Price paid: £ 450
Purchased from: Guitar Guitar
Sound — 8
I use the guitar for playing metal, and only metal. I use it straight into a Boss tuner and my ISP decimator, then into my Bugera 6260. The guitar its self is not noisy and doesn't generate feedback or cause any other problems, in my experience anyway. The guitar has great sustain and a really full, fat bodied sound, as you'd expect from a mahogany Les Paul shape. Due to the EMG pickups, I've personally not found the guitar to be great for much other than rock or metal, but then again, I only play metal, so that suits me. The dense body wood, combined with the active pickups really makes for a clear, cutting sound and things like pinch harmonics really squeal.
Overall Impression — 8
I play metal, exclusively. This guitar works brilliantly for it, more so than any similarly priced Les Paul styles I've tried. I've been playing for 6 years and I own an Ibanez DT120, a Jackson RR5, an Ibanez RG7321 and this. I wish I'd asked for the straplocks that were meant to come with it! If this guitar was lost or stolen, I'd certainly replace it like for like, it's been the core of my setup for the past 18 months and I love it to bits. I love the finish, the value for money represented on a guitar that cost me 450 and comes with EMGs etc. There's nothing I hate about the guitar, save the fact it gets a bit heavy, but that's my own fault for picking a LP. I tried out the LTD EX401-SM at the time, but my reasons for buying another guitar was that the RR5 was a nightmare to transport because of its shape and I didn't want another guitar that'd cause the same problem. Overall, a solid investment for any metal guitar player wanting a good Les Paul shape that can't afford to splash out on one of the higher end LTD or ESP Eclipses.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This has been my main gigging guitar for the past 18 months, it has been dropped and swung into venue roofs by mistake and the finish hasn't been damaged at all. There is a little buckle rash on the back, but this is to be expected with regular use. The hardware is all still good, although some small section on the bridge look like they are beginning to oxidise. This is probably due to improper care on my part. As my straplocks were incomplete when I got the guitar, I replaced them more or less right away, so I couldn't really comment on the originals, although if the rest of the guitar is anything to go by, then I do not think there would be any issues. I regularly gig this guitar and would say it is totally dependable, although at most gigs I do take a backup, there have been occassions where I have gigged this without one to save space transporting gear. As I've already mentioned, there was a minor issue with the jack socket, so it'll lose some marks for that. The finish, as I've said above, is both great and well done enough to last.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
From the factory, the guitar was set up as well as any other. The action was fairly low, but the guitar was set up with lighter strings than I'd usually use, so obviously required some minor adjustments. The pickup positioning was fine, no changes needed. All of the hardware was in good condition and the finish looks Stellar (on my model - I have seen the SG version in a local store and the finish looked awful, but I am reviewing my guitar, not others). The only small complaints are a noisy jack socket, but that was easily rectified and a weird rubberised coating on the back of the neck, which made it feel a bit strange at first, but quickly wore away and is no longer an issue.
Features — 9
This guitar was made in 2010, in China (from memory, don't have the guitar with me to check at the moment). It has 24 jumbo frets and a good sized cutaway for a Les Paul style guitar. 24 3/4 inch scale speed taper neck. It has a beautiful quilted maple top, mine is the midnight ebony finish and looks really good! Mahogany body and neck, as you'd expect and an ebony fingerboard. It has a LockTone tune-o-matic bridge, and comes with EMG 81/85 pickups, great for metal players like myself. Only one volume and tone control and a 3 way toggle for the pickups. Tuners are non locking, but are good quality Grovers. The guitar was meant to come with Epiphone straplocks, but the store didn't give me them. As far as features go, I'd score this guitar very highly, it has 24 frets, a good fixed bridge and decent tuners. I would have liked locking tuners, and would have been happier if my straplocks had been included but I can hardly fault the manufacturer for the stores shoddy service.