Overall, the 1216 sounds appealingly meaty,
with lots of midrange punch. The volume
kit, as advertised, does help ensure tonal
consistency when the knobs are tweaked. But
the knobs don’t have the smoothest taper,
and one of the knobs on our review model
grinded stubbornly against the guitar when
turned—a small detail that could turn into a
major annoyance at a gig.
Although it certainly wasn’t a fair comparison given the major price difference,
for the heck of it I compared the 1216 to a
1960 Gibson Les Paul Historic. The 1216 is,
predictably, a tad darker than the Historic.
And as you’d expect, the AXL doesn’t sound
quite as warm and harmonically complex as
the Gibson. To be fair, though, the AXL costs
a tiny fraction of the Gibson, and it actually
held up pretty well considering its dinky price.
On the bridge pickup, the 1216 bites—
without sounding strident—and lends
itself well to Mike Bloomfield-style solo-
ing. The neck pickup, meanwhile, sounds
thick and spongy. Rolling off the tone, I
got a surprisingly reasonable approximation
of Slash’s rounder lead tones. In tandem,
the pickups seem to holler for some gritty
rhythm work and pentatonic riffing, which
the guitar delivers with clarity.
With the Badwater USA 1216, AXL offers
a remarkable value in a single-cutaway,
humbucker-equipped guitar with appointments typically found on instruments many
times its price. While it wouldn’t necessarily be an adequate substitute for a Gibson
Custom Shop Les Paul, the 1216—with its
excellent playability and versatile sonics—is
well-suited to any guitarist who likes to
keep things simple and rock. And at a price
that’s nearly impossible to beat.
you want a Les Paul-style ax but
can’t afford an authentic Gibson, or
you need an inexpensive but
you’re a Gibson loyalist or can’t tolerate minor finish-work imperfections.
or use a mobile device to download
audio clips of the guitar at
The Krautster totally nails the sound
and sheer power of raw music.
Its design and craftmanship,
meanwhile, demonstrate massive
scope and breathtaking ambition.
Disguised as a plain, down-to-earth
guitar, the Krautster comes proudly
stripped of everything but the very
essence of Rock!