Price paid: $ 200
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I had to try several different strings before I found the ones I like the best. I found the D'Addario EJ16 work the best for full sound non-amplified. The bass does get lost after the strings age a bit though. After lowering the action the playability down the neck was much improved. I recommend that a first timer play it for a while before making that drastic move and the higher action will help develop the finger strength. Playing right out of the box, open chords and bar chords to the 3rd fret were no problem and sounded good. Some string buzz out of the box playing with a capo on the 4th fret and above.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall I am very pleased with this guitar. I did go out an buy a solid top, acoustic/electric, with a cutaway for playing in a performance style, there is a difference, however I find myself still playing this guitar daily. I would buy another one in a heart beat if anything happened to this one. My only complaint is that the neck seems large for those with smaller hands like my daughter, however that is minor. The guitar works great for finger picking, flat picking, or just strumming around the house, deck, camp fire, etc.
Reliability & Durability — 10
As I sated I have had this guitar for 5 years and the finish looks great. Like I said the low E tuner, actually the pin or bushing is starting to get weak but I wouldn't count that against the guitar at all. Being all laminate this is my outside, campfire guitar. I know it wont get damaged by wind, sand, rocks, etc. It just holds up. Loud enough to be heard and not too tinny sounding. Stays in tune in the cold as well due to it's construction. Before putting the pickup in I played it "miked" on several occasions and it sounded just fine.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I got the VS, Vintage sunburst, because I liked the way it looked. My low E string tuning peg is starting to get a little weak so I may swap out tuners after I try my bone saddle experiment. I have had 2 "professional", meaning they play weekend gigs in addition to their day jobs, musicians pick this guitar up and play it, not knowing it was mine. While it won't be confused with a top of the line Gibson, Taylor, or Breedlove, they felt it played and sounded like guitars in the $700 range not $150 to $200. These guys don't hold back on their guitar thoughts either.
Features — 8
Made in China this dreadnought with laminate spruce top and mahogany back, neck, and sides was my first guitar after not playing for 20 + years. I liked the looks and the price and the fact it came with gig bag, tuner, etc. I also compared it to many other "entry level" guitars in the same price range. We I first started playing guitar, many years ago, a cheap guitar was just that sounded band and fell apart. I have had this now for 5 years and play it almost every day. I did lower the action as it was a little high, adjusted the truss rod ever so slightly, added a JJB Prestige piezo pick up, and bone end pins. I am going to add a bone saddle in the next 2 weeks.