Purchased from: Argos
Sound — 10
The Encore site claims that the guitar is 'hugely versatile', but I hasten to disagree. The guitar is poor in styles of funk and blues etc, and is only really intended for Hendrix/modern rock wannabes. As I mentioned previously, the amplifier that came with the package is superb, and basically forces the guitar to sound excellent. I've managed to rip everything from Alien Ant Farm and Papa Roach to Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix from the guitar, with all credit to the amplifier. If the correct amount of gain is applied, and the pickups set to second/fourth (depending on the desired sound) the guitar sings beautifully on reaching the 12th fret on most of the higher strings. However, it is prone to the deeper strings getting lost in heavier distortion.
Overall Impression — 6
Although I've only been playing two years, Ive been lucky enough to try several Fender Strats, and this guitar is not even a shadow of that guitar. However, all comparisons aside, the guitar itself is excellent for beginners, and even pro guitar repairers who may want to hack off the awful neck and make use of the superb resonance of the body. Despite the neck being easy to negotiate, the nut ruins all chance of staying in tune consistently. The guitar sounds fantastic when played through the accompanying amplifier though, and possibly with the addition of a pedal, would sound not much different to a Fender. A commendable effort for a budget model, but there are better out there.
Reliability & Durability — 4
This guitar is intended to be a beginners guitar, sad to say. However, in the correct hands, adjustments could be made to make the guitar last longer than intended with more success. The guitar itself is made to last, but is nastily let down by its horrible nut, which results in dropping out of tune. Ive seen one of these guitars drop out of tune dramatically after a single string bend. To this end, a backup would probably need to be your first guitar. Interestingly, the guitar itself is incredibly resilient, apart from the scratchplate, which weathers at an alarming rate, leaving hideous black scratches as a reminder to you to stop playing power chords...
Action, Fit & Finish — 4
I'm sure the factory workers have no concept of how to set up a guitar. It took at least two hours of intial tuning and adjustment just to achieve standard tuning. The basics are done well, and the guitar comes very well prepared, but it is terribly prone to slipping out of tune.
Features — 6
Probably made between 1999 and 2000, no exact date, as it wasn't supplied with one! 21 frets, solid bodied, and has volume, and two tone controls. 5way selector Switch and 3 single coil pick ups also present (Encore pickups). 'Maple' neck (sure as hell doesnt feel like one, more like cardboard), with rosewood fretboard. Styled in an identical fashion to a Strat, but noticeable isnt as body-hugging as a Strat. The example I got was part of a starter pack, complete with all the gear, strap, cable, gig bag, pitch pipe, video, and a superb Kustom 6.5 watt amp. The amp makes the package worth it.