Price paid: $ 99
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 5
It is a bottom of the line 21 fret dreadnought. Mine was made in Japan, according to the serial number. Mine is sunburst color finish, which I think if nothing else, makes it a good looking guitar. I saw one review saying, it was what he thought was a maple body. It is all laminate material. "Select Spruce" top with Mahogany back, sides, and neck. Rosewood on the fret-board and bridge. Imitation bone nut and saddle. Surprisingly nice nickle tuners, but a real pain to put bigger than .11 gauge on the low E(at least mine was).
Sound — 5
The sound definitely reflects the lack of solid wood in the guitar, in my opinion. With the right strings the sound is still great for what it is(a very inexpensive guitar). The lows and mids on this guitar are surprisingly good for the price. The other review about strings 1 and 2 is right on. They just have a certain "twang" to them that isn't right. If you are playing a song that uses Dsus4 for D, Cadd9 for C, and Em7 for Em, I would strongly recommend going without a pick. That extra twang from the 1 and 2 strings will be painfully obvious with those chords if you play them with a pick instead of just your thumb.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I have zero complaints in this department. This was my first guitar and was super easy to play right away. Action was nice and low. I personally love the neck on this guitar. This neck is wider than a lot of other guitars, but it is pretty low profile in the back. So if you really like to lean on your thumb while you play, it is a perfect fit for you. If you like to wrap your thumb around, you probably won't care for the fit of the neck. As far as the finish, like I said, very good looking guitar IMO.
Reliability & Durability — 8
If I have one negative thing to say here, it is about reliability rather than durability. I'm not sure if it is the weather where I live or the epic beating my kids gave it early in its life, but it doesn't do the best job of staying in tune. I found my, at the time two year old, twins with it somehow out of the case. My son was plucking the strings at the neck as hard as he could, and my daughter was using the body as a trampoline(she was probably 25 or 30 lbs at that then). After tuning it up to pitch, it was no worse for ware. I am convinced It would take some planning or just extreme carelessness to significantly hurt this thing.
Overall Impression — 6
As my first guitar, it does hold a special place in my heart. I rated this guitar as if I was comparing it to every guitar I have ever played. If I was rating it specifically as a beginner guitar, or specifically as a inexpensive guitar, my numbers would be higher. The main attraction is the price. If you are a beginner, you don't want to spend a ton of money on something you might give up on. At the same time you don't want a guitar that is so cheap it sounds like crap even if you are playing relatively well. I think this is a happy medium between those two ideas. As a first guitar you will be ready to upgrade to a better sounding one after probably 6 months depending on how fast you pick it up. If I had it to do over again, and I knew the difference a solid top made, I think I would spring the extra 100 bucks for the Epiphone AJ-220s, which has a solid spruce top. If I am in the mood to go pickless on some country I still love to play it now and then.