Looks familiar, definitely surprises!
First of all… sorry for my absence regarding videos and this blog! It has been a busy time and I have been recording a lot music that I want to put out there soon. Everybody who knows how much effort it is, will most likely understand that…regardless! 🙂
Since Doug from Blackmachine Guitars in London came up with that very unique inline headstock design (which certainly received a lot of attention), many other luthiers imitated or at least came very close to the original. Since Blackmachine decided to keep the production level very low and be as close to the customer’s wishes as possible, companies like Skervesen for example produced guitars with that headstock design in rather large numbers.
Neko is a very young company with only a small team of people behind the operation. But they are fans of that headstock design and clearly express that with the introduction of the Claymore model!
Guitar runs on Facebook
I have seen quite a few guitar group runs on Facebook in the past year, everything from Sabre Guitars to Kiesel/Carvin Vaders. And it definitely makes sense, because despite of what you might think about the social media platform, it definitely enhances the business of small companies that wouldn’t have a chance if they had to compete against big business in the “real” world.
So I did something that I have actually never done before and jumped into a run of 50 guitars that I saw by accident about 2 months ago on Facebook. I had seen pictures of several Neko models before and they looked solid to me, but I had no first-hand reference or personal experience with the company. It was just the price point that got me into this decision…450$ for Superstrat-style guitar with 26,5″ scale and stainless steel jumbo frets? Is this even possible? So I took the risk of eventually ending up with guitar that I would instantly sell directly after arrival and booked a slot in the run for 200$.
Keat, who runs the business at Neko, updated the status on the production at least two times a week and tried to respond quickly to any eventual questions I had. The weeks went by and finally, about 10 days ago, DHL informed me that I could pick up my Neko Claymore 6 at the customs near my hometown.
Extremely light for a mahogany guitar!
The Claymore was properly packed and arrived without any damage. The first thing I noticed right away was the extremely light weight of the instrument. I tested it with a luggage weight, which showed me a value of 2,65kg, which is lighter than anything I came across so far. The low weight also has a small downside when attaching the guitar to a strap, as it tends to slide a little towards the headstock…well, we can’t have it all, can we?
Since I wanted a 6-string with a longer scale that I could tune down to Drop A for chuggy riffing, I re-stringed the Claymore with a set of D’Addario 012-060 Nickel Wound strings and adjusted the bridge, nut and truss rod to the new setup. When I plugged it into my Axe FX I was really surprised! Not only did it sound very tight and resonant, it was also very comfortable to play. The pickups do not really catch me though…they are made by Neko as well, called “Mamba VK”. They do have a lot of clarity, but to my personal taste they could have more output and should be a little less treble-heavy…but that’s just my personal taste in pickups! Others might like their tone and especially their clarity. In terms of controls, the Claymore comes with a simple layout, featuring master volume and a 3-way lever switch that chooses between bridge and neck humbucker and combines them in the middle position.
Simple, but solid!
The bridge construction looks a bit like the standard Hipshot model, but comes from a different manufacturer. It feels comfortable when playing palm muted chords and notes, while I was able to adjust it to the new string setup within a couple of minutes. The tuners also seem to be budget variants of a German original, but they do their job and that’s what counts. One of the features that got me into the Claymore run were the stainless steel frets, as they will last for a very long time when processed correctly. I was honestly shocked how well they were set in and treated on both sides of the fretboard. No sharp edges, no dents… something you wouldn’t expect from a guitar in that price range, if you would expect stainless steel frets at all. Neko’s trademark, the three little holes in the upper left side of the body, did not disturb me when playing. The finish inside is a little less intense then on the top, but you can barely see that unless you hold it against a bright daylight LED lamp…which you normally don’t. 🙂
Conclusion, Specs & Video
I have been playing guitars in the 800-900$ area, which would clearly loose the battle against the Neko Claymore in terms of workmanship and specifications or be on par at best. I have heard about 3 people out of that first run Neko did, that had some minor issues with their instruments. Apparently nothing that couldn’t be fixed and Keat seems to be a fair person when it comes to after-sale support. I had nothing to complain really, apart from a really tiny scratch at the fretboard side at the 1st fret. I’ve had some more expensive guitars in my hands that featured more reasons to complain. For the price of 500$ (that’s what the current run will cost you, ordering a 6-string) there is actually not so much to think about. People will change pickups on budget guitar in 80% of the cases and replace them with some brand models. And even then you’ll be running cheaper in comparison to some bigger companies with a big QC department.
- Mahogany body
- Bolt-on maple neck w/rosewood stripes
- Modern slim C/D neck profile
- Rosewood fretboard
- 24 stainless steel jumbo frets
- 26,5″ scale length
- Dot inlays at 12th fret, side dots
- Inline headstock
- 2 x Neko Mamba VK humbucker
- Neko hardware (black)
- Master volume, 3-way pickup switch
- Weight: 2,65kg
More info about Neko Guitars here: