I’m very excited this month folks! It’s time to once again review a wonderful guitar and give that guitar away to a lucky reader. The guitar and case have a retail value of $720.00 so enter and win this beauty. The guitar in question is the Zager ZAD-50 dreadnought 6 string. I have in the past reviewed the Zager “EZ Play String Science”, and a Zager ZAD-20. I’ll refer you to the Zager website for info on each. The site is a wonderful place that gives you tons of info about Denny Zager, the creator of the “string science”. It also gives you an overview of the “string science” which I won’t go into again as we have covered that before. I’ll just say that in my opinion this innovation may be one of the best things to happen to guitars in my lifetime.
This guitar is as mentioned earlier a dreadnought acoustic 6 string. She is a nice looking instrument featuring, a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge, Grover tuners, fully bound body and neck, an abalone rosette, custom fret work, tortoise pickguard, pearl dot fret markers, and a beautiful high gloss finish. The binding is a beautiful aged crème and black color. The headstock sports the ZAGER logo in gold that matches the overall look of the guitar nicely. I should mention that Zager’s nut, and saddle material, string science, and its finish process are all patent pending. The case is a very nice and durable high impact Zager case. At this price level this is a guitar that far exceeds expectations on features alone.
Wow! Is that a good way to start the sound part of the review? This guitar has amazing tone. I decided to do something a bit different this time in the “sound” category.
I tested it side by side with a couple of my own guitars using two of my friends, who are also guitarists, as judges. I played three guitars to my blindfolded buddies. I must say they were good sports and came into this knowing the price of the guitar I was testing. I wanted them to be a bit biased to start with!
I played the same chord progressions and riffs on all three. I can’t mention the name of the other two guitars used in my test, (I don’t have the companies permission or I would), but I can tell you that one of them retails for $3000.00 and the other is 25 year old guitar that has always been my “tone tester” when doing any comparison for these reviews or for my own purchases. The 25 year old guitar is priceless to me.
The Zager sounded better than the two other instruments to one of my guinea pig’s ears. The other guy called it a tie with my $3000.00 guitar and said it beat the 25 year old guitar I play daily, hands down. I was a bit skeptical of the results. I’m stubborn that way. I repeated the test with the same guitars miked at the sound hole and at the 12th fret directly into my little 16 track home studio recorder. I laid down three identical tracks using the three guitars, using the same microphone position and repeating as closely as I possibly could the circumstances on all three. I had my wife play them back to me randomly, so that I would not know the guitar used on each track. Again I used the same chord progressions and riffs. I was able to tell the difference between the Zager and the $3000.00 guitar but could not pick my own 25 year old friend out of the mix. What does all of this mean to you? Zager HAS something here that is astounding. I am amazed. Not amazed, blown away! This guitar actually rivals instruments that should have no rival under the 3 to 4 grand price range but it does. It does it at a price point just under 6 hundred bucks!
RELIABILITY AND DURABILITY:
This is always a tricky category with a new instrument from a new company, but having had numerous conversation with Dennis Zager Jr. and talking to others who have Zager guitars, or guitars Denny has applied the string science to, I think I can safely say that when Denny hand signs each guitar, he means that his reputation rides on each instrument. The guitar seems well built with an attention to detail that you just don’t find at this price point. With good care and proper maintenance; I can say you’ll be playing this guitar for many, many years to come with no problems.
ACTION, FIT, FINISH:
This is another area that Zager shines in. The guitar came to me in great shape. It was in tune and intonated to a tee! The frets are custom dressed by Denny and are crowned and finished nicely. The finish on the guitar is beautiful and flawless. The action is in a word amazing. This is what makes a Zager a Zager more than any other attribute in my opinion. Putting aside the astounding tone for a moment these guitars play effortlessly.
The spacing between the strings is wider than any other standard guitar. Denny sets up each of these instruments and you can tell that it is a passion for him. The strings are so low to the frets that a normal piece of computer paper has trouble slipping between the two. It is amazing to play and probably something you need to see and feel to believe. I could play this guitar all day and never get that left hand cramping that you can sometimes get from long sessions. As mentioned in previous reviews on Zagers, I think this is a revolution in guitar playing. This innovation will make new players stick with guitar playing longer. The ease of fretting the strings and sounding good right from the get go is such a positive for newer players. I am all about spreading guitar playing and to Denny Zager I say, “Thank you for making it much easier to get new players to stick with it! Thanks for making guitar playing easier for us all!” The world could use many more guitar players.
Usually with a newer company and a new model I won’t comment much on this category as it is a non tested area. I must say again, that through talking with the folks at Zager, and the fact that Denny hand signs each guitar are pretty good indicators that they will stand behind the product. I see no problem in this area.
OVERALL GRITZ RATING BY REDTAIL WOLF:
This guitar gets a solid 5 stars… The sliding scale we use is from 1 to 5 stars. That is, a score of 1 is BAD a score of 5 is something special.
At this price point I honestly don’t see how you could not consider the Zager ZAD-50. In fact the difference between this guitar’s tone and a guitar that costs 3-4 grand is almost non existent to the ear. I can tell the difference between this guitar’s tone and my $3000.00 guitar but it makes me deeply question if that money was well spent. Old RedTail is telling you folks in no uncertain terms that if you are in the market for a great looking, great sounding guitar give Zager a shot. You won’t be disappointed. Of course that’s my opinion, and as always; I urge you to play many guitars before making a purchase. Read reviews and other people’s opinions if you must. The point is you will know the guitar that’s right for you when you play it.
Keep on pluckin the plank we love, Brothers and Sisters.
Till next time, take good care of each other, and may your days be blessed.
Drop me a line and tell me what you think. I appreciate the e-mails that have come in on past reviews and look forward to discussing any aspect of the guitar world with yall!
Michael “RedTail Wolf” Nystrom
Buy one for yourself at Zager EZ-Play Guitars