Soundsation introducing is brand new series of electric guitars with the Rider Pro. Conceived for players demanding much more than an entry-level guitar, Nick Jennison tells us more about this impressive new model.
It’s genuinely frightening just how many guitars you can get for your money these days. As much as I don’t want to play the “old man” card, I remember the dreadful quality entry-level instruments of my youth with gritted teeth. Unplayable action, lifeless pickups, fret ends that would cause actual flesh wounds and body wood so cheap that I once saw a tremolo rip out of the body because the guitar’s owner had the audacity to actually use the whammy bar.
I spent most of my 20s teaching guitar, and I saw a LOT of student guitars. While I was always happy to see a Yamaha Pacifica or a Squier Strat, there was still an uncomfortable number of “guitar-shaped-objects” that made their owners’ lives unnecessarily hard.
It’s been a while since I looked at a bonafide entry-level instrument from a new company, and my word is it impressive. At first glance, Soundstation’s Rider Pro is a “Strat-alike” guitar in the vein of the majority of entry-level guitars, but in terms of quality, its many, many levels above what I’ve come to expect from this kind of instrument. It sports an ash body, a satin finished maple neck and a genuine rosewood fretboard - appointments that we take for granted in higher price brackets, but are pretty rare at this price point.
It’s also bedecked in very high-quality Wilkinson parts, boasting two single coils and a bridge humbucker, along with one of Wilkinson’s superb tremolo units. The control layout is the time-tested five-way blade and volume/tone/tone configuration, but with a push-pull switch on the bridge tone control to split the bridge humbucker - another feature that’s common on more expensive guitars but very rare on entry-level guitars.
Fit and finish is very good across the board here, with no paint defects or rough edges. The neck pocket is a good tight fit, and the frets are even and smooth with no jagged edges. The action is very good from the factory, but I was able to get it as low as 1.5mm without any buzzing or choking. The body has a little weight to it but isn’t heavy by any stretch of the imagination. It’s really very hard to pick fault with this guitar!
Sonically, the pickups are very good indeed. The single coils are pretty powerful without sacrificing sparkle, and the bridge humbucker is warm and thick with plenty of authority for distorted tones. There’s enough tonal variety here to hang in just about any style - very important for newbies who are still figuring out what sort of tones they enjoy.
The Soundstation Rider Pro is guitar that punches far above its price tag. The fit and finish are excellent, and the Wilkinson pickups sound great. Whether it’s a first guitar, a backup for a working player or another flavour in your collection, this guitar is definitely worth checking out.
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