Framus Diablo Supreme and Supreme X

February 1, 2011

gpnp_gear_3979_nrFRAMUS HAS BEEN EXPANDING THE American guitar market by offering high-quality German-made instruments that can compete with Gibson, PRS, and other established makers in the high-dollar arena. Framus’ efforts to give players alternatives to the popular U.S. brands have resulted in a variety of 6-string models in the solidbody Diablo and Panthera lines, the semi-hollow Mayfield series, and the AZ-10 archtop and flagship AK 1974 semi-hollow neck-through electrics.

Recently we received a pair of Diablo models, both of which have highly figured tops but differ significantly from each other in almost every other area. The Supreme is a set-neck guitar with classic mahogany/maple construction, two humbuckers, and a wraparound bridge/tailpiece. The Supreme X sports a maple bolt-on neck, a swamp ash body with a maple top, a hum/sing/hum pickup configuration, and vibrato tailpiece. We tested these guitars though a Mesa/ Boogie TransAtlantic head (driving a 1x12 Bogner cabinet) and a Dr. Z EZG-50 combo.

DIABLO SUPREME
Players looking for a lighter-weight alternative to a Les Paul will find the Diablo Supreme a very suitable choice. This sleek instrument certainly looks the business with its amber-stained figured maple top and satin-finished natural mahogany back and neck. The hardware consists of a sustain enhancing TonePros wraparound bridge with adjustable saddles, high-grade locking tuners, and Warwick Security Lock strap buttons. Two Duncan humbuckers feed Volume and Tone controls and a 5-way selector that provides the following configurations: Position 1: Neck humbucker; Position 2: Front coil of neck pickup; Position 3: Both humbuckers; Position 4: Outside coils of both pickups; Position 5: Bridge humbucker.

gpnp_gear_3981_nrDiablo Supreme

The control cavity has a pop-off cover, is completely shielded, and features quality components and neat wiring. Attention to detail is also witnessed in the excellent fret job, the perfectly slotted GraphTech TUSC nut, and ultra-playable setup, which is partially due to Framus’ use of Plek technology on all of its instruments. This guitar intonates accurately, has practically no fret buzz, and its medium-thick neck could hardly be more comfortable. The swooping heel of the neck also makes for an effortless reach to the uppermost frets.

Plugged into our test amps, the Diablo Supreme delivered a rich sound with clear highs and a taut low end. Played cleanly, the tones are open and dimensional, and the shimmer factor gets even more pronounced with the pickups in their single-coil modes, which significantly enhances the ringing tonalities. Pushing some amp gain, the Supreme dishes out meaty Les Paul-like tones, yielding a fat, slicing response from the bridge pickup and warm, singing sounds from the neck setting. The Tone control is well voiced and very useful throughout its range, making it easy to get burnished jazz sounds and creamy overdrive textures. And even though the single Volume control does not allow for pickup blending, the dual pickup tones have a balanced, airy response that’s ideal for rhythm playing or less aggressive lead work.

Added up, the Diablo Supreme is a greatsounding guitar that brings a high degree of refinement to the twin-humbucker template.

gpnp_gear_3982_nrDiablo Supreme X

DIABLO SUPREME X
Though it also sports an offset doublecutaway shape, a figured maple top, and excellent fretwork and setup, the Supreme X is from another planet in terms of features. Not only does it have a bolt-on neck, which is made from a lovely piece of figured maple, but it also features a completely different selection of Duncan pickups: a single-coilsized SSCR-1N Cool Rail humbucker in the neck position, an SSL-1 Vintage Staggered single-coil in the middle, and an STB-4 JB Trembucker in the bridge position.

The tonal spectrum of this guitar is also enhanced by its 5-way selector, which activates the neck and bridge pickups individually (positions 1 and 5), in combination with the middle pickup (positions 2 and 4), or the outside pickups together (position 3). Pulling the Tone knob up puts the neck and bridge pickups into split mode, which not only gives each more clarity and sparkle, but also helps to create those clucky, Strat-like sounds when combined with the middle pickup. (Note that the middle pickup is reverse wound and reverse polarity so as to maintain hum-free operation when combined with the other pickups in split mode.)

In the clean range, you get wonderfully detailed tones that sound great for everything from jazz to country. The neck humbucker has a fine blend of warmth and detail, and it doesn’t lose much output when the coils are split. Combined with the middle pickup you get round, chiming tones that are reminiscent of what a Strat does on the same setting. And going the opposite direction with the bridge and middle pickups in tandem brings on even more ringy “Sultans of Swing”-style tonalities.

Through a gained-up amplifier, the neck pickup assumes a more P-90-style attitude, delivering a meaty snarl that sounds cool for bluesy lead playing. Switch to the bridge humbucker with some added gain and you get throaty sounding overdrive with strong low end, chunky mids, and a clearly defined top. Rolling back the Tone control mellows the highs to yield smooth, buttery distortion without causing the sound to become muddy or indistinct.

Not only does the Supreme X deliver a much wider variety of sounds than the twinhumbucker Supreme, its Wilkinson-made vibrato bridge also makes it a more expressive instrument. This nicely engineered piece of hardware pivots on two points, has a smooth action, and stays in tune well once the strings are broken in. As adjusted, however, it only provides a half-step of upward pitch bend.

The Supreme X is aimed squarely at players who want more from a guitar than the classic Les Paul template offers. With its expansive tonal palette, quality construction, and excellent playability, the Supreme X could be a great choice for rock, fusion, funk, or just about anything else you care to throw at it. Bottom line: If you’re in the market for a top-tier solidbody, the Diablo Supreme X is well worth an audition.

SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT Framus Guitars USA, (212) 777-6990; framus.com

DIABLO SUPREME

PRICE $4,879 street (includes tool kit and RockCase flight case)

NUTWIDTH 111/16"

NECK Mahogany

FRETBOARD Rosewood, 251/2" scale

FRETS 22

TUNERS Diecast locking

BODY Mahogany w/AAA flamed maple top

BRIDGE TonePros wraparound

PICKUPS Duncan SH-1 ’59 (neck) SH-4 JB (bridge)

CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 5-way selector

FACTORY STRINGS Framus Custom Light .009-.046

WEIGHT 7.5 lbs

BUILT Germany

KUDOS Excellent quality. Plays and sounds great. Great alternative to a Les Paul.

CONCERNS Price is likely to be an obstacle for some players.

DIABLO SUPREME X

PRICE $4,959 street (includes tool kit and RockCase flight case)

NUTWIDTH 111/16”

NECK Flamed maple, bolt on

FRETBOARD Rosewood, 25 1/2” scale

FRETS 22

TUNERS Diecast locking

BODY Swamp ash w/AAA flamed maple top

BRIDGE Framus vibrato by Wilkinson

PICKUPS Duncan SSCR-1N Cool Rail (neck), SSL-1 RW/RP Vintage Staggered singlecoil (middle), STB-4 JB Trembucker (bridge)

CONTROLS Volume, Tone w/push-pull coil split for bridge and neck pickups, 5-way selector

FACTORY STRINGS Framus Custom Light .009-.046

WEIGHT 7.5 lbs

BUILT Germany

KUDOS Excellent quality. Plays and sounds great. Wide tonal range.

CONCERNS Price is likely to be an obstacle for some players.

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