Strandberg Boden Essential 6 – the gateway to headless guitar nirvana?

Off with their headstocks! The most affordable Strandberg ever is here, and it might be about to challenge your preconceptions about headless guitars

The Strandberg Boden Essential 6 in Elemental Blue

The Strandberg Boden Essential 6 in Elemental Blue

When you purchase through affiliate links on Guitar.com, you may contribute to our site through commissions. Learn more.

Review Overview

Our rating


Our verdict

Far more than just a gimmick, this is a great guitar – headstock or no – for a seriously impressive price. If you’re intrigued by the looks, give one a try and you won’t be disappointed.

$999/£839, strandbergguitars.com

For many of us, the headless electric guitar is a spectre of a bygone age – when Ned Steinberger’s innovative creations briefly became the talk of the hard-rocking guitar crowd in the 1980s, and will forever be tainted by its association with that age of excess.

But if you’ve been paying attention to the heavier side of guitar in the last few years, especially in the technical and progressive communities, you’ll have noticed that the headless guitar has been making something of a comeback.

This comeback has been primarily driven by Swedish company Strandberg, who for the last 15 years have been building uniquely shaped and unconventionally put together instruments that have attracted the attention of the likes of Plini, Mike Keneally, Yvette Young, Per Nilsson (Meshuggah/Scar Symmetry) and more.

The main barrier to those of us curious about Strandberg’s charms up until now has been the price point, and the company’s focus on making extended-range and fan-fret instruments. But that’s all changed with the arrival of the Boden Essential 6 – a six-string, conventionally fretted instrument that costs $999. Is this the moment the headless guitar makes its play for the mainstream?

The Boden Essential 6 in Elemental Blue
The Boden Essential 6 in Elemental Blue

Why is the Strandberg Boden Essential 6 more affordable?

I’ve had the chance to play a few of the regular Strandberg instruments, and by and large I’ve been very impressed with both their build and tone, but also their aesthetic qualities – the ornate shape, intricately figured woods and stunning paint jobs that these guitars so often sport.

With that in mind, I was a little underwhelmed taking the Boden out of its case – there’s no fancy paintjob here, no plush wood… there’s not even a vibrato, and the frets remain very much un-fanned – Strandberg has clearly cut things back to, well, the essentials.

But what the Boden Essential 6 does have is quality stuff – a solid meranti (a tonewood similar to mahogany) body with a roasted maple neck, 24 frets, a 20” fingerboard radius and 25.5” scale length and DHP stainless steel frets. The hardware is all Strandberg’s own, including an all-new EGS Arc cast zink fixed bridge, and you also get a pair of Strandberg OEM humbuckers.

The guitar is made in Indonesia, but it’s also less than a third of what a Swedish-made guitar will cost you – but has Strandberg cut things back too far?

The Boden Essential 6 in Black Granite
The Boden Essential 6 in Black Granite

Is the Strandberg Boden Essential 6 good to play?

Upon removing the guitar from its supplied gigbag, the first thing that really knocks you out is the weight of the thing – losing that headstock makes a difference, clearly, because this thing comes in at a barely-there 4.7lbs (2.15kg).

It’s easy to come to a guitar with preconceived notions, and when you’re dealing with a design as radical as the Boden it’s hard to put those aside – but if you can not be put off by the looks and embrace things with an open mind, you’ll be thoroughly impressed with what is just an extremely well put together instrument.

That body might look odd but its contours and curves are hugely ergonomic and really get out of the way when you’re just trying to play, while the neck is something of a revelation.

The Boden Essential 6 in Astro Dust
The Boden Essential 6 in Astro Dust

The Boden uses Strandberg’s EndurNeck profile, and it’s possibly the most radical thing about the whole instrument – rather than being curved into a D or C shape like the vast majority of guitar necks, the EndurNeck consists of three flat sides. It’s disconcerting at first, but the proof is in the shredding, as they may or may not say – within minutes I find myself adapting to this radical thing, and y’know what, it works, especially when paired with the rounded stainless steel frets

The Boden Essential 6 also offers other clever little additions to aid the gigging player, including a rear-mounted jack, and glow-in-the-dark side dots that are seriously bright under low light.

You never know what you’re going to get with an unfamiliar guitar, and ‘resonance’ wasn’t the first word I was expecting to use when I looked at the tiny body dimensions and felt the light weight, and yet it’s a surprisingly lively and responsive guitar even unplugged.

OEM pickups can also be something of a crap shoot, but again I find myself hugely impressed by what the Strandberg’s two humbuckers offer – at each of the five positions (including two with coil-split options) I find hugely usable and versatile tones, whether played clean or going full-on metal.

The Boden Essential 6 in Black Granite
The Boden Essential 6 in Black Granite

Is the Strandberg Boden Essential 6 worth buying?

From the outset it’s immediately apparent that the Boden Essential 6 isn’t your grandpa’s headless guitar – this is an innovative modern instrument that prioritises functionality above all else, and delivers on that in spades.

For some players the unconventional looks will be too high a hurdle to overcome, but whether you’re playing pop and fusion or death metal, the Boden Essential will do the job with aplomb, and for a price that’s seriously competitive in this market.

If you’ve ever been intrigued by the charms of a headless guitar, there’s never been a better excuse to dive in, but be warned – you might end up a convert for life. Now, I just have to try and find a guitar stand for this thing…

The Boden Essential 6 in Astro Dust
The Boden Essential 6 in Astro Dust

Strandberg Boden Essential 6 alternatives

There’s not a massive headless guitar market but the Ibanez QX52 ($999/£869) is probably the closest competitor to the Boden Essential 6 in both price and vibe. If you want to get the full Strandberg experience, try the Strandberg Original NX 6 ($2,295/£2,295). If you want to go bargain basement then the Gear4Music Harlem Headless is just £199.

Related Brands

Related Tags


The world’s leading authority and resource for all things guitar.

© 2024 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.