Framus Guitars is the guitar branch of famed German-based company Warwick Basses. In addition to guitars, Framus is known for its high-gain guitar heads and cabinets. After spending years producing high-end and custom built guitars for the likes of Devin Townsend, Cephalic Carnage and Candlemass, Framus has branched out into the more affordable D-Series that includes the Panthera.
My first impression of the Panthera was how lightweight and fragile it felt, but on playing it, the feel contrasted with great build quality and sturdy construction. The electronics remain very quiet – something that’s generally uncommon in budget guitars. The Panthera has a few little additions that relate it back to Framus’ high end instruments, as well as Seymour Duncan pickups that are a welcome addition to a guitar in any price bracket. It feels fast and snappy, and the deep, blue-stained flame on the guitar's body is beautifully finished with a tigerstripe ebony fingerboard.
With a scale length of just 24.75”, the Panthera is easy and comfortable to play. Whether sitting or standing, you’ll feel at home on this 22-fret, hard-tailed, solid body electric. The recessed volume and tone pots are a nice little touch that makes the guitar feel classy. The pots are positioned out of the way and the pickup selector is nestled just above the neck for easy access, similar to a Les Paul. The guitar plays great, but could benefit from some better tuning heads – especially when bending – as I quickly ended up out of tune. The Panthera feels rich and spanky, with full chords ringing out clearly with a lot of note definition. It’s both comfortable and inspiring, easy to noodle on endlessly, and makes songs feel polished and refined. Leads above the 12th fret come easily on the short scale, and the guitar is more resonant than its size suggests. This is aided by the Seymour Duncan SH-1 in the neck and a SH-4 in the bridge.
Amplified, the guitar really shines whether clean or distorted. Even DI’d, this guitar has its own colour and character. The distorted sound of the Panthera really took me by surprise and it would sit nicely in any mix or arrangement. It sounds forward, but isn’t boomy or chunky – admittedly not something that would please everyone. However, the guitar sings brightly without muddy lows, and faster playing is clear and concise. Even on a neck pickup, the lower frequency response of the Seymour Duncans and the guitar itself is controlled. It’s not often I find myself reaching for the middle pickup, but this guitar works well in any position. The sound of the Panthera really took me by surprise, and ensures it would be a great addition to any collection for its controlled and forward tones that work for any genre.
Whether playing cleaner jazz or funk, the Panthera can sit forward and present, or hide back as a part of an arrangement. The pickups take distortion well for hard rock and metal or hardcore, and drive is controlled and articulate for faster playing. The snappy resonance feels controlled and treated, and it’s a dream to riff and improvise on thanks to the shorter scale length and comfortable body size. Tuning heads could be upgraded with something aftermarket, but that’s (literally) a small price to pay for an otherwise great guitar.
The Panthera is easy to play, feels like home, and the decision to include real Seymour Duncans makes this guitar a real no-brainer. Framus is a brand that continues to be trusted, as even its ‘budget’ series is a stellar example of experience, history, expertise and craftsmanship. Try a Framus Panthera today – you won’t regret it.
Hits and Misses
Great sounding Seymour Duncan pickups
Very little low-end