Kramer Baretta FX404


PonyOne
pHj33r my v1r1l17y
Joined: 11/29/00
Posts: 3,772
Kramer Baretta FX404

(available through musicyo.com provided they have actually restocked)

Short Version:
PROS
-cheap
-tight, quality construction
-great quality woods for cost
-cheap
-high-quality factory electronics
-excellent tonal qualities

CONS
-usually sold out
-not available in retail stores so you buy blind
-retarded tuners
-stock pickups not for everyone

I paid $200 for this axe a couple years ago on sale; normally it's $299, which isn't a bad price at all for what you get. First and foremost, and probably the most notable feature of the instrument, is that it is of neck-through construction; a very rare feature at this price point, this allows the resonance that gets transferred from the neck to the body to have a more direct connection; it is the same piece of wood, rather than having a joint in its construction that the sound must transfer to.

This makes for a very nice crispness and sustain that you don't find in many solid bodied guitars. This particular model also has a string-through hardtail bridge; it still has Strat-style saddles, which allows for more intonation options than a Tune-O-Matic, but you string the guitar through the back of the instrument as you would a Telecaster. IMHO, the combination of a neck-thru body construction and a string-thru bridge makes for the best overall solidbody design.

Kramers are advertised as "made to rock hard" and I'm not inclined to disagree. This guitar shines at any sort of fast, hard music; it has good tonal charactaristics all around (low, mid and high) and the shape and radius of the 24-fret neck begs to be played fast.

The finish is high quality and very resistant to scratches. My first choice color was purple metallic and second was black metallic, but when I went to buy it, all that was available was red metallic and plain red, so I opted for the metallic. It is a pretty nice shade of dark red, and the metallic flakes are fine, so it isn't an obvious, "sparkle" metallic.

Tuners have given me more of a freakin' headache than anything I've ever experienced in my guitar-playing life. These are not like the Gotohs that have the thumb wheel on the back; these you hold the tuning peg with a flathead screwdriver and turn it counter-clockwise to how it's gonig to strung, and then tune it. It takes a few tries to get it right and when the peg pops out, your screwdriver can slip and scratch the finish. When they are tuned they stay there, but they are more complicated than they should be.

Stock pickups need help. Kramer uses four-blade "QuadRail" pickups which are basically two single coil-sized humbuckers wound into what could be described as a "dual humbucker" if you will. It has one in the bridge and one in the neck, and a single volume and a push/pull tone pot that allows you to split the pickup into a humbucker. They have very high putput and are devoid of hum, which may be exactly the thing for an extremely high-gain situation, but IMHO they sounded a bit too uninteresting. So the bridge humbucker was removed and replaced with a DiMarzio Tone Zone, and let me tell you, if you want a cost-effective axe that will hang proudly with the Jacksons and PRS' this is it. Despite the pickup issues, the pots and selector and wiring are all high-quality and I've never had a problem with crackling or anything of that nature.

Basically, for the cost of a midlevel Jackson, you can get two guitars (one hardtail, one trem!) that is the same quality and perhaps better, and still have enough left over for a good sandwich! Cheap enough though that if you don't like the finish it won't pain you to get it redone.

NOTE: this guitar is also available in a model with a locking Floyd Rose w/EVH D-Tuna trem, as the FR404S/D

And now, the cold hard facts (taken from the cmpany website):

Neck:
3-pc Canadian Hard Maple

Neck Profile:
Elliptical, Slim-Taper

Construction:
Neck-Thru

Body Wings:
North American Alder

Neck Pickup:
Quad-Rail Humbucker (N4S)

Bridge Pickup:
Quad-Rail Humbucker (B4S)

Controls:
3-Way Pickup Selector
Master Volume
MasterTone with
Push/Pull "Quad to Dual-Rail" Dual-Tap Mode
*****- IN: 4 coils x 2 pickups = All 8 coils engaged
*****- OUT: 2 coils x 2 pickups = 4 coils engaged
********(Closest to the neck on both pickups is engaged)
*****- Hum-canceling in ALL positions

Bridge:
Hardtail

Machine Heads:****
Gotoh SG

Nut:
Locking Floyd Rose

Nut Width:
1.625"

Frets:
24 - Jumbo Nickel/Steel

Headstock:
14 degree pitch
Reverse, Pointy

Fingerboard:
24 fret, Indian Rosewood

F/B Radius:
16"

Scale Length:
25.5"

