Price paid: $ 324
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 8
When you first look at the Wildkat, it shows a lot. It has 2 P-90 pickups that sound perfect, with a 3-way selector switch that you would see on a Les Paul or an SG. It has 2 volume controls for each pickup, a master tone, and a master volume on the cutaway, which is the greatest. The body is a single-cutaway, so there is a decent amount of access to those top frets. The body is not exactly a true hollow body or a semi-hollow. When you look in the F-holes, you can see there is a block underneath the bridge, but the rest is hollowed out. The body is thicker than an ES-335 and about as big as a Les Paul with a little weight. The bridge is a tune-o-matic with a Bigsby. I've heard people complain about the Bigsby, but I can go wild on the strings with it and they stay in tune. The handle is a little stiff, but I like it personally. The neck is a Slim-taper profile, which is relaxing and I've grown accustomed to it. The tuners are Grovers. The whole thing, except for the top and fretboard is mahogany if I remember right. And it sounds like it too. The top is flame maple, although maybe not quite the grade they have on Les Pauls, but it is like the Fender acoustics. The fretboard is rosewood with dot fret markings. The default strings are D'Addario 10-46's.
Sound — 10
Normally, I play a jazz or blues style. I also do worship band. This guitar can easily grab these tones and completely own them. You can honestly go as far as some metal on it before the feedback problems become too much. It can sound like a Casino, Telecaster, or a rolled-off Strat. If you stretch a little, you can get a Gretsch or ES sound. The clean tones that the guitar produces are amazing. Our guitar player in the jazz band loved it instantly just based on sound. I play on a Fender Mustang or Princeton and add effects either by amp or by the one overdrive pedal I made from the overdrive circuit from a Marshall Bluesbreaker. The sound is full and pretty close to the acoustic sound. The Bigsby is definitely a nice touch to it. Texas dirt also sounds great on this guitar. Also, it's great to play in a bed room, because it's loud enough without an amp to play acoustically for practice or for relaxation.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was very well made. There are a few flaws in the paint job is you look close, but that's it. The action is a little low, which threw me off, but I like it. And it has a Tune-o-matic bridge, so you can fix that if you want. The wine red finish with cream binding is beautiful and classy-looking. The intonation is very good. The truss rod rattled for a day or two, but stopped. The fretboard looks a little faded, but that's how it came, and I personally like it. One of the other guitars at the store had some warping in the neck, but I figured that was because of how they were storing that one. Could be wrong.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is great for worship band, jazz combos or jamming with friends. Great studio guitar. Outside, as with most hollow bodies, the tuning gets a little off. But it's perfect for a streetside gig. As long as you're not competing with a jet for volume, you should be fine. The strap buttons are actually better than a Les Paul's, in my opinion. This guitar is super reliable thus far, and is always like a rock. As long as you treat her right, she'll be there every night. The pickups are oxidizing already after several months and same with the Bigsby handle. You may be able to treat that, but it's not noticeable. The paint is solid and the frets seem to be too. The binding on the neck doesn't show any signs of wear and neither do the tuners.
Overall Impression — 9
For jazz, blues, worship, rock, country, and maybe some indie-type stuff, this guitar can nail it. The value is incredible (I think I bought the guitar for the price of the materials) and it's worth every penny. I've been playing for a few years, after adding guitar to saxophone, but I can keep up with guys who've been playing longer. The other guitar I have is an Epiphone Les Paul (100, but there's not much difference in anything), but that would be comparing apple to oranges. They are both two great guitars. If someone stole it, I'd be ticked, because I'm used to the nuances of this particular guitar, but I'd go out and get a new one in a heartbeat. Definitely a good first hollowbody, if not good first electric. The fact that it's such a unique guitar makes it hard to compare, but I'll put it up against a Gretsch, Casino, Les Paul w/ P-90s, or one of the Casters any day. It's mostly in the player, but it's great to practice with anywhere. The guitar is mysteriously heavy, but I'll take that for the tone it gives. What I want to try with it is a Lester G pedal. Maybe it would sound cool. Everyone I've let play on it so far has liked it, and it's been an eye-catcher wherever it goes. Not as attached to it as my saxophone, but it's close. Go out and at least try one. If you don't like it, that's alright, it's your preference. If you do, buy it. It's 100% worth it.