As a guitarist and music enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for exceptional guitar brands that not only offer great sound quality but also possess distinct and unparalleled design elements. One brand that has consistently impressed me with its unique and outstanding appeal is Zager Guitars. In this blog post, I’ll dive into the brand’s origins, the exceptional design and sound quality of its guitar models, and share some personal anecdotes that showcase why Zager Guitars should be your go-to choice for an unforgettable musical experience.
Overview of Zager Guitars
The Birth of a Guitar Legend
Zager Guitars’ journey started with a simple yet powerful goal: to craft extraordinary guitars that offer superior playability, tonal quality, and workmanship. Founded by Denny Zager Sr. and Rick Zager, this family-owned company has been crafting exceptional guitars since 1969, the brand traces its origins to Lincoln, Nebraska. Zager’s decades of experience in the music industry helped refine his expertise in guitar making, culminating in the creation of the iconic Zager Easy Play guitar.
A League of Their Own: What Sets Zager Guitars Apart
Zager Guitars sets itself apart from other guitar brands with its unique combination of innovative design elements and top-notch materials, resulting in one-of-a-kind, high-performance instruments. The brand’s signature “Easy Play” technology strives to make the playing experience as effortless and enjoyable as possible, leading to a noticeable difference in how Zager Guitars feel compared to other guitars on the market.
Acoustic Zager Guitar Models
Zager Guitars is a family-owned business founded in 1969 by renowned guitarist Denny Zager. Initially based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Zager’s objective was to develop easy-to-play, high-quality guitars that catered to musicians of all levels. With this goal in mind, Zager Guitars has continuously evolved over the decades, refining and perfecting its signature line of acoustic guitars.
The current lineup of Zager acoustic guitars includes the EZ-Play series, the Parlor series, and the Limited Edition series. Here’s a quick overview of each type:
- EZ-Play Series: These models are specifically designed to be ultra-comfortable and easy to play. They feature custom-made strings, a lower string height, and a custom neck design that prevents finger fatigue. Perfect for beginners and experienced players alike, the EZ-Play series includes models like the ZAD-50, ZAD-80, and ZAD-900.
- Parlor Series: Perfect for fingerpickers and those who prefer a smaller-bodied guitar, these compact models deliver a warm, balanced tone with impressive projection. Some popular Parlor series models include the ZAD-20P, ZAD-50P, and ZAD-80P.
- Limited Edition Series: Showcasing exquisite craftsmanship and premium woods, the production of these guitars is limited to a small number each year. Examples of this exclusive series are the ZAD-900CE and the ZAD-80CE.
Why are Zager Guitars Easy to Play? Unique Features of Zager Guitars
Custom Neck Design
One of the key features of a Zager Guitar is its custom neck design. They have a unique neck profile that caters to a wide range of hand sizes and playing styles. This design allows for quicker and more precise chord transitions while reducing hand fatigue, essential for both beginners and experienced players.
Lowered String Height
Zager Guitars are renowned for their lower string action, which reduces the distance between the frets and the strings. This design minimizes finger pain and makes it easier to form chords and play melodies, especially for those new to guitar playing.
Lower String Pressure
Lower string pressure is another distinct feature of Zager Guitars. The reduced pressure allows for smoother and cleaner fretting, making it less challenging for both beginners working on their technique and experienced players looking for increased speed and accuracy.
Custom String Spacing
Zager Guitars have wider-than-average string spacing, which provides more room for finger placement, effectively reducing the chance of inadvertently muting adjacent strings while playing chords or fingerpicking. This feature is particularly useful for those with larger hand sizes.
Adjustable String Height Setting
Zager Guitars offers an adjustable string height setting that allows players to fine-tune the guitar’s action according to their personal preferences and playing style. This customization makes it even easier to achieve maximum comfort and playability.
Perfect Quality Control
Zager Guitars has a hands-on approach to quality control, ensuring that every guitar that leaves their workshop has been carefully inspected and set up by experienced luthiers. This close attention to detail results in top-notch instruments that offer consistent performance and reliability.
