Price paid: $ 159.95
Purchased from: Rondo Music
Features: One of the new editions to the Douglas tele-style line, we have a traditional 21-fret maple neck connected to a 3-piece ash body, semi-hollow like a tele thinline. Finish, I think, was one of their ash burl veneers. The Bridge (which I'll get to in "great" detail later) is also tele-style, but the saddles (six individually adjustable saddles, rather than three for some types of tele) seem to be a little shorter than those on a Fender. That is, the distance from height-adjustment screw to height-adjustment screw.
Got a couple of passive single-coils with one volume and one control knob and a 3-way selector. Tuners, given that they don't specify, I assume to be some generic factory Douglas tuners.
No bells and whistles here, but (provided everything works) you have an awesome-looking and authentic-feeling hollowbody Telecaster for your collection. // 7
Sound: The sound, when I could get it out properly, was perfectly acceptable. I used it dry through a little Vox AC4TV amp. I play blues, old-school rock, and Indie rock, generally nothing all that hard. I couldn't tell you what kind of hard-rock or metal sound you would get out of this, but used through my Vox I got nice, mellow cleans and a pretty sweet tube crunch when I cranked the volume up. For cheap, Chinese, no-name pups, I had no problems with them. The neck pickup was very mellow, the Bridge very sharp - not piercing, but with a good bite.
Nothing spectacular, but it beats the hell out of other cheaper guitars I've heard. // 7
Action, Fit & Finish: Guitar was actually set up fine. Now, however, I get to go into the myriad flaws that had me sending it back "twice". The first guitar I had I didn't play much. I took it out of the box, admired the looks, plugged it in, and found that the Bridge pickup just did not work. So, I boxed it back up and requested a replacement. A couple weeks later, I got the next one. This one had a loose input jack and the volume knob didn't work. Instead of returning, I gritted my teeth and took it to a friend of mind at the local music store. He grounded the volume knob wire and adjusted the jack, and we proceeded to check it out more thoroughly. The thing that became immediately apparent was an abominable buzz on the first string (high-e, that is). A quick adjustment of the saddle, however, fixed that. He, being a better guitarist than myself, put the guitar through it's paces. For about four minutes, he grudgingly admitted that I may have gotten my money's worth, even with the shoddy wiring. Then the first started buzzing again, and the fourth string. Every adjustment screw on the saddles had gone out of whack, just from the vibration of the strings. I sent it back again, for a refund this time.
All in all, if you're prepared to put in some wiring work on this guitar, and find a replacement Bridge & saddles that'll fit it and be properly placed for intonation purposes, you might have something rather nice here, if you don't find yet another problem I didn't stick around long enough to find. As is often the case with cheaper Rondo guitars, most of the money is probably just in the pretty, well-made bodies, so techies and amateur luthiers will probably like this one. // 3
Reliability & Durability: Provided it didn't have a shoddy Bridge and you went over the wiring (or had an expert do it), I'd say this guitar seems hardy enough to withstand live playing. Strap buttons worked fine, never slipped for me, but I'm not doing any metal headbanging and leaps and such. The finish seemed solid and lasting, never showed a mark with the occasional bumps it had in my house full o' corners in the few days I had it. // 8
Overall Impression: I've been playing guitar for a few years now, and would say I'm not a beginner, if not any sort of expert either. My only other gear is acoustic, but I've been looking around at electrics for the past year, window-shopping and playing friends guitars while I haven't had any disposable income, so I'm not entirely new to the electric side of things. I thought I'd get something with single-coils and fender-style to start with and get playing, as they tend to be cheaper, and go for the LP-style guitar I really want (but is more expensive) at a later date, but it turns out that I got what I paid for. There's a good chance that (wiring aside), other Douglas or SX guitars are perfectly acceptable, playable instruments, but this tele-style bugger had some problems that I didn't feel like dealing with. I wanted something that, even if it didn't sound great, I could play, and upgrade "later". Instead, I got something that sounded pretty good, but needed work "now".
I'm going to have to stay at a middle-of-the-road 5 here. I fully believe that there are people out there for whom this guitar would be a great fit, people who like to tinker, but it was so far outside of the kind of guitar I was looking for that I can't rate it too high, personally. // 5