first place, but the saddles threads are now nearly stripped because of this. The chrome comes off the bridge very easily and there is something copper coloured underneath, probably copper or some alloy thereof, probably not red gold unfortunately. It is most obvious under the string height screws. This could be a function of me setting string height while tuned, but it is a little disappointing. It seems like the chrome should stand up to that.

All in all, I believe this to be a solid starter level guitar. Maybe, for me personally, a fixed bridge would have been a better choice, but I'll unlock that trem someday.
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