Detailed Review of Popular Acoustic Models
ZAD900CE Acoustic Electric Guitar Review
The ZAD900CE is one of Zager Guitars’ flagship models, known for its exceptional craftsmanship and versatile performance. In this detailed review, we’ll explore the key features, pros, and cons of this remarkable acoustic-electric guitar.
- Solid Wood Construction: The ZAD900CE boasts a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides, delivering a rich and balanced tone with excellent projection.
- Fishman Electronics: Equipped with Fishman electronics, this guitar ensures that your amplified sound is just as impressive as its acoustic tone. Whether you’re performing on stage or recording in the studio, the ZAD900CE delivers.
- Custom Neck Profile: As with all Zager Guitars, the ZAD900CE features a custom neck design that enhances playability and comfort. The neck’s unique profile allows for smooth chord transitions and effortless soloing.
- Precision Setup: Zager’s commitment to quality control shines through in the ZAD900CE. Each guitar undergoes a meticulous setup, ensuring that the action is perfect for both beginners and experienced players.
- Exceptional Tone: The combination of solid wood and Fishman electronics results in a guitar that produces a warm, articulate sound with clear highs and rich lows.
- Playability: Thanks to Zager’s custom neck design and lowered string height, the ZAD900CE is incredibly easy to play. Novices will find it forgiving, while experienced guitarists will appreciate the comfort.
- Versatility: This acoustic-electric guitar is suitable for a wide range of musical genres, from folk and rock to blues and country. It adapts seamlessly to different playing styles.
- Price: The ZAD900CE is an investment in quality, and its price may be on the higher side for some musicians. However, many consider it a worthwhile investment for the craftsmanship and tone.
- Weight: Due to its solid wood construction, the ZAD900CE is not the lightest guitar around. While this contributes to its tone, it may not be the ideal choice for those seeking a lightweight instrument for extended performances.
In summary, the ZAD900CE Acoustic Electric guitar from Zager Guitars is a top-tier instrument that excels in both acoustic and amplified settings. Its superior craftsmanship, exceptional playability, and versatile tone make it a standout choice for serious musicians and performers.
Continue: Next, we’ll delve into the ZAD80CE Acoustic Electric model, providing a comprehensive review of its features and performance to help you make an informed decision when considering this guitar.
ZAD80CE Acoustic Electric Guitaer Review
The ZAD80CE, another gem from the Zager Guitars collection, offers a blend of premium features and superb craftsmanship. In this in-depth review, we’ll explore the characteristics that make the ZAD80CE a notable choice for discerning guitarists.
- Solid Cedar Top and Rosewood Back/Sides: The ZAD80CE features a solid cedar top and rosewood back and sides, producing a warm, resonant tone with a pronounced midrange.
- Fishman Presys+ Electronics: Equipped with Fishman Presys+ electronics, this guitar delivers a faithful amplified sound, complete with a built-in tuner and EQ controls for fine-tuning your tone.
- Custom Neck Profile: Zager Guitars’ signature custom neck profile is present in the ZAD80CE, ensuring comfortable playability and smooth transitions across the fretboard.
- Bone Nut and Saddle: The use of bone for the nut and saddle enhances sustain and tonal clarity, contributing to the guitar’s overall performance.
- Rich and Balanced Tone: The combination of solid cedar and rosewood results in a lush, well-balanced sound with a warm character that’s ideal for fingerstyle playing and intricate picking.
- Electronics: The Fishman Presys+ electronics provide an exceptional plugged-in experience, making this guitar suitable for live performances and studio recordings.
- Quality Build: Zager Guitars’ commitment to craftsmanship is evident in the ZAD80CE’s build quality, ensuring longevity and consistent performance.
- Price: As with other premium models, the ZAD80CE’s quality comes at a price. It may not be within the budget of all players, but for those seeking excellence, it’s a worthy investment.
- Weight: Due to its solid wood construction, this guitar has some heft to it. While this contributes to its tone, it may not be the best choice for musicians who prioritize a lightweight instrument.
In conclusion, the ZAD80CE Acoustic Electric guitar exemplifies Zager Guitars’ dedication to crafting instruments of exceptional quality and playability. Its warm, balanced tone and impressive electronics make it a versatile choice for a wide range of musical styles and settings.
