Having said all that it is a bit quirky and does look like very good value and the brand has pedigree. Just dont be fooled by the branding. This is NOT a hand-made English guitar. I believe they are China-made (which is not automatically a bad thing these days).
The jewel-in-the-crown on it is almost certainly the burns own-brand pickups which, unlike many other manufacturers own brand pick-ups, actually do have a good rep.
I would always advise anyone to try before buying as all guiatrs are different.
If you live near London, IMUSO have great prices and, although mainly an online retailer, are happy for you to visit in person.
Err thank you Blokeonabike, and rest assured if I wanted another Fender Id buy one
With todays technology/design/production facilities, I see no reason to shell out exorbitant amounts for extra/super/implied quality, and Im much too far down the line to think if I owned some signature/special whatever, it would actually make me play any better.
Agree Tri-Sonics are past muster pick-ups, however, became apparent on my GB66 they were not designed to counter feedback on a semi-acoustic using higher amplification.
Also agree best to try first and current manufacture in the Far East has little significance except on price. Time I went to buy a Glen Campbell Ovation, while waiting in the shop I picked up a measly second-hand Ovation Celebrity, made in Korea. It turned out to be an exceptional instrument which played and sounded like a dream. Bought that one and ever since pissed off all my mates with Martins, Gibsons etc, and I wouldnt swap it for a Pat Eggle Similarly, when waiting to try a prospective purchase of a Fender Jazz bass, I picked up a used Aria Pro II with parallel through neck outstanding, and bought instead
Ergo, the Burns Cobra potentially ticks all the boxes for being a quality enjoyable instrument at a fair price, but nice to know what owners have found.
Reviews are generally very positive with the usual "for the price" caveat. Burns is not a cheap brand but this one is at the cheap end of their range. If I am completely honest I have to say that I do not know a single owner of a Burns guitar. That is not to say they are bad guitars, just that it may be hard to find a first-hand review.
I cant help thinking that as the owner of a real Fender, you might be dissapointed with a mystery wood Burns. Thier other models look a little more original and interesting as well as (probably) being higher quality and with specified materials.
I am testament to the fact that a more expensive guitar will not automatically make you play any better! I can quite happily make my Gibson sound like an Argos special. But I dont see the point in buying gear that will limit my ability to improve and it makes me feel good to know I have an instrument that is worth keeping.
Ah, valid points. An instrument that will not limit your ability, and one that is worth keeping. At the end of the day its a bit of wood with six strings and a pick-up, but if it facilitates what you want/are able to do, and inspires you, it has value to you.
The who plays what thing is very important to the market and probably influences about every player at some stage, for better or worse. Ive always fancied a Cherry Red 335, partly because Berry played one, but, I have an aversion to an LP partly because Bolan played one?
The Strat I had I got from Rock Bottom in the 70s when they did their bulk deal with Fenders and knocked them out at the lowest prices in Europe. Nothing wrong with it, but I never developed much attachment and had no problem later selling it. A friend had a well used 60s Strat, which looked it, in naff Sunburst, but it played like stroking velvet. The way it goes.
Re Burns, theyve always been of mixed appeal, and to me, looked too much of a slab with too much furniture? I remain convinced theres no real need for more than two pick-ups bridge and neck if the selector is a slider that lets you vary the feed between each to get the combination you prefer? Body wood, provided its a nice piece of hardwood, would seem fine for a solid body - but thats just an impression. Perhaps Burns dont specify as it depends on whats a good buy for them at the time?
Had a Burns Flyte many a moon ago, great guitar and so stupid of me to let it go, I use Schecter these days, I'm going into Manchester tomorrow, I'll have a look and see if I can find one and give it a review for you.
Sounds like you like the unusual and why not? Have thought a possible gift for someone who has everything would be a present of a Custom Shop Schecter. Unfortunately I dont have everything and dont know anyone willing to shell out over 5K on a present
Very good of you to look out a Cobra if you have time, appreciated.
ps. Im sure I know the drummer in your sig block. Does he work for Council Local Planning?
