igalic, on december 13, 2010 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Features: Mine was made in Indonesia, couldn't find which year.
It has 22 frets on a rosewood fretboard, mahogany neck and body. The body is thinner than a typical Les Paul, much more similar to a Strat - which I actually find to be a good thing because it makes the guitar less heavy in spite the fact it's all mahogany. It feels very solidly built, nothing is loose, all lines and the finish is absolutely tidy.
The M520 comes in a few different finish types, and mine is tobacco sunburst, showing the wood underneath. The top is carved and the lines of this guitar are very beautiful in my opinion; it's a mix between Les Paul and Strat shape, with the bottom of the body round and a bit wide like the LP and the double cutaway top with two horns similar to strat. The binding is ivory and it has a set-in neck. I find it comfortable to hold.
The bridge is a licensed tone-pros, with two passive humbuckers, "MightyMite Bluesbuckers", chrome-plated. I was very surprised at the quality of these - compared to my other guitar with SD SH4 and SH2, it holds up quite well. There is a difference, but these give both nice cleans on the neck and a decently high output in the bridge.
One thing I don't like is it has only two pots - one is for volume and the other one is for tone but also serves as the coil-split control. The Switch selector is the Standard three-way in the LP style but placed near the volume/tone controls. Much more convenient placement in my opinion.
Die-cast tuners, no brand specified. This is probably the weakest part of the overall hardware. I find them overly sensitive.
It comes with two allen keys (for adjusting the truss rod and two screws on the bridge) and an audio cable, a cheap variant.
My major complaints with the features of this guitar would be the tuners and the fact it only has two pots, but in this price range I really don't think it's something to complain about. On a guitar two times the price of this one, I'd find those to be significant flaws, but not here. // 10
Sound: I'm playing mostly metal, thrash and stuff. This guitar doesn't look like it was built for something so aggressive, but I find it perfectly usable. If you ignore the looks (or just take the satin black version), there's basically nothing it lacks for metal playing.
As far as the sound goes, I find it versatile enough for me. I don't play much of anything else except metal, but to my ears, it gives a nice range of sounds - especially with the coil splitting option. If you want something very aggressive you may consider putting in some active pickups, but other than that, I don't find it lacking in this area either.
I haven't yet tried it through a full tube amp so I can't comment on that, but it sounds pretty great through a Vox VT30, MicroCub and Boss ME-25 (both alone and through the MicroCube). The sustain on this guitar is great and I can really hear the difference from my old one. // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was quite poorly set up when I bought it (new). The action was so-so; passable on the 6th string but quite high on the 1st. The intonation was way off and even worse, the bridge barely had enough room to move the saddles of some strings enough. The neck was bowed quite heavily. But those are all quite easily fixed and if your store includes the setup in the price - even better :) Also, that's where any flaws end. The finish was absolutely perfect, all parts were firmly in place and nicely fit.
Personally, I wish the neck was a bit thinner, but even as it is I find it quite comfortable to play on. // 9
Reliability & Durability: It's a bit too early for me to say, but the guitar itself seems very sturdy. It feels like the tuners will be the first to go if anything goes, the pots and the pickups selector would probably go next. All in all, it's probably not a guitar you'd beat all the time and expect it to stay like new - but it's such a beautiful instrument I don't see why you'd want to do it anyway :) // 8
Overall Impression: This guitar looks and feels like it was made for rock to hard rock, but as I'd said, it works perfectly for me for metal. I think it's a pretty good value for the money - I had tried out about a dozen different guitars from different brands before buying, from the most famous ones such as Ibanez and Schecter to Cort, Kramer, Vintage... My rating for this guitar is quite high, in fact I don't think you can buy anything even close to it in the price range - but that's the category I'm rating it in. It's not a top-quality instrument and don't try comparing it with a high-end ESP or Gibson, but for a beginner or simply someone on a budget, I think it's a great guitar. // 10
Smackus Maximus, on december 17, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: € 300
Features: After 2 years I think it's time for a review of this amazing guitar :)
If you spot this guitar from afar you might take for a PRS. Double cutaway C-shape body, black-satin finish with "ivorish" details, PRS-style angle cut head, chrome hardware. Believe me, it's a looker!
Made in Indonesia but build looks of a higher quality. All-mahogany body, a bit wider, but not as fat as a LP. On the back there is a Strat-style cut away to rest easier against the body. Neck is set-in mahogany, thin and very smooth. 22-fret rosewood fretboard. Tune-O-Matic bridge with easy adjustable action. Tuners are non-locking.
Pickups are two Mightymite LP humbuckers. Sadly, there are only two knobs, controling volume and tone for both pickups. On the upside, there is a single-coil tap feature on the tone knob if you pull it out. Beside the knobs is a 3-way pickup Switch (bridge/both/neck) or if single-coil tapped the coils closest to either bridge or neck are used.
I would prefer to have the Switch on the upper side like LP but it's not a big deal. Also, no accessories that are worth mentioning were included.
Overall, I was very impressed by the looks and features, especially in this price range. // 9
Sound: This guitar is a true workhorse in terms of versatility. It can do anything from blues to metal. I mostly play it through Line6 SpiderIII. Also played it on Marshall and Orange tube amps, but I prefer solid-states.
Its tone in humbucker mode is very "lespaulish", maybe not as fat and warm but a bit of its own way. Louder on the bass and treble side and quiter in the mids. It resonates really well - I belive the all-mahogany build is the reason for it. It might be worse considering the noise but in terms of sound it really makes the difference. When overdriven, the bridge pickup is great, neck a bit less so. Good sustain overall. I was thinking about putting in some Seymour Duncans instead of MMs, but I was afraid I was going to lose the sound explained in next paragraph.
When in single coil tap and on neck pickup, no effects straight into the amp, this guitar makes the most beautiful clean sound I have ever heard (it's purely my own opinion and I'm not saying it's the best clean-sound guitar in the world. You might feel completely otherwise). It's not as crisp as a Strat but very Acoustic like and I prefer it to any other guitar. // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: Action was a bit to high for my taste so I had to lower it. That caused string buzzing so I had to adjust the neck a little. Also had to adjust the octaves. The most annoying part were the tuners since G string went constantly out of tune after bending so I had that fixed. After initial setup, I didn't have any troubles. Pickup selector might be a bit noisy but it doesn't bother me too much. // 8
Reliability & Durability: Guitar itself looks very solid. Finish seems very resilient and doesn't scratch easily. Chrome parts are durable. I swapped the strap buttons for Dunlop straplok and had some troubles to keep them firmly in place. I had to use bigger screws than included. It hasn't fallen to the floor yet, so I can't speak to that :D // 9
Overall Impression: In terms of sound quality, this guitar will blow away any competition in this price range. I've tried Epiphones, Ibanez RGs, PRS SEs, Ltds, Deans up to 600 and some above and none could match it. Also tried a Gibson LP, American Strat and Tele and PRS for comparison which were of course better in their own teritory. If I had the money I would've bought a PRS because of its versatility, but M520 does it well still, even though it costs 10 times less.
When I have the oportunity, I play a little game with other guitarists that I show guitar to. I let them play it for a while and then guess its price. Mostly they were sceptical before playing, considering the brand and origin, but afterwards they were as impressed as I was. No one called a price lower than 600.
I play a bit of blues, Hendrix, RHCP, and Metallica, AC/DC, Guns'n'Roses on the heavier side. This guitar covers it all. Fat blues, rich and full Slash's, screaming Kirk's and Frusciante's and Jimi's sounds all in one package.
One might call it jack of all trades, master of none, but you don't pay a master with 300 buck do you... // 10