Price paid: $ 630
Purchased from: SamAsh.com
Sound — 8
The EMG 81/60 set up allows you to range from a variety of sounds. Flip the switch up and you get a nice rhythm sound, flip it down and it gives you a crisp sound that's awesome for leads. I'm not particularly fond of how it sounds clean, but hey, I don't think that was what it was built for. In any case, it loses a few points for having a relatively weak clean sound, the Gibson Les Paul Special gave me great clean sounds. I use this thing with a Boss Turbo Distortion. I really love the sound I get from the 60 with the turbo switch on, so crisp and crunchy. I'd suggest it for heavier rock (some Foo Fighters maybe), metal if you're into it (Metallica sounds great on this thing).
Overall Impression — 10
I have always liked the crunchier stronger sounding guitar with distortion and this is exactly what it offers me. I had been considering a fat Strat for the longest time because of its humbucker but that thing just isn't crunchy enough. I wish it came with a case though, considering the fact that it is $500+ I'd assume that would qualify for a complimentary case, but no luck. It truely does everything I need it to, and in its shortcomings (the clean) I use an acoustic. I kind of want a pickguard on it, but that's kind of my own les paul fetish. This guy was considered with a Fender Fat Strat, an Ibanez RG, and a Gibson Les Paul, but after careful consideration, I went with this one. I dont think you can buy it from a store though, and I dont even know if it's in production anymore. Check Sam Ash and Musicians Friend to see if they offer it, if not the EC-500 has taken its place.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing can take a beating, I knock it against something almost everytime I play but there are few if any noticeable damages. I have one white speck from hitting it against my desk, barely noticeable. The pickups will not fail you. It's the least you can expect from EMGs. The strap buttons are very solid, I've had the guitar for several months and haven't had to tighten the screws. I would confidently use it in a gig without a backup, there really is no need for one.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action out of the box was far too low, I got a lot of string buzz, which is quite annoying, but the bridge allows easy raising of the action, so its just a 15 minute fix. The pickups, however, were very well placed. Other than the action, everything else was perfect. The switch isn't loose, firmly clicks when you switch it, just a great job with the fitting.
Features — 10
This particular guitar was made in Korea. Obviously made in 2005. It has 24 frets on an ebony fretboard which has the special 30th Anniversary inlay on the 12th fret. The body and neck is mahogany. The finish is a nice black satin, which is oh so smooth. Comes with a Tune-O-Matic bridge with string through body. It also comes with EMG 81/60 active pickups for a great range of sound. Has one volume knob, one tone knob and a 3-way toggle switch. Comes with Grover tuners which I like very much, makes it very easy to tune, not that you have to do it much with these badboys. It also comes with an Earvana compensated nut. You get great features for the price.