Let's be honest: when it comes to expressing yourself, cute stickers and colored plastic just don't seem to cut it. So when you decide to to deck out your guitar peripheral, you want to do it with some style. AxeWraps graciously sent us one of their Rock Band guitar skins, The Blaze, to put to the test.
Review Sample Provided by: AxeWraps
Reviews by: Adam
Pictures by: Adam
The design is printed on a premium grade glossy vinyl sheet, covering the model of the selected guitar (the Rock Band Stratocaster, in our case). The sheet is also covered with a hard laminate, used to ensure preserve the color and design of the skin. The material under the design sheet is not your basic wax paper, either; instead, its a smooth, scaly-like texture that makes the skin very easy to remove. There are pieces, such as the strummer area, the buttons, and the whammy bar, that carry the design but obviously aren't intended to be put on the guitar; these simply stay behind as you peel the skin off the board. The skin actually comes in three seperate sections: one for the head of the guitar, one for the face plate, and one for the base. You need to be careful when removing the seperate sections from the board; if you do so too quick, it can tear. The skin is pretty durable though, and unless you really put some muscle into it you'll be fine.
If you're a perfectionist, you're going to hate this part. Skins, and truly any sort of decal, can be a pain to apply; such is their nature. You have to get the skin positioned just right, or it will hang over and/or cut-off another part of the guitar, and you have to keep it tight to avoid wrinkles and air bubbles. Two nice things about the AxeWraps model: On their website, AxeWraps provides an instructional video on how to apply the skin to the guitar, and since AW opted for such a durable material, the skin is very forgiving; simply peel it off and try again. As a matter of fact, the wrap can be removed at any time without damaging the skin or leaving residue on the guitar. The head piece and the face plate both go on fairly smooth. The knob on the pitch tuner is wider than the slit on the skin, so just be sure to maneuver it through while the wrap its still loose. The base piece, which is the largest, is a little more difficult to manage. Making sure that the Home button and the whammy bar are lined up and trying to put the skin on straight and center is somewhat of a task, I actually had someone help hold up one end while I positioned the other. With the more intricate designs, such as The Blaze, its also important that the art matches up between the pieces as well, adding yet another twist. Thankfully, as said before, its easy to take multiple tries, and after about two or three repositionings the base piece was on, and it looked slick.
Again, we benefit from the choice of glossy vinyl coating; you can't even tell there's a skin. Its smooth, it doesn't stick to your arm, and the laminate cover keeps the color from fading. Plus, even while playing the game, its easy for on-lookers to notice the design. Awesome.
Since this is a facial piece of hardware, theres not much effect it has on actual gameplay. That being said, there are two questions then at hand: ease of application and quality. I've had experience with a lot of skins; I've dealt with them before on other game accessories, and my father, being the car enthusiast that he is, had me help him several times with decals for his show cars and even my own. This skin is one of the easiest I've apply, which is even more impressive given the natural twists and corners of the guitar. Even for beginners, the nice thing about this wrap is the ability to simply take it off and try again, which also provides reusable value. On top of that, AxeWraps has taken the time to put together instructional videos to help with the application of the skin. With all the options that are out there, AxeWraps definitely holds great value, both in price and quality of their skins.