Devin Townsend is an absolute mastermind. Between Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend Project and numerous other projects, he has released a ridiculous amount of music over the last 25 years, as well as produced some of the most pivotal heavy bands from the last two decades (Lamb of God, Misery Signals, Darkest Hour to name a few). It seems absurd to me that it’s taken so long for the man to get the signature guitar treatment, but now there is no longer any need for such absurdity. After playing numerous custom shop Framus guitars for the last few years, Devin and the German guitar giants have teamed up to finally release a production model, the Stormbender. The perfect machine for the modern metal/prog guitarist.
I’ll start by saying that the Stormbender is one hell of an impressive guitar. The spec sheet alone blew me away before the guitar itself reached my desk. The AA Flame Maple Top, Ebony fretboard, Evertune bridge, Fishman Fluence pickups and high-quality Graph Tech tuners show that no expense was spared in its creation. On top of the immaculate specs, the Framus team have delivered and then some when it comes to build quality. I traced over every inch of the guitar and every tiny aspect of its build was utter perfection. Granted, it’s what you would expect from a guitar with such a hefty price tag.
I’ve experienced a few guitars that feature the Evertune bridge over the last year or two, but this was the first time I got to spend a lot of time with one. It’s easy to see why more and more players are jumping onboard with this excellent piece of hardware, as it just never goes out of tune. You’ll have no more concerns about being too heavy handing when recording or knocking your guitar out of tune when playing live, making it perfect for any and every scenario.
Devin is renowned for being a very dynamic player, so naturally you would expect his guitar to cover a lot of bases, which is does in absolute style. This is certainly not just another gloss black, one dimensional metal guitar. Of course, it absolutely sings when it comes to high gain and overdriven tones, but the Stormbender soars with beautiful resonance in cleaner settings. I dialled in a clean tone, coupled with a lush reverb and an expansive delay then proceeded to dive into my best Dev impression. I couldn’t get over how clear and pristine the guitar sounded when playing larger chord voicings and how percussive/snappy single note passages were.
I have to give Devin’s signature set of Fishman Fluence pickups credit. I’ve never been a fan of active pickups as they always seemed so flat and docile, but the Fluence pickups had a lot of life and sounded very rich. The added value of a push/pull tone knob allowing you to change the voicing of the pickup was also a lovely surprise. Voice 1 sounded full and vibrant for high gain chugs and riffs, whereas Voice 2 was crystal clear and more akin to a passive, single coil pickup. This feature only added to the diverse range of sounds you can achieve with the Stormbender.
I was a bit perplexed by a few of the specifications on the Stormbender, admittedly. The tiny toggle switch placed on the top horn of the body seemed odd, mostly due to the horn itself being quite long but the switch itself being very small, making it very easy to miss when trying to change pickups on the fly. In my opinion, guitars with a recessed cavity for the input jack are a nightmare waiting to happen. I’ve seen too many guitars dropped throughout the years and with the jack being buried in the body of the guitar, it would be all too easy to snap off the end of your cable in the unfortunate case of your guitar taking a fall. I was also astounded that such a high end instrument only came with a padded gig bag instead of road worthy flight case. It would be safe to assume that any instrument in this price point would come with a fitted case to ensure the safety of your investment.
Those little things aside, the Stormbender is a stellar piece of kit. It’s beautifully crafted, incredibly dynamic and impeccably classy. While the aesthetic might be a bit too out there for some, I’m sure that any fan of Devin or progressive music is going to have a field day with this guitar. If you’re looking to invest in a high end guitar that can cover a lot of sonic territory and operate as a solid workhorse for live or studio use, then I would highly recommend taking the plunge on the Stormbender.
Hits and Misses
Huge dynamic range of tones
Flawless build quality
The lack of hard case is mind-blowing