AL-2000 review by Agile

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  • Sound: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reliability & Durability: 5
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 5
  • Features: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 6.8 (113 votes)
Agile: AL-2000
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Price paid: C$ 425

Purchased from: rondomusic.com

Sound — 5
This guitar does not suit my music style yet as I've spent many years on flat necks and never touching traditional chords. The thick c shape really changes the grip to accommodate chords with little tension in the hand. I bought this guitar to learn more classic guitar techniques and learn some rock songs. I want to be able to play less intense music as I'm getting older and I don't have the energy to pick up the guitar and shred through some Kreator or Bodom every guitar session. I've played this guitar through a Fender Frontman 15, a Blackheart BH5 112, and a Rivera Knucklehead Tre with reverb using a Traynor 4x12 Cab with Celestion Vintage 30s. For pedals I use the Ibanez SM7 Smashbox for a modern tight metal sound, and a Rivera Metal Shaman for everything else beyond the SM7. I can get a pleasant sound with this guitar out of all three amps, from deep heavy bass warm sounds, to single coil brightness. Even though it is a humbucker in the bridge position it is painfully bright compared to my other bridge position humbuckers under identical amp settings. Regardless of the problem, this whole guitar will be gutted eventually, solving that noise issue. I mostly play using the neck pickup and both, rarely use the bridge pickup as it is always too bright and punchy. I can't roll back on the volume as I said earlier It only offers fully on or off. The guitar handles clean very well aside. Sweeps and chords sound very full and sustain well. As mentioned earlier the bridge has 2 wobbly saddles, therefore bends do not always sound as great as they could and alters tuning slightly. Some people put weight on how the guitar sounds not plugged in. This guitar is loud unplugged compared to a lot of unplugged electrics. It has great natural sustain for the pricerange. Even tapping the body produces heavy string vibration which lasts. When I tap the Epiphone it makes a very dead abrupt vibration sound. Like comparing a tuning fork to a piece of balsa. The guitar doesn't handle distortion well. What would be very tight and room shaking palm mutes through Duncans or EMGs is very loose and muddy. Sound is like a 0.46 string tuned to B. Everything comes out sloppy. It will never meet expectations of being metal enough with the current pickups/pots. Turning down the distortion to a more Vintage tone the sound becomes stable and the notes become more clear, yet still very dirty. Great for classic rock.

Overall Impression — 5
I wanted a Les Paul clone with a decent flame top in a colour/stain I would enjoy for years. The price for a Korean made Les Paul under namebrands is more than double what rondo is advertising. I had already planned to gut it to customize it to what I wanted, therefore it was an unnecessary cost to buy the LTD or Prestige which came stock with Duncans or another namebrand pickup I'd be replacing anyways. This guitar fits my current desire to learn something other than speed/thrash/death metal. It is making me work to adjust my style to fit it as I'm used to thin esp, Jackson and Ibanez necks. I wish I had asked which factory these guitar are manufactured because I found a Canadian version of rondo selling near identical guitars from the same factory for less, with the addition of no international shipping charges and shipment arrival in a couple days. I assumed Fishbone was Chinese since they were selling for less than Chinese Epiphone, turns out they're the same factory as Agile but for less in my situation. If lost or stolen I would probably save up for the AL-3000 with the 3/4 inch maple top or a Gibson simply because it would retain more resale value due to their outrageous popularity that never dies. I've done a couple reviews here and I always compare guitars against guitars regardless of price. Listed in order of quality and playability are the guitar I've compared this AL-2000 to. ESP RV350ALSCYTHE - custom shop ESP from 2006 Jackson KE2 - First production run of the USA KE2 in 1998 Ibanez RG560 - 1990 Fujigen RG560, only issue is the neck is tooo thin LTD Hex 7 - 7 string V, Korean made Agile AL-2000, Korean made Epiphone Les Paul Custom, Chinese balsa wood Stupidly obvious why the ESP, Jackson and Ibanez are better in every conceivable way. The Korean made LTD is slightly better than the Agile in quality as it rightfully SHOULD be. Low end Agile is almost as great as an LTD signature guitar. The body woods are both mahogany and very similar is density and sound, though the larger 7 string maple neck makes a huge difference in sound and sustains unplugged longer than the agile. The electronics are also better from LTD. Even though they are both Les Paul clones, the Epiphone Les Paul Custom doesn't even come close, even though a brand new Epiphone made in China has a higher price in Canada than the final total cost of importing a Korean made agile. The wood qualities have no comparison beyond both being labeled mahogany. I bought the Epiphone for dirtcheap with a severed head. The mahogany neckwood crumbled like balsa wood. It was an incredibly difficult headstock repair as the wood was so weak and cheap. I also mentioned earlier that tapping the neck or body resulted in an abrupt thudlike sound. The electronic quality in the Epiphone was far below the Agile's. All 4 pots are scratchy, the pickups are weak and very muddy. The tuners cannot stay in tune, you know the ones that say grover on them? Why does grover allow their name to go on such useless products. It's not a metal machine or a tone monster without a complete gutting, but it is an amazing intermediate guitar to customize and try different pickups and wiring configurations in. At the very least it is an excellent beginner guitar which can last through their growth. If it were lost or stolen I'm not sure I would get another AL-2000, as I originally preferred the AL-3000 (but that particular model/finish wasn't in stock). I would also take a closer look at Fishbone as they have a nice Gibson Alex Lifeson Axcess clone to customize. Only wishes for the guitar would push its cost way up. Mixture of Alex Lifeson's wiring and Jimmy Page's. Some coiltaps and piezo for acoustic sound. Overall, could be better, but there is definitely much worse. One of the best values in the pricerange. If you could walk down the street and grab one of these for $225 there would be no competition for such low cost, too bad shipping always kills a great deal.

