Gear and Loathing: Artist Guitars – “Spiritus 7”

Gear and Loathing: Artist Guitars – “Spiritus 7”

Manufacturer: Artist Guitars
Model: Spiritus 7 (click through for specs)
Instrument: 7 String Guitar
Reviewer: Erised
Who It’s For: Entry level guitarists who are after a 7 string they can pay for with (essentially) pocket change.

It seems every kid and his three-legged, mange ridden dog is starting a deathcore/djent/beatdown/nu-metalcore band these days. Artist guitars have cottoned on to this and decided that, since a fool and his money are soon parted, they would very much like to be the ones doing at least some of the parting. That’s not to say you would have to be a fool to pick up a Spiritus 7, because with the right end-game in mind, you will actually be picking up a pretty neat bargain, to be honest.

So starting off, when I received this guitar (4 days after posting, thank you express post!), I had a bit of a look over the whole thing and was relatively impressed. The finish is clean, everything is straight and the neck feels quite nice. There was the obvious cost cutting signs, for example, a plastic nut, die-cast machine heads, die cast bridge and a fairly severe headstock, which closely resembles what would happen if someone just dropped a drill bit about ¾ of the way up and cut out a vaguely stylised wedge to make it look intentional. Those few things aside, it is of quite solid construction and there were no obvious manufacturing flaws or knots in the wood, which I’ve actually encountered in cheap guitars before. My first “decent” (I use the word in its broadest possible sense) guitar was an Epiphone LP-100 that I still have today, and the headstock had a massive knot in it, which subsequently snapped clean in half when I sat it up against a revolving chair one day. So yeah, there was none of that sort of shit, which is nice.

Headstock? Or stylised serving fork? You decide!

The pickups however…Oh, lord. I’ve actually gotten more convincing distorted tones from mic’ing up my arse after a good feed of Mexican. The pickups don’t even really deserve much of a rundown, as they are totally nondescript. The clean tones are passable, but as soon as you hit that drive switch, you may as well stick your amp underwater for all the clarity you will get. This is exacerbated the lower you go tuning wise, but I’ll get to that in a second.

For all the good aspects of this guitar, such as the affordability and the solid, very playable neck, there are some pretty big detractors. Firstly, it came set up in or around drop G, which is totally unrealistic for a 7 string with such a short scale. I played it for around an hour in this tuning, which actually involved about 40 minutes playing, the rest of which was spent retuning. It simply refused to stay in tune, and drop G isn’t even that low by today’s standards. The intonation was pretty average as well, but once again, that’s to be expected. I decided to take the liberty of tuning up to standard/drop A, and there was an instant improvement, but it still begs the question as to why Artist are aiming this guitar at kids who want to play down tuned, clunky fuckery. I’m actually willing to go on record as stating that there is almost no situation where this guitar should be played below standard, as either way you look at it, you’re either going to have mass tuning issues, clarity issues, or both.

Let’s be real here, though, just for a second. I know it’s my job to more or less take this guitar at face value, but in all honesty I think that’s only telling part of the story. Realistically, if you are buying this guitar, you are only looking at two things. 1) is it of sound construction? To which the answer is a resounding “yes”, and 2) is the neck playable? Which is also a solid “yes”. There is no way in hell that you are going to keep the current pickups, because they are fucking awful. You’re also definitely going to swap out the shitty plastic nut and die-cast machine heads, and very likely the bridge as well. With all of this in mind, you are going to have a perfectly serviceable 7 string for around $600-$700, which in all honesty is pretty great. I nearly bought this myself, if I’m honest, because at $229 with free postage, that’s a ridiculously good bargain. I’ve spent more money on morally questionable goods before, and at least you won’t get arrested for owning this particular piece of gear.

Quality: 5/10
Fit and finish: 7/10
Fretwork: 8/10
Tuning stability: 3/10
Bang for buck: 10/10
Clean tone: 6/10
Distorted/Overdriven tone: 3/10
Modification potential: 10/10
Versatility: 3/10
Playability: 6/10
Overall enjoyment: 7/10

Gear and Loathing: Artist Guitars – “Spiritus 7”
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