Price paid: $ 400
Purchased from: Zager Guitar
Sound — 10
I mostly try to "play" (I'm not a very good guitarist by any stretch of the imagination) folk, and acoustic rock/country. I was immediately impressed with the tone. The notes sound loud and clear. Volume is great. Hammer-ons and pull-offs are clearly audible - a feat I had trouble with on my old guitar. Sounds fine with a capo, and I'm actually able to get respectable bell tones on frets other than the 12th. The guitar seems to stay in tune and I've had no trouble tuning it by hand or with an electronic tuner. I absolutely love it.
Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is a great match for me as I play strictly for fun--no performing. It didn't break the bank and I feel I certainly got my money's worth. It is considerably easier to play than any other guitar I've owned/played and sounds as good or better than most I've come across. I can't play as much as I'd like due to arthritis and annoying carpal tunnel, but I've found this guitar to be easier on my hands than my others. I do wish it would have come with pegs for a strap. I'd buy another in a heartbeat!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is pretty well made. I think it would hold up easily for my purposes and I have no doubt it would work fine for use at church services or community events. I don't know what stresses are involved in daily live performing, so I won't even venture a guess there. As a side note, I'd purchase a hard case to go with it. My Zager managed to survive an EF-5 tornado with minimal debris/damage inside. While those results aren't probably typical (How can one guess the outcome of these events? ), it is only slightly worse for the wear. (Many items in our house, including us, were "sandblasted". Consider these particles and dirt found their way into factory-sealed containers, and see how lucky I got!)
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar came set up fine, the action seemed properly adjusted, although I may occasionally get a fret buzz. If I had to criticize one thing, it would be the finish has a few less than perfect spots. I don't really care, though, since it plays well and sounds great. Do note, however, that the shiny black finish DOES show fingerprints and requires an occasional wipe-down with a soft cloth to keep it clean. Everything else seems flawless. The guitar seems to stay pretty much in tune from playing session to playing session.
Features — 10
I bought my ZAD-50/BK (black finish) around March of 2006. This is an excellent buy. I believe it's mahogany sides and back with steel tuners. The fret board is rosewood. I also purchased (separately) the hard plastic case. I like it fairly well, and the metal band where the two case halves clam shell together meet well and the latches are sturdy. It comes with velcro-ed on temp/humity meter. The battery died a couple of years ago, and I've yet to replace it. I may consider a cutaway version acoustic/electric next time to make playing past the 12th fret a little easier. I have small, thick hands, but the string spacing seems about right.