Price paid: $ 65
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
I'll get to the meat of this particular guitar in the next area when I talk more about the hardware. The bolt-on neck doesn't seem to effect sustain as some argue alot about. I'm sure if it had a set neck it would produce more natural sustain, but there aren't any sustain "issues" that I see on this particular guitar. I get plenty. Maybe due to the aid of the Tune-o-Matic bridge. I play through an Orange Crush 15. Nice practice amp, and compliments this guitar very well. They combo up to get some nice classic british tones, some Led Zeppelin/Cream etc. As well as some nice heavy blues rock tones. I play more in the styles of The Black Keys and The Parlor Mob. With influences from classic rock to Coheed and Cambria. It suits my style well and gives a good range of tones for this style of play. It would not translate well to the stylings of your typical Strat sounds. SRV, Hendrix/ or even John Mayer to newer Clapton. If you want that sound buy a Strat and Fender Mustang amp. You'll be happier. If you want to sound like a Darth Vader metal m'ther F'er. Buy Epi/Gibson and play through a nice amp that has some bite. That is body style + amp sound. In my particular guitar, it has some upgrades. It had bad pots and some wiring screwed up from the previous owner. It has new wiring and 500k pots. It also has a Gibson Dirty Fingers pup in the bridge and a Vintage Flying V Dirty Fingers in the neck. Circa. 1983 Heritage Flying V. The neck pickup had original gold hardware(covered) and was beat up. I replaced the humbucker cover and covered the bridge pickup as well to match. The covers do change the sound ever so slightly. Tiny bit of brightness, about as much as could be compensated by putting on lighter gauge strings. So not a big difference, and well worth the look of a nice covered Gibson pickup. Both are wax potted. This is why I suggest paying the extra dough for some good pups. It can make an average or decent guitar sound like a high end beauty, because this guitar sounds like a Gibson. And sounds like a beast. These are some hot pickups and scream when you want 'em to. The Heritage Flying V from the 80's and currently the Epiphone SG Prophecy GX have this similar set up and this guitar absolutely shreds.
Overall Impression — 10
Value wise, look for it used. The only difference between this model and the more expensive SG style guitars is the bolt-on neck, and more stylish finishes. This is a great guitar and if you want it to sound like a Gibson it can. Be smart and set it up. Change a few things. Out of the box it is a great guitar for anyone from beginner to experienced. I have been playing for 15 yrs and havn't had a guitar for the last few years till i picked this one up a few months ago. I love this guitar, especially the value of some aftermarket pups and a little work. I amazingly found a great deal and made it even better. I might not buy this model new. It's expensive right off the shelf, (about 250)and you can easily find one in decent condition for the price of the SG Special (150). Just buy from somewhere with a return policy or play it first. It's a big step up from the special and a small step down from the g400 model.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is solidly built and plays well. Sounds great and will last you a long time if you take care of it and get it set up every so often. Replace the strap buttons, locking style for longevity. Replace the tuners as well and it will last you years. Mine is black. It's black. It will be black. Polish it every so often and it will always be. Black.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Again, I bought mine used and not from factory but, I took better care of it than the previous owner and only spent about 40 bucks to fix all the issues. Seemed like he Frankenstein-ed the life out of this guitar and it has stood up like a champ. I would suggest you ask any retailer you buy an instrument from to do an initial setup for your guitar, period. Factory wise, the bridge is well constructed and firm. Neck is fast and fretwire smooth. Actually the neck is nicer IMHO than the 900 dollar Fender Strat I played at the guitar shop this last weekend. I put humbucker covers on, and put on Gibson top hat style knobs with metal inserts, as I don't like the feel of the speed knobs that come stock. Nothing wrong with them just personal preference. No rattles, intonation is great. The tuners are ok but for anyone using this in a professional setting I'd change em out just for the principle of it. It's not an expensive change and you can do it yourself pretty easy. They aren't really loose, but not tight like I like them. This can also be remedied by having them oiled and tightened by your local tech when you get a set up. Same with strap buttons, if you play live, change them. You can pick them up on internet sites cheap enough and do it yourself. It beats paying to have your axe fixed. It's principal. The jack is also a minor issue. But I've never really had a guitar you didn't have to tighten it down from time to time. Mine has just come a little loose twice recently. Everything else on this guitar is cake though.
Features — 8
This guitar was built December of 2006. Sae Jung Plant China. I bought mine used from GC. It needed some love. It has a solid alder body with a bolt-on mahogany neck, and rosewood fingerboard with Dot inlay. Nothing fancy but it's a lower end model, so what do you expect. The Locktone Tune O Matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece is nice. It comes with 2 volume, 2 tone controls and a 3 way switch. I was given the stock humbuckers along with my purchase however currently has 2 Dirty Fingers humbuckers. It has a full face pickguard single ply black/white edging but definitely single ply. The tuners are Standard Epi tuners. Economy model with economy features. Good value though, as I suggest that anyone who plans on keeping a guitar replaces some hardware whether it's decent or not. Hardware wise however, there isn't much difference between this model and higher end Epiphone or Lower end Gibsons. It's things like a set neck, finishes, etc. that you pay for but sound quality is really similar.