Purchased from: Local Music Store
Sound — 8
I play anything from melodic metal, to folk, to jazz, and it fits them all reasonably - jack of all trades and all that. With distortion, it can sound quite powerful and cut through a mix with a little twiddling. Neck coil is ideal for metal solos. Neck/middle coils together ideal for jazzy soungs or perhaps a softer solo. Middle coil - nice rhythm guitar. Middle/bridge coils - metal, rhythm primarily. I think it could cover most bases of music without too many issues, but isn't exactly going to be a storm at all gigs - for a start humbuckers are better for metal. I play through a 25W amp and/or a Boss ME25 effects pedal, and it sounds okay throughh both - I've done a couple of recordings and they are of acceptable standard. I think the sound could be counted a quite bright, but the pickups are certainly very noisy if you leave up the volume when not playing, otherwise there isnt too much interference.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, please note I've rated the guitar based on what I've paid for it, and my expectations. I'm not trying to say it's anywhere near as good as Gibsons or ESPs, but for the price range it's a fair buy, ideal for a beginner, or perhaps a more advanced player who justs wants something to try out ideas on or perhaps try soldering/tinkering around with. I like the features and variety of it, but I know it's outclassed in the wider spectrum. It it wer lost or stolen, I'd probably instead buy a better guitar second-hand. Giving it an 8 for what it has/does and price!
Reliability & Durability — 6
I doubt the guitar would be suitable for touring - it'd probably warp or keep going out of tune with hard playing or lots of changing tunings, but I'd say it could withstand live gigging. I would always take a back-up, and this is definitely no exception. The finish is good, it's comfortable and light, the cutaways are comfortable. The strap buttons seem fairly solid, but pros might prefer strap-locks.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The action was too high - I've lowered it a couple of times, and now have it where I want it. Not so good form factory/shop though. I honestly can't remember how the high the pickups were when I got it - I've adjusted them a few times. The Bridge is I think properly routed, but some of the electronic are out (as mentioned previously), although probably not too hard to fix if you know what you are doing. There are no flaws - everything is trim and fits perfectly, there is no cracking or warping, or even finish flaws. In terms of the finish, it's very good actually - it's had many bangs, yet hasn't chipped or even cracked yet, so I'm very pleased.
Features — 7
I don't know much about where it was made, or in what year - I'm presuming Mexico or China/Korea, as it's no great shakes. This was my first guitar though - deep maroon red with a pearloid scratch plate. It features 22 frets - medium to jumbo I believe, on a rosewood fingerboard. I have no idea personally what the body is made of, but a friend suggested knockwood - it is certainly light; however this can be a benefit as it fells like nothing even after a long time playing, and if you are going to carry it for any distance, it's a blessing (I once carried it almost 2 miles in the snow to a friend's house to practice). The body is the ol' Strat variety, and the lower cutaway does provide easy access to the higher frets. The Bridge is a tune-o-matic, which I've adjusted a few times - I had to do this as when I bought it from the shop, the action was quite high, and the intonation was out. I presume that is factory set-up, not the shop. On the upside, at least it's taught me quite a lot about how the guitar works. I've currently lowered the Bridge almost fully to the bottom, as I'm not a big fan of dive-bombing, I prefer tuning stability. In terms of tuning stability, it settled after a few weeks to a couple of months, and is now reasonable, although it goes out fairly easily if you do whammy a lot. The electronics are passive, and fairly poor stock pickups. They are 3 single coils - SSS, conforming to Strat design. There are 2 tone controls (which make a surprising difference considering the price) and a volume control, with a 5-way selector Switch for the pickups. Note - on my guitar the final position (ie, solely the Bridge pickup) has no output - I presume there is a problem with the electronics. However, I have seen this very same problem on 1 or 2 Yamaha Pacificas I've played. The tuners are non-lcoking, non-branded, but are okay I suppose. They are die-cast chrome, and work much better once I tightened them up a little. From where I bought it, the guitar came bundled at an additional price, with a thin soft case/gig bag, a Fender strap, a 2m cable, and allen keys.