Price paid: € 550
Purchased from: Local guitar shop
Sound — 7
I've been playing for 9 years now and have always played metal. It feels good when you hit the stage with a V, and a satin black one :) I use Peavey 5150 Head (Randall rh150 G3 head, Ibanez TBX 150H - spares), Randall and Marshall cabs, various Boss pedals, Sennheiser wireless and some more stuff. I also have a few Laney and Peavey practice amps. 95 percent of the time, I play on overdrive channel, I almost never use clean sounds. When I bought this guitar, I played it in my room with it's original setup. Tho humbuckers etc. Not 4 days have passed, I swapped the bridge pickup with Seymour Duncan Invader (SH-8). It made a whole world of difference. The original pickup was too bright, too gritty and didn't have enough power. When overdriven hard, it produced uncontrollable noise. Not useful - it had to go. The neck pickup was decent, but compared to the Invader, it wasn't loud enough when changing for solo (or trying to do some clean :D ). Could produce nice "mud" for solos. I left it like that for about two years. Then I installed Seymour Duncan LiveWire metal in place of Invader. Yanked the neck pickup out (and it's volume pot, the master tone and pickup switch). Since the guitar had more bassy sound with Invader, this was (again) a significant change in sound compared to previous change of pickups. With Invader, the guitar got more guts, but wasn't that great with harmonics (certainly pinched) so, when the LW came in, the guitar sounded as beastly as possible. Lots of mids and could squeal like a pig. I masked the cavity for the neck pickup and held batteries inside, so i didn't have to fiddle with the pickguard when I wanted to change those. I was really happy with that pickup, and was willing to put aside the fact that it had... too much gain :( ok, people would think "Well, for metal, there's no such thing as too much gain", but paired with amps like the 5150 or Randall even the noise gate wouldn't help that much. I changed the resistors, played withe less gain, but this thing was too much for my amps and ears (it was a mark 1 Live Wire, they don't produce those anymore, but I am not the only one that said that those pickups are just too hot). The last change in pickups has been made a year and a half ago, and the pickup i choose is a Seymour Duncan JB model (SH-4). I sure hope that this is the last change I ever make. The pickup is good all-round - beefy rhythm, nice lead, good harmonics. Nice looking guitar with nice sound. Ok, I made all these modifications, and now this guitar is a good sounding instrument, but I will have to grade it by it's original pickups, otherwise I would give it 9 easily.
Overall Impression — 8
Well, as I have said before - metal is my style and this guitar matches my style both with looks and performance. I've been playing for 9 years now and have owned lots of instruments. This one withstood everything I threw at it and deserved to be called "a keeper". If it was stolen, I would be sad. This particular guitar is involved in lots of good memories and is a good piece of equipment. The other thing is that it isn't produced anymore, and if it was, I don't know if the other Goth V (even from the same series) would sound and feel the same (don't mention the neck, that could be really different). Maybe a Gibson V ( I had a Dave Mustaine DVR-8, and I am currently waiting for a Jackson King V), but this guitar is distinctive. I don't feel that anything could come in it's place. I love it's presence. You can't help but to notice it. A real metal weapon. The only thing I don't like about it is it's size (and the size of it's case... :D ). It is a major pain in the @$$ when you pack everything for gig and realize that you can't fit that giant case anywhere since you are not a bigshot star and you Drive your own Suzuki Swift instead of a van (or someone else carries it for you) :) I bought this guitar thinking that it is a good starter's V, but ended using it extensively over a few years. A good guitar doesn't have to be expensive (seen that on some Gibsons (especially new ones, they really suck compared to the old ones), American Jacksons, Ibanez (god, how can someone charge you THAT much for a basswood guitar? Just can't believe that they make some Prestige models from the same type of wood as GIO models. GIO models are charged as if they were firewood... what, that neck on someone's Prestige costs 6 times more than the whole RG GIO?). Mass produced guitars are usually mediocre, but I found this one, and I can say that it serves it's purpose just fine. Would give it 9, but if it was for the original setup, it will have to be 7. This is a potentially Killer axe, you just have to be lucky enough to find a good one (because I read some reviews online where people stated that they had bought really bad guitars).
