EKO Ranger XII Custom Review

Discussion in 'Acoustic Soundboard' started by Heartfelt, Jun 14, 2015.

  1. Heartfelt

    Heartfelt Strat-Talker

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    12 strings always seem to be a compromise designed to oppose the laws of physics which are trying their best to destroy the instrument.

    I'd always wanted a 12 string and passing a local music shop saw an
    EKO Ranger XII Custom. I went in, had a strum and walked out with it.(My guitar teacher had an original Italian Ranger 12 and that was the first 12 string I'd ever seen or played, over 30 years ago!)

    Chinese built and costing £400, it sits very much at the budget end of the market. The design goes back to the sixties when many a teenage troubadour was powered by a "cheap" EKO Ranger.

    This seems to be a discontinued model but I'd say the "Custom" elements are a solid spruce top
    (60's had laminate). Diecast closed tuners with dark knobs, and some mother of pearl on the
    bridge.

    Lookswise, it is a satin finished, square shouldered dreadnought with EKO's traditional "batwing" scratchplate.

    Build quality is okay. There are a couple of glue marks, one inside, one outside but they will polish out.
    They are a couple of viscious, unfinished frets at the dusty end of the neck. And a couple of rough finish
    spots.

    I decided if I bought a 12 string it would have to be able to combat the effects of the increased pressure.
    The EKO has a FASTLOK neck system (neck tilt adjustment)there's no heel, similar to the Taylor Big Baby. Adjustable saddle, and an aluminium nut + zero fret.
    (I've been sold on the zero fret idea since reading the Brian May Red Special Book)

    I would have liked a pickup but it does not have one. It did come with a stylish and servicible gig bag.

    Playability is outstanding! It's 50mm at the zero fret and even with my fat fingers I can fingerpick.
    It was tuned to Concert Pitch at the shop and it had one of the lowest actions I ever seen on any
    guitar (including electrics). Intonation is within a couple of cents across 12 frets and the tuners
    seem to do their job adequately.
    It's quite a light guitar (I gather the originals weighed a ton) so it is "neck heavy" but not uncomfortably so.

    [​IMG]

    Soundwise, with a 0.5 pick it's very bright, jangly bordering on harsh.I play with a very thick pick and use
    the rounded edge. This produces a much fuller sound. The whole body resonates and there's a lot more of a fuller character
    and articulation. The solid spruce top is a definate winner here.

    Buying this guitar was partly an act of sentiment and partly one of faith. Faith in the design that there's enough
    adjustment available to keep this guitar sounding good and playing easy.I think the only possible problem not catered for
    is the bridge lifting and top bellying. But it came strung with 10's so I shall try 11's and tune down 1 tone.

    My conclusion is that for a mass produced, "cheap" guitar, the improvements have it punching above it's weight. EKO
    probably remain largly unknown but I honestly couldn't tell you who the market leader is for a 12 string at the budget end
    of the market. There's a lot to like with this guitar and the occasional "tut tut" at a seemingly preventable issue but I've
    been around guitars long enough to know that I could still have a similar experience with a guitar at twice the price.
    It's got reasonable looks, sounds good and plays great. I'd struggle to name another acoustic where you could swap string gauges, alter saddle heights or neck angle without filing something.

    Scoring I'll add ½ point for the gig bag, and it's sheer value for money gets it 8½/10
     
  2. oatsoda

    oatsoda Puck of Paradox

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    Nice review. I do like the sound of a 12 string. Reminds me of my dad back in the early '70s every time I hear one. Enjoy!
     
  3. thatboy

    thatboy New Member!

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    Hi Heartfelt
    Just read your above (old) post re: EKO Ranger XII Custom.

    I too had an original EKO back in the 60's until I gave it away to a friend in the 70's, but I now wish I had kept it.

    So what do you now think about your reissue Ranger, now you've had sometime to get used to it?
    And how do you find the FastLOK

    BTW: Can you put up some pics?

    I've looked around but I cant find any for sale.

    Many thanks
     
  4. thatboy

    thatboy New Member!

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    Hi Heartfelt
    I read your post re: EKO Ranger XII Custom, FastLOK
    and posted above (on 24/12/19) hoping for a reply.
    It would be helpful if you could reply?

    I'd also like to hear from anyone else with knowledge & experience of this guitar?

    Many Thanks
     
  5. thatboy

    thatboy New Member!

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    Anyone else got any feedback on the EKO FastLOK guitars?
    Many thanks
     
  6. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Senior Stratmaster

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    Don't know much about the Ranger. They're around, though - you can buy 60s originals in the $350 range, and the reissues are around $500 new.

    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=eko ranger 12

    I have a couple of their guitars myself, an ugly oddball Eko 700 and a more recent Stratlike Kadett SC1 which actually is very, very nice- a screaming deal for $99 coupla years ago. Not sure they're all this good; am thinking I must've got an exceptional one through sheer good luck.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. thatboy

    thatboy New Member!

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    Many thanks for your reply, I've only just seen it!
    (as I didn't get any notification from this website)

    Your link was also very useful.
    Your EKO's look cool too,
    especially the latter, is that the: Stratlike Kadett SC1 ?

    What's it action like, and what does it play like?
    $99 seems insane!
    Do they do a 12 string version?

    I would really like to know what people think of the FastLOK versions.
    Don't know why Heartfelt not replied?
     
  8. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Senior Stratmaster

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    Yes, that's the SC-1. It plays very well indeed - good action & feel, decent fretwork. I did need to file a few of the fret ends smooth, but it none of them needed any leveling.

    The wood is especially lively, though I can't be sure others of this model would be the same. I changed the pickups and it sounds fabulous. Actually the stock pickups weren't at all bad; I just like a bouncier alnico feel and warmer tone, more like the older Strats. Very enjoyable axe though.

    I got mine on sale back around 2015. Don't know whether they're still being made but it certainly was a lot of guitar for the money.

    Never seen a 12-string version of this. That doesn't mean there isn't one.

    I don't know anything about their FastLok neck joint, sorry. Mine is a standard bolt-on. I know many players disliked Fender's Vari-Tilt neck system back in the 1970s. Still, anything that makes neck tilt adjustment easy seems like a good thing in my book - as long as it doesn't interfere with good solid coupling between neck and body.