Price paid: $ 385
Sound — 10
With the coil taps and smooth tone knob, the tone varies a lot. From round, warm bass sounds to the smooth thickness of a Les Paul, and even to the high twangy Strat tones, you can make this guitar sound any way you want. When I purchased mine the neck pickup was a little loose and one wire would not always be connected, and in effect letting in some mains hum every now and then. This was easily fixed, however. I use the guitar for everything from clean jazz to baroque to heavy metal, and barely touching the amp except for turning on overdrive. This guitar makes the sound, not the equipment you use it with. The versatility of the sound you can pull out is this guitar's major strength.
Overall Impression — 10
Again, this guitar is wonderful for it's pure versatility. It can play anything you want it to. I would definately get another of these if anything happened to it. The bridge was a little sensitive at first (being a floating 7-string that's expected) but I got used to it and it only took a couple hours of playing to find that sweet spot to rest my palm on. I mainly bought this guitar while looking for something that would keep me occupied for long enough. I didn't want to be like a friend of mine Who had four guitars each with a different bridge, pickup configuration and sound. I wanted something that would last and fit my needs. 7 strings, floating tremolo bridge, two humbuckers with coil splits, this guitar was a technical masterpiece. One minute I'll be improvising a jazz lead, the next I'll be thrashing heavy metal riffs. The transition from tone to tone is smooth and easy, so your drummer and bassist don't have to wait up for you. The one downside is that after using a 7-string, 6-strings seem so limited and I'm troubled that the JEM I've had in my sight will seem, well, small. If you're looking for a strong 7-string guitar for all types of music, this is certainly what you're looking for.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The instrument is a tad heavy, fine if you're sitting down. But if you're going to be jumping and thrashing around you probably don't have enough respect for the guitar's condition anyway. The Floyd Rose is surprisingly stable, for a 7-string floating brdige. Fine-tuning is a breeze, and even after repeated whammy abuse I've only needed to make very minor adjustments every other day or so. Already the guitar has had a few knocks and bumps, but no visible scratches are seen yet. The finish seems strong and there aren't too many sharp edges were it may wear off too soon.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar came off the wall in top condition, even though I had seen it hanging there for at least a year. The action is wonderfully low, anywhere on the neck. I even heard that one guy tried to lower it, and immediately got tons of fret buzz. While I haven't fully inspected the insides, whenever you flick the coil switches, they make a clearly audible twangy echo that sounds through the cavity and gets picked up through the pickups. The bridge pickup is also slightly misaligned, due to the slight angle of the neck, but it seems to have almost no effect on the output. The strap pegs were also a little loose at the time of purchase but were easily tightened with a screwdriver.
Features — 9
I'm not quite sure when or where it was made, as I bought it practically off the wall and I have yet to find a serial number anywhere on the exterior or interior. The 7 string guitar is rather basic but it's a solid design. Carved top alder body, with a maple bolt-on neck and a rosewood fingerboard. It's got a Standard 25.5 inch scale, 24 frets, and is a little wider to accomodate the 7th string (but still no wider than your normal classical guitar neck). The neck is fast, and very comfortable for a bolt-on. You can barely feel the joint at the high frets. No pickguard, since the profile of the guitar doesn't quite call for one. There was only one finish available, a deep single-tone wood finish, that really fits the versatility of the guitar. The body is a double-cutaway figure, somewhat super-Strat, and has some curves and depressions on the back for comfortable playing, standing or sitting. A floating Licensed Floyd Rose comes Standard as well. The guitar comes equipped with two OH-7 passive splittable humbuckers. A master tone and volume knob along with a 3-position (bridge, both, neck) pickup selector and the two coil tap switches allow you to recreate almost any tone. While the controls are a little fumbly at first (the neck coil split is actually 'behind' the bridge Switch) it doesn't take long to know how to modulate the sound to your needs. Unfortunately the guitar came with practically nothing. The shop may have been at fault for this. They threw in the complementary strap and lead (both of which broke within a day) and took a tremolo arm and the necessary allen key out of a box of spare parts. While all free, they were from the shop and not from the manufacturer. I had to purchase a Washburn gig bag, though.