Review: Claas Moby Dick 0514 Prototype

Claas Moby Dick 0514

Today we got something special from Hannover in Germany: a Claas Moby Dick 7-string! The guitar is owned by my friend and bandmate from Soulhenge.

The guitars are all handmade by Alexander Claas in northern Germany and are very unique in my opinion. They feature a very uncommon and distinguishable design. As the title already says, this instrument is a prototype of the Moby Dick model – which doesn’t mean it’s bad or anything. Let’s take a look at the specs before I give you an impression of the guitar:

Model: Moby Dick

Construction method: bolt-on

Scale length: 25”-27”

Body: alder

Neck: maple

Top: walnut

Finish: natural satin

Fingerboard: ebony

Inlays: no inlays, side dots only

Bridge: ETS Custom Shop Headless System

Tuners: lol

Strap buttons: Flush mount straplocks

Frets: 24 stainless steel frets

Pickups: EMG 57-7 (bridge), EMG 66-7 (neck)

Controls: 1 push/push volume

Feel:

Even though it is a prototype, this headless guitar is very well built, the only flaw is a minor fault in the wood carving of the bridge pickup cavity, which I probably never would have noticed if nobody told me. Other than this, it’s all very smooth and feels great. In terms of weight, the guitar is very light for a 7-string, obviously due to the headless design. Something important I have to tell you right away is about the neck joint of this instrument. Because it has such a big connection between neck and body, you can’t put your thumb around the neck anymore after the 10th fret. It’s really crucial to take a look at this before buying such a thing. I really like the guitar, but I honestly don’t enjoy playing leads on it because I’m used to play with my thumb around the neck for years now, and not being able to do this really bothers my playing technique, which makes me slow and feel uncomfortable. This doesn’t make the guitar any less exciting though! If you are used to it, it won’t be a problem at all, and I think you might could also get used to it.

Sound:

A big plus of that bolt-on neck (with 10 freakin’ screws!) and its big connection to the body is that you combine the advantages of both a bolt-on and neck-through: you have a lot of attack but also massive sustain. The guitar used to have a Seymour Duncan Blackout set, but the owner swapped them for a set of EMG pickups which behave almost like passive pickups to me – additionally they match lovely with the rest of the satin chrome hardware. I noticed that these EMG’s don’t handle big chords over the 7-strings as well as the Lithiums in my Carvin do for instance. Overall though, the guitar has a very warm and crunchy sound which I really like. It’s rather dry but this could be a pickup height thing, which can easily be adjusted to personal preference. It is very unfortunate that I don’t really enjoy playing solos on this guitar, because the leads sound very pretty. Due to the 25” scale on the treble side, the high notes sound very saturated and powerful. The 27” scale on the bass side makes the bottom strings tight without a heavy gauge string set, which is always a plus in my opinion.

Don’t expect a huge variety of sounds, a single push/push volume knob to switch between the bridge and neck pickup is the only control at your disposal. The cleans sound surprisingly sweet on both pickups. So sweet in fact, that I actually wouldn’t miss more pickup positions at first, which is usually a thing I miss on every guitar that has a 3-way selector before I even played it.

Verdict:

Despite that thumb issue that bothers my playing, I like this Claas. Many people think that it is ugly, but once you see it, hold it in your hands and feel the craftmanship and effort that has been put in it, it’s lovely. The design is very unique and it doesn’t matter if people like it or not – it gets them talking about the guitar everywhere you go. In the band, we call it either the whale or the tractor (because of the tractor company) and it’s part of the family.

If that thumb thing doesn’t bother you, I guarantee that Alexander will build you the guitar of your dreams. So what are you waiting for?