The brand synonymous with large-haired names like Van Halen, Sambora, Batten, Morello, Schon and more is back with a well-priced range of rockers. Review by Martyn Casserly
The Striker was released in the mid-’80s as the budget version of the popular American and Japanese lines.
Back then they were made in Korea; now the Striker comes from Indonesia, but it still aims to offer an affordable taste of its siblings.
The mahogany body has a bookmatched flamed maple top finished in three-tone sunburst. Four screws secure the maple neck with its 24-fret maple fingerboard, once again with thorn inlays, and this time we have a pointy headstock.
The pickups are in an ’80s-approved S/S/H configuration, and there’s no vibrato – but EVH fans can relax, for there’s one available on the Kramer Striker 211 Custom. With its fast neck and low action, the Striker is every bit as playable as the Assault.
As a single-coil loaded instrument this obviously differs from the Assault in many ways.
The clean tones are more percussive and characterful, with the inbetween selections sounding authentically Dire Straits.
Adding overdrive plays into the spanky voice and tempts you to attack SRV riffs, while Hendrix is only ever a few notes away.
The Striker likes a Line 6 Pod XT, which seems to accentuate its trebly attack to good measure.
At higher gain the single-coils get noisy, but the humbucker comes to the rescue with a throaty crunch for classic or modern rock.
Solo lines are articulate and sustain in a satisfying manner, while the five-way switch means you should be able to cover most normal gigs.
Like many S-types this guitar shows its best stuff when played hard, and the experience is a rewarding one.
It can be a risk bringing a once-great name back to prominence youre up against iconic models plus a sprinkling of rose-coloured memories of the good old days. Kramer - or, more accurately, Gibson - should be happy with what theyve achieved here, because both these new models are fine examples of affordable manufacturing, and theyve been made with a high level of quality. The Assault is a proper rock guitar with attitude, big tones and excellent playability. Its surprisingly versatile, and modern rockers looking for a tough and inspirational axe should definitely check one out. For less heavy styles the Striker is a tantalising option. Thats not to say it cant rock hard - it can - but with the sonic possibilities of the single coils it would seem a little constricting just to leave it in humbucker mode. In a technical sense Kramer has always been around in one guise or another, but it feels now that maybe, after all this time, the company is finally back.