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  1. #1
    Little Dreamer
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    Default EVH Wolfgang USA vs Special

    Hi all,

    I'm sure this has been discussed before on this forum or other resources, so please point me in the right direction if so. How does the quality of the current WG Special compare to the USA model? I'm interested in a hardtail without a locking nut. I owned a sunburst custom for some time, which was a phenomenal guitar, but I couldn't get used to the finished neck and two volume knobs. Will the WG special measure up? I've heard the pickups are different, for example. Unfortunately, nobody locally has carried a USA model for years to do a comparison. Thanks
    Last edited by MBLou5150; 01.23.18 at 04:50 AM.

  2. #2
    Baluchitherium Jedi McFly's Avatar
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    I haven't gotten to play many of the USA Wolfgangs, but I will say I think the quality of both USA and the MIM Specials can be hit or miss.

    If you find a good MIM Special then you will find a killer guitar. I love mine. But I've played some with really poor setups, which is disappointing. But like I said, I've played some USA Wolfgangs with poor setups too.

    The pickups are supposed to be made to the same spec but they are not made by the same manufacturer. USA pickups are wound in California, the MIM Special pickups are wound by a big import pup manufacturer (in Indonesia, I think? might be wrong). So quality control of the import pickups varies, as the tolerances probably aren't as tight. I do think the USA pickups sound marginally better than the average import pickup.

    If nobody is carrying USA models around you then I'd try to order a MIM Special from a reputable dealer like Sweetwater. They go over each of their guitars and make sure they ship out playing well. Check their return policy, it may be a good way for you to try the guitars out to see if you enjoy them.

  3. #3
    5150 clawedmonet's Avatar
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    10.14.19 @ 04:40 AM
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    I agree with Jedi. I've had a MIM Special since April 2015. It's a really nice guitar, sounds great, and plays well...NOW. It took me a long time to get it setup the way I like it. Eventually, I dropped in a brass block and trem stopper from FU-Tone that made huge differences, most of which are positive! Finally, the string height is right, the intonation is good all over the neck, and the D-Tuna works perfectly. I like to think that the brass block improves the sustain, too. Anyway, it may have required more effort than a guitar in that price range should, but I love it now. It definitely helps if you're comfortable doing the setup work yourself or "know a guy" who has a magic touch with a Floyd. I've never bought a guitar from Sweetwater, but I agree that they have a good reputation for setups.

    I just wish my Wolfgang would have setup as easily as my Striped Series or MIM Strat!

    Edit: I feel the need to mention the high E string problem where the string slips off the neck. That took a while to fix, too.

  4. #4
    Hot For Teacher maltiero's Avatar
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    10.14.19 @ 05:21 PM
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    I have a US Stealth hardtail wolf. Itís an amazing guitar, and by far the most expensive one Iíve ever purchased or will ever purchase again lol. Prior to that though, I bought a MIJ special hardtail. I did it through Music Store Live in 2012.

    I liked the special a lot. It was a cool guitar, but I decided to send it back just before the 30-day period ran out and trade up for the US. I made the right decision, as at least for me, it was night and day.

    4 years later and I still love my wolf and have no regrets at all. Granted I was able to negotiate the price on the US (got it for around 2k). But you canít go wrong with either, just a personal preference. Iíve played the newer specials and they are great.

    To Jediís point, quality control can be hit or miss with all their lines, but if you order through a reputable dealer, they should let you swap if you get one that doesnít meet your expectations.

    Hope that helps!

  5. #5
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    I think the USA Wolf wins the prize on features alone. Stainless frets, thin-skin paint, unpainted cavities, actual flame maple caps as opposed to thin veneer, 5-ply binding... I mean the Special is just not going to measure up. Now, one may prefer the feel of the Special, because it has larger frets. I have a MIM Special, and after changing out some hardware and a bridge pickup, I think it's a great playing guitar. I don't own a USA, only because I think the price they are asking for them is obscene.

