A meeting with Elton John’s guitarist Caleb Quaye led Steve Tsai to found Brazen guitars, an imported line with an intriguing blend of features. Review by Huw Price.
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Presenting the Brazen Eternity Plus, a straighter design in the superstrat mould.
The Brazen Eternity Plus looks presentable with thick black gloss lacquer on a sharply sculpted basswood/maple body with a graceful edge of faux binding, but the maple neck’s thick amber gloss feels like plastic and the headstock wouldn’t look out of place in coxless fours. It’s a chunky neck for the speed-rock breed, but with the 9.5″ radius it feels slick and shreddy.
The slab rosewood board is nice and chunky but it looks dried out and faded, which spoils the effect of the abalone dots. The hardware is better, with smooth string saddles and 18:1 diecast tuners. The H/S/S pickups have unspecified ‘alnico’ magnets and this time the master volume and tone knobs offer no coil tap option, but that might be overkill with this configuration and a five-way selector.
The nut is plastic, and the faintest pressure on the floating vibrato induces a cacophony of pings and clicks. It’s a struggle to get the Brazen Eternity Plus in tune and keep it there, and the vibrato needs an upwards yank after any divebomb to settle things down. Still, it would play well after a decent set up or even a new nut, and the jumbo frets themselves are well seated and dressed with a high profile which gives a pseudo-scalloped feel.
A bridge pickup that’s thicker, bassier and louder than the neck pickup is a common trait with superstrats and the Brazen Eternity Plus is no exception. It’s fine once you get used to it, so long as you’re happy to rely on the single coils for clean tones, because the humbucker is too dark, powerful and muffled for the job.
The saturated upper harmonics of a distorted amp or a Rectifier-styled amp model brings out the best from this bridge pickup. It cuts without sounding edgy and the meaty midrange sustains superbly. Even high up the neck single notes stay solid and fat, and the response is even.
The neck, middle and in-between settings are all pretty much regulation Fender Strat territory – bright without being harsh, and very well defined. The bridge combines well with the middle pickup to add a bit of throaty bark to the usual bridge/middle in parallel formula.
The price difference is a big surprise. The Brazen Eternity Plus will require a fair bit of tweaking to unleash its full potential, and design-wise it’s basically a run-of-the-mill superstrat. I’d be more enthusiastic if it was a touch cheaper, but many similarly-priced guitars are nicer looking and play better straight out of the box.