Price paid: $ 250
Sound — 8
I'm into blues/rock/funk, a little bit of metal (nothing too heavy) and am trying to get into jazz. I play this guitar through a Line 6 Spider 4 and a Boss GT 10. To be honest, its an amazing guitar. It's not the most expensive axe out there, but it is very very good and very versatile, although I hesitate to use that word. It can do very good cleans, lightly distorted, crunched, mellow (jazzy) sounds but isn't a metal players axe. Clean, on the neck pick up, it has a full mellow sound and the bridge pick up has a bit of bite to it. Not enough for a good distorted sound, but good for crunchy rhythms (think Funk). The single coils are a little weak, but when used in conjunction with either of the humbuckers, sound very good. Distorted, it does sound good, but not as good as something with EMG's; the sound is just a little lacking in crispiness there. For the money, its a beautiful guitar that plays really well and can do a wide variety of sounds. With the right sort of effects you CAN get it to sound like a decent metal axe, but there are other guitars better suited to that sort of music. With a little bit of tweaking, you can get a very wide variety of sounds from this loaded guitar, but metal is not its forte.
Overall Impression — 10
As I've said, I'm mainly into rock/blues/funk and this guitar is a good fit for those styles. I like playing a bit of tool on the side and though it delivers, it leaves something to wanted in that department. I use a lot of effects and the basic clean tone is great to work with. I've been playing for close to 3 years now and recently I thought I'd get a new instrument. Nothing I played however, gave me a significant improvement over any of the tones I can currently get with this guitar. Granted, a Strat tone is a Strat tone, and something with EMG's has that distictive EMG sound. This isn't an instrument that competes with those guitars, but it does hold its own against them, and easily at that. If you're looking for a very particular stereotypical tone, this wouldn't be the best buy for you. However, if you're willing to experiment and don't play death metal all the time, chances are, you can get whatever tone you want out of this guitar. You can't beat this guitar for the money and even more so, if you know what you're doing you can get a lot out of it. The only thing I need now, is a hollow body.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have played this guitar live regularly. Up until about 6 months ago I used to gig regularly and this has always been my instrument of choice. I've never used a back up guitar on all the gigs I've done and I haven't faced a problem yet. Again, the hardware is rock solid. The only thing I've ever changed is the volume pot cause I screwed that up while messing around with the guitar. Even when using significant amount of gain (12 o'clock Drive on a tube screamer), the guitar is relatively quiet. I've banged the guitar around a bit and the finish has withstood all the minor mishandling. It was only when I dropped the guitar that a small part of the finish came off. This is a dependable instrument.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action was ok out of the box, but it needed a little tweaking to get it as low as it could go. To be fair, I've messed around with just about every aspect of this guitar, so that not such a big issue. I don't remember how the pickups were adjusted, but I've messed around a little with that too (its fairly simple with this guitar), and they are really responsive to the height. The reason I bought this guitar was that it sounded beautiful acoustically. Before I even plugged it into an amp, this guitar had a nice resonant sound with a bit of volume to it. The hardware is of excellent quality, certainly much better than the hardware on MIM strats (a friend of mine has one and I was quite surprised at how cheap the tone/volume pots felt). The tuners rarely go out of tune and I've never faced a significant problem with the tuning.
Features — 8
I've had this guitar for almost 2 years now. It's a made in Korea, 22 frets solid body electric guitar. Fairly Standard Stratocaster style guitar. It has 2 humbuckers and one single coil pickup. The pickups are Standard passive Aria pick ups. Mine's in natural finish and it has a tremolo which I've never used. 2 tone controls and one volume control. It has decent tuners (they rarely go out of tune) and it came with a soft carry case.