Price paid: C$ 230
Purchased from: Sound Advice
Sound — 7
I've been playing mostly metal on the guitar, but a little classic rock as well (Boston, Scorpions and the like). The bridge pickup with the tone set completely to rich gives a very, VERY mean sound from this guitar. Playing on the neck pickup (or both at once) with a clean setting gives a nice, warm sound. I have noticed some buzzing from the pickups when playing on high gain, but not a huge amount. You might want to take time to familiarize with your amp if you want to play lighter music on it, since it tends to give a fairly high gain sound on most volume settings. Key point: slightly difficult to manipulate to clean sounds, great for metal and hard rock.
Overall Impression — 9
Since I play metal, and the easiest sound to get from the guitar is fairly thick, this is a perfect match. I've been playing for a little over a year now, and play on a Vox Valvetronix amplifier (not sure the exact model, but it's big). If I lost it, I probably wouldn't buy another. It's been a great first guitar, but it'd be time to move onwards and upwards. When buying, I did compare to other products and was drawn to the shape of the body (like a Stratocaster, but with slightly different top end shape), the feel of the fretboard, and the pickups (no other guitar in my price range had them). I wish it had come with a single coil pickup between the two humbuckers, or a factory set coil tap for the neck pickup.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The guitar stays in tune for a surprisingly long time... I play hours a day, and go for days without having to tune it. Unfortunately, the whammy system tends to de-tune it fairly quickly. I'd consider playing with it live, unless something required you to use the tremolo arm, in which case it'd be out of the question. Input jack comes loose fairly frequently, but can be fixed with a pair of pliers and screwdriver. Plastic cover for the 3-way blade fell off after 7 months of use, and can be repaired with glue... but still an annoying thing to have happen. Been bumped against numerous surfaces repeatedly, and only has one or two small chips in the finish to show for it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Not sure if mine was adjusted by a tech before I played it, but the action was great, although a little high on the higher frets. No initial string buzzing on frets, and the bridge sat perfectly when the whammy wasn't in use. The main reason I chose this guitar was for the feel of the frets... where most others I played felt like they had high frets (hard to slide on), these felt beautifully smooth and slightly lower. Neck is smooth and not too thick. If you plan on buying higher gauge strings, you'll have to buy springs to hold the bridge, and may wish to have a tech do it. While I had no trouble for months, I'm beginning to notice slight string buzz after changing gauge.
Features — 8
Had this guitar for around 7 months, and it's my first owned guitar. Bolt-on neck, 24 frets, two humbucker pickups on a 3-way blade Switch, with a tone dial and a master volume dial. Nothing included aside from a few miscellaneous tools and a whammy arm. One bridge pickup, and one neck pickup. The only thing lacking as far as I'm concerned is a single coil pickup, but a coil tap can be installed to correct that issue.