Reliability & Durability — 9
I play in clubs, mid-sized venues (when opening for bigger acts, I hope one day to be a headliner :) ), and have played a few festivals (one of them being EXIT fest, biggest festival in Balkans (since I am from Serbia)). This guitar held everything without a hitch, without string breaking, sometimes without a backup. Except for it's color, the hardware will last (since there is only a bridge to be put in the equation, no tremolo or top locking nut AND - Grovers are good :D - the guitar never goes out of tune). Strap buttons were solid, but the first thing I do to every guitar is to change those to strap locking buttons. As I already said - the finish wears off, but it only gives the guitar a more badass look. This guitar withstands live playing and will do it until either I break it or decide to retire it. A good workhorse. It did gigs, recordings and lots of rehearsals (alone or with bands). I can't give it less than 9, and it's only because the wear of the finish is considered to be a "flaw".
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Decent setup from the factory, but I had to adjust it to my needs. I do that with every guitar I get, so that isn't a flaw! I tuned it down to B, so I had to get thicker gauge strings and adjust the truss rod and the bridge. Low action with close-to-none fret buzz. I could hear it unplugged, but it didn't come out of the amp's speakers. Now I use lighter gauge strings and have tuned the instrument in regular D. The best neck I have ever seen. Whatever I do to this guitar it will retain good action and intonation. Good frets. Good grounding, until I messed it up by changing too many pickups. Now it has some hum, and I am still reluctant to redo the wiring. Long live noise gate :D The pickups were adjusted properly. I tried some lower and higher settings, but the best was the one from the factory. Yes, this guitar is made of mahogany, but it isn't the first grade stuff. I don't even think that it is a second grade wood. But it is pretty solid and resonates decently. The guitar isn't well balanced, it's head tilts downwards, but i got used to it, so it isn't a problem anymore. If the pickguard had to be removed if I wanted to change pickups or batteries (in case of active pickups, and I never want to make holes in guitars), TOM had to go too (not only the bridge itself, but also the screws that adjusted it's height)! I solved the problem by cutting a route for the screw in the pickguard, but that's another story. Interesting enough, I don't know why there are pickup rings when someone has to remove everything else alongside those to change stuff he needs. The color on my bridge went off in places where I rubbed my hand (palm muting etc.). That's ok, since I've had this guitar for more than 5 years. String saddles are SHARP. When I change my guitars, there is a vast difference between my Viper, Malden Bad Karma and this one. My palm eventually got thicker in place where I rest it on the guitar, but it could be avoided if they used better bridge. Finish itself was gorgeous! I am a big fan of satin black guitars, and I was really stoked when I bought this one. I watched it for days. Now, the guitars are meant to be played and this was no exception - I played it so much that there are shiny spots all over this guitar. The whole neck shines on it's back. Well, that's the curse of satin black colored guitars, but none the less, I am really happy what this guitar looks like, even now. I also like the fact that there are no dots/inlays on the fretboard. Only the roman 12 ( XII ) on the twelfth fret. Again - Grovers are good :) Good nut, it is almost intact (and I already have to change my Earvana compensating nut on my 4 year old Viper).
Features — 8
Ok, I've bought this guitar five years ago and have been waiting since then to write about it online, just to be sure that this is not another first impression review where all rates are 9+. Made in 2004, Korea, 22 frets, 24.75" scale, rosewood fingerboard, mahogany body and neck, satin black finish, tune-o-matic bridge, string-thru body. Originally came with two pickups with separate volume controls and one master tone plus the switch. Grover non-locking tuners. No accessories. This guitar had everything I needed and still need. If I was to buy it now, it would even have too much features for my needs :) I play guitars with TOM, and am absolutely horrified by tremolos and Floyd Rose style tremolos on guitars. I hate when I see a nice, full body with a a huge hole in the back. I hate when I can't detune my instrument. I hate when a Sting breaks and whole whole setup goes to !@#$%^. Restringing guitar takes forever and each time I did that on guitars with locking tremolos, I had to do some more setup. Since I know that lot of people think that locking tremolo is an extra feature I might think of giving it -1 on that "lack"... or not. This is a Gibson style guitar and it doesn't have to have locking trem (I was shocked to see lots of goth series Epis with locking trems installed). Grovers are really good.