Price paid: $ 250
Purchased from: Lisenby's Music Shop
Sound — 8
The stock pickups, while not bad, aren't exactly amazing when it comes to using heavy distortion for things like metal. Luckily, I play mostly progressive rock and blues type stuff, so it isn't a necessity for me to obtain loads of distortion. I use a pretty crappy amp with it (a California CG-60, if anyone's heard of it) but I can still get some pretty decent tones out of the guitar. With the treble pickup, you can get a really crisp clean sound or a crunchy sound that's great for hard rock (or, if you turn down the tone knob, classic rock). I tend to use the treble pickup a lot when playing things like Coheed & Cambria and Alter Bridge. The neck pickup gives a very full clean sound and a nice overdriven sound when distorted, which is perfect for blues soloing (or any type of rock soloing, really). I also find this pickup to be useful for playing grunge music like Bush and Soundgarden. Although coil-tapping would be a great feature to expand the tonal capabilities of the guitar, the tone knobs are sufficient for getting a lot of different types of sound out of it. Also, the sustain on this thing is AMAZING. O.O One of the main things I look for in a guitar is sustain, and this guitar has more than enough of that.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this is a very solid guitar, particularly for the relatively small amount of cash I paid for it. It's perfect for the style I play (progressive rock, hard rock, blues) and for many other styles. The only guitar I would really trust more would be a PRS Custom (but I honestly would never throw down more than a thousand for a guitar). I've played several Gibsons before this guitar, and I can honestly say that they are not worth the extra $1500+ that would pay over this guitar. Yeah, they have a cooler headstock, but they sound almost the same and don't have the same feel that I love so much (odd, I know, but it's just my opinion, I guess). Hopefully I can scrounge up enough cash one day to customize it like I want (killswitch, coil-tap, fuzz effects, KAOSS Pad).
Reliability & Durability — 8
The first thing I did when I got this guitar was install strap locks (I had heard to many horror stories of Les Pauls falling to the ground beforehand). This served me pretty well for about a year, until one of the straplocks started to, well, not lock. The top straplock would randomly become unlocked while I was standing up, so this guitar fell three or four times before I decided to get new straplocks. However, the first time it fell, I didn't notice any serious damage other than it had gone horribly out of tune (it fell to the ground face-first because I just wasn't expecting it to fall). The next few times it fell, I half-expected it to fall, so when I tried to save it, only the G and B strings really went out of tune. There are several nicks and scratches all over the guitar, although the vast majority of them are from the previous owner (Who must have gigged like hell considering how much of a beating it took from my defective straplocks). I personally haven't seriously gigged with it, so I can't really say how much it can withstand in a Live setting.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I bought this guitar used, so the owner before me may have fixed the action beforehand, but this guitar has the most amazing action I have ever felt on a guitar (well, besides several PRS's I've put my grubby hands on). I really hate putting new strings on it because I have to go through those few days where the action feels a little awkward and the strings buzz, but it always goes back to normal with use. There were a few cosmetic problems that popped up at first, such as a few of the knobs being too close to the finish and scratching it (not very much, but enough to be annoying), but that was easily fixable by just pulling them up. Another thing was a massive chunk of finish missing from the back of the headstock, but since I bought it used, that's not really a factory issue.
Features — 8
Let me begin by saying that I've had this guitar for about 2 years, and it is my second electric (my first being an Epiphone SG Special). To this date, it is my favorite guitar. It was made in March '03 (I bought it used). I have it in an ebony finish and I've taken the pickup covers off (never really liked the look of them). The guitar features 22 hexagonal frets on a 24.75" scale rosewood fretboard. It has two volume knobs and two tone knobs, each controlling it's respective pickup. It has a three-way pickup selector near the top (which I have since rotated to switch diagonally instead of vertically) and Grover tuners (which stay in tune very well, I might add). The model I purchased also came with a cream pickguard (it now sports a Sobe sticker). I like all of these features, but there are a few things missing that I would love to add when I can cough up the money, such as a Bigsby tremolo and a killswitch (yeah, you can turn the volume on one pickup to zero for that, but then you can only use one pickup). Some internal fuzz effects would also be sweet, but for the price this guitar has some pretty nice features already.