Review by Endy (Ian Wilson)
Here’s my review on two Cassidy Axeman guitars that I proudly own.
They are the AX401 (Six String) and the AX501 (Seven String).
I am reviewing them together because they are similar instruments of the same model or range.
First of all I met Simon at the North West Guitar Show in Haydock in May 2016, I went with the intention of buying another guitar to add to my collection and because I was so impressed ended up buying 2 of them.
AX401 (Six String)
To be honest I’m always wary about buying guitars from an unknown source, at least unknown to me and it was my wife that spotted the AX401 six string because she liked the colour of it which is a nice blue satin finish where you can still see the wood grain through it and also has the texture which was a pleasant change from the usual smooth high gloss finish and gives it a classy appearance.
I agreed it did look beautiful and asked Simon if I could try it out.
Simon was so helpful and a great guy to talk to, he immediately plugged it in for me and I sat down and started to play.
The first thing that grabbed me was how easy it was to play because of the nice low action and the feel of the satin finished neck which is made from 5 piece maple with a through body construction, no screws or bolts here.
It also has 24 frets which I personally like and even the highest frets are easily accessible because of the nice cutaway on the body.
The pickups on this guitar are exceptional, they are high output pickups compared to some of my other guitars such as my Ibanez JEM and also my Gibson Les Paul.
They are also very warm and fat sounding while still having enough of those highs to really cut through the mix in a band situation, lots of punch for even the hardest metal freaks and there’s enough sustain to satisfy anyone.
The Bridge pickup has a nice bite to it and the neck pickup has a beautiful mellow tone without sounding muddy, great for those Santana type solos.
They are great for rock music and still sound great for clean sounds when your amp is set that way, for the really clean stuff rolling off on the volume control cleans the sound up even further without much noticeable tone loss.
With the 3 position pickup selector switch and the tone control which really does work great it is possible to achieve almost any sound you want out of this guitar.
The bridge is the Floyd Rose type tremolo and on this one it is the type where you have to cut the ball ends off the strings and clamp them into the saddles with an Allen key, The nut is also the locking type which clamps the other end of the strings using the same Allen key.
This is a system I personally prefer, it takes longer to change the strings but once done they are secure and stay in tune with even the most aggressive whammy bar use.
My only gripe is that the actual whammy bar/ tremolo arm stands a little high and angled away from the body but this is only personal preference because I like to hold the bar under my little finger while playing certain stuff.
However a little gentle bending of the bar should sort that out and Simon informed me that he also does it himself because he has the same preference.
The hardware on this guitar is chrome/silver finished which compliments the rest of the guitar nicely.
On this particular guitar one of the threads was stripped on the locking nut due to someone probably over tightening it and the whammy bar needed tightening up because it was loose.
Simon was very quick to point this out to me in detail before I even tried it and gave me a very substantial discount because of this, a lot of people would have kept quiet about it and sold the guitar as it was if gone un-noticed
I purchased a new locking nut online for peanuts and the whammy bar just needed a couple of turns with an Allen key, 5 minutes work, after that the problem was solved.
This is by no means a complaint, it was simply a one off situation which this particular guitar and the only reason I mention it is to express Simon’s Honesty and what a great guy he is.
AX501 (Seven String)
This guitar is very much the same specs as the AX401 only instead of being blue finish it was black which the same texture and effect which gives it a real classy expensive feel.
The guitar also sports 7 Strings, the extra string being a low B string, great for heavy metal and annoying the neighbours LOL…
The Pickups are the same fat rich sounding humbuckers as the AX401 with the same volume, tone and pickup selector switch.
The neck, although having 7 Strings is very slim and not to planky so it is still easy to play on and also has the nice satin finish as the AX401 which is great for on stage when sweating under the hot lights because your thumb can still glide nicely up and down the neck better than with the more common heavy gloss lacquered necks which tend to glue to your thumb when your hands are sweaty.
This gives a more pleasant feel to it altogether.
The bridge on this guitar is also a Floyd Rose type only this system doesn’t clamp the strings at the bridge end and they are fed through the barrels behind the bridge.
I was a bit dubious about this at first as I prefer the clamping type as on the AX401 because I have another guitar with the same system and had a problem with the E string breaking at the ball end but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the problem doesn’t apply to this one and even with lots of string bending and Swinging on the whammy bar like psychopathic T Rex on cocaine the strings remained intact and still in tune, no gripes here.
The same applies to this model as the AX401 where I personally find the Whammy bar a little high and angles from the guitar but it’s a simple solution as with the other.
The hardware on this guitar is Black finished which compliments the rest of the guitar nicely.
I am also told that there were only 2 of each of these guitars made which appeals to me because they are not massed produced and gives me the satisfaction of knowing I have something quite unique.
In Closing for both guitars:
Pros: Nice action, Nice Sound, Great construction and finish, very reasonably priced.
Cons: The whammy bar is a little too high from the guitar body but this is not really a fault and is purely my personal preference and it may be perfect for other people.
Conclusion: These are excellent guitars and the construction quality playability and sound far exceeds many of their competitors even at the higher end of the market.
The price range puts them in reach of anyone looking for a good guitar at a reasonable price, even if you have money to burn they are still worth checking out before you go spending your hard earned cash on some high brand name guitar I’m confident you will get a great instrument and still have enough over to buy that amp you’ve always wanted.
I will finish this review by saying that Simon Cassidy is a true honest gent, very helpful and a real pleasure to do business with, in fact I already have plans to get together with him and have a double neck guitar built to my own specs by him.
Apart from that happy rocking and have a great day 🙂
Endy (Ian Wilson)