Sälen Classic Trans ButterscotchSKU: SL6CT-18C-M-S-TB
The Sälen is the .strandberg* take on the legendary first solidbody electric guitar from the 1950’s: not a mere copy of this iconic guitar that changed the history of music but a thoughtful and innovative design that balances the best of the tried-and-true traditional with the thoroughly modern concepts that our guitars are known for. The Sälen is at once familiar and strikingly bold, vintage and futuristic, yesterday and tomorrow.
Sonically and tactile response-wise, the chambered Alder/Maple body Deluxe has a great middle pickup sound while the solidbody Classic Trans Butterscotch has a beautiful snap due to the Ash body and Maple board combo while the Classic Ice Blue Metallic exhibits the same type of snap but with a little fuller sound due to its Alder body and Pau Ferro fretboard. The Sälen Deluxe models will provide nice warmth and roundness due to the chambered body and make the bridge pickup less piercing on the high notes so there’d be no need to roll back the tone knob.
Also available in these finishes:
What makes it special?
What does it do?
Who is it for?
Sälen Classic Trans Butterscotch features a solid Alder body and Roasted Birdseye Maple fretboard.
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A common saying seems to be that Leo Fender got it right the first time when he built the Broadcaster/Telecaster. And this is true, the Telecaster is everything an electric guitar should be. So why a .strandberg Sälen? 70 years after the Broadcaster, the .strandberg Sälen is to the Telecaster what quantum mechanics is to classical mechanics - of course Newton 'got it right the first time', but this doesn't mean that it stops there. I always wanted a Telecaster to be my main guitar, I even have a nice 1989/1990 US Tele which is a great sounding instrument. But I am a anorexic-looking male with a bad back and my US Tele weighs probably as much as me and has serious neck dive when played in a more classical posture. My main guitar the past few years was a very light SG with rather bright and low-output Humbuckers and a fat neck. Very comfortable, but not really 'it' in terms of sound and style. I have been eying .strandberg guitars for some time now and when the Sälen came out I was really delighted: My favorite pickup combination, a body shape that is a perfect reminiscence of the Telecaster with a modern twist in a neat compact and lightweight package. And it came in butterscotch blonde with a black pickguard. Perfect. It still took a while, but finally I bought it. Having owned quite a few very good guitars I was expecting a great guitar with some ergonomic gimmicks that are nice-to-have. I was wrong. The .strandberg at first glance seems like a very good industry guitar, the best a CNC can do. It came in the ugliest yellow/butterscotch blonde you can imagine - I dig it! The wood grain is not that visible on the body (only the back suggests that it might indeed be made of ash), the front on mine is basically a solid yellow. I guess this depends on the figure of the piece of wood you get. Mine is rather plain, but that's ok for me. The neck is a bit darker than the pictures suggest and shows a beautiful even grain on the back (with just a tad of flame) and a nice and tastefully modest birdseye pattern on the fretboard. Also in contrast to the body, the finish of the neck is not high gloss. This is also nice, since it does not feel sticky that way. There is a minor finish flaw at one of the neck screw holes and there was some plastic dust in the logo on the pickguard (easily cleaned out). Besides from that everything is flawless. Overall a very beautiful guitar. The intonation was set up perfectly. Action is very low with reasonable buzz when you dig in with a heavier pick. Very comfortable to play. Tuners are a lot smoother than I expected. This system should be more common. The guitar sounds basically like a good Tele. For me the Telecaster has so far been the only guitar where I use all pickup positions, since it offers three very characteristic voices that are quite versatile. This is also true for the Sälen. The middle position is hum cancelling - very useful if you want to through something with a little more gain in or if you gig in locations with a lot of electromagnetic interference. The Neck pickup is my favorite. It is obviously not located at the 24th fret like on a Telecaster since the guitar has 24 frets, but a tad closer to the bridge. (this is a plus: you don't have to switch to the middle pickup for Frisell-esk-5th-fret-harmonics. ;) ) The pickups are a bit hotter than on my US Tele. Potentiometers react very well, there is a lot more than volume on/off or tone on/off. Couldn't be better. I opened the electronics compartment. Everything is nicely shielded (copper foil+graphite paint) and well soldered. Very well executed. Now what sets the Sälen apart from a good Telecaster? For me the aforementioned "nice ergonomic gimmicks" prove to be real game changers. The guitar is easily the smallest and lightest guitar I ever played which really helps my back when playing standing up. Still it feels like a solid instrument and resonates nicely against the body. What really got me is that the body shape allows to play effortless(!) in a classical position when seated. You just pick it up and everything is where it should be without having to "hold" the guitar or use a foot stool. The Endureneck seems to fit my left hand technique quite well (I am a studied classical guitarist). Again: Everything is just right where it should be and allows for effortless playing. So far the playing experience has been incredible, this is by far the most comfortable electric guitar I ever played. There is just SO MUCH LESS struggle. I can't emphasize this enough. Combined with an impeccable sound and (in my opinion) great aesthetics this instrument is a wonderful tool of expression and will be my main guitar for quite some time.
