Price paid: $ 450
Purchased from: local store
Sound — 9
The sounds this guitar can put out can range from crystal clear cleans to ridiculously crunchy distortion. I play styles ranging from folksy, semi-Acoustic rock all the way through death metal, and this beast works well for all of them. I'm not too fond of the cleans from the humbuckers, but switching over to the single-coil in the middle and turning up the tone knob makes for a very punchy yet glassy tone that, in my opinion, sounds better than my Strat. The humbuckers go awesome with nearly any distortion sound, but the real icing on the cake is the tone knob. There is only one, but the amount of different sounds I can get out of different configurations even on the same pickup is staggering. Turning it down yields a bottom-heavy, grungy sound for rythm, while turning it up can range from crunchy leads to face-melting solo tones, all on the same pickup. I've used this guitar with a Roland Cube 60, Crate VTX350, Marshall JCM2000 and a Mesa Dual Rectifier and it sounds absolutely terrific with all of them. I rate it a 9 since I'm not too fond of the sounds I get from the neck position humbucker, so I rarely use it.
Overall Impression — 9
I play mostly punk rock and a bit of progressive, but it works great for these and for everything else I would need it for. It looks awesome, it holds up awesome, but most importantly, it sounds awesome no matter what style of music I'm playing. The string detuning is a minor inconvenience, but other than that this is easily one of the best guitars I've played yet. If it were stolen, I'd buy another one in a heartbeat.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've had this for 2 years, and I've banged it around a good amount on the road, and it has held up magnificently. The finish was a glossy dark red when I bought it, and it still is. It holds up awesomely - I've only made one minor ding in the finish since I got the guitar. No question that I could gig with this without a backup. The input jack is in the back of the guitar as well, which is great considering it's harder to jiggle it out that way when I'm jumping around on stage.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Action is absolutely fluid, which is great especially for those metal solos. I use D'Addario super light strings with the action set pretty low, and I haven't had any problems what'soever. Pickups are adjusted perfectly, although the single-coil tends to slowly creep upward towards the strings. This is fixable with a simple twist of a screwdriver, and otherwise is not a problem. The only other annoyance, as I stated earlier, is that detuning one string detunes all the other strings in the opposite direction, so it takes a bit longer to tune the guitar.
Features — 8
Mine was made in China in 2003. Solid mahogany body with bolt-on 22 fret maple neck w/ rosewood fingerboard. It came in an absolutely sweet-looking dark red finish that stands up well to abuse after 2 years of ownership. Comes on a string-thru, 2-screw tremolo system that works well but like many other cheap trems tends to detune the guitar when you bend it too far. It is also somewhat of a pain to tune the guitar since when you tune one string, it changes the pitch of the others. It has custom-made Alnico humbuckers on the neck and bridge with an Alnico single-coil in the middle. 5-way pickup Switch, one tone and one volume knob.