Sound — 9
My style is mostly hardrock and metal, which this guitar was pretty much perfect for. Granted, the EMG81/60 combo really shines for metal and metalcore but it performed well for rock also. I was testing it through a Marshall JCM2000 DSL 50 with a 1960A Marshall Cab. No other effects, since I wanted to test the guitar not the gizmo's. It suited especially metal very well. Defined, yet deep and powerful riffs were easily achieved with this guitar. The sound is phenomenal. It isn't noisy at all, because of the EMGs which are shielded. The guitar sounds very dark and warm, due to the large mahogany body which is surprisingly light. The cleans using the EMG 60 were very warm and clean as well. This is clearly the best EMG active pickup for cleans, and complements the EMG 81 nicely. In short, this guitar has fantastic sound all around, although it is especially suited for metal.
Overall Impression — 8
This guitar is a very good match for my metal and rock music. The distortion is brutal and heavy, and the cleans are crisp and warm. I've been playing for slightly over 3 years, and I mostly play through a Schecter C1 Classic and B-52 AT 112. If it were lost or stolen, I would most likely just get this guitar again. That, or a Schecter Hellraiser. These guitars are very similar so it would depend on my mood at that time. I absolutely love the sound of this guitar and the smooth action. I did hate the poor fretwork, which needed to be fixed. My favorite feature is the large mahogany body and the EMG 60. Those just sound fantastic together. I compared this guitar with my own Schecter C1 Classic but also with a Les Paul BFG and a Les Paul Menace. The Les Paul guitars had a fatter neck, and the pickups were not as great. It is very similar to the C1 Classic, but more metal oriented. I will use it for my metal playing while my Schecter will do the rock music. Only thing I wish this guitar had is strap locks installed Standard. But hey, I don't think I've ever seen a guitar that has that Standard. Get this guitar if you can find one with proper fretwork. It plays and sounds amazing, especially for metal and hardrock.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I do think this guitar will withstand Live playing, it is very light yet very durable. Everything seemed pretty solid, and I would trust this guitar to do the job. However, I would never gig without a backup. It isn't the guitars fault when you trip and snap the guitar neck during the landing.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The guitar was set up very very well. The strings were nice and low, and the pickups were properly adjusted. It was to be expected with a top of the line model like this. The routing was also properly done, no flaws there. However, the painting left some to be desired and the fretwork was flawed. There was a little paint on the abalone binding near the neck joint and the frets were protruding slightly, causing my hand to get stuck when sliding down the neck. Also, the guitar just would not stay in tune. I'm guessing it just had new strings installed, because the features on this guitar are known to be able to stay in tune very well. I'm giving this a 6, since I was very disappointed with the fretwork. A guitar that costs this much should not have these issues.