Sound — 9
At first the guitar had an okay sound. Eventually the bridge pickup "died", and around the time I got my Strat both pickups "died" (I'd assume the solder for the cables got loose) However, once I'd fixed it, it sounded much better. The only thing is the bridge pickup produces more feedback than it used to. In actuality, I'd venture this guitar would sound a lot better on a better amp than my Marshall MG.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing for about two years, and as a beginner guitar, this is pretty good for what I paid. I play mostly hard rock and sometimes shred, and the pickups can handle it pretty well. Since I should be acquiring a Peavey Valveking tomorrow I hope the tone will be even better through it. If this guitar were stolen or lost, I'd probably end up getting an Epiphone Prophecy or customizing my Strat with a humbucker. But really this guitar has been through some good times with me and I wouldn't part ways with it, except maybe change the pickups later on. By themselves they're pretty good, but they could be better if they were Duncans or DiMarzios.
Reliability & Durability — 7
This guitar can take a beating. Even with vigorous, concentrated effort with the pick, the finish won't strip or rub off. However it does peel if the guitar were to be dropped. There are several spots where the paint has been peeled back because of a fall. A piece of the nut broke off when I was bending behind it and as such it's pretty hard to play chords involving the low E string (I had to slice a new channel for the string to run through, much closer to the A than I or any other guitarist is used to) I've replaced the strap buttons with straplocks simply because I play my guitar at certain angles and the strap is pretty prone to just ripping off. I always gig on this guitar simply because it gets the high-gain sound that the Strat just can't get with it's single-coils. Another problem is that the tone knob is cracked inside because a friend of mine dropped the guitar face-front, but it's still fully functional.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action was fairly medium at first, but eventually I lowered it to suit my tastes. The pickups were the same height, and I adjusted those as well. The pickup selector is fairly noisy, eliciting a cavernous, echoey sound when switched without muting the strings, but it's only noticable to a guitarist thanks to the Marshall MG's crushing distortion.
Features — 7
This guitar was made in 1996 when I checked the serial, in Japan, but I've owned it since 2006-ish. It comes with 22 rosewood frets. I have no idea what it's made out of but it's too heavy to be plywood and too warm-sounding to be alder or maple, but I doubt it's mahogany. It comes with a Tune-o-Matic bridge, one tone and one volume knob, and two humbucking pickups.