Price paid: $ 300
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 6
I go through many different phases during which I listen to many different artists and music styles and as always try to learn the songs I'm listening to and enjoying at the time. I do have some constants though such as the obvious ones of Hendrix, Led Zep, and that class of music, I also hold the strokes above all other humans and I'd be lying if I said Valensi's guitar didn't have an impact on my desire to have an epiphany hallow-body. This guitar is awesome for covering "Led Zeppelin 1" songs like "How Many More Times" and "Communication Breakdown". Its can produce that low E power and crunch that just gets inside your skin. It also sounds great for the strokes style of songs. I really don't like playing the blues on this guitar though especially because of the touchy tuning. It just doesn't hold up to constant string bending and being pushed to bring out some emotion. I also would not call it a versatile guitar as far as the range of sounds that can be produced. There is variety but sometimes it feels like the tone nobs are just a layer on top rather than infused with the sounds of the guitar. I'm not sure if that makes sense but basically it sounds cheap if you mess around with too much bass or other settings at the extremes. If you like crunchy power chords and just loud drawn out sounds, then I don't think you'll be disappointed but you should make sure to limit your expectations. Honestly the best part about the sound of the guitar is that I can play it unplugged and its a perfect volume between an acoustic and solid body electric. If you have roommates or neighbors and can't turn on an amp or play an acoustic, this does the trick.
Overall Impression — 7
I'm 22 and I've been playing guitar for about 6-7 years now. I'm very happy guitar playing has become a part of my life. It has forced me to become very passionate about music and explore many different types of sounds, feelings, and emotions. As I write this, I'm listening to Miles Davis "Kind Of Blue" but I've also been in a minor David Bowie phase (listening to the song "The Supermen" over and over again-great drum beat) for a couple days and have been a steady "Starf--ker" fan for almost a year now. I like everything that goes along with guitar playing including the debates and arguments over equipment, talent, music, the reviews of different equipment, listening to people play in music stores as well as the awkwardness of actually trying to figure out whether a guitar will fit your style without bothering other shoppers or seeming like you're trying to show off. Now back to this guitar. I play this guitar and my Strat through a Fender Hotrod DeVille, which is almost impossible to sound bad through and as bulky and annoying as it is to move around, I can't bring myself to sell. The Wildkat caught my eye because I don't really like playing the Les Paul, but I also didn't want the full cello that is most hallow bodies. It's lighter than I expected and with an all white strap, it just looks too good while playing. I know I don't have the most trained eye when it comes to looking at a guitar and realizing its quality but overall its been solid and I can't complain. I know I should care more about the tone and such rather than the way it looks or the way I look playing it but give me a break, I'm only human. I most certainly have a good ear and if it really sounded bad, it would definitely be gone by now regardless of looks but I can't complain for the price. If it were lost or stolen, I would not buy it again but only because I would want to try a new guitar. While I think they should put a little more time and effort into making this a top of the line guitar, and therefore more expensive, I would not buy it if it were more expensive because things do get lost and stolen and I refuse to own an item that is worth enough to really steal or would make me generally act differently towards. Assuming I do join the real world and get the job, family, and such nonsense, I still think I'll happily stay in the $300-$500 range. It just seems like the right price for a musical instrument that is both solid and enjoyable to play, but also morally justified. I'm sure I'll go through phases of playing more or less and I don't really want the guilty feeling of having a couple thousand dollar guitar just sitting against the wall collecting dust. While the Wildkat is definitely on the cheaper side of that range, I've never felt like the neck will separate from the body while I'm playing or anything like that. Again, I really like the way it looks. I ordered it online (shame, I know) without playing it or seeing it and I really wasn't sure and/or didn't mind what color I was going to get as long as it wasn't the natural. When I opened the box and saw the Orange I was pleasantly surprised. It's not over the top or in your face but it definitely catches the eye and has a seductive appeal. Although I prefer the feel of the start, I still like playing this guitar and I feel it's mostly a preference issue as to whether or not you will like the way it feels to play. I really don't like the bridge/whammy bar/tuning situation and changing the strings is a B-TCH. While writing this review I have officially decided that my hunt for a new bridge has begun. I recommend this guitar on the condition that you have reasonable expectations. I think it would be very frustrating if this was the only guitar I owned. It is big and not the most comfortable for long practice sessions. Also, I think definitely meant to be played while standing. It takes some care and some work to own and it is still an ongoing process but overall I'm still glad that I have it and look forward to owning it and working with it for a long time.
