Price paid: $ 125
Purchased from: Rondo Music
Features — 9
It's a basic LP copy but with a bolt on neck and, of course, a 27" baritone scale. That's definitely a baritone length, but at the short end of baritone. Standard LP 2 humbuckers, 4 knobs, 3 way switch. Mine has a dark black flame top, which is barely visible but nice enough. From any distance it's just a black and LP knockoff with cream binding (including the headstock). It also came with a hard case, which is also surprisingly fine. Equivalent to any basic hardcase I've seen. It's a nice addition for a funny shaped guitar. No name bridge, tailpiece, and tuners. All fine. I'm giving a 9 because it has all the normal LP features plus the long scale. You can't find another baritone for anywhere near the price. The case is a huge bonus. This isn't to say the quality of the parts is super high, but it's all there.
Sound — 7
I've been playing it through an Fender Excelsior amp and have been trying it through a Little Big Muff, and a home made tube preamp. It sounds... low. It's hard to get around that. It's also hard to speak definitively about it's sound because there's a lot going on with a baritone. I think cap values in a lot of pedals and amps are chosen for notes in a higher pitch so EQ and settings were pretty different from the ones I use on my other LP. The stock Pickups aren't amazing. I find them a little muddy, but that may just be part of playing a lot lower. I'll probably swap them at some point. I'm also going to try a 2 band tone control setup to see if tightening the bass a little focuses the sound a bit more. That said, I don't recall the pickups on my old Epi SG being amazing either. They're not great, but fine for now. It's got a nice deep sound run clean or with a little breakup. I like to play it sort of blues fingerstyle and the low tuning does sound lush. Lots of delay and vibrato sounds pretty nice and moody. Driven hard for metal droning etc it can be tough to reign in. My LBM seemed to have a hard time with it and didn't push as much bass as I wanted. I think pedal choice will be important if you want to play it low. The muddyness of the pickups is most apparent here. I'd like a little more clarity. Soloing sounds pretty good when pushed hard. It's fine for now. I'm give it a 7 because the pickups aren't great for the style of guitar. That said, better pickups cost about the same amount as the entire guitar and case... So what do you expect. They sound good enough for now, and I feel more like new pickups will unlock sound rather than being a necessity to make the guitar useful. Lower tunings may require different fuzz too.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I really can't emphasize the "value for money" angle enough. The finish is nice, dark black, smooth, nice cream binding. It's well done, I'd say. The fit and finish are probably the most surprising part. Because it was so cheap. Parts-wise bridge and tailpiece are totally adequate. Cheap but fine. The tuners feel good. The 3 way switch isn't quite straight (easy fix). The nut is the only thing I'll definitely change. It comes with a seemingly very cheap plastic nut. That said, it plays just fine as it is and doesn't seem to be inhibiting playability. I'll probably change it anyway. The action is high, but there's some seriously fat strings on a baritone so it's probably for the best. I'll probably experiment a bit and try to bring it down a little. Buy strings right away, mine came with a set of, maybe mediums, on it and that's just not fat enough for tuning down on this scale. I was able to find extra heavies at my tiny local shop and they work fine down to BEADF#B. They feel like lights at that tuning, but not too floppy. I had a look at the pots and wiring and they seem to be fine. No mojo pots, but the caps are acceptable Japanese units. The wiring isn't meticulous like on some gorgeous guitar, but is completely acceptable. Certainly no need to swap them right away. This is a tough one to score. Everything is fine, nothing is gorgeous. It plays well, looks good, and came playable out of the box. It will benefit from a setup, but so will almost any guitar that comes by mail! So what score is totally acceptable but not amazing worth? I'm going to go with 8 because I think the value is worth bumping the score for. It feels better than guitars 3 times it's price.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I can't really assess the durability as I haven't had it long, but it feels sturdy enough. I'm probably going to switch out electrics anyway as I bought it to tinker with. The pots are smooth and don't feel floppy. Nothing feels loose or sketchy. The neck feels sturdy enough that I'm not worried about it or anything. Feels normal, not cheap. The pickguard plastic feels a little suspect, but I think it will last long enough. I feel confident... but it's hard to score. So I'll say 8 because it does feel very good for the price.
Overall Impression — 9
I can't recommend this enough for an intro to baritone. It's a short baritone so it's not really much different to play but it goes low. That's kind of the whole deal. The value here is unbelievable. I read other reviews and had heard that these were good guitars in spite of the price but couldn't really believe it. I ordered and was completely expecting to be disappointed. The reality is, I'm thrilled. This is completely comparable to a mid level Epiphone. I've been playing for 15 years on and off. Punk bands to fingerpicking ragtime. My other LP is a Epi Tribute Plus. I've had SGs and Strats in the past. If it were lost or stolen I'd get another one for sure. Why not? I'm trying hard not to buy other guitars from the same store now that I know they're ok. I read another review saying this guitar was heavy, but I don't find it to be especially heavy. LPs usually aren't light. It's not a high end guitar. It's basic, but pretty nice. I held off on ordering for a while because I couldn't believe you get something playable for the price... but you do. I'm giving it a 9 based on the insane value for money.