Continue: Next, we’ll shift our focus to the ZAD50CE Acoustic Electric model, providing an in-depth review of its features and performance to assist you in your guitar selection process.
ZAD50CE Acoustic Electric Guitar Review
The ZAD50CE, part of Zager Guitars’ esteemed lineup, offers a compelling combination of quality materials and thoughtful design. In this comprehensive review, we’ll explore the key features, advantages, and potential drawbacks of this acoustic-electric guitar.
- Solid Spruce Top and Mahogany Back/Sides: The ZAD50CE boasts a solid spruce top paired with mahogany back and sides, resulting in a well-balanced tonal character with crisp highs and a strong midrange.
- Fishman Isys+ Electronics: This guitar comes equipped with Fishman Isys+ electronics, delivering a clear and natural amplified sound, complete with a built-in tuner for on-the-fly adjustments.
- Custom Neck Profile: Zager Guitars’ signature custom neck profile is a highlight of the ZAD50CE, ensuring a comfortable playing experience and facilitating smooth transitions across the fretboard.
- Bone Nut and Saddle: The use of bone for the nut and saddle contributes to improved sustain, resonance, and tonal clarity.
- Balanced Sound: The combination of solid spruce and mahogany results in a well-balanced sound profile, making it suitable for various musical genres and playing styles.
- Electronics: The Fishman Isys+ electronics provide a reliable and user-friendly amplification solution, making this guitar a versatile choice for live performances and recording.
- Comfortable Playability: Zager Guitars’ dedication to custom neck profiles ensures that the ZAD50CE is comfortable to play, even during long practice sessions or performances.
- Price: Like other premium models in the Zager Guitars lineup, the ZAD50CE is an investment in quality, and its price may be a consideration for budget-conscious musicians.
- Weight: Due to its solid wood construction, this guitar has a certain weight to it. While this contributes to its tonal qualities, it may not be the preferred choice for those seeking a lightweight instrument.
In summary, the ZAD50CE Acoustic Electric guitar from Zager Guitars delivers an impressive combination of tonal quality, playability, and amplified performance capabilities. Its well-balanced sound and reliable electronics make it a strong contender for musicians seeking a versatile and dependable instrument.
Continue: In the next section, we’ll provide an in-depth review of the 4/5 Size Parlor Mahogany model, exploring its unique features, tone, and suitability for different playing scenarios.
4/5 Size Parlor Mahogany Review
The 4/5 Size Parlor Mahogany is a distinctive offering from Zager Guitars, designed to provide a unique playing experience. In this detailed review, we’ll examine the key features, advantages, and potential considerations associated with this intriguing guitar model.
- Mahogany Construction: The 4/5 Size Parlor Mahogany features a mahogany top, back, and sides, which contribute to a warm and resonant tone with a strong midrange presence.
- Compact Size: This guitar’s parlor-sized body is smaller and more compact than standard acoustic guitars, making it an excellent choice for players who value portability and a comfortable playing experience.
- Custom Neck Profile: As with all Zager Guitars, this model incorporates a custom neck profile, ensuring that it’s as easy to play as it is unique in design.
- Portability: The smaller parlor-sized body of the 4/5 Size Parlor Mahogany makes it a perfect travel companion or a convenient choice for musicians who perform in tight spaces.
- Warm Tone: The mahogany construction contributes to a warm and focused tone that’s well-suited for fingerstyle playing and bluesy melodies.
- Custom Neck: The custom neck profile ensures that players of all skill levels can enjoy a comfortable and enjoyable playing experience.
- Limited Projection: Due to its compact size, this guitar may have limited projection compared to larger acoustic models. It may not be the best choice for musicians seeking a big, boomy sound.
- Niche Appeal: The 4/5 Size Parlor Mahogany’s unique design and tonal characteristics cater to a specific niche of players. It may not be the best fit for those looking for a versatile, all-purpose guitar.
