Price paid: £ 35
Sound — 7
I've been playing for about 7 years now and I bought this guitar as a side project. The 3 single coil pickups one there are okay, nothing spectacular but good for the price nevertheless. If you use it clean then you can get quite a nice tone out of it, quite close in fact to more expensive pickups. However once they touch distortion they sound very weak indeed, they also buzz quite a lot. A few weeks ago I upgraded the pickups to some Seymour Duncans, and it goes without saying that the tone is much better now. However for beginners, which is who this guitar is aimed at, they are fine.
Overall Impression — 8
If you're looking for a starter guitar, or you want a cheap Fender body that you don't mind upgrading, then this is the guitar for you. It's hard to say that it's tone is weak when it costs so little. The build quality is fantastic and I can see it lasting for years to come. It's also a very comfortable guitar to play on, the radius of the neck seems perfect to me. When comparing it to other starter Strat copies, this one I believe holds it's position as being the best. I've owned all sorts of Fender copies and this one is really great. Most of those are now in bits because they really don't last too long at all. If it were stolen I'd be pretty annoyed! I wouldn't get a new one because I have a thing for collecting different guitars over the years.
Reliability & Durability — 10
If you kept with the same pickups and played it "straight from the box", I don't think it would hold up to live playing. They just don't offer a thick enough sound. With build quality wise you could completely trust this guitar to last for a long time, I have not replaced anything on the guitar after it's mistreating except of course the strings. Aria really do produce some brilliant, well made guitars and this is one of them. The quality of finish on the wood is superb too, like a real Fender. Very sturdy guitar you can trust.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I received it in a bit of a bad state, the previous owner forgot he still had it. But once I buffed it up and gave it a full clean the guitar is now awesome. I have mine set to a relatively low action, beforehand it was too high for my preference, whether that's how they are factory made or not I don't know. Pickups were adjusted fine, it seems no matter where you put them though they will always buzz through distortion. Considering this was once an abandoned guitar, it looks factory standard, and I've had no problems with any part of the guitar lacking in quality.
Features — 10
Well, you can read others for specific details. It's a Strat copy, which I did not get with an amp because I got it second hand. It's a 22 fret thin neck, or at least I think it's quite thin. It's a triple single coil configuration with a 5 way switch, as normal.