Price paid: A$ 500
Purchased from: Rockshop NZ
Sound — 7
I guess it is definitely suited to more rock and metal. My tastes are largely blues to more heavy rock/metal. I run it through a B-52 60w tube amp sometimes, otherwise I have it running through a tonelab ST. Without it plugged in the tone is quite nice, some reasonable sustain considering its a bolt-on neck and cheap wood. I do find the higher frets can get a bit dead, i.e. the sound dies very quickly. I found it to be quite noisy with the stock pickups, also the input jack was a bit loose when I got it. For the price I think its pretty good. It does quite nice clean sounds, not the best heavy overdriven sounds, gets a bit muddy in my opinion. Doesn't have a very tight bottom end if that makes sense. I often find myself looking at new guitars as I am not 100% happy with the overall tone of the guitar, however it is good to learn on.
Overall Impression — 6
Overall it is a good guitar, but not a great guitar. I've tried to look at this review as a comparison to a high end model. While it is probably good value for money, I would not buy another one. If I could turn back the clock I would have saved more money and gone for a more premium model ESP or say a high end Epiphone for the same sort of money. If it were stolen I'd claim insurance on it and get a better guitar! Haha. I wish I had tried the guitar in the shop before I bought it, but that's my fault for not doing so:-P After spending hundreds on better pickups I wish that it had come with better stock ones. Also some locking tuners would have been nice but I guess you can't expect too much for the price. For a beginner its probably a good guitar. If you want to get serious about playing, go for a higher-end model with more features otherwise you will spend more money adding them later.
Reliability & Durability — 6
I don't know if it would withstand a lot of live playing. You would have to change a lot of the hardware otherwise you probably wouldn't sound that great. Most of the hardware is fairly solid but I can see the pots crapping out quickly. The strap buttons are quite solid but a pain in the ass, I'd like to replace them. I don't actually gig so I couldn't honestly say whether I would depend on it or not but if I were I would say this wouldn't be the guitar I would be using:-) The finish is solid, I'm pretty rough with it and it hasn't got any major scratching or marks on it yet.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Reasonable setup. The action was quite high though. When lowering the strings I found that they would hit the high frets. Turns out after removing the neck that there were some thin shim's placed between the body and the neck, I removed these and set it back up. Its much lower now but still not ideal, I just don't think you'd ever be able to get a really low action on this guitar without majorly changing the body and neck, etc. The pickups were quite low, and considering their low output I had to raise them up quite a bit. The overall finish was excellent, not a single flaw. The tuners were a bit loose, I had to tighten those up a bit. The screws holding the pickup mounts to the body are a bit dodgy, some are completely threaded and I had to put some glue into them to get a tight fit. The pickup selector is ok, a bit noisy but it is a cheapie. The tone and volume knobs were quite loose, make sure you give these a good tighten. Also raise them up off the body by a mil or so otherwise they will scratch the f*$k out of the body.
Features — 6
I believe this was made in 2008 but I can't be sure. It is made in Indonesia. It has 24 jumbo frets, 24.75" scale, i think the neck is maple and the body is basswood. It has a rosewood fingerboard. The neck is quite thin and is quite smooth for a cheap guitar. It has a solid body but no laminated wood on top. It has a transparent finish which looks rather nice. It is an LP shape with ESP's signature shaped cutaway. With the bolt on neck it isn't the most comfortable for getting right up to the high frets through. It has a tune-o-matic bridge. The hardware is obviously quite cheap, made in china I believe. The pickups are passive and to be honest quite average in my limited opinion. I replaced them with EMG's but also found I didn't like them either. Have since put Gibson modern classics in and I am much happier with the sound. The two volume and tone pots are cheap but do the job. I have since modded the body to include a coil-split switch which actually works quite nicely. The tuners are standard ESP's, non-locking, which do go out of tune a lot. I would like to get some decent ones but I can't afford to spend any more on it for now :-). It came in a cardboard box with some allen keys for the truss rod. Overall it is quite a nice looking guitar for the price, albeit rather low quality hardware.