In conclusion, the 4/5 Size Parlor Mahogany from Zager Guitars is a specialized instrument designed for players who prioritize portability, comfort, and a distinctive tonal character. Its compact size and mahogany construction make it an appealing choice for certain playing scenarios and musical styles.
Next, we’ll delve into the section on user experiences and testimonials, where we’ll share real-world feedback from musicians who have had the opportunity to play Zager Guitars. Their insights can provide valuable perspective for potential buyers.
When you’re in the market for a Zager Guitar, there are several important factors to consider to ensure that you select the perfect instrument for your playing style and preferences. Here’s a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you make an informed decision:
Zager Guitars are known for their high-quality construction. Pay close attention to the materials used for the top, back, and sides of the guitar, as these significantly impact its tone. Options typically include:
- Solid Spruce: Known for its bright and articulate tone.
- Solid Cedar: Provides a warmer, mellow sound.
- Mahogany: Offers a balanced tonal character with a strong midrange.
- Rosewood: Known for its rich, resonant tones with pronounced lows.
Select a building material that aligns with your preferred sound and playing style.
Types of Wood
Solid Wood vs. Laminated Wood
Solid Wood: Solid wood is considered the gold standard for acoustic guitar construction due to its superior tonal qualities. It consists of single pieces of wood used for the top, back, and sides of the guitar. Solid wood guitars tend to produce a richer, more resonant, and nuanced tone that improves with age and playing.
Laminated Wood: Laminated wood, on the other hand, consists of multiple layers of wood veneer glued together. It is often used for the back and sides of budget-friendly guitars. While laminated wood is more durable and less susceptible to changes in humidity, it generally doesn’t produce the same depth of tone as solid wood.
Common Types of Wood for Acoustic Guitars
- Tone: Mahogany is known for its warm, midrange-focused tone with a strong fundamental note. It’s often used for the back and sides of guitars, providing a balanced sound that’s well-suited for blues, folk, and country styles.
- Tone: Rosewood offers rich, complex overtones with a strong bass response and sparkling highs. It’s frequently used for the back and sides of higher-end guitars, adding depth and warmth to the tone. Rosewood is a popular choice for fingerstyle players and those who seek a full, resonant sound.
- Tone: Sapele is often compared to mahogany due to its similar warm and balanced tonal characteristics. It’s used for the back and sides of many mid-priced acoustic guitars, delivering a pleasant sound that’s versatile across various music genres.
- Tone: Koa wood produces a bright, focused sound with a pronounced midrange. It’s known for its visual appeal, with distinctive grain patterns and coloring. Koa is commonly used for both the top and back/sides of high-end guitars, particularly favored in Hawaiian and folk music.
- Tone: Maple is known for its bright, articulate sound with a strong emphasis on the upper midrange and treble frequencies. It’s often used for the back and sides of guitars, providing clarity and punch. Maple is a popular choice for jazz and fingerstyle playing.
- Top Wood: Sitka spruce is one of the most popular choices for the top (soundboard) of acoustic guitars. It offers a broad tonal range, with a crisp, clear sound and strong projection. Sitka spruce is versatile and well-suited for a variety of musical styles.
- Top Wood: Cedar is another commonly used top wood, favored for its warm and responsive qualities. It provides a softer, more mellow tone compared to spruce, making it suitable for fingerstyle playing and genres that require a delicate touch.
Each type of wood has its unique tonal characteristics, and the combination of woods used for the top, back, and sides of a guitar greatly influences its overall sound. When choosing a Zager Guitar, consider the tonal qualities that align with your musical preferences and playing style. Additionally, bear in mind that the choice of wood can affect the guitar’s price and overall aesthetics.
Zager Guitars come in various sizes to cater to different player preferences. The most common sizes include:
- Compact and lightweight.
- Narrower body with a smaller lower bout.
- Shorter scale length.
- Generally offers a balanced, midrange-focused tone.
- Portability: Easy to carry and travel with.
- Comfortable for smaller players or those seeking a more intimate playing experience.
- Well-suited for fingerstyle playing and blues.
- Limited projection and volume compared to larger sizes.
- May lack the booming bass of larger guitars.
- A mid-sized guitar with a balanced body shape.