My local shop had one in recently. I didnt play it but it looked well put together and finished if that is any help.
Completely unrelated to Burns, I just picked up an Epi ES175VS reissue. Lovely guitar for the money if a bit quirky. I have no idea if anyone famous ever played one (more likely a Gibson original than an Epi reissue). The biggest problem with it is the unusual string guages with a wound third. So far the only set I can find as a direct replacement are the somewhat pricey Gibson L5 strings.
My other current guitars are both SGs, one with high output 'buckers and one with p90s. I really must get a fender (or clone) soon. I am still thinking 69 thinline tele.
Have you ever built a guitar? Warmoth look interesting but I have no idea how much work I would be getting myself into!
Then again, you can usually find the plain 3rd sets for less, and then buy single wound strings for your third - DAddario or Ernie Ball?
Re the Strat, personal choice of course, but as its post 1966 (so not a Leo machine), whats the appeal of a 69? (1969 for the smutty gits). You said previously you feel theres something beneficial about paying extra to have a Fender screwed together by Mexicans in California instead of Mexicans in Mexico, but, unless you give CBS an orgasm and weight out three grand to their alleged Custom Shop, are you really going to get more for your money?
Before parting with your hard earnt, perhaps consider Leo Fenders Fender plus range, the G&L?
Why the 69? Simple answer- it is currently the only thinline in the catalogue with traditional fender tele pickup configuration. As for why I want a thinline over a solid body, I have to admit it is mostly cosmetic appeal. I tend to like things less common.
Many of the cheaper non-fender tele clones actually have the wrong neck (scale), as do the Fender squier series. I would actually be quite happy with a good quality clone that presented a genuinely better value for money while retaining all the essential elements (wood, construction, neck, decent hardware/electronics and single coil pups). I dont find it too hard to believe that such a thing might exist as a clone that is actually better than the original at a similar or better price.
My understanding is that MIMs are not necesarily worse than USA Fenders but more prone to individual variations in manufacture. Is this just marketing spin to justify the price of the USA models?
As with the Gibson/Epi debate, purists and collectors will argue one thing while active players may not always agree. I certainly do not believe my top-of-the range Epi SG prophecy is of lower quality than my twice as expensive Gibson SG. Can my Epi 175 compare to a genuine Gibson, probably not, but in terms of value for money and as a guitar to play, not just collect, definately yes. In my local guitar shop there are a number of genuine Gibsons that I wouldnt buy even if I could afford them, the finish is that poor!
Thanks for turning me on to G&L. That is definately worth a look and they have some semi hollows in the lineup. Be a while before I have that sort of cash lying around but it is competetive with Fender and I can well believe the overall quality/value for money is better.
Good idea on the string sets too. I hadn't really considered buying individual strings but it makes sense for the wound third.
Certainly a lot to be said for a guitar fitting the minds eye, absolutely affects me too. I like the look of hollow body versions, and would like to try one for a while. I expect there would be benefits weight-wise for long stints definitely vouch for that when I used a hollow GB66 bass but Id like to evaluate any tone difference compared to a solid version.
Various guitar forums seem to have as many opinions as posters on what effects tone mahogany scratch plates to scalloped frets to bell brass nuts? (quality bells are made of bronze ).
On the MIM/Nippon/US/etc thing, since we started this page I have become with Fender again. Wasnt planned, just a chance encounter checking out a we need the cash type sale. Its a MIM 50s reissue Strat, excellent timbers excellently screwed together by Juanita and faultlessly sprayed in Powder Blue and lacquer. One issue, apparent straight away, was a (typically) poorly set-up wonking arm. That aside, it played as I expected a good Strat to.