Reliability & Durability — 5
I've had this guitar for about 8 months now and used it for practice and while playing with a band. It feels solid and I don't anticipate any problems. I do, however, make sure I handle it very carefully because I don't trust it. I would never trust this guitar with a child or in a situation where it my not be handled with reasonable care. I don't think this is the type of guitar that can be left unattended in a garage or attic for an extended period of time and come out sounding nice. I make sure to take care of it as far as cleaning it when I change the strings and taking it in to make sure the neck does not start warping. I live in Florida so the temperature change between indoors where it usually stays and outdoors where it inevitable must experience during the course of travel is great and always worries me. Honestly, it's a $300 guitar which is a lot to me but compared to the rest I realize that they charge a lot more for the guitar they put a lot of time and solid materials into. At least I hope this is the case; they could just make them all then pull a number out of a hat and hope our brains are properly trained to be biased towards the ones with a higher price tag. I played with this guitar for 2 shows and during the first it stayed in tune throughout and for the second it refused to stay in tune for a whole song. I would play this guitar without a backup BUT, I would never take this guitar onstage if I did not have a tuning pedal to make quick tweaks in between songs. Again the tuning is strange because there doesn't seem to be any reason behind the changes. Sometimes it will stay in perfect tune for 2 hours while I'm practicing, or even be in tune after not being played for a couple days. Other times, it will slip for no reason or, oddly enough, I will pick it up and all of the strings will be sharp. I assume a lot of this has to do with the whammy bar (which makes tuning frustrating because tightening one string changes the rest and finding the perfect balance takes time and patience). I've decided that my next purchase will be a new bridge that is fixed because as much potential as the bar has for making all kinds of cool noises, I just don't find myself using it enough and it's really not worth the tuning hassle. Basically I've decided that I like having it and when I have some time/money, I'm going to make an effort to make some changes (new bridge, tuning pegs, maybe a different pickup if I find myself playing more jazz) I think it has potential but I'm treating it with great care right now.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
I didn't realize how bad the setup out of the box was until I had it set up at the music store I use. The low e string was pretty high up off of the fret board and it just felt like they figured I would have it setup anyway so why bother. Also, I'm under the impression that everyone has a little different preference as far as this goes so it's playable out of the box but not the way I like it. As far as the neck goes, I'm not a huge fan of the way Epiphones/Gibsons feel. They just seem a bit thicker than I would like and it's now clear it's not something I can just get used to. I'm not really sure what else to say. there's nothing about it that's bad or wrong but if I didn't like the way it looks so much I probably would have returned it or sold it by now. It's a preference thing and as far as feel while playing I continue to prefer my Strat unless I'm covering Led Zeppelin.
Features — 6
This link has all of the specs and features. To be honest, when I ordered it I was not really sure what color I was pleasantly surprised by the orange. It's got the right mix of irony and class thats needed for us humble guitarists. The look is really what sets this guitar apart. Obviously if you have specific things that you're looking for in a guitar that this one doesn't have you will be disappointed but it met my requirements of 22 frets and an attractive hallow body with the cutout. The features are not bad but they are a bit frustrating. The tuning is is fidgety and the whammy bar (?), or whatever it's officially called, can have a large impact on the tune. For instance you may use it and find that the high 3 strings have gone way out of tune. However, I realized that instead of trying to retune every time i can just push the bar in or pull it out to try and find the proper tune again. You can imagine the problems and frustrations that go along with this.