    If I were in the market for a new Wolfgang guitar, I would probably just wait for the Peavey HP2 to come out, and get one of those as opposed to either of the other two.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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  7. #6
    Sinner's Swing! EJC's Avatar
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    10.14.19 @ 08:52 AM
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    Hardtail without locking nut is the way to go. I've had 2 specials (JAPAN) with the locking nut and I could not get them to stay in tune no matter what. And I am freakin' pro at setting up guitars. When I locked it down, I would always go slightly out of tune as soon as I started paying because the strings are not really "locked" at the bridge as if it were a Floyd. So as soon as you bend, you go ever so slightly flat. Maybe wouldn't bother most people but I could not perform with them. Which sucked because I loved them otherwise. Its a good concept in theory, but just didn't seem to work for me. I also throw my guitars around a bit live so I'm sure that contributed to it. I had better luck by not locking them down, but it still wasn't perfect. When I was performing 45 min sets where you are one of 4 or 5 bands it just took ALL the fun out when I'm dicking with the polytune between every single song. So I sold them and went back to my strat with locking tuners and Babicz bridge. Never had a tuning issue again. I used to have a Peavey WG hardtail that I will regret selling forever. That thing never went out of tune. Anyway, like I said, other than that issue, they were really great playing and sounding guitars.

  8. #7
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJC View Post
    Hardtail without locking nut is the way to go. I've had 2 specials (JAPAN) with the locking nut and I could not get them to stay in tune no matter what. And I am freakin' pro at setting up guitars. When I locked it down, I would always go slightly out of tune as soon as I started paying because the strings are not really "locked" at the bridge as if it were a Floyd. So as soon as you bend, you go ever so slightly flat. Maybe wouldn't bother most people but I could not perform with them. Which sucked because I loved them otherwise. Its a good concept in theory, but just didn't seem to work for me. I also throw my guitars around a bit live so I'm sure that contributed to it. I had better luck by not locking them down, but it still wasn't perfect. When I was performing 45 min sets where you are one of 4 or 5 bands it just took ALL the fun out when I'm dicking with the polytune between every single song. So I sold them and went back to my strat with locking tuners and Babicz bridge. Never had a tuning issue again. I used to have a Peavey WG hardtail that I will regret selling forever. That thing never went out of tune. Anyway, like I said, other than that issue, they were really great playing and sounding guitars.
    That's weird about the bridge. I installed a Floyd nut and a Schaller Fine Tuner Tailpiece on the Les Paul that I built. On that guitar, I found the tuning to be very stable. Once I get it out of the case and get the strings warmed up, I can play a whole set without having to touch a fine tuner. Before the next set, I touch up whatever minor drift may have occurred, but it's usually only a couple cents on the G string. I can tell you, it's a hell of a lot better tuning stability than a Les Paul without it. I haven't played a Les Paul yet where I haven't had to touch up the tuning about every third song, except for mine with the locking nut and fine tuner tailpiece.

    I'm surprised to hear the Wolfgangs with the same hardware have stability issues. Not sure what to attribute that to. The only differences I can think of is the Wolfgang nut mounts with screws through the neck, and the nut on my Les Paul is a top mount. Other than that, there is a back-tilt on the headstock on my Les Paul, where the headstock on the Wolfgang is straight with a retaining bar.

    I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know if they would fit, but I've considered getting bullet end strings as opposed to ball end. I was only thinking about this because I don't like the way the wound part stretches out of the stop tail. If I really think about it, it could possibly increase the tuning stability on this type of setup as well. Instead of having an extra loop around the ball end and a bunch of wound string, it would terminate directly into the bullet end, which could eliminate some extra play in the string.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  9. #8
    Little Dreamer
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    Thanks for all of the feedback everyone.

  10. #9
    Sinner's Swing! EJC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know if they would fit, but I've considered getting bullet end strings as opposed to ball end. I was only thinking about this because I don't like the way the wound part stretches out of the stop tail. If I really think about it, it could possibly increase the tuning stability on this type of setup as well. Instead of having an extra loop around the ball end and a bunch of wound string, it would terminate directly into the bullet end, which could eliminate some extra play in the string.
    I think that is EXACTLY what was happening. I wish I would have thought of trying the bullet strings before I sold the guitars!

  11. #10
    Eruption
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post

    I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know if they would fit, but I've considered getting bullet end strings as opposed to ball end. I was only thinking about this because I don't like the way the wound part stretches out of the stop tail. If I really think about it, it could possibly increase the tuning stability on this type of setup as well. Instead of having an extra loop around the ball end and a bunch of wound string, it would terminate directly into the bullet end, which could eliminate some extra play in the string.
    Quote Originally Posted by EJC View Post
    I think that is EXACTLY what was happening. I wish I would have thought of trying the bullet strings before I sold the guitars!

