- Pickups: 1 x Single coil + 2 x Humbucker
- Controls: 1 x Volume + 1 x Tone
- Pickup Selector Switch: 5-way
- Body: Solid Alder w/ quilted maple top
- Neck: Hard Maple, bolt-on, 648 mm, (25.5 in.)
- Fingerboard: Rosewood, 22 frets w/ pearloid inlays
- Bridge: Classic “FR” Style Locking Tremolo
- Machine heads: Diecast, nickel
Cosmetically, the Z600 is a somewhat amusing mix of a streamlined shred rod (its slim, torso-hugging body and sharp cutaways) and a whacked-out, pawnshop Italian job (the D-contoured, almost-baseball-bat-thick neck and wonky headstock with way cool “hologram” logo). I found the neck a bit too thick for consistently comfortable shredding, but Associate Editor Jude Gold and Senior Editor Art Thompson had no problem with its girth. Similarly, I was more bothered by the guitar’s sharp fret ends than was Art, who found the frets to be reasonably well seated and dressed for an instrument in this price range. There was no debate, however, about the appearance of some dead spots around the fretboard. The buzzes and dinks can be eradicated with a comprehensive setup, but this condition leads me to suspect that Z600s may not be ready to rock right off the shelf.
There were also some poorly sanded edges on the body, a paint glop in the slot for the pickup-selector switch, and the otherwise stunning blood-red finish was a bit murky in spots. With the exceptions of (once again) a neck pickup that clatters against its bracket and a rutted Tone knob, the sophisticated-looking black hardware is well done.
The Z600’s hum/sing/hum configuration delivers a pretty meaty and versatile tonal palette. The neck humbucker offers a bluesy chunk and snap that evokes a little SRV, and the neck hum/sing combo adds some funky bell-like tones. Go for the single-coil alone, and you’ll get a punchy and articulate scream that’s perfect for über-gain shredding. I used the sing/bridge hum combo for acoustic-sounding parts, as the timbre was full and jangly with an airy shimmer. The bridge pickup alone pumped out a rather weird bark that I employed solely for layering and massively effected sounds. As with the G Force, the Z600M’s tone control is best left full up.
Overall, the Z600 is kind of a strange duck. On one hand, it really is a pretty cool guitar that’s easy to play (as long as you dig thick necks) and offers some very bitchin’ tones. But the setup and finish glitches were unexpected, as many other instruments in this price range manage to avoid such imperfections. I’d happily recommend the Z600 as a kick-ass spare for gigs, but Stagg has a ways to go before this model could make the grade as a working guitarist’s “number one.”