Price paid: $ 190
Purchased from: EBAY
Features — 8
Keep in mind... all of these review ratings are considering the fact that the guitar was less than $200 for me (brand new). The guitar I had was a laminate Cocobolo top that looks amazing. The dean pre-amp/tuner is usable, but it isn't very accurate and has a tendency to feedback if you're not careful (moreso than most acoustics). The finish is glossy and smooth. It came with D'Addario strings. The body is slighly smaller than a jumbo, but just as thick as a normal jumbo guitar. The scale is 25.25 if I recall correctly. My guitar included the APHEX system in the pre-amp that is supposed to make the guitar sound better (it does, but only because the guitar needs a lot of help). I give it a 9, simply because of the look of the guitar and the APHEX system and onboard tuner.
Sound — 6
There are two tones to discuss: 1) acoustic tone 2) acoustic/electric tone. ACOUSTIC TONE: Not good. It sounds like an acoustic, but there are no resonating harmonics or overtones to speak of, it's not a very complex sound. The body is simply amplifying the strings at the most basic level. It'll be great for a beginner, but if you care about having a complex tone, you won't find it here. The sound projection is not great, and there is not much clarity between notes. Its sound accentuates the mid-range and top end. Bass is scarce. ACOUSTIC/ELECTRIC: Without the APHEX system turned on, the guitar sounds like it does as described above. With the APHEX system turned on, the bass really was brought out and the sound was noticeably better all around, I was impressed with it. However, it still wasn't a very complex sound, and the APHEX system tends to muddy up the sound even more. I give the sound a 6 because as just an acoustic, I'd give it a 5, but because of the APHEX system, it makes the guitar somewhat usable in a performance setting.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar looked awesome, the setup was decent, however it had fretbuzz, but not too bad. Action was fairly low for an acoustic. It was out of tune, but I don't expect it to be in tune after traveling by mail across the country. The frets did not snag my hand when sliding, however they need to be smoothed out on the playing surface because the string felt like it was "grinding" into the frets when bending strings. The real problem I had with the guitar wasn't the factory's fault. When I received it through shipping FEDEX, the box was damaged and so was the guitar... I won't get into specifics because it wasn't the factory's fault. I give it a 7 because the fret issue.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I bet it would stand live playing and severe abuse - based solely on the fact that it held tune and didn't show any playability issues when it sustained damage from being mailed from CA to PA. Everything seemed solid as far as I could tell. I would not gig without a backup though - I don't trust the electronics, and I feel like I'd need a secondary tuner to double check the suspect Dean tuner. The finish would never wear off as far as I could tell - it's thick. I am surprised that with how much abuse the guitar withstood from shipping that it doesnt crack or creek when I put it through some stress tests (pushing against the body or neck to see if it's stable).
Overall Impression — 7
I like a well rounded, slightly bassy tone out of my acoustics, with very good note clarity. I have been playing on and off for 12 years or so, and I own a PRS, Carvin acoustic, and an Ibanez bass. Personally... I wouldn't buy this guitar again because it's not a good match for the tone I'm looking for, and the crappy tuner turns me away as well. Especially considering I'd use the guitar to play live performances - I need the tuner to work well and the guitar to sound good. If it were stolen or lost, I wouldn't replace it. I'd buy something else, such as an Ibanez AEL, my brother has one and it sounds great. I love how it looks I hate how it sounds and the tuner. I picked this one because it was different than the Ibanez AEL, and it had an onboard tuner that my Carvin doesn't have. I compared this guitar with the Carvin back-to-back and the Carvin blew it away in terms of everything except for the on-board tuner... because the Carvin doesn't have one. I rate it a 7 because of it's good appearance, the good features it has with the APHEX system, yet I lower the rating because of the crappy tuner and because of it's very average tone.