Sound — 9
This guitar is geared for metal for sure, more towards riffing. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's a lead guitar because of the neck, but it'll work great for leads, I just think it does rhythm much better. The pickups are cool though, they are not only geared for just metal, and are capable of other genre's and does them fairly well, not the best, but fairly well for a metal guitar. I used Valveking 112, new tubes, with a WGS V-30 speaker, with a TS9 as a boost. This guitar is just balls to the wall when you crank the gain, the bridge pickup has such a high output(16.7k if I remember correctly) that it just overdrives the preamp into metal territory with ease, while remaining very clear. Compared to my Bareknuckle Painkiller, this pickup is much more bassy and has a more scooped midrange with a average high range, but still remains pretty clear even under lots of gain. The single coils run around 7.9k I think, and hold their own under lots of gain, but, they are single coils, and have that single coil twang. These are the pickups that work best for all the other genres. The neck pickup can get some pretty sweet, smooth creamy lead tones though. The pickups are kinda noisy, not too much though. The styles this guitar can do is pretty wide, the feel of the neck helps alot with blues, and since you can phase your pickups with the 2 and 4 positions it's really useful for getting funky sounds and jazz sounds. I have to say it does metal the best, being designed for metal, but it does jazz, blues, rock, ect pretty well.
Overall Impression — 7
My overall impression of this guitar is that it's a pretty decent guitar for the money(originally cost $600-$800 I think), but improvements can be made, and should be. If it was stolen or destroyed, I wouldn't bother buying a new one, cause there's better out there now for cheaper. I love the pickups and the neck, those are my favorite things about this guitar, I hate the bridge with a passion, it's a piece of junk. I compared it to my highly modified Squier Affinity Strat with Bareknuckle pickups.
Reliability & Durability — 8
After I refurbished it, I took it to church to play with in the band, it held it's own pretty well, but I would not rely on it 100% just based on how much it took to get it working well again. Besides my particular guitar, I'm positive that if you get one that's in good shape, it'll stand up to gigging very well, as long as you don't plan on using the trem too often, and you keep that trem well oiled. Other than the bridge, the rest of the hardware seemed to be in great shape, so I would say that it'll last quite a while, again, if you take care of it. The finish is pretty tough, poly finishes have always been pretty tough, so I would think it'll last a pretty long time.
Action, Fit & Finish — 4
When I got it it was a piece of trash, not something you could really sell, and it was barely playable, most likely because the owner never took care of it. But from what I saw, the bridge is really prone to rusting, especially the action screws. The saddles are your typical steel USA style saddles on your typical Strat style 2 point trem. The action is pretty poor as well, it sits rather high, bout 3-4 mm, much higher than a Fender Strat, but really isn't a problem The single coils were adjusted rather nicely, it's the humbucker that has problems, on this particular guitar, the height screw on the upper part had stripped out, and I found some ridiculously huge springs in there. The humbucker has to sit rather low, because of the huge output difference from the single coils. The finish is your typical black with poly coat, nothing really special about it. The inside of the guitar was a nightmare, I've rewired this thing a few times, had to replace the stock Switch because it was a POS, but the pots are actually rather nice. The inside is rather nasty and rough, unfinished paint pretty much. The bridge routing was cut just barely enough to fit the bridge, if you wanted to put in a aftermarket bridge, your going to be doing some cutting. The neck was the nicest thing on this guitar, nice smooth neck with a really nice neck pocket couture.
Features — 7
Not sure of the year this particular one was made, or where it was made, didn't say on the guitar, but when I got my hands on it, it was in pretty poor condition, so I ended up refurbishing it just to do this review. It has 24 frets, rosewood fretboard with a maple neck, no finish, 25.5 inch scale, neck has the feel of a Fender Strat C shape neck, except with a nice neck pocket couture to allow better higher fret access. Body is made from Alder, has your typical poly finish on it, has the shape of a Strat on steroids. The bridge is like a Indonesian Strat style bridge, almost identical to the one on my squier, block and all, except the trem arm is actually Standard size, not that bulky oversized Squier one. The bridge on this one was in pretty piss poor shape, took a lot of work to get all the rust off of it and set it up properly. After that it worked pretty well, held it's tuning decently. Guitar has a HSS set up with passive EMG's that, at the time where specifically made for the Axl Mayhem guitars, but after talking to a EMG rep about them, I've been told that those specific pickups are now being remade and called the EMG SRO series pickups. Has 3 controls, 1 volume and 2 tones, and a 5 way Switch just like a Standard Strat setup. The tuners are pretty cool, they are very smooth and have a high gear ratio to make up for their small size, they seem pretty sturdy and I prolly wouldn't feel the need to replace them.