Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: Swee Lee
Features — 10
This guitar was made in China, probably in 2012. It has 20 frets with 14 free of the body. It has a scale length of 25.2" with a rosewood fingerboard and diamond-shaped pearloid inlays. It is a full solid guitar with sitka spruce for the top and mahogany for the sides and back. It's finished in a beautiful satin finish, although it is a poly finish which might put some people off. The body shape is full sized dreadnought without cutaway. It comes equipped with an eSonic2 onboard preamp, combining two of Shadow Electronics' pickups with the option for sending a blend of both to one 1/4" output jack or sending the signal from each to a separate jack. Has Grover 18:1 Sta-tites, which do a great job of keeping it in tune. My purchase came with a hard case, a bunch of spare strings and some other miscellaneous guitar stuff. Great value.
Sound — 10
I play rhythm guitar primarily and this fits the bill perfectly. Warm bass and bright treble, with tonal balance rarely found in guitars of this price range. Sounds great plugged in too, especially if you have a soundboard, amp or some other option for applying various audio processing to the two pickups' output separately. Playing with output purely from the nanoMag pickup, you can get tone almost like that of a dedicated electric guitar, while a midway blend replicates the unplugged sound of the guitar pretty well for a stock pickup. Full nanoFlex sound is a little harsh though.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Wasn't really well set up at the shop before I bought it, but afterwards one of the staff had it set up properly later on. Intonation, action, basically everything else is perfect, except that the knobs on the preamp are pretty wobbly and seem like they could break off, and this seems to be a problem with quite a lot of the eSonic pickups after a quick Google so you may want to look somewhere else if electronics are important, or get an aftermarket pickup. Otherwise the workmanship is pretty good, especially considering it's a made in China product.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar seems pretty solid, should last a lifetime or longer with proper care. All hardware is good to go, save again for the pickup, but the electronics on most guitars need replacing after a while anyway. Would use this anywhere. Although I would not have an option for a backup guitar, I wouldn't need to! Since this is a satin finish, it would probably get glossy in spots after polishing it with my sleeve while playing, but that's intrinsic to the type of finish rather than manufacturing quality.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is perfect for my needs. While this is only my second guitar, I don't feel I will be needing another anytime soon. If it was stolen or lost, I would probably have to get a different one since this model is out of production, but would definitely go for a Masterbilt again, maybe a DR-500MCE. It's identical to this one, except it has a cutaway and only comes in gloss. Great value for money guitar, virtually nothing comes close at this price point. Some say they have problems with Asian made guitars, but it looks like I got lucky.