Price paid: $ 130
Purchased from: Bakers Music
Sound — 6
It suits my music style fine (heavy-metal, blues, classic rock), it sounds good for the price (exceptionally good for the price). So there isn't much more you can ask for. The only thing I can complain about, is that the lower tones seem to be a little too bass oriented. Which is fine if you're playing heavily distorted music. Like I said before, the bridge pickup is noisy as all get-out, but it can be replaced. The guitar is capable of making wide variety of noises, and this did surprize me, and it has a decent tone as well.
Overall Impression — 8
For the style of music I play (again, heavy-metal, blues, classic rock) It matches the tones and quality I need (and expect) half-heartedly, but for the price I'd say they did an exceptional job (you've got to remember this is a beginners guitar and isn't ment to be outstanding). I've been playing for six years, I own a custom Gibson, and a Gibson classic, along with this Austin (long story where I got it from). If it were lost, I'd probably kill the person that stole it, the burn their body with the guitar. So no, I would not buy anouther. I love the fact that for the price, it is an exceptioanl guitar, I hate that many parts of it are defective (but what can you expect). My favorite feature is the versatility, it can put out some nice tones if manipulated properly. So if you're looking to buy a great beginner guitar, this ones for you.
Reliability & Durability — 6
This guitar (though I would never use it live) could be used live, though the tone (to me) just isn't a quality worthy of the stage. The hardware is suprizingly durable, I have dropped it a few times, and it still plays well. Could I depend on it? No. It slips out of tune too easily, and it is too noisy for me (nothign a little hardware change couldn't alter though). The finish is nice, and (I belive) wouldn't wear in a long while.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
This was kind of lacking in my opinion. The action was terrible, as was the intonation. So as far as the factory set-up, I did not like it at all. It would seem the neck was set up well though, no adjustment was needed for the truss rod. I had to slightly adjust the pickups to make up for the loud bridge pick-up, but that doesn't make much a difference. After playing it for a month, I came to realise the most annoying feature of the guitar, the fact that the cord jack was total crap. I've tried adding a washer, tightening it and such, and yet, it still amanages to come loose and annoy the hell out you. The pickup selector isn't too noisy, it can be dealt with. As for the strap bolts, they were sort of small, but I replaced mine with straplocks anyway so it didn't make a difference to me. The fretboard did seem a bit 'sticky' at first, but after playing it for a while, that wore away (as it does with most new guitars).
Features — 6
It's a 22 fret guitar, moderate sized frets. Bolted neck. From some source or anouther I heard that it was chinese elm (not too sure about that). It has a mahagony neck and it has a Standard Strat body style, with a string through bridge. It has a volume and two tone switches (standard for strats). I don't hear much of an alteration while using the second tone knob. To me it would appear that the first one works, and barely at that. It also has a 5 way pickup selector, which seems to be particularly fuzzy on the bridge pickup. The tuners are alright, they keep in tune most of the time, but they appear to slip more often than many other guitars I own.