solar-guitars-a1.6-et-review

Solar Guitars A1.6ET WHM Review

Solar Guitars have been making a bit of a splash recently. The man behind them, Ola Englund, will be known to many of you as the guitarist from The Haunted, Feared and a YouTube sensation. Having split from Washburn in 2017 he created his own brand, Solar Guitars and put his years of experience into creating to the perfect guitars for modern metal.

Has he been successful? There’s only one way to find out…

I Bought A Solar A1.6ET

Being a small brand there isn’t a huge amount of information online about Solar Guitars. The limited reviews I could find all seemed to be positive so I took the plunge and ordered the A!.6ET model in matte white.

A few days later a large box arrived from Thomann. After opening three boxes (one was Thomann’s own shipping box, Solar Guitars double box all of their guitars too) I was greeted by the whitest guitar I’ve ever seen. I’ve owned a few white guitars but the Solar seemed to be an incredibly pure white. Probably helped by being a matte finish instead of gloss.

Picking it up I immediately liked the feel of the finish. I’ve always prefered satin necks but having the whole guitar in a matte finish makes it very tactile. A quick strum across the strings and I discovered the Evertune bridge does its job. I have no idea if it was tuned before it left Thomann but it had travelled from Germany to the UK, been in however many vans and warehouses during its journey and it had arrived perfectly in tune.

Solar Guitars A1.6ET

The Evertune Bridge

I must admit, I was in two minds about ordering the Evertune equipped model because I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d watched some YouTube videos explaining the concept but it still seemed a like a strange idea. If you don’t know how they work then I’d recommend taking a look on YouTube because I can’t go into all of the details in this review. What I can say is they do work and I haven’t noticed any negatives at all yet. The A1.6ET stays perfectly in tune, even after fitting fresh strings without bothering to stretch them first. I always stretch my strings but I wanted to give the Evertune the ultimate test. A week later and I still haven’t had to tune it.

It’s not just the open strings which seem to benefit from the Evertune. Playing higher up the neck sounds more in tune too because the saddles adapt to the tension as you push down onto the frets. I might have been unsure before but I am a total Evertune convert now. I’d definitely recommend trying out a guitar with one fitted.

But Aren’t Solar Guitars Made In Indonesia?

This was one of the things I saw on different forums. People thought the quality might be lacking a little because of where they are made. Not so long ago I think it might have been a relevant concern but I think those days are behind us. Does it really matter which country a guitar is produced in? Gibson on one of the biggest brands in the world and are made in America. Take a quick look online and you’ll find plenty of people talking about Gibson’s poor quality control. How much of this is true and how much is just popular Gibson bashing is another thing but this is one of the biggest US guitar brands who make very expensive guitars and people question the quality. Do you still think the country of origin matters?

Ola Englund has posted videos on his YouTube channel of him visiting the factory the Solar Guitars are made in and performing quality control on hundreds of guitars himself. When you have the owner of the brand taking the time to do that I think you can be confident the products are going to be made to the correct standard.

I was confident I’d receive a well-made guitar and was pleasantly surprised when I surpassed my expectations. It feels incredibly solid and well put together. I’ve checked every part of it and can’t find a single fault or blemish.

Whenever I buy a guitar I always strip it down straight away, polish the frets, clean the fretboard, fit new strings and perform a full setup. If the Solar had been fitted with heavier strings from the factory I wouldn’t have had to do anything at all. The setup was absolutely perfect. The maple fretboard was clean. The frets were smooth and had a nice shine to them and the nut was cut correctly.

It’s hard for me to write this without sounding like I’m trying to sell the guitars but I honestly had no issues at all with my example. I can’t say every other Solar guitar will be totally without fault but mine is. Made in Indonesia, not hugely expensive but I can’t fault the quality at all. I can’t say the same for certain big brands produced in supposedly ‘better’ countries.

Solar A1.6 side view

How Does It Sound?

I bought this guitar for metal. That’s what it’s designed for so I wasn’t expecting anything amazing when played clean. The difference between this and some other metal-based guitars is the pickup choice. Some guitarists like high output pickups. Ola has chosen designs based on lower output Seymour Duncan pickups because he prefers to get the gain from his amps. In choosing to go in this direction, the Duncan/Solar pickups are very well balanced and sound great when used with a clean amp.  I don’t think anybody who buys a Solar guitar would be using it clean most of the time but it’s nice to have the versatility.

Turn up the gain and the guitar really starts to shine. Riffs are tight and crushing, leads are sweet and powerful. The tone is very well balanced right across the range. Pinched harmonics leap out with ease and downtuning doesn’t create a wall of sludge. There is always plenty of note definition. Ola wanted to create a great guitar for modern metal players and he seems to have achieved it.

Solar A1.6 rear

Design Touches

Before I finish, I should talk about a couple of other things I like about the A1.6 design. Firstly, the upper fret access. The long horns and the huge scoop where the neck and body meet means upper fret access is about as unrestricted as it’s possible to be. Nothing gets in the way when you’re playing high up the fretboard. You can usually play high frets without too much of a problem on other guitars but it’s nice to play high and not feel anything getting in the way at all.

The little scoops either side of the neck on the front of the body are also a nice touch. They add a great visual element and make the red version of the guitar look particularly evil.

Another nice little design element is the slightly recessed tone and volume controls. It’s a little thing I hadn’t even noticed when I ordered it but it just shows how much thought has been put into every area. The glow in the dark fret dots on the side of the maple fretboard also raised a smile.

Specs

NECK MATERIALMAPLE
SHAPETYPE A
BINDINGNO
FF MATERIALMAPLE
SCALE25.5
FRETS24 SUPER JUMBO NICKEL
TOP INLAYSOLAR LOGO ON 12TH FRET
POSITION MARKER DOTSNO
SIDE DOTSGLOW IN THE DARK
END PINROUND TYPE
PICKUP NECKDUNCAN SOLAR/NECK
PICKUP MIDDLENO
PICKUP BRIDGEDUNCAN SOLAR/BRIDGE
SWITCH5-WAY BLADE
BODY MATERIALALDER
TAIL & TAILPIECEEVERTUNE F-TYPE

Conclusion

This has been a hard review to write. I always try to be as honest as I can and when I can’t find anything negative to say I worry the review will seem like I’m being biased. The truth is, I can’t write anything negative when I can’t find a single fault with a product.

What Ola has achieved with these guitars is something incredible. I only hope he can keep up these very high standards as the brand grows. If he can then Solar Guitars are going to be a major force in the metal guitar market for years to come.

Rating – 10/10

The Solar Guitar A1.6ET is currently available from Thomann for €999. To buy yours, please visit them Here

You can hear it in action over on my YouTube channel – Here