Sterling Axis Flame Maple Review & Prices

Sterling Axis Flame Maple Review
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  • From Sterling's 2021 Axis series
  • Made in Indonesia
  • 6 strings
  • 25.5"'' scale
  • 12" Fretboard Radius
  • Flame Maple top
  • Jabon body
  • Hard Maple neck
  • Hard Maple fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Sterling Humbucker (Humbucker/Passive)
  • Neck pickup: Sterling Humbucker (Humbucker/Passive)
  • 1 volume and 1 tone Bell knobs
  • 5-way Switch
  • Fulcrum Tremolo bridge
  • Axis Bolt-On neck
  • 22 Narrow Tall frets
  • Die Cast tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 73
Sound 67
Build quality 57
Value for money 76
Overall Score 66
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Sterling Axis Flame Maple
  • Compensated Nut
  • Tremolo
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in Indonesia
  • No Expensive Woods
  • No Top Brand Pickups
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $750, which means that the Sterling Axis Flame Maple is around 40% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Tremolo bridge that are made in Indonesia.

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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

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Tuning stability

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Neck speed (thickness)

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Neck access to high frets

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Neck profile shape

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Fret edges

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Pickups noise

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Pickups power

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple meets 3 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not recommended for complete beginners. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Sterling Axis Flame Maple
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Comfortable shape
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Short scale
  • Comfortable neck
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Sterling Axis Flame Maple's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Sterling Axis Flame Maple's 25.5" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Sterling Axis Flame Maple Scale Length Comparison
Sterling Axis Flame Maple's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the same scale length used in Stratocaster guitars, and it's one of the main reasons they have such a bright sound. It's considered a long scale when compared to most non-baritone guitars.

Since the distance between bridge and nut is relatively long, you'll need to give the strings more tension to get them in tune. This higher tension will allow for a couple of things. First, you can get a lower action (get the strings closer to the fretboard) because the strings won't 'wiggle' too much when pluck and won't cause fret buzz. This can allow you to use lower tunings without increasing your string gauge, and it will make it easier to press down the strings fast.

However, the frets will also have a wider separation between each other, which can make it harder to play, especially if you got small hands. The higher tension will also make the strings feel stiffer, so bending will require more strength.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Sterling Axis Flame Maple Neck Profile
Sterling Axis Flame Maple's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple's neck thickness is approximately 0.849'' (21.6mm) at the first fret, and 0.939'' (23.9mm) at the twelfth.

These measurements were taken either from the official Sterling website, or, in case this information wasn't provided, by researching multiple online marketplaces and forums where owners of this model have posted their measurements.

It has a Asymmetrical type neck. The shape is Asymmetrical. Even though it looks like a poorly-made job, it's, in fact, the shape that most naturally adapts to the arc that your hand makes when grabbing a guitar neck. You'll notice that the lower part of your palm makes a more pronounced, deeper curve while the upper part makes a more subtle arch. This is the shape that adapts the best to that natural shape of your hand.

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple has a 12" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Sterling Axis Flame Maple Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Sterling Axis Flame Maple's fretboard radius compared to others

This is the same radius that Gibson uses in most of their guitars. When compare to the other popular radius of Fender Stratocasters, you can see that it's a lot flatter. Guitars with this radius are usually made to bring a good balance between single-note and chord playing.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Sterling Axis Flame Maple has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25.5'' Scale Length
Asymmetrical Neck Profile
1.65'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.654'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
D Neck Profile
1.65'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
D Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
D Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
Compound Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Sterling Axis Flame Maple Nut Width
Sterling Axis Flame Maple Nut Width

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple has a nut width of 41.9mm (1.65''). This is considered a narrow width for a 6-string guitar. This means that this guitar will have a narrower string separation at the nut, which will affect your fretting hand.

If you are a player with big hands, you might find it difficult to play chords without muting strings. However, this is good for players who have smaller hands, as it will allow them to reach each string more easily at the nut.

Frets

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple has 22 frets. Even though 24 frets has become really popular, there's still a good reason to get fewer frets; the pickup at the neck position will be further away from the bridge. This makes the neck pickup achieve a warmer tone. You might want this if you're playing Jazz or similar genres.