However, though its a 50s re-issue, tight arse CBS dont supply it with an ash tray or round string tree/s. Both easily remedied, or so I thought Wanting to keep everything Fender, I order a Fender 50s re-issue ashtray from America. It arrived, went on, fell off. Went on again, fell off again? Contacted the dealer and confirmed the part number etc, all correct? Contacted CBS in their lair. Two days later received a reply to the effect that, if Id spent X thousand dollars on a US re-issue (smell the apple pie) it would fit. Despite having Fender on every saddle, the whole bridge is cheap shit they use on MIM guitars, no doubt to save 20 cents. Furthermore, not we apologise and will send you one that does fit or well credit the dealer to refund you but squeeze it up in a vice or something till it fits and the final killer thats what I did with mine.
The words of the great Maclean and Maclean came to mind; Mister, you can take a long hard suck on my arse. That piece of bent crap came out my guitar and was replaced by a quality engineered unit by Britains very own Trevor Wilkinson. As it happens, Wilkinson was well acquainted with Leo Fender who gave him bridge design specs
Not only will I NEVER EVER but a CBS instrument again, I will NEVER EVER buy any Genuine CBS parts. Re Leo Fender, I continue to have an agenda to own one of his guitars, which I regard as a pre 66 or a G&L. As I would never pay X thousand for a guitar (largely because I dont have it), I will aspire towards a G&L Comanche at some stage.
......I just picked up an Epi ES175VS reissue.. .........The biggest problem with it is the unusual string guages with a wound third. So far the only set I can find as a direct replacement are the somewhat pricey Gibson L5 strings.
Thanks No9 they look like they might be worth a try.
In the end I went for the brand I use most - Ernie Ball - I got a few sets but I know I will need more at some point. The weights are not an exact match but close. The sets I got are also pure nickels with a wound third.
By the way, I had a good look (online) at those Italia guitars but I am just not sure about them. They are certainly different but it almost seems that they are trying too hard to look unusual (for example, what is the benefit of that headstock design?). Things might be different if I had an unlimited budget and a bigger house!
Glad the Mangan strings may prove useful. Balls are probably the most used on solid electrics, Reg Slinky are my general standby. Never been so convinced on their Phosphors, where DAddario probably reign?
Rotosound are still in there pitching and I found their revised production worthwhile. May be an old idea, but a lot (inc. me) still think of Rotosound first for bass strings The other British manufacturer you may wish to revisit (if you havent already passed them over) is Clifford Essex?
Essex just do their own of course while Stringbusters offer a wide selection of manufacturers. Theyre also seem to have the widest range of singles in the UK, like 60p for any Rotosound plain
Nosing around I found a seller who stated the individual tuned string tensions for a set of DAddarios. Digging about, found a reference to DAddario being the only manufacturer to publish comprehensive information for every string they make including their practical tuning pitches.
Went on to find their fascinating 14 page pdf spec document.
Wish Id seen this years ago, answered so much. Once I got my head round their tension charts, it answered a long standing mystery for me of why, when the A string is heavier than the D string (and feels it), does the even heavier bottom E feel looser than the A? Their chart reveals that with most sets the string increments appear to follow weight patterns, and, usually the thinner A string is at a higher tension than the heavier E string. If fact, the A string turns out to often be at the highest tension in a set.
Then I looked at the excellent DAddario site and found their explanation of their pdf would have saved me a lot of brain ache. D'Addario : String Tension Guide
Then when you look-up their various sets, you find all the relevant info for each string in the set
And so, I should now be able to concoct/modify a set to meet my expectation of feeling progressively heavier (or no heavier) moving down the strings Of course what it may sound/play like is to be found
Maybe not too different?
Viz: 6 String Nickelplated rounds
E - 10p
B - 14p
G - 18p
D - 26w
A - 36w
E - 49w
Re the Italias, I agree that Wilkinson probably did not want to just produce yet another range of me too copy guitars. Maybe the previous manufacturer to seriously try being different (with success) was BC Rich? I trust Wilkinsons engineering and Id like to try some of these models. Re buying one, second hand seems to be often in the £100-£200 range so possible at some time. Would not take precedence over a G&L Comanche