Originating in Germany in the late 1940s, Framus were a serious instrument maker until the mid 1970s. They offered guitars and basses (amongst other instruments) across the globe with players such as John Lennon, Bill Wyman and Charles Mingus cited as Framus users. After a long hiatus the brand was revived under the banner of the successful Warwick name in 1995. Now predominantly in the guitar realm the Framus brand offers a range of acoustic and electric guitars from entry level right through to Masterbuilt Custom Shop instruments. Taking that lead, we’ve got the Pro Series Teambuilt Panthera II on the block and if first glances are anything to go by, this guitar should be a ripper.
Aside from the fantastic flame maple top and finish (more on that soon) this Panthera features a mahogany back, mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard. The neck also features nickel silver jumbo frets and Framus’ ‘Trapez’ inlays that add some glitz without being over the top. A TonePros Tune-O-Matic bridge compliments the rest of the chrome hardware while a Seymour Duncan APH-1 and SH-11 round out the electronics.
Now, getting back to the finish! A gorgeous see-through black (‘Nirvana Black Transparent’ to be exact) really highlights the flame in the top with the white binding and gloss wood back and sides creating a beautiful contrast. It’s seriously well done and hammers home the work of the Framus custom shop. The Panthera’s shape looks like a mix of a traditional single cut with slightly sharper/modern edges. I love the top carves and silver lines which add to the flow of the shape and make it a little more individual. Locking Tuners are becoming more and more commonplace these days and these Graph Tech ‘Ratio’ tuners are accurate and smooth to use. Lastly, the Panthera control knobs are a great touch. Sort of a top hat style with a rubber strip that’s easy to latch onto. Functional and hip.
Coming in around 4 kgs, the Panthera II feels like the typical weight for this style guitar (there are plenty of heavier models from other brands). The guitar’s action and intonation were great. I know these can be tweaked by your tech but sometimes they do give an indication of the quality and level of instrument you’re dealing with – in this case, top notch! Framus describe this neck as a ‘Fat profile’; it is a bit chunky but not a baseball bat by any means so don’t be put off if you’re wary of bigger necks. The gloss finish felt great and there were no nasty, sharp fret edges. I like the 12” radius fretboard too – easy to get around and help with the tuning but also not so super flat that it will irk the full traditionalists.
Tone wise, the Panthera sounds great. Full and dynamic on the neck pickup, and slightly edgier when switched to the bridge. The ability to split the coils via the push/pull tone pot gives you those extra snappy single coil sounds if so desired. Seriously; jazz, blues, rock, pop, clean, dirty, in between...whatever. Just about any single cut double humbucker electric guitar is going to draw comparisons to you know what famous brand and model. Whilst the Panthera II covers classic rock and blues tones it also comes into its own with the amazing finish and appointments, a range of very usable tones and a great feel.
Hits and Misses
Finish, looks, shape
With a guitar of this prestige a hardcase included in the deal would be nice