Purchased from: Swee Lee Singapore
Features — 8
This guitar is designed in Singapore and hand-assembled in China. The Protégé series is handled by Maestro just like how Epiphone is handled by Gibson. Its back and sides are made of laminated mahogany while its soundboard is made of laminated spruce. It has ABS Binding with a forward shifted X brace made of quarter-sawn sitka spruce. Its neck is khaya mahogany and it comes with a rosewood fingerboard of 20 frets with a scale length of 648mm. It has a rosewood bridge and a bone nut and saddle. Machine heads are 14:1 black sealed tuners. In the CE version, there is a cutaway starting from the 15th fret and pickups are pre-installed. There is a built in tuner at the sides with volume and tone controls. A low end gig bag is provided upon purchase. Overall, it is a well made guitar, perfect for entry-level beginners or electric guitarists who are looking for an acoustic practice guitar.
Sound — 9
As an electric guitarist, I play my electric guitars most of the time. But there are times when I just feel like strumming some chords, or the band requires an acoustic set. This is where the guitar comes in. Be it home practice or live use, I needed a decent acoustic guitar. And the SA-1 CE suits all of my needs. With built-in tuners and pickups, it is easy to switch from home practice to live use straight away. There is, of course, a cheaper version of this model without the cutaway and the electronics. But I have an amp at home so why not. Its sound is not too muddy as compared to huge grand acoustics, but not as bright as a ukulele (obviously). It is the "just right" sound to me. As an entry-level guitar, this could very well pass off as a low end Taylor. I will explain why in the next section.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar was pretty well set up from the factory. Low nice action with comfortable strings. Those strings pose a problem later on as they rusted in a few days (no surprise). I then fitted it with Elixir strings and they work like a charm. Pickups sounded great when plugged into my IBZ10G home practice amp. The tuner is very responsive too, quite handy too when you forget to bring one. The build quality is superb for an entry-level guitar. Couldn't find any flaws about it. Been playing guitars for years so I definitely know what I'm looking at. Overall, if not for the brand on the headstock, I am sure people would mistake this for a low end Taylor. Yes, it is that awesome.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It has been one year since I bought it and no apparent problems have risen yet. Brought it on stage a few times and it holds pretty well. Most of the time I use it for home practice so nothing much can happen to it anyway. I have only changed the strings twice and till now, it is still going fine (I play it everyday fyi). To me, I definitely won't hesitate to only bring this guitar everywhere since it is pretty solid as it already survived a few knocks here and there. I am pretty sure this guitar will hold up for a couple more years, maybe decades if fate allows.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall impression on this guitar is just one word: Awesome. Not a single problem has arose yet after owning it for a year. Like I said, this model is great for home practice and a little showing off; and with the electronics it stands up pretty well on stage. If I ever lose this guitar one day (I hope not), I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of the same model again. My favourite part about this guitar is, it is so much worth for its price. There is just one improvement I wish Maestro would implement: More colours. Seriously. This model only comes in natural or black. Where are my bursts?!?!?! Anyway, if you are an electric guitarist like me and wants a decent acoustic, this is it. But if you are an acoustic guitarist and wants something more glittery, look further up the Maestro line, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Otherwise, if you are thinking of a good entry-level acoustic guitar that won't fail you in the long run, may I introduce to you the Maestro Protégé SA-1 guitar! P.S. The only reason why I rate this 9 is because 10/10 is reserved for Taylor guitars. Oops.