Allen Eden Guitars started out as a guitar parts manufacturer in 1993, and in January of 2014 opened its first retail/wholesale warehouse in North America. The company recently added guitar and bass production to its roster, and what we have on deck for review this month is the 1987 Burl Maple Neck Hardtail, which is their first 6-string offering. Built in China and set up in El Monte, California, the 1987 Burl Maple Neck Hardtail (from here on we’ll call it the “1987”) is an interesting mix of earthy maple with incredible burl figuring and the sleek lines of a classic ’80s shred machine. To wit, the 24-fret neck has a thin profile and flat fingerboard, and the low-action setup definitely facilitates a fast–as-hell approach. Underslung tuners always challenge me a bit, but the headstock angle puts these machines in a position that doesn’t feel overly awkward to twist them. One benefit of a reverse configuration is that low strings feel a little tauter because they’re anchored farther out on the headstock.
Kudos also to the slippery neck joint and deep cutaways, and suffice to say that if you like to rip to the upper reaches of the fretboard when soloing, there’s nothing to inhibit it. Diamond pearl inlays class things up on the neck side, while black hardware and laminated wood stripes nicely accent the body’s au-naturel burls, some of which are fairly deep. The body and neck wear a coating of oil finish that’s so thin it feels like raw wood.
The 1987 packs solidly mounted Wilkinson humbuckers and a set of knurled Volume and Tone controls along with a 3-way pickup selector. Lacking any split-coil options on a guitar like this seems a bit limiting, but the 1987 sounds good thanks to the pickups, which are balanced-sounding and land on the PAF side in terms of output. The guitar isn’t overly bright sounding, and it worked well on live gigs through a Fender Deluxe Reverb and an assortment of pedals that included Alairex Halo and Way Huge Saucy Box distortion units and an AnalogMan delay. The neck pickup sounds good for bluesier tones, with or without distortion, and combining it with the bridge unit (which is preset to raise the coil with adjustable poles closer to the strings) produces a tight, stringy response that’s cool for funky rhythms or distorted parts that don’t need the full bite that the bridge pickup by itself provides. The latter position won’t get you into the Tele zone when going for twangier sounds, but its upper-midrange punch is great for grinding rhythm grooves and fat, sustaining lead parts.
While some players may find the neck a little too thin, this guitar is comfortable to play, and its solid construction and consistent intonation make it a reliable performer that also gets it share of compliments in the looks department. If anything, the 1987 Burl Maple Neck Hardtail shows how contemporary a sleek neck-though design with highly figured woods can be in today’s retrocentric guitar scene.
1987 BURL MAPLE NECK HARDTAIL
PRICE $399 street
NUT WIDTH 1.69"
NECK 5-ply Canadian maple thru-body with laminated stripes
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 25.5" scale
TUNERS Black die-cast
BODY Canadian burl maple
BRIDGE Black hardtail
PICKUPS Two Wilkinson humbuckers
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way switch
FACTORY STRINGS GHS Boomers, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7 lbs
KUDOS Thru-neck design. Plays well. Very affordable for what you get here.
CONCERNS Fret ends are a little prickly. No split-coil option.