Price paid: £ 120
Purchased from: Amazon.co.uk
Sound — 8
My style is hard rock & metal, & suprizingly this guitar suits it quite well. The sound of the pickups is what you would probably expect from a Stratocaster, bright & a little quacky, especially from the bridge pickup. I play in a band & we play alot of our own material, so I don't play many covers, though what I do play is usually alot of Queens of the Stone Age, some CKY, Rob Zombie & Nine Inch Nails. My setups consists of a Boss OC-3 Super Octave -> Boss MT-2 Metal Zone -> Belcat Overdrive -> Behringer Chorus CD 400 -> Behringer EQ 700, all mounted on a Behringer PB 1000 Pedal board, usually going into a Marshall MG102FX (& no, I don't like it either, it's a friends, it's loud so I'll take it). I find this guitar very versatile in both clean & distorted tones. On clean, I only really use the bridge & neck pickup together (I swapped out the middle & neck pickup, personall preference). The sound is very full but still bright, the fullness coming from the neck pickup. It sounds good on its own & even better with a dash of chorus & some EQ tweaking. Stomping on the MT-2, I get a generic metal tone with the extra brightness from the single coils. They're fairly quiet on their own, no real 60cycle hum, & when there's the reverse wound pickup on aswell it's noiseless. With the Belcat you can get the slightly driven cleans to the thick punk overdrive & anything inbetween. I'm yet to find a genre this guitar doesn't do well.
Overall Impression — 8
I believe if this guitar had a decent humbucker in the bridge this guitar would be pretty much perfect for what I play, & through the three years I've been playing guitar I've chose this guitar to play in my band over my other guitar, an Epiphone Custom Prophecy, complete with EMG's because of the "souless" sound I find it has because of the active electronics. It's not a bad guitar, it's great & I will soon have a use for it since it reacts better with more effects but it doesn't really do cleans well at all. If it was stolen, I'd probably cry at little since it is my baby, then get my Epiphone & detune that to use for a while till I get some cash for a replacement. My only wish is that the gear it came with was of similar Standard to the guitar, the amp was horrible & died around a year ago, the lead & strap lasted a month, the strap at one of the points eroded away soo fast that at the end of the month, the guitar was being held by the thread that goes around the strap point. It was that bad. Thankfully, the guitar isn't & I will continue to use it & I would reccommend at least trying out an E6 if you want to enter the wonderful world of guitaring.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I play this guitar live & have done for the past 6 months & it's done nothing but work flawlessly everytime. The hardware has no issues yet, the tuners stay in tune, even with some vibrato from the bridge, but I have done some big dive bombs & had to retune, every time, so I don't do huge ammounts of whammy. I am still using the original strap pins, however both fell out of the body in the first year, so I've used the toothpick trick to keep them in. The durability of the finish was ok, nothing special. I've dropped it on the road once because the crap gig bag that came with the guitar broke, the zip was on the bottom of the bag & that failed, so the guitar fell right through & onto the pavement. Now there's some nice dents & missing pieces of finish on the bottom exposing the Wutong body. I don't really care about that though, since soon I will be sanding the body down & repainting it. Mechanically however, this guitar is yet to fail me & I doubt it ever will.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
From the factory the action was a little high from my liking, so over the 3 years I've owned it I've adjusted the saddles, places neck shims & recently sanded a couple of frets to get it exactly how I like. There's still a small ammount of fret buzz, but it's nothing big. I've messed with the pickup height simply cause I could & I wanted to experiment, but they were fine to begin with. The finish is a glossy black & there's was nothing wrong with it, didn't see any blemishes or transit damage. Everything was fitted fine.
Features — 6
My Encore is a 2007 model, since I bought it at christmas 2007. It is your typical Stratocaster copy, made in China. These are the specs. -Wutong Body -Maple neck, Rosewood fretboard, 22 frets with overhang -5 way selector switch -Two tone pots, one master volume, probably 250k -3 GuitarTech single coil pickups -Unbranded tuners -Unbranded Vintage style tremolo Since this guitar was in a pack, it also came with a strap, a spare set of Encore 9's, a 15watt BB Blaster amp & probably some sort of guitar teaching dvd. It was supposed to come with some guitar picks, but there were never there. Shame...