Thanks for the awesome review, Mario. I think you nailed all that I was going for in the design of the Sälen - a solid hint towards the traditional, but with revolutionary playability and comfort. The idea is that a guitar that is less of a struggle to play will be played more, and with greater comfort, leading to better performance, and then a positive feedback loop from there :) /Ola
Overall experience was great! Robust tone, light weight.. Just a dream to play. I own a few Strandbergs, and all of them sound and play great. Salen is another fantastic guitar from Strandberg..
I’ve tried writing a review for my Salen a few times now. But words just don’t do it justice. I can’t really put into words how much of a revolution and revelation this guitar is. I’ve up until now seen myself as a traditional guitar player in the sense you would never have before seen me playing anything other than a Strat, LP, hollowbody or acoustic before. I’m lucky enough to own a Gibson LP Custom, and a high end parts caster that would be on a par, fit and finish wise with something from Fenders custom shop. I’ve been happy with these guitars for well over a decade. But this Salen, just leaves both of them both for dust.... The fit and finish is superb. It looks like a work of art! I’ve noticed it always catches the eye of both guitarists and non guitarists/musicians alike. The weight is really light, but heavy enough to still feel substantial, in a good way. The knee carves at the bottom make it possible to sit with this in a number of sitting positions. Sitting in classical position for me is a huge deal. Easily its most underrated feature! The body sits so comfortably against the torso in all positions, both when sitting or standing. The neck is also beautiful, smooth and easy to play. The strange looking neck shape is great, and playable from the first time you pick it up. No issues transitioning back and forth between traditional necks and this one. Its too early to say for sure, but I think I actually prefer the Strandberg neck to a traditional design, it doesn’t get in the way of my playing and usually aids comfort and accuracy a bit. Stainless steel fretwire feels great, and should last for decades if my warmoth neck is anything to go by. Its my first time with fanned frets, and they seem to really help my fretting accuracy and reach. Tuning is really stable. On a par with locking tuners. So in use all strings might need a slight adjustment every other day, but it stays in tune, no matter how much you dig in, and tuning remains consistent between the strings, even if the tuning has drifted after travelling with it. The biggest surprise to me, is the resonance and sustain. It blows my LP out of the water!! I thought to start with it might be the pickups, but even acoustically, without an amp it seems to sustain and resonate in this really quite beautiful way. I don’t really understand how. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Before this guitar, I was sure sustain required a big heavy slab of wood, but clearly I was wrong. This outperforms every electric guitar I’ve ever played when it comes to sustain and resonance. Every note that rings out is grin inducing. The pickups are quite hot, and quite capable under distortion or compression, but it has a really really beautiful clear voiced character when used clean. I’ve noticed when doing pre purchase research, people talk about Strandbergs having a distinct sound and voicing of their own, and its true. It really does have a unique character to it, and I mean that in the best possible way! I would define that character as crystal clear and precise to the touch. I was a little scared when jumping in that it would sound a little thin, and feel a little soulless, due to its lack of physical size; but thats not true at all. Its capable of sounding weighty and thick, and the guitar exudes a personality in its aesthetic, playability and its tone that is all its own. I know this has been a gushing review, but this isn’t a case of spending a lot of money and needing to justify the purchase. I actually bought the guitar because of Strandbergs free return shipping and money back guarantee. I intended to try the guitar out, fully expecting to send it back within a week. I’m not an easy guitar player to please, and generally avoid “guitar innovations” such as robot tuners or handles built into guitar bodies, seeing most of them as gimmicks. However, this guitar is just not like that. Its innovative in all the right ways, while maintaining the essence and soul of what an electric guitar should be. To my complete surprise, it has completely and utterly won me over. To the point where within a month this has replaced both my Strat and LP, as my go to instrument, and I don’t see that changing for the next decade or so. If Strandberg in the future decided to do to an LP inspired guitar design, in the same way the Salen was inspired by the Tele; I suspect I would quickly be selling my other guitars to fund one...Yes Strandbergs really are that good! If you’re on the fence, don’t let my words convince you, give one a try for yourself. Put one in your hands and these things sell themselves.
Samuel, thanks for the glowing review! You're hitting the nail on the head with what we are aiming for, which is a holistic experience where features and sound create a tactile experience that makes you a better/more inspired player!
I also own 2 Boden from strandberg (6 and 7 string), but I don‘t know why: the Sälen is my favorite guitar at the moment. The pickups are quite hot for a telestyle guitar and sound pretty awesome. The neck is a dream (but there is no big difference to the Bodens). And the yellow finish of the body is beautiful. I really like it. There is only one thing I am not so satisfied with: The dots on the neck are to dark. It‘s difficult to see them especially when there‘s not much light. That should be change in future versions.