Reliability & Durability — 5
I suppose it would withstand live playing. I've never owned a guitar that couldn't. Hardware will last, though it is cheap mass manufactured parts with lower quality control leaving you with some looseness. Strap buttons are solid, not a single strap has come loose, although it is a Les Paul style so the strap button near the neck does not hold as well as it should. Straplocks may be needed if you are more active. I can depend on it, not much can go wrong aside from being out of tune, which for a Les Paul is no problem (compared to a floyd which went out of tune). I would always have a backup regardless of the guitar since a broken string can happen on any guitar. The finish is tough. If hit or dropped hard enough it would break clean off the wood. The bodywood is usually undamaged since this finish absorbs and shatters under stress. I've had this finish on LTD, B.C. Rich, Shecter, etc. It is very popular in Korean manufacturing and durable. The only flaw to this type of finish is that the hand does not glide as well as thinner more expensive finishes.

Action, Fit & Finish — 5
The guitar arrived playable, everything was roughly in a "stock" position. After a month of playing I finally removed the factory strings and put on some Gibson Vintage reissue strings 10-46. I then had to adjust the truss, action, pickup height, then intonation since the Gibson strings were higher tension than the factory strings. The top is properly bookmatched to as high a degree possible. The book match does look like it came from the same piece of split wood. Most of the larger details in the flamed top are matched while some of the smaller details are a little off. Nothing terrible, the top is still beautiful for the price. Nut is great for stock, black plastic with the strings slots cut for the angle of Les Paul headstocks. All the frets were filed nicely, no finish flaws. The quality of wood is great, nice weight and consist grain patterns. Only issue is the visible joints of laminated pieces in the neck and body. This isn't an expensive guitar so one-piece neck and body woods shouldn't be expected. Tuning pegs are great, the pickups do the job but could be replaced. The pots/caps could be replaced for a more variable sound. Pickup selector is noiseless and so far durable. The bridge saddles for G and B are loose and move for bends. Easily fixed, but I'm going to replace with something more solid.

Features — 5
2010 Korean made Agile AL-2000 Honey Sunburst Flame Maple Top. 22 fret 24.7 scale rosewood board with trapezoid inlays on a maple neck. More in depth specs on the neck are on RondoMusic. The neck is a thick c-shape with filed fret ends which make movements up/down the neck very smooth. The only flaw is that the neck finish is semi-transparent leaving the neck heel visible. The neck is all maple, but it appears the factory uses the same rough cut neckblank as bolt-on models, then glues another chunk of maple on to create a Les Paul heel shape. There is also a visible scarf joint. This is not a major issue as this is a lower end Agile, but it is something I noticed right away and thought wtf. The Al spec sheet on the rondo site lists the 2000 model line a 1/16 B maple top, though the guitar in hand actually has 1/4 maple top. I noticed on the cutaway below the body binding there was still maple showing (just like I've seen on Gibsons with thick maple tops). I removed both pickups and found it to be 1/4inch at the thickest section. The top is not carved as deep as a Les Paul, but enough to really see the flaming change with the hills. The back of the body is 3 piece mahogany, very heavy compared to an Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty I have in hand (made in China). Finish is typical thick clearcoat on all Korean factory guitars. It's durable and impact resistant, but doesn't always perform as smooth as high-end finishes. For the price range it is probably the best finish you will get. The staining is very nice. The mahogany body and maple neck have been stained to match each other in transparent orange, which is bright but fits the bright honey yellow top. The body style is very similar to a Les Paul, though the cutaway point has lost its sharpness. It does look strange at first in pics, but in person the guitar is better without that one sharp edge in its design. Tune-o-matic with stopbar tailpiece style bridge. This will be replaced once I am frustrated enough with it. G and B string saddles rock back and forth with every bend, sometimes they buzz. Passive pickups... Most would describe them as garbage, which they really are compared to Duncans, EMG, etc. My other guitar all have been rewired with all those nice brands for all types of metal. I wanted something with a weaker signal and Vintage design since I was buying the AL-2000 to play non-metal. The pickups do deliver usable sound and a variety of tones with the separate tone pots and 3 way switch. The pots all need to be replaced eventually. Volumes are either full on or full off. Tuners are generic chrome non-locking. They have been reliable and not worth upgrading. The order included a hardcase as I live in Canada and it is a mandatory part of international shipping with rondo music. It was a smart thing to do as the owner must have dealt with many damaged arrivals in the past. My guitar arrived intact but the case was messed up. One latch was broken off and the brown tolex and woodframing was cracked in spots where it looks like fedex threw it into a steel post a few times. 100% worth it to buy that case and not deal with a damaged guitar and the frustration of return/refund to another country.

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