However, if you don't care about the warmer neck pickup, more frets will always be better. It's always nice to have the option to play higher notes if you want to.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Sterling Axis Flame Maple Fret Size Comparison
Sterling Axis Flame Maple's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple's frets are Narrow Tall size. These are similar to Jumbos, but they might be slightly shorter (or taller, depending on the maker), and they tend to have a narrower crown width. You'll be able to press the strings easily, but if you're not used to them, you might get the notes out of pitch if you press down too hard on the strings since their height won't let you feel the fretboard.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 80
Chord Playability 70
Solo Playability 70
Playability 73

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Jabon wood pattern used for guitar building
Jabon Body
Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple Neck, Fretboard

Jabon Body: This wood is similar to Basswood and is often compared to Mahogany. It has a well-rounded sound.

Maple Neck and Fretboard: This is one of the most popular types of wood used in all kinds of guitars. It's heavy, strong and compact, which makes it great for necks. However, it's also used for fretboards, bodies and tops due to its light color, resistance and beautiful patterns. When it comes to tone, it highlights the mid and high frequencies.

Pickups

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with pickups from one of the top brands. This doesn't mean you will get bad pickups, but you might want to consider a pickup upgrade after some time.

These are passive pickups, so you can expect a rounder sound and a moderade level of output.

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple's configuration is HH. With this pickup combination, you'll get warmer tones and more output than using single coils. Humbucker pickups cancel the noise that single-coil suffer from, which also results in a warmer tone. This pickup combination isn't only for high-gain music like Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. Their warmness is also popular for Jazz, Indie, R&B, Blues and more.

More with the same pickups

22 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup
22 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Single Coil Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup
24 Frets
Tremolo Bridge
Sterling Humbucker Bridge Pickup
Sterling Humbucker Neck Pickup

Versatility

It gives you a good amount of tone options with its 5-way switch. You can use it to choose at least 5 different pickup combinations.

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with more options for coil split or coil tapping. This makes it less versatile than some competitors.

Diagram

Sterling Axis Flame Maple pickups switch selector and push knobs diagram
Sterling Axis Flame Maple's switch options

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Solid Body guitar with HH configuration and Passive pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Hard Rock or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 60
Sustain 75
Versatility 67
Tuning Stability 65
Sound 67

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Sterling Axis Flame Maple is made in Indonesia. Many people prefer the quality of an Indonesian guitar over a Chinese. Respectable brands like Epiphone, Ibanez and Schecter are building in this country because of the great quality and lower price. Some people like to compare them to the ones built in Japan during the 80s, when Japanese guitar makers made a name for themselves.

Bridge

Fulcrum Tremolo: This type of bridge allows you to change the pitch of the notes by pulling the bridge with the attached bar, which gives you better versatility. Also, since the bridge is not fixed to the guitar body, the bridge will move as you bend the strings. So you'll have to increase the distance of your bends to reach the same tension (note) compared to a fixed bridge. This allows you to perform smoother bends but will also make you slower. Finally, remember that this type of bridge requires a bit more maintenance than fixed ones, especially when changing strings.

More with the same type of bridge:

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Sterling Axis Flame Maple has a Compensated nut. It's cut in a way that makes each string have the correct length for perfect intonation across the fretboard. It provides excellent tuning stability.

More with the same nut material:

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Bolt-On neck joint. Even though this type of neck was looked down upon for a long time, nowadays bolt-on necks are well built and provide just as much sustain as any other join method. First of all, it's cheap to make because it consists of simply 4 bolts that attach the neck to the body. And you can travel with the guitar more easily, swap out the neck if you damage it, or upgrade to a more comfortable neck later on.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 50
Features 55
Quality Control 65
Build Quality 57

All Specs

Sterling Axis Flame Maple
General
Brand: Sterling
Year: 2021
Configuration: HH
Strings: 6
Made in: Indonesia
Series: Axis
Colors: Gold, Blue
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Top: Flame Maple
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Jabon
Bridge: Fulcrum Tremolo
Neck
Neck Joint: Bolt-On
Tuners: Die Cast
Fretboard: Hard Maple
Neck Material: Hard Maple
Decoration: Dot Markers
Scale Size: 25.5"
Shape: Axis
Thickness: 1st Fret: 0.849'' (21.6mm) - 12th Fret: 0.939'' (23.9mm)
Frets: 22 Narrow Tall
Fretboard Radius: 12"
Nut: Compensated
Nut Width: 41.9mm (1.65'')
Electronics
Switch: 5 Way
Knobs: Bell
Volume Controls: 1
Tone Controls: 1
Bridge Pickup: Sterling Humbucker (Humbucker / Passive)
Neck Pickup: Sterling Humbucker (Humbucker / Passive)

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