Price paid: $ 308.1
Purchased from: Rondomusic.net
Sound — 8
I play a lot of blues, and classic rock, and some more modern rock. I'm playing through a Traynor YCV40T 2X10's, and no effects at the moment cause I just upgraded from a practice amp to the Traynor, so money is tight. The pickups aren't that great, for my style, not very bluesy. But I'd say they're very similar, or the same as a MIM Strat. They sound pretty good on clean, and a little bit (not much) better dirty, but still don't have that good bluesy sound I'm after, though a little better for classic rock/modern rock. But who among us is ever satisfied, with stock pups from a $390 guitar. They really don't sound that bad, they're just not the sound I'm after. Even though I'm definately swapping them for some Texas specials, or Tex-Mex, I'm giving them an 8 'cause for the price they're good but not what I'm after and could be a little more Strat sounding, but they're good for a beginner/intermediate player.
Overall Impression — 9
I own a Washburn acoustic, Epiphone Vintage G400 and a Traynor YCV40T, I've been playing guitar for 6-7yrs (4 years electric) and I know a good guitar when I play one. And this thing is great. But like I mentioned before, the pickpus aren't great for a blues/rock sound, but still don't sound that bad through my Traynor amp. If it were stolen I'd get a new one in a different colour, then hunt down whoever stole it so I can have two. My favorite feature is the Wilkinson bridge, it's soooo smooth and almost never goes out of tune. My least favorite feature like I said before were the pickups, they're just not my style. I've tried out many MIM Strats and I'd say this one is waayy better in quality of craftsmanship. With better pickups and rolled fingerboard edges you'd swear it was a Fender American. I wouldn't say it sounds worse, it just sounds different from the MIM. But the HWY 1's and americans sound better. Once again I'm giving it a 9 because of the pickups.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I haven't had it that long, but it's very very solid, and should last many years of abuse. I wouldn't want to gig with the stock pickups, but I'm really sure it can take a lot of punishment and years of live playing, it's very solid. The Grover tuners and Wilkinson bridge are great, and barely ever goes out tune even with med/heavy use, and the Wilkinson bridge is very very smooth. The strap buttons are pretty big and will hold on for dear life. When it's strapped in it's not going anywhere. I would never gig without a back up, but if this was my only guitar it would definately perform great without a backup. It's getting a 9 because of the pickups. With better pickups it would get a 10.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Like most guitars straight from the factory, it needed some tinkering. Action was too low and buzzing, but once I got the action the way I like it (med/low) it wasn't buzzing at all, and no truss rod adjustments were needed. The nut was a bit tight on the E, A, and D stings but I fixed that as well. Pickups needed very little adjustments. The bridge combined with the tuners are fantastic and very very smooth, barely goes out of tune with some medium/heavy use. Everything is lined up perfectly and centered, and the frets are very slick, level, and with no sharp ends. The frets actually surprised me, I was expecting it to be more like a MIM Strat but if the fingerboard edges were rolled it would feel like an American neck. The finish was very well done, and it had no scratches, dings or dents. It also has a very well matched Alder (I think) top, I know it's a top because the grain in the back is different from the top. It's not a flame or a quilt top, I'm not sure how to explain it, I posted some pics in the "pics of your gear thread." I'm giving it a 9 because I had to adjust the nut, but I wont take points away for having to adjust the action, since I've had to do that on pretty much every electric guitar I've bought, be it from the internet and even from a store.
Features — 9
The price is $259.99 american, but with shipping and customs fees, and when it was converted to Canadian funds it came to $390. Very basic Strat type features: - 2005 model, made in Korea (if I remember correctly) - 2-piece alder Stratocaster body - 3 tone sunburst - Standard classic S/S/S pickup config. - 5 pos. Switch, 2 tone, 1 vol. - 22 fret rosewood fretboard on maple neck - 18:1 Grover tuners (appears to be Mini Grovers) - Wilkinson bridge. An 9 because of the Wilkinson bridge, and Grover tuners, keep it in tune.