Price paid: £ 100
Sound — 4
I play anything from blues to metal, and this guitar is OK for the central area of that spectrum. It is by no means ecxellent - only good, as a beginner guitar. Obviously compared to a high, or even mid range guitar it is a very poor guitar, but for a beginner guitar it is decent and handles the common styles fairly well. I used it with a Roland Micro Cube, and it handled the cleans fairly well, and the distortions well. However, it is greatly let down by the pickups, which are (as with most beginner guitars), fairly shocking. It is very noisy due to the poor pickups, on distortion only. It has a very bright sound and I struggle to get warm midrange or bass out of it. This guitar can cope with classic/hard rock, but the sustain is bad so won't be able to play legato, which is often used in metal, and the tone is pretty poor which is a central focus for blues. Once again, I stress it IS a decent starter guitar but if we consider it amongst the broad spectrum of the guitar world, I would not recommend it.
Overall Impression — 6
I play blues, classic rock, hard rock, metal, and anything in in between. This was my first guitar, and is a good beginner guitar at a fantastic price. It handles a multitude of common styles well as a beginner would see them, although it is not good at the extremes e.g. clean funk or crazy distortion metal. I have been playing for two and a half years and I now own an Epiphone Explorer through a Marshall DSL401, and the difference is VERY large. The Epi is ten thousand million times better. I have also tried my friend's beginner guitars, and they seem to be better than this, but they are more expensive. Obviously, the main selling point of this guitar is the built in USB port. It is very convenient and offers people the option of not buying an amplifier and instead using their computer. Also, you can easily record stuff onto your computer very quickly and conveniently. If this guitar did not have this feature I believe it would probably be a flop as the rest of it's features are fairly sub-par. In summary - this is a good beginner guitar. It plays very well for a beginner, but once you get better, maybe after 18 months, you'll REALLY start noticing it's flaws. I would recommend it to a friend who is beginning guitar, as it served me well before I moved on.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is fairly durable and has been put together decently; enough so that it would withstand live playing (although no-one in their right mind would use this guitar for serious musicianship - once again, it is a beginner guitar!!!). The strap buttons are solid, input jack solid etc. I can depend on it and it has never really broken on me as such. The finish is good and lasts with playing, although is not very resistant to scratches/knocks, as my Epiphone Explorer is. I'm not sure why this is.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set up well when I got it and didn't really have much to complain about. The pickups were adjusted well, action set well etc. Everything fits well but they have routed out very large cavities inside to allow for more space, but of course this has a n effect on tone and if you hit the guitar you can hear the insides reverberating. The guitar did not contain any flaws, although I did notice that when I opened it up, it was fairly shoddy workmanship inside. But hey, what do you expect from a 100 guitar?
Features — 7
I do not know when this guitar was made. It is a Standard Strat copy, with 22 normal-sized frets. It has a maple neck and a "solid body" - it does not state what wood, although I have opened it up and it looks fairly crappy, probably basswood. It is finished in brilliant gloss white, and has silver hardware - overall it looks pretty cool. It has a Standard strat-style bridge with a tremolo, and 3 passive, very poor-quality single-coil pickups of unknown brand. The controls include a 5-way selector switch, 1 volume control and 2 tone controls. The tuners are chrome, and of unknown brand. I found them to be poor. Of course, the real selling-point here is the built in USB port. This is a fantastic addition which makes this guitar very convenient for beginners currently without an amp. The concept works very well, however it is fairly complicated to get started and setup your computer.