- Slightly larger than parlor guitars.
- Versatile with a balanced tonal profile.
- Suitable for various musical styles.
- A good compromise between portability and volume.
- Ideal for both strumming and fingerstyle playing.
- Suitable for players of various sizes.
- Not as compact as parlor-sized guitars.
- One of the most common and iconic guitar sizes.
- Large body with a wide lower bout.
- Boxy shape and strong shoulders.
- Full and powerful sound with pronounced bass.
- Offers significant volume and projection.
- Ideal for strumming and flatpicking.
- Well-suited for accompaniment and ensemble playing.
- May be less comfortable for smaller players.
- Bulkier and less portable than smaller sizes.
- Largest of all acoustic guitar sizes.
- Deep body and broad shoulders.
- Powerful and boomy sound with extended low end.
- Exceptional volume and resonance.
- Ideal for solo performers and those seeking a commanding stage presence.
- Offers a rich, lush sound suitable for a variety of genres.
- May be physically challenging for some players due to its size.
- Less portable and harder to handle.
Mini and Travel Guitars
- Ultra-compact and lightweight.
- Designed for easy portability.
- Shorter scale length and smaller body.
- Typically features a balanced, if somewhat quieter, tone.
- Highly portable and suitable for travel.
- Great for practicing on the go.
- Comfortable for children and smaller players.
- Limited volume and projection.
- May not have the full tonal depth of larger guitars.
When choosing a Zager Guitar size, consider your musical style, playing preferences, body size, and whether portability is a key factor. Each size has its unique strengths, and finding the right fit ensures a comfortable and enjoyable playing experience.
Select a size that suits your playing style and comfort.
The neck profile of an acoustic guitar is a critical component that significantly influences playability and comfort for the player. Zager Guitars are known for their custom neck profiles, designed to enhance the overall playing experience. Let’s delve into the details of what a neck profile is and why it matters:
What is a Neck Profile?
The neck profile refers to the shape of the back of the guitar neck, specifically how it feels in the player’s hand. It is defined by the contour or cross-sectional shape of the neck as you move from the headstock to the body of the guitar. The neck profile affects how comfortable it is to grip and navigate the fretboard.
Different Neck Profiles
- C-Shaped Profile:
- Characteristics: The “C” shape is one of the most common neck profiles. It features a smoothly rounded back that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
- Advantages: C-shaped necks are versatile and comfortable for various playing styles, making them suitable for a wide range of players.
- V-Shaped Profile:
- Characteristics: V-shaped necks have a more pronounced ridge along the back of the neck, forming a “V” shape. This shape can vary from mild to more pronounced.
- Advantages: V-shaped profiles provide a distinct feel, offering good grip for certain playing techniques like bending and sliding. They are favored by some players for blues and rock genres.
- U-Shaped Profile:
- Characteristics: U-shaped necks have a deeper, more substantial feel, with a noticeable curve along the back.
- Advantages: U-shaped profiles offer maximum support for the hand, making them comfortable for extended playing sessions. They are popular among players who prefer a chunkier neck.
- Slim/Tapered Profile:
- Characteristics: Slim or tapered neck profiles are thinner and have a flatter contour.
- Advantages: These profiles provide faster and more effortless playing, particularly for players who prefer fast lead playing and intricate fingerstyle work.
Zager Guitars’ Custom Neck Profiles
Zager Guitars take a unique approach to neck profiles by customizing them to ensure optimum comfort and playability. The goal is to create a neck that feels natural and effortless to play. Denny Zager Sr., the founder of Zager Guitars, spent decades refining these profiles to cater to a broad spectrum of players, from beginners to professionals.
Zager’s custom neck profiles are designed to reduce hand fatigue and facilitate smooth transitions along the fretboard. They aim to strike a balance between providing enough support for the hand while allowing for agile and precise fretting.
When choosing a Zager Guitar, consider your personal preference regarding neck profile. Experimenting with different profiles can help you determine which one feels the most comfortable for your playing style and hand size. Ultimately, a well-designed neck profile enhances your playing experience and contributes to your guitar’s overall playability.
