You might have caught my review in February of the Gibson Kramer Pacer Classic. It was the one that needed a bit of work to get it up to speed. Not being afraid to put my money where my mouth is, I grabbed a Pacer Vintage last year.
“But Darth”, you say, “why aren’t you loyal to the 80s Kramers?” Well, gentle reader, I am…as I see Gibson’s Kramers as just that – a company that bought a name and puts out their version. People are going to take issue with the Korean “Official” Floyd Rose and the treble-bleed and even the variance in the beak neck from the original beak neck. Most of those things can be altered or upgraded…even the neck, if you have access to a router or sander. LOL! But on with the show….
OUT OF THE BOX
This guitar has a maple body, maple neck and board, regular strat scale, 2 big name pickups and 2 volume and 1 tone. Before you get worried about a really bright guitar, put your concerns to rest. This is not a $3500 ESP with a 1st-round draft pick of woods. You get a maple that’s a little more like an alder in tone. The neck dimensions are slightly different than the Pacer Classic, but we’re talking about needing to breakout the calipers – which I did for this purpose. It also has trem mount posts with the proper spec for a Floyd, which was an issue I had with the Pacer Classic’s thinner posts.
This one was also an example of some good customer service from Gibson. The first one I received had a few issues. Some cosmetic and some functional. I didn’t deal with the Kramer division, but went directly to Gibson and dealt with a super helpful gentleman that got it all addressed. In a rare display, I think a new one was on the way before they even got the original back in their hands. A tip-o-the-hat. Out of the box, the neck is super straight. Given the neck pocket issue with the Pacer Classic, I did pull the neck on this Pacer Vintage and it’s all smooth and clean – no craters or thick layers of paint.
It feels like a super strat. Nothing radical here. A straight ahead 2 hum guitar with the controls right where you expect them. The feel up and down the neck is alright, but I gave the back of the neck a few passes with some 0000 steel wool and it’s more comfy. There is a little bit more of a heel on the high register of the neck, but it’s still much more accessible than something like a set neck LP. The 2-vol set up is a little out of place for me, as my preference.
I’ll admit that I did upgrade the pots and switch, as well as removing the treble bleed. It’s a balanced sounding guitar. I’ve changed the pickups a few times in this one, and it’s a good test bed for that purpose. Firm lows and chimey highs. Yep, it’s that simple. At one point, I tried a Suhr Custom – Guitars | Amplifiers | Pedals | Pickups SSH+ and found that while it was super clear, the overall tone was really bright. I’ve had a DiMarzio D-Activator set in this one for a while now and it works together well.
While the Pacer Classic seemed like a good one for upgrades, I found that the Pacer Vintage is a better option out of the box, dollar for dollar. If you are looking at both, brown-bag it to work for a month or so if that’s what it takes to go with the Pacer Vintage.
Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas, Twitter or his website is darthphineas.com