Price paid: € 100
Purchased from: Local indie music store
Sound — 3
Let's immediately get something out of the way - this is a beginner guitar aimed at people who aren't even sure if they'll stick to playing a guitar, hence it's price. It's design offers some flexibility in music styles making it sorta jack of all trades. Sorta. There's a trend of opinions that you can't play metal or similar heavier-gain styles with this guitar, which is untrue. Contrary to the popular belief, your Strat will not initiate self-destruct sequence if you attempt to play Guns N' Roses or Metallica on it, matter of fact, "Seek & Destroy" is the very first song I learned, and I learned it on this very guitar. But I digress. It it very much possible to play everything on it, it just won't sound good. Actually not much of anything other than clean sound will. It is a very cheaply made learning guitar, which will allow you just that - to learn to play on it. It's single coil pickups can't stand too much gain, and sound very muddy if it's on, and there's gonna be a lot of noise if the selector is set to only a single pickup.
Overall Impression — 3
I play a variety of music from jazz and blues to metal and hard rock. As I've previously said, the guitar is designed to suit the beginners who are unsure if a guitar is even a right instrument for them, let alone what kind of music they want to play. That being said, it would suit jazz, some softer blues, funk and similar styles best, anything more high-gain just won't go. I can't for the life of me figure out people who give this guitar 9 or 10, I understand that FOR THE MONEY it's probably the best choice, but only because there isn't much to choose from. Besides, what would they rate Gibson or Fender? A 10, the same as this guitar? I played many Gibsons on many occasions, and there is a reason those things cost as much as a used car, and putting the same rating on them as on an entry-level Aria really seems wrong!
Reliability & Durability — 2
There's a possibility that this guitar will survive a gig, it would mostly depend on how careful you are with your gear. I personally don't think of it as a take-out guitar, it's definitely not made for that. Strap button screws come off very easily, I needed to screw them back in place on more than one occasion. In the event of a catastrophic failure, I don't think it'd survive a fall to the floor. I wouldn't use it on a gig in the first place, let alone without a backup. Guitar's neck is also easily bent, most of the stories about it however probably came from inexperienced people who handled their guitars improperly (I've actually seen a guy in a music store hold it by the neck upside-down, baseball bat-style! ), but mine stood on it's stand for a few years and the neck still got bent.
Action, Fit & Finish — 3
Guitar's action came pretty low out of the box, with heavily oxidized strings. Sounded fine in the beginning, but later on fret buzz started to appear and became more prominent as the guitar was being used. I changed the strings on it, making most of the buzz go away, but low E, A and D are still somewhat affected by it. Many come out of the box with their necks bent, it seems a weakness with this guitar.
Features — 4
Got the guitar a couple of years ago when I was starting out, it came in the package with Vox Pathfinder, cable, stand and digital tuner, a very, very good deal. It has a bolt on maple neck, with rosewood fretboard, 22 frets in 25-1/2" scale. It's got strat-shaped alder body with three single coil pickups, a 5-way pup selector, one volume knob and two tone knobs that are there for show, and a tremolo bridge.