A truss rod is a critical feature that allows you to adjust the guitar’s neck curvature. It’s essential for maintaining the guitar’s playability over time. Ensure that the Zager Guitar you choose has a reliable truss rod system for easy adjustments as needed.
Functions of a Truss Rod
- Neck Relief Adjustment: The primary function of a truss rod is to adjust the neck’s relief, which is the slight curvature or bowing of the neck. Proper neck relief is crucial for playability because it affects the guitar’s action (the distance between the strings and the frets). If the neck has too much relief (bowing forward), it can result in high string action and difficulty playing. Conversely, if there is too little relief (back-bowing), it can cause fret buzzing and playability issues.
- Counteracting String Tension: Acoustic guitars are under constant string tension, which exerts a pull on the neck. Over time, this tension can cause the neck to bow or warp slightly. The truss rod helps counteract this force, allowing the player to adjust the neck’s curvature as needed.
How to Adjust a Truss Rod
Adjusting a truss rod should be done carefully, and it’s often best left to a professional guitar technician if you’re unsure. Here’s a simplified overview of the process:
- Assess the Neck: Determine if the neck needs adjustment. Look down the length of the fretboard to see if there’s a noticeable bow or back-bow.
- Loosen or Tighten: Depending on the issue (too much or too little relief), you’ll either tighten or loosen the truss rod. Most truss rods are adjusted through the soundhole of the guitar, using a specialized hex wrench.
- Make Small Adjustments: It’s important to make small, incremental adjustments. Turn the truss rod a quarter-turn at a time, then wait for the neck to settle (this can take hours or even a day) before making additional adjustments.
- Check Playability: After adjusting the truss rod, check the guitar’s playability. Play up and down the neck to ensure there are no buzzing frets and that the action feels comfortable.
Truss Rod Types
There are two common types of truss rods:
- Single-Action Truss Rod: This type of truss rod can only be adjusted to add or remove relief (bowing). It’s simpler to use but has limitations in terms of adjusting for different neck issues.
- Dual-Action Truss Rod: Dual-action truss rods can be adjusted to add or remove relief as well as to flatten or back-bow the neck. They offer greater flexibility in addressing various neck problems.
Importance of Proper Truss Rod Maintenance
Proper truss rod maintenance is essential to keep your guitar playing its best. It ensures that the neck remains straight, which impacts intonation, action, and overall playability. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when adjusting the truss rod, as over-tightening or incorrect adjustments can damage the guitar’s neck. If you’re uncertain about making truss rod adjustments, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of a qualified guitar technician or luthier.
Finish and Aesthetics
- Finish: Zager Guitars feature various finishes, from natural gloss to vintage sunburst. The finish not only protects the wood but also adds to the guitar’s visual appeal.
- Inlays: Some Zager models incorporate decorative inlays on the fingerboard or headstock. These inlays can be simple dots or intricate designs, enhancing the guitar’s aesthetics.
- Binding and Purfling: Binding refers to the decorative trim along the edges of the guitar, while purfling is a decorative border around the soundhole and body. These elements contribute to the guitar’s visual charm.
Accessories and Extras
Check if the guitar comes with any additional accessories such as a case, strap, or picks. These can add value to your purchase and ensure your guitar is protected and ready to play.
Budget and Value
Determine your budget and assess the value you’re receiving for your investment. Zager Guitars offer a range of models at different price points, so there’s likely an option that fits your budget while still meeting your needs.
By considering these factors, you can confidently choose the Zager Guitar that best suits your playing preferences, ensuring a rewarding and enjoyable musical experience.
It is clear that Zager guitars are incredibly well-crafted and high-quality instruments. They provide a unique, well-rounded sound that blends traditional and modern elements. Whether you’re a beginner looking for an accessible instrument, or an experienced musician searching for something new to add to your repertoire, Zager guitars can offer something extraordinary. With their great customer service and wide range of models to choose from, it’s hard not to find something special in the world of Zager guitars. And as evidenced by these reviews, these exceptional instruments will no doubt stand the test of time. So don’t wait any longer—go ahead take the plunge and invest in an incredible guitar from Zager today!