Malden Bad Karma electric guitar
IN 2002, a gentleman who prefers to be known simply as "Malden" started a guitar company of the same name. Though he had been a serious player in the Seventies and Eighties, Malden had laid down his guitars to become an internet entrepreneur in the Nineties. When the web bubble burst, Malden decided to combine his business savvy with his love for the instrument. His latest offering is the Bad Karma, an all-mahogany rocker whose combination of great tone and low price will inspire only good vibrations.
THE BAD KARMA has a body that is comfortably thin and reasonably lightweight, with a satin-black finish accented with antiqued binding. Its graceful arch aligns the strings and pickups with the set neck, creating a natural-feeling geometry. Malden designed the 24 3/4-inch-scale neck to feel a lot like his favorite vintage Japanese-made guitars, with a thin profile that's expertly rounded and sensibly narrow. The rosewood board is bound, and the 22 frets are set and planed with a level of quality that belies the Bad Karma's reasonable price. Gold hardware includes a stop tail piece, Tune-O-Matic bridge and kidney tuners.
The Bad Karma's pickups are wound to have a smooth vintage spirit and an insolent attitude. Each has its own volume and tone pots, and pulling up on a tone pot taps its respective humbucker for single-coil operation.
MAHOGANY GUITARS AREN'T typically described as jangly, but the Bad Karma had a bright disposition and delivered copious bursts of presence. This propelled the attack characteristics, allowing for easy pinch harmonics and stinging lead phrases, although the plentiful highs were also useful on metallic rhythm passages. I also loved how the Bad Karma kicked out tight low-end flurries through my often-boomy Mesa Rectifier and produced a smoky upper-mid punch through a Vox with a crunch setting.
THE BOTTOM LINE
FEW GUITARS AT THIS PRICE can compete with the Bad Karma's tones or attention to detail. If you play any style of rock, put the Malden Bad Karma near the top of your list.
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