Review: Caparison Dellinger II FX-WM Guitar — Video

Caparison guitars have been amassing a cult following in the United States ever since the Japanese high-end boutique builder made its debut in 1995.

Caparison fans were dismayed when its parent company declared bankruptcy in May 2011, but the guitarmaker bounced back quickly under new ownership, retaining lead designer and visionary Itaru Kanno and resuming production that September.

While Caparison guitars have always been a notch above the competition, today they’re even better than ever. The latest version of their popular Dellinger model—the Dellinger II FX-WM—attests to the company’s meticulous attention to detail and innovative vision.

FEATURES The Dellinger II FX-WM may look like a typical dual-humbucker superstrat, but numerous details make it stand out from the pack.

The most notable innovation is its composite body construction consisting of a walnut top and mahogany back. Instead of the usual thin slab top, the walnut top is about 3/4 inches thick while the mahogany bottom is about one inch thick. The maple bolt-on neck has a bound ebony fretboard with Caparison’s signature clock inlays, 24 jumbo frets, and a 25 1/2–inch scale.

Although the guitar ships with .010–.052 strings, it’s set up for dropped C tuning (two whole steps down, C F A# D# G C).

Caparison designed the humbucking neck and bridge pickups as well as the bridge, which is manufactured by Gotoh. Other hardware and features include locking tuners and a master volume control knob made by Gotoh, a Schaller three-way pickup toggle, CTS master volume pot and a Graph Tech Black TUSQ nut. Caparison offers the model with a choice of either natural or charcoal-black finishes.

PERFORMANCE Featuring pickups screwed directly to the body and only a solitary master volume control, the Dellinger II FX-WM is obviously inspired by Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein, albeit with very refined “street rod” attention to detail instead of the ramshackle “rat rod” aesthetics of Van Halen’s original ax. The composite walnut/mahogany body is exceptionally light and resonant, allowing the downtuned strings to deliver crisp attack, brilliant tone and clear definition across the entire frequency spectrum, which the pickups capture in exquisite detail.

The Dellinger’s construction is absolutely flawless. This is most notable in the neck, which has a sexy, silky feel. The smoothly polished frets have the “fretless wonder” action of a Les Paul Custom but provide much more surface to dig into. This guitar is an absolute dream for players who specialize in downtuned metal with the heaviest riffs and fastest solos.

MANUFACTURER Caparison Guitars,

The composite body features a thick walnut top and mahogany back to provide focused, aggressive low-end response ideal for its dropped C tuning.

High-output humbucking pickups deliver crisp attack, brilliant tone and outstanding individual note definition.

THE BOTTOM LINE The ingenious composite body design combined with dynamic electronics and a fast neck make the Caparison Dellinger II FX-WM the ultimate ax for low-end specialists.

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Chris Gill, Video by Paul Riario

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.