Model Aslin Dane Bohemian
Intro If Aslin Dane’s Bohemian looks familiar to you it’s probably because the guitar is essentially an unofficial re-release of the earlier Brian May Signature model (based on May’s legendary Red Special)––minus the artist’s actual endorsement.
While the full story behind the relationship between Aslin Dane and Queen’s Brian May is beyond the scope of this review, suffice it to say that Codel Enterprises (Aslin Dane’s parent company) was the distributor for the Brian May Signature Guitar from 2002 through 2004, and the Bohemian mark’s the company’s move to create an updated version of this popular instrument.
To that end, they’ve done a wonderful job with the Bohemian, and I’m not ashamed to tell you right out of the gate: the guitar is built in China, and I really enjoyed playing it.
In fact, this, along with a few other recent encounters, leads me to believe that the gap between American and Asian built guitars is closing fast. Sure, there are obvious exceptions, but folks like Aslin Dane, ESP, Schecter and a host of others are showing that it doesn’t take an American Flag stamped on the label to create a good guitar––it just takes attention to detail.
And attention to detail is one place where the Bohemian shines: its mahogany body, which is fairly light-weight and has a flat but comfortable fit, sports a handsome cherry finish and is bound top & back with 6-ply white binding.
This is a great looking guitar with a decidedly retro bent, and while it obviously bears a striking resemblance to Brian May’s Red Special, when you get this guitar in hand it’s easy to imagine someone like a young Syd Barrett or Brian Jones plying the strings in a dank London Pub.
The soft arrow-shaped headstock and that insane rack of six pickup sliders just adds to the rather funky, psychedelic appeal that the Bohemian exudes.
Fingerboard One of the first things that really stood out to me about the Bohemian was its comfy neck & fingerboard (mahogany & rosewood respectively.) The set neck, which runs 20mm thick at the 1st fret, and 21mm at the 12th, is fast in the hand and surprisingly playable, with a fat fretboard that I found particularly comfortable for chording and long, bluesy bends.
In fact, while I’m not sure of the exact dimensions, the fretboard is noticeably wider than my Les Paul-style ESP––leaving plenty of room for really bending the strings up where it counts.
The Bohemian’s double-cutaway body also makes for excellent high-fret access, and like the J3 Pro 6 that I reviewed a few weeks back, I found myself playing around in the higher end of the guitar’s register than I normally would. While I’m not usually one to go for piercingly-high leads, this guitar does make them incredibly easy to pull off.
Other features in this area include a double adjustable truss-rod, 45mm black graphite nut, and chrome, die-cast Hagstrom tuners that have been staggered for straight string pull across the headstock.
Electronics & Hardware The electronics may well be what really set this guitar apart––three chrome-top mini humbuckers, and a set of six old-school pickup sliders (3 on/off, 3 coil-taps) makes for a full 22 different pickup/tone/tapping combinations… perhaps more than you’ll ever use.
The variety of tones is nice to have at your fingertips, and coil-tapping in all three pickups is certainly a major plus, though I’ll admit that while Brian May may have made great use of all these options, I felt a little lost in the possibilities. So many tones, and so little time! Sometimes I wasn’t even sure where to start.
Of course, none of this is a bad thing… the Bohemian simply gives you more tonal variations than you can shake a stick at. The three mini-humbuckers produce a nice tone on their own, and while they aren’t nearly as warm as the Duncans I’m used to, well, they aren’t nearly as expensive either.
The guitar performed well across the board, be it with an expansive, reverb-laden clean tone, a dirty crunch, or even some seriously high-gain shredding.
Another nice plus is the Fulcrum 2-point tremolo. I had zero problems with this unit while I had the guitar in for review (which was an admittedly short period of time,) and found it fun to use, with a tight but responsive feel.
Now, being a Les Paul man I don’t have the kind of day-in & day-out experience with whammy bars that some of my Strat-wielding colleagues have, but I’m happy to report that the Bohemian seemed to keep its tuning quite nicely in spite of pretty heavy punishing on my part, and certainly better than I expected for an instrument in this price range.
The Lowdown With an estimated street price of just $349 I find Aslin Dane’s Bohemian to be an exceedingly easy guitar to recommend. You’d find it hard to come by a much more unique instrument in the otherwise lackluster sub-$400 price range, and the Bohemian’s built-in “Fun Factor” makes it a bit of a no-brainer for beginning and intermediate players.
Heck, I’ve been playing for well over 20-years, and I found the Bohemian to be a pleasure to play; far exceeding what I’ve come to expect from a guitar selling in the mid $300s.
Of course, if you’re a Brian May fan the decision becomes even easier… while not an officially endorsed Signature guitar, the Bohemian is a very respectable homage to May’s legendary Red Special. If you’re in the market for a new guitar you’ll definitely want to give this baby a try.
Oh yeah, and rumor has it there’s a Bohemian with three P-90s coming down the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled!
Manufacturer: Aslin Dane | Model: Bohemian | Telephone: 1-866-472-1441 | Web Site: www.aslindane.com