Price paid: € 300
Purchased from: local music shop
Sound — 7
I play mostly trash metal, and similar higher-gain genres that pretty much require humbuckers in your gear. This guitar does a great job in all of them. I've also played everything from Joan Jett to Guns N' Roses on it, and it handled it like a champ. So far, I only got Vox Pathfinder 15R, and M-Audio's JamLab, so mot much room for experimentation with sound there. Tone knob is VERY effective however, and it does see use, taking the edge off for more of the rhythm stuff I play while ramping it up for leads, it is the most used effect on my whole rig. It's kinda embarrassing, but my rig is far from ideal for what I play. The guitar has decent output level, no background noise I could notice, including on high-gain. Sound quality is another matter, however. I mentioned before that the pickups are performing differently. The dual blade one on the bridge is being used 99% of time simply for the fact that it's brighter and clearer than the neck one, also sounding heavier on lower strings, which makes me wonder why did they even bother putting different neck pickups in guitars since one is clearly out-performing the other. I think this guitar will greatly benefit from installing better pickups. Not much variety as far as the sounds go, it makes nice bluesy tones when clear mode is on, mahogany body and string-thru body make for a great sustain, and the sound resonates very nicely on higher frets.
Overall Impression — 7
I play wide variety of music, rhythm trash metal being the most prominent for now. This axe took pretty nicely whatever I could throw at it with the exception of some chord-based rock songs, this guitar's neck really isn't made for that. What really impresses me about this guitar is bang for the buck it offers. It comes pretty cheap, and offers perfect beginner-to-intermediate performance, and with a little fine tuning and setup, it could become a very nice live performer that turns heads with it's looks. Also a fact worth of mentioning, despite the looks of it, it is a very comfortable guitar with a nicely balanced neck. It offers a very nice ergonomic solution for playing in classical stature with the guitar on the left leg, having the lower "fin" go under your right knee. This method is widely used by V-shaped guitar players. If lost or stolen, I'd probably invest and get a better one, which I'll eventually do anyway, but so far I've never had any major disappointments with this guitar, and I'm very satisfied with my purchase.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar will likely withstand live playing, but that depends heavily on the musician and how careful he is with his stuff. Guitar's shape has three extruding "fins" that will make the job of navigating around other equipment difficult and require much more attention from him, plus the guitar itself is a whole head longer then my Stratocaster. Hardware seems like it will last for some time, especially if the owner treats it well. Finish doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. Strap buttons are rock-solid, I have an old Dunlop belt that I've used on my Strat, and it holds it very securely. Personally, I'm a bedroom player first and foremost, but if I was to ever gig with it, I doubt I'd go without a backup, then again, even if I had Gibson LP I wouldn't do it. I used to be a DJ and even while having to carry only headphones and CDs, lots of strange $(*1# happened during my career.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar came nicely set up, the strings needed changing of course, but other than that, I didn't touch a single thing except tune the bridge up a bit. There's a bit of fret buzz, but it's not noticeable through the amp, which is surprising, because the action is set up very low. Guitar came in a very good condition, no rusted/oxidized hardware, no flaws of malfunctions of any kind. I conducted a very thorough inspection of the guitar when I tested it, making sure there aren't any such flaws, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it in the first place.
Features — 7
Not sure when mine was made, I'd guess it was within a two year-span, in China. It has 22 frets, 24.75" scale length bolt-on maple neck, with rosewood fingerboard, and Grover tuners. Body is ML style, made of mahogany. It has a green bolt graphic printed on it, covered with a glossy finish. My particular guitar came with Tune-o-matic bridge (string-thru body), but a Floyd Rose Special option also exists for it. Next, we get three knobs, two that control bridge and neck pickups and one tone knob. Also worth mentioning that knobs are actually DBD traction knobs, a special kind that enables you to easily grip them even with wet hands. Not too much to look at, but they are effective. There's also a 3-way pickup selector switch. The guitar comes with two Dean humbuckers, albeit in different configurations, bridge one is a dual blade-styled humbucker, and neck has a classical, open-topped one. There's a noticeable difference between them, as the neck one is significantly muddier then the bridge one.