F/B Inlay:
Pearl Dots
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# 1
kingdavid
Registered User
Joined: 01/25/02
Posts: 1,149
Say, are you now working for Kramer? :D
# 2
PonyOne
pHj33r my v1r1l17y
Joined: 11/29/00
Posts: 3,772
no unfortunately... i could use the extra income now...

i don't think they'd like the line about the "retarded tuners" though.
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# 3
vhaanlen5150
Registered User
Joined: 08/27/05
Posts: 9
aww man guess wat musicyo dont hav any guitars with d-tuna now

that really suks cuz a d-tuna cost lik 50 bucks
# 4
Akira
Registered User
Joined: 02/01/04
Posts: 6,370
Good review PonyOne, the guitar seems impressive, I may have to give it a try sometime if I ever get the chance.
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# 5
Leedogg
Grizzled Veteran
Joined: 02/07/02
Posts: 2,809
I'll have to take a look at that one next time I get a chance. I'm in the market for a new guitar and think that I might put the JEM on hold. I'd probably be more in the 500-800 dollar range so I might spring for something a little higher end.
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# 6
6strngs_2hmbkrs
Proud Celica Enthusiast
Joined: 08/14/04
Posts: 3,837
I've played a kramer that looked almost exactly like this one, except it had only one pickup, in the bridge... and a floyd rose I think. I didn't like the neck shape, way too V shaped, I like the more rounded shape of my gibson.
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# 7
nost1
Registered User
Joined: 02/21/05
Posts: 3
I bought the FR 404S/D with d-tuna a couple months ago and I couldn't be :D ier. Once I mastered the floyd ....which I've never owned ....took a day :eek: The form,fit and finish was perfect . Just 1 turn on the truss rod was all it needed. I'm not aware of anything that would compare for $325. The only con is color choice....red,blue or black
# 8
PonyOne
pHj33r my v1r1l17y
Joined: 11/29/00
Posts: 3,772
little bit of an update here...
i've been looking off and on at the musicyo site, and they haven't restocked in ages... the guitar may be discontinued :( if so, it's really too bad... this guitar deserves way more credit than it gets.

6strings, was the guitar you played a bolt neck or neck through? if it was a bolt neck it was probably a Pacer... i haven't seen a 1 pickup Baretta.

i'm actually considering selling mine simply because i almost never play righty. it deserves to be played more...
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# 9
6strngs_2hmbkrs
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Originally Posted by: PonyOne6strings, was the guitar you played a bolt neck or neck through? if it was a bolt neck it was probably a Pacer... i haven't seen a 1 pickup Baretta.

I really have no idea. I'm pretty positive it was a kramer, and it had the shame shape as that one. it was some other guy's, I played it maybe twice... I had to play his because my guitar was broken at the time (in fact, it still is, my ibanez, the input jack needs to have a wire resoldered on, but my lazy father couldn't possibly try to find our soldering iron!)
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# 10
Pantallica1
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Joined: 12/14/00
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Originally Posted by: 6strngs_2hmbkrsI really have no idea. I'm pretty positive it was a kramer, and it had the shame shape as that one. it was some other guy's, I played it maybe twice... I had to play his because my guitar was broken at the time (in fact, it still is, my ibanez, the input jack needs to have a wire resoldered on, but my lazy father couldn't possibly try to find our soldering iron!)


Sure it wasn't a Carvin?
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# 11
6strngs_2hmbkrs
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Originally Posted by: Pantallica1Sure it wasn't a Carvin?

I'm positive, the headstock on the guitar I played was shaped the exact same as the kramers, it's a pretty unique and distinct headstock, so I'd think I'd remember it, and I remember reading "kramer" on the headstock. it was red with a bridge humbucker, and a floyd rose, and black hardware. rosewood (possibly ebony, but either way, it was dark wood, so it definately wasn't maple) fretboard. the neck was very V shaped. and I'm not positive on whether it was bolt on or neck thru, but I think it was bolt on.

basically, it looked identical to the one shown above, except it had a floyd rose, and only one pickup.
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# 12
PonyOne
pHj33r my v1r1l17y
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Posts: 3,772
yeah if it was bolt on, it was a pacer. also nice guitars.
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# 13
6strngs_2hmbkrs
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after doing a search on google, I've come upon this check out the 5th one from the bottom... it may be it, but I'm not sure... it was all I could find that was even remotely close though
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# 14
PonyOne
pHj33r my v1r1l17y
Joined: 11/29/00
Posts: 3,772
oh yeah, i forgot about the strikers! those seem pretty cool, i had an online coupon to get that model (with the 1 hb) for $149, but there were no lefties... so alas... i didn't (i'm not buying any more right handed guitars).
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# 15