Tregan Syren Signature and Standard Series Guitars
Tregan Guitars, treganguitars.com
Standard Series, $779.99; Signature Series, $949.99
Originally published in Guitar World, May 2010
Tregan’s Syren guitars are some of the better playing and original-looking guitars available at reasonable prices.
Tregan Guitars president Tony Guarriello created the Korean-built guitar line with the idea of providing beginning and intermediate players with fun, easy-to-play and well-built guitars at reasonable prices. He not only accomplished that goal in a very crowded market but also managed to create affordable guitars that outperform their price points. Most impressive, Tregan guitars have a pleasing and deep acoustic quality that’s hard to find in a guitar costing less than two grand. One of Tregan’s most popular instruments is the wildly shaped and well-appointed Syren. For this review, I looked at examples from both the Syren Signature and Standard Series.
It's becoming increasingly difficult for guitar makers to invent novel guitar shapes, but the Syren’s dragonclaw cutouts and steep curves are uniquely radical. The Syren’s body is cut from thick, contoured mahogany (nato on the Standard), and if you opt for the Signature Series you’ll also get a quilted maple top veneer sprayed in an eye-catching Dragonburst finish.
The set and true-tapered mahogany necks are key to the Syren’s strong resonance transfer. Because the nut is narrow and the 10-degree tilted headstock is small, more string energy flows into the body. The necks are carved into a fairly thick C shape that both enhances the sound and keeps the left hand’s muscles from becoming too tense. The Standard has a rosewood fretboard with 24 medium jumbo frets, while the Signature Series Syren has a brighter-sounding ebony board with 24 medium jumbo frets and abalone inlays. The Standard runs its strings through the body and over a Tune-o-matic–style bridge, making it ideal for the traditionalist who wants the most volume and stability. The Signature Series has a floating Floyd Rose–licensed double-locking trem and a back route that allows you to both dive and pull up on the bar. Incidentally, this is one of the better licensed Floyd’s on a budget-conscious guitar, and I wouldn’t be quick to replace it with a pricier bridge. Both guitars use Grover mini tuners.
Tregan’s own Alnico V humbuckers are common to all Syrens, with electronics that feature a three-position toggle, dedicated tone knobs and a master volume. The Signature Series guitars have a toggle that switches between active and passive modes.
Though these guitars have the same pickups, the differences in top woods, fretboards and bridges give them very different tones. The bridge pickup is honky in the mids, with a warm bass and a moderately sharp top end. The neck-position pickup sounds punchy and clear. These aren’t especially high-output, so they allow plenty of string nuance to come through the amp. In addition, they display a rather strong midrange, such that typical country picking and blues come through authentically.
Not surprisingly, the Standard’s string-through configuration provides the most resonance, power and volume. The Signature Series’ ebony board gives it a harder edge and a more aggressive tonality but doesn’t quite achieve the balance and depth of the non-trem Standard.
Played through an overdriven Marshall, the Standard displayed a lively harmonic field and a hint of nasal overtones that make its vibrato so expressive. The bass response isn’t huge or especially tight, but it delivers classic hot-rodded vintage qualities. The Signature’s ebony board tightens the bass and pushes notes through the mix with somewhat less midrange. Switching the Signature into active mode increases string energy, sustain and perceived gain.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Tregan's Syren guitars are some of the better playing and original-looking guitars available at reasonable prices. The Standard is a great value for traditionalists who want to play anything from country to hard rock. If angering the metal gods, and the neighbors, suits your style, you might want to opt for the double-locking tremolo and active/passive electronics in the Signature Syren.
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