    Bullet ends are a good choice, but also some string brands offer plain strings with soldered ball ends, or reinforcing extra wire wraps (EB), to prevent the ball/twist end slipping phenomenon.
    Or, if you're good with a solder iron, you can solder your own, easily.
    Once the initial stretch gets out of new strings, they should be fairly stable.

    Probably the most likely reason the non-trem straight headstock models have a locking nut in the first place, is because most guitars need the tilt back type headstock, to keep the strings down in the nut slots. Or at least some sort of string trees, or hold down bar, or staggered tuners.
    To compensate for the tuning inconvenience of the locking nut, they use a fine tuner stop.
    All kind of a snowballed PITA.

    IMHO, a tremless guitar, with a tilt back headstock, and some graphite at the nut and saddles, don't need a locking nut, nor a fine tune stop.
    Why behave in public...if you're livin' on a playground !



  12. #11
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turnbuckle View Post

    IMHO, a tremless guitar, with a tilt back headstock, and some graphite at the nut and saddles, don't need a locking nut, nor a fine tune stop.
    I would agree with that statement if you are talking about a PRS, or a EBMM. Something with direct pull from the nut slot to the tuner for each string. The problem with 3x3 headstocks like the ones on Gibsons is the drastic angle the string takes out of the string slot in the nut to get to the tuner. Graphite helps, but the angle is the problem.

    As you bend strings, it pulls the string back and forth across the nut through the slot, and when you have that much of an angle like you do on the G and D strings on a Les Paul, it is hit and miss whether or not it returns in-tune. Same problem with a string retaining bar. You are adding two angles now for the string to contend with, from the nut to the bar, then from the bar to the tuner. You really need direct pull from the nut slot to a quality locking tuner, with the correct tilt back angle in order to provide down-force enough on the nut for tuning stability and good vibration transfer for tone.

    I think PRS nailed it fairly well. EBMM did a great job as well, shortening the pull from the nut to the tuners, and making it a straight string pull from the nut to the tuner. I think EBMM can get away with using a straight headstock because of the stubby headstock design with the direct pull. I would think the EVH Wolfgang would function very similarly, due to it's short headstock and direct pull. Not sure why they chose to use a locking nut and fine tuner setup. I chose to use it because I'm used to Floyds, and I like having the fine tuner adjustments under my picking hand, and not have to reach to the headstock for small adjustments, and because Les Pauls go out of tune regularly.

    Fender has direct pull, but over a longer distance from the nut, and you pretty much have to use a string tree or you get harmonic ringing from the strings on the headstock side of the nut. Even with staggered tuners, the Fender headstock suffers from having to use the string trees to prevent the harmonic ringing, thereby causing two angles the string has to contend with. Fenders do stay fairly stable through bends compared to Gibsons, but tend to suffer when using the trem heavily.

    You can do a lot to improve the tuning stability of the Gibsons and Fenders by using better nuts, nut sauce, staggered tuners and so on, but they will always suffer from these design shortcomings.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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  14. #12
    Sinner's Swing! evhintexas's Avatar
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    I've got both--USA is Better--Totally Better
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    I think the USA Wolf wins the prize on features alone. Stainless frets, thin-skin paint, unpainted cavities, actual flame maple caps as opposed to thin veneer, 5-ply binding... I mean the Special is just not going to measure up. Now, one may prefer the feel of the Special, because it has larger frets. I have a MIM Special, and after changing out some hardware and a bridge pickup, I think it's a great playing guitar. I don't own a USA, only because I think the price they are asking for them is obscene.

    If I were in the market for a new Wolfgang guitar, I would probably just wait for the Peavey HP2 to come out, and get one of those as opposed to either of the other two.
    I've got a line on a 93 Gibson LP Custom Black Beauty w/gold hardware
    After that my next will be the HP2 without a doubt
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    ďA patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.Ē

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    Baluchitherium Jedi McFly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evhintexas View Post
    is Better--Totally Better

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    Quote Originally Posted by evhintexas View Post
    I've got both--USA is Better--Totally Better
    It requires a degree of acceptance.
    -TVH-


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