Purchased from: UG contest
Features — 8
To start out, let me explain; I recently entered a contest right here on UG to tell the story of how you first discovered Motorhead (too lazy to use umlauts) and the randomly chosen winner would win an ASG Motorhead Tribute guitar valued at $650. Apparently you were allowed to enter as many times as you wanted... and I entered once, one guy spammed at least 1/4 of the total entries, gotta love karma! I'm going to try to be absolutely neutral and cynical, I think that's the most respectful way to honor UG for giving such a gift to give a proper review not clouded by (CAN'T BEAT FREE... which is true, I absolutely love it).
Apparently this was a prototype of the official 1/100 run which means it came with mostly the same things, but the fretboard, headstock and bridge are different. The final product had a spade on the headstock, Kluson-style tuners, Graph Tech nut rosewood fingerboard with mother of pearl block inlays, custom Snaggletooth + Motorhead logo paint job on the body with a tune-o-matic bridge and ASG pickups.
The prototype I received doesn't has the inlay on the headstock, the fretboard is an all mirror black material that I'm not sure of, pretty sure it has the graph tech nut, same special graphic and what seems to be a Tone Pros bridge with covered ASG pickups. I actually prefer it like this, always loved fretboards without inlays, having a far more limited version of an already limited (1/100) guitar doesn't hurt either. If you were to buy it new (no longer available, they sold out FAST) you had the option to upgrade the pickups, but I can't see much of a point in doing so, unless you have a favorite sound and want it to sound like any other guitar.
Overall, it's very basic, but done right, the tuners stay in tune (though they seem more sensitive than those high ratio 18:1 or whatever grovers) damn well, extra-jumbo frets are easy to play. Just think any basic, decent Les Paul style guitar. I'm not sure of the woods, I remember mahogany, but I'm one of those people that believes in the scientific method and not mythology+ the placebo effect, so I'm just gonna say wood is irrelevant and leave it at that. Feel free to tell me the story of that time you compared a Gibson and an Epiphone and you could totally hear the tones of the wood. It was made in Korea, but customized in California.
Sound — 9
I can see it fitting most styles pretty damn well, I play...pretty much anything, so what I like is a bit of diversity, and these pickups do a pretty damn good job of that. The bridge pickup is quite hot, bright and articulate, which is what I want out of a bridge pickups, can't beat the clarity it gives with chugging and power chords. If you clean it up, it gets as twangy as a humbucker can, I really wish they included a coil-splitting option.
The neck humbucker is fairly hot itself, but it has a nice, fat PAF kinda sound, great for leads. This is where I really dig this guitar, most guitars tend to have pickups that are basically the same, Evos and EMG 81 + 85 for instance, both different, but very similar, this guitar goes either clear and sharp or fat and smooth, which is always what I want out of a guitar, I like it to play as eclectically as me. I've only really had a chance to play it through a little Marshall MS-2 micro-amp (no other amp at the moment, financial issues) but it sounds a lot better that my Epiphone Explorer. If ASG were to include coil-splitting options, this would be the most diverse guitar I've ever seen.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
This I can't judge too much, I received the guitar with a severely bent neck, but it traveled from California with their 70 degree weather and dry humidity to the absolute frigid hell that has been the midwest. I think it was about 10 F/-12 C the day I got it and it had been colder; there's no way a guitar without a graphite reinforced neck could withstand such a journey without needing attention. I tightened the truss rod and now it plays like butter, haven't really tested the intonation to make it completely exact, but it sounds perfectly intonated to my humble ears. Considering the owner of the company plays every guitar to check the quality before it's sold, I assume they all come set-up and ready out of the box.
The D'addario strings were a nice touch as well. The only criticism I have for the finish is that the binding around the outside was pretty shoddy from the paint on the back, seems like they painted the back AFTER binding, so little bits got smudged here and there. The neck binding had similar issues, looks like a bit of glue got smudged onto the binding where the neck was glued in and there is some cracking up and down both sides, but I shall attribute that to the neck bending and frigid cold. Other than that, the craftsmanship seems pretty fair for the price point.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Too new to really judge this very much, but I can't imagine it having any problems any other guitar would have, being a Les Paul shape, the only real danger I could see would be with the headstock, but try to avoid dropping your guitar onto the headstock or smashing it into walls and it should be fine. Finish seems nice, but I still wouldn't recommend heavily gigging any kind of collectors guitars, everything wears over time and that kind of defeats the purpose. If you're gentle, play it at home to avoid accidents, but if you're not paranoid and don't care to get typical wear and tear, it should hold up great. The hardware is superb, so if you want to get technical, just research the reliability of Tone Pros, Graph Tech and Kluson tuners, you're unlikely to be disappointed.
Overall Impression — 9
As I said before, it plays all styles of music, but the bridge pickup seems excellent for Motorhead style playing, thrash and even punk. I've been playing for 6-7 years, owned a lot of guitars, played even more and I can't really see many things beating it, but I am highly skeptical of any guitar over $700, as long as it has good hardware (which this does) you'll have a guitar that you can rely on, anything else is purely aesthetic... and ASG sell fully customized finishes. If you like Les Paul shapes and have always wanted to make your own artwork for a guitar, I HIGHLY recommend ASG, they also sell plain colors for cheaper, but c'mon, if you're gonna go with this company, be bold and make a guitar that will stand out.
I think they also offer SG shapes, but I'm not sure. If they offered other shapes, especially strats and super strats, I'd buy an ASG for sure, I've had a few ideas for tribute paintjobs, but never seen a company that sold such at affordable prices. Gibson-style shapes tend to turn me off, but that's absolutely subjective. I highly recommend the company if you want an LP with any graphic you can dream of.