Judging by the name of the company and the guitar pictured here, one would assume that Strictly 7 Guitars only builds seven-string guitars.
But while Strictly 7 does indeed make a wide variety of rather impressive seven-string guitars, the company also offers six-, eight-, and even occasional nine-string models in styles that range from traditional to radical modern designs. In fact, Strictly 7 is more like a custom shop, offering players the ability to choose and customize numerous details such as tone woods, electronics, and hardware.
Strictly 7 also makes a few limited runs, like this Cobra S7 Fanned Fret seven-string guitar that they sent us to review.
The Cobra S7 starts with Strictly 7’s asymmetrical double-cutaway Cobra body style featuring slim cutaway horns and an all-access neck joint that provides unrestricted access all the way up to the 24th fret. The body is exceptionally light Northern ash, and the bolt-on neck has a 5-layer laminate design made from purpleheart with maple stringers along with a quarter-sawn wenge fingerboard with a 20-inch radius.
The fanned scale length ranges from 27.5 inches for the lowest string (B) to 25.5 inches for the highest string (E), and the jumbo nickel-silver frets have a slightly squared-off, medium-height profile to facilitate precise fretting and a smooth, fast feel.
The electronics are simple but versatile, consisting of a Seymour Duncan Blackout 8 (neck) and custom designed S7G Blackout-style (bridge) active pickups, a master volume control, and a three-position mini toggle pickup selector switch. (Apparently eight-string pickups were used to provide an appropriately wide magnetic field due to their slanted mounting positions.) Hardware includes a custom S7G Hipshot Fanned Fret bridge and Sperzel locking tuners mounted on the headstock’s treble edge (standard inline, 3-over-4, and 4-over-3 configurations are available should your preferences vary).
Most fanned-fret guitars can take a while to get used to (especially when you’ve been playing standard guitars for four decades), but this Cobra S7 felt surprisingly comfortable to play from the minute I first picked it up. The neck profile has unusual squared edges (as opposed to the common C- or D-shaped profiles), but this encouraged me to place my fretting hand in an optimal position for playing both chords and single-note lines. But the best advantages of the fanned fret configuration are the dead-on accurate intonation and consistent string tension across the guitar’s entire range.
Street price: $1,999.99
Manufacturer: Strictly 7 Guitars, strictly7.com
• The fanned frets and unusual squared neck profile provide a surprisingly comfortable feel, accurate intonation, and consistent string tension.
• Seymour Duncan Blackout 8 and custom designed S7G Blackout-style active pickups deliver crisp low-end definition and noise-free performance even with high-gain distortion.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Thanks to its fanned frets that are surprisingly comfortable to play and contribute to the guitar’s massive full-range tones, the Strictly 7 Cobra S7 Fanned Fret could very well be the ideal seven-string design.