Top notch build quality highlights this stripped down take on the classic Les Paul
Overview & Final Score: 8.4
Howl Guitars’ recently unveiled Sirena 3 is a gorgeous and user friendly take on the Les Paul guitar design. There are plenty of distinct features that make the Sirena 3 interesting, without deviating too far from a basic guitar that anyone could pick up and love. A clear satin finish sits atop a Korina top and back. White body binding surrounds the arch top that holds a single Alnico V humbucking pickup with coil-split volume knob and a wrap around tailpiece. The neck and fretboard are both Roasted Maple and are wrapped in binding with crested inlays. A bone nut provides yet another premium feature to this impressive spec sheet alongside Custom Tonepros tuners and a long tenon neck joint for maximum stability and sustain.
That is quite a lot of guitar for under $1000, a feat they likely accomplish by the simplified electronics and South Korean construction. Make no mistake about it, the Sirena comes out of the box looking closer to a custom shop guitar than an import model.
Howl’s Sirena 3 packed a huge PAF sound into that bridge pickup in my opinion. It had that vintage, “loud without being overpowering” tone where I could still hear each string ring out. This made power chords with layers of distortion on top a real joy to play, as the single pickup guitar brought me back to my punk roots. It felt like the perfect marriage between Mick Jones’ (of The Clash) Les Paul Junior DC and Les Paul Custom guitars.
The coil split is a nice touch, and I messed around with it a lot for rhythm tones during songs and Edge-like delay tracks. To be honest, I’m not super impressed with the sound quality, as it seems to just be a bit more of a volume cut. In my coil splits I prefer the pickup to take on that slap or chime of a single coil and I just didn’t get that here. On the other hand, it was still useful for playing dynamic pieces and adding in something different!
I love the single humbucker and single knob controls. Of course I’m knocking off a point here because it isn’t very versatile, but once you get over that the single humbucker tone is awesome. It easily pushed my tube amp into crunch and eventually, full on distortion.
Overall, the Sirena 3 was a joy to play. The tuning stability was really, surprisingly strong compared to the trio of locking tuner guitars I played before this Howl Guitar. The Sirena was pretty much on par with their stability with just the Tonepros and wrap around bridge (my favorite freaking type of bridge). There was minor fret buzz around the first two frets, but that can be easily corrected. The neck is big, with that old LP baseball bat feel. The Sirena’s roasted Maple fretboard and neck were comfortable pretty much all the way down the neck, with awesome fretwork too. I always find LP’s to give me a bit of a hard time at the higher frets, but this was certainly no better or worse than my Gibson.
Finish & Construction: 9
The charcoal finish may seem a little plain but once I saw it in person I was super happy with it. It not only showed up completely flawless, but it just gives the Sirena 3 such a strip down, old-school rock n roll vibe. I feel like I could see Keith Richards or Joe Perry walk out on stage with this. The binding, finish, and hardware installation all was pretty much flawless. Plus, my love of vintage Gibson Explorer’s means that their use of Korina wood really struck a chord with me. The looks and feel of this guitar are way past the price range it is in. The roasted Maple feels super smooth and looks killer too. If nothing else, this guitar has near perfect bones, with excellent bridge, wood, and design choices made by Howl Guitars.
Howl’s Sirena 3 really won me over with the feel and look of the guitar. For the price it just feels like I have some crazy boutique Les Paul in my hands. The Korina wood honestly gives it a bit more top end than the traditional Mahogany you’d find used for a guitar like this. The arch top, finish, and binding was all flawless and honestly I often find issues on $1000+ guitars. For just shy of $900, I’m pretty happy with the Sirena 3 but it definitely has more appeal to some players versus others. As someone who grew up listening to punk but also legends like Led Zeppelin and The Who, this guitar beautifully bridges those sounds together for me.
Good for: Classic Rock, Blues, Punk, Players Looking For Something Between Epiphone and Gibson, Korina Wood Stans