Being pleasantly surprised by something is always an exquisite feeling. There’s nothing quite like approaching a situation with skepticism and disbelief only to be knocked off your feet by a wonderful product or experience. When Zager Guitars offered to send JamPlay four of their custom built guitars for us to review, we immediately became skeptical. Their “EZ-Play” marketing sounded at first like a gimmick to lure in unsuspecting new players, and we couldn’t believe the reviews comparing the guitars to similar offerings from legendary companies such as Martin and Taylor for nearly half the price. After nearly a month of time spent examining and playing this family of guitars, it can be said with utmost certainty that being pleasantly surprised by these guitars is putting it mildly.
Summing up the entire Zager line of guitars is positively easy. They are excellent. Every model included in this review was well made, impeccably setup and both played and sounded beautifully. Each guitar in the Zager line was priced fairly, and in many cases you would have to spend hundreds of dollars, or even double in some cases, to purchase a guitar comparable to the Zager in terms of sound and playability.
Each guitar comes with several nice touches, including a picture of Denny Zager (the designer of the Zager brand of guitars) playing the purchased guitar, a Zager t-shirt and an extremely nice hardshell case. The cases even feature a humidifier in some models, which was a nice touch.
Truth be told, the staff at JamPlay enjoyed this group of guitars so much we used them to produce a new acoustic series entitled "Chords, Capos and Simple Melodies."
The ZAD 900 is Zager’s pro level guitar and it absolutely lives up to the name. It can be found ranging in price from $1695 to $1995. This Dreadnaught style guitar has a bright, beautiful sound that projects well. It uses quality materials such as a Grade A Sitka Spruce Top, Indian Rosewood back and sides, a mahogany neck that features a beautiful inlay and a high gloss finish. Small details such as Grover tuners and a hand carved nut and saddle are not ignored. The electric version features a top of the line Fishman Aura pickup system which is often touted as the best in the business.
Instructor Thoughts on the ZAD900
The ZAD80E is a high level Zager guitar that can be found for as little as $995. It features a Western Red Cedar top and Indian Rosewood back and sides. This results in a mellow yet sweet tone that all of the instructors who played the guitar made note of. It features a Fishman ClearWave 60 electronics package which features a built in tuner and equalizer. This guitar sounds every good plugged in as it does acoustically. As with all of the Zager guitars this beauty has an extremely fine tuned setup allowing it to be played easily and without fret buzz or intonation problems.
Instructor Thoughts on the ZAD80E
The ZAD20 Sunburst is one of the lower end Zager guitars, coming in at a typical sale price of $395. This guitar may be lower priced, but it still contains the DNA of the Zager line including an excellent setup, high quality materials (for the price point) and the typically beautiful sound. This dreadnaught style guitar features Sitka Spruce top, mahogany back, sides, neck and headstock topped with a beautiful high gloss finish. Our instructors generally felt that the guitar played as good as many offerings coming in at nearly twice it's price.
Instructor Thoughts on the ZAD20
The Baby Mahogany Acoustic is Zager's take on the 3/4 size guitar. This guitar comes in at a sale price of $345 and is worth every penny. It features a mahogany top, back, sides, headstock and neck topped with a beautiful high gloss finish. The playability on this guitar, as seems to be standard with Zager, is excellent. The sound is rich and focused, particularly for such a small, and affordable, guitar.