Price paid: £ 250
Purchased from: guitar shop
Sound — 6
The only songs I can play are metal, (Metallica, A7X, BFMV etc etc) I do listen to other stuff but I haven't learnt anything apart from metal for ages. Because of this when I am not riffing it to death I just like to wank up and down the neck as best I can. I have been playing about almost 2 years, self taught although I wouldn't recommend it. The hardest thing I can play well is the creeping death solo. This being the case this guitar is quite good, higher fret access is really good and the neck is nice and fast. The amp that came with the guitar is crap, don't even bother with it. I now have a Peavey Vypyr 15 which I love to death, a Zakk Wylde wah and (summon the trolls) a Boss Metalcore. Given that most guitars sound quite similar to me I go by how they feel. This guitar plays really well even after what I've done to it (an incident involving 12-60s and standard tuning) and feels comfortable and well balanced when standing up. On my Peavey I use a sound that is clean but right on the edge of crunch, on this the guitar sounds pretty good, the bridge pickup is quite bright. The neck pickup is very warm and bassy and is a lot bigger sounding. On distortion I use the metalcore at full gain for bone breaking chugging. On a completely clean digital amp the metalcore sounds extremely thin, trebly and shit. However when fed into to my almost crunch sound and with high mid and treble eq it sounds amazing. Because of the ludicrous gain there is a bit of buzz/hum etc and when I turn the wah on there is some weird whooshing wind noise. Both pickups are quite muddy down low but the bridge pickup is alright for Metallica riffing etc, when soloing I use the neck pickup because it sounds full and warm and just really nice. The bridge pickup is quite harsh and trebly up high. In terms of variety I think this guitar is fairly limited, the tone pot does nothing except make the sound extra muddy and the pickups lose a lot of top end when the volume is rolled back.
Overall Impression — 6
This guitar is definitely good for metal, it has a humbucker, a fast neck and it's pointy and black. The range of sounds I fairly small and as I keep playing and get better gear this will probably become my pissing around guitar. I own no other gear except for the stuff mentioned before. I wish I had got this guitar professionally set up as I'm sure this would make it better to play. If it were stolen I would be annoyed but then again the thief would be getting a guitar covered in drawings so they wouldn't take it in the first place. If this did happen I would probably buy something better e.g. Schecter or Ibanez. I love the shape, it wondrous to behold and very comfortable, also the neck is great. I don't like the broken pickup switch or the iffy tuners but nothing really major. I compared to other starter guitars and chose this one because it looks beastly and is also quite well made. I wish it had a floyd, perfect frets, a Seymour Duncan blackout, a Sustainiac and no goddamn tone knob. Overall a perfect decent starter guitar but that's all it ever will be unless you modify it. (As I plan to).
Reliability & Durability — 6
Will this guitar stand live playing? Probably, it has survived my friends at least. The hardware seems sturdy enough except for the pickup switch which recently broke and means I can only use the bridge pickup which is intensely annoying. Strap buttons were solid enough to break the strap that came with the guitar and I have since installed a DiMarzio cliplock strap (in neon green) I would never gig without a backup but if you were careful I expect it would be ok, it holds tuning well enough as long as you don't get too crazy. Finish is solid so no worries there. Another thing is that during my noob stage I strung this guitar with 12-60s and put it in standard. As a result the neck was bent to hell, however when I put 10-46s on it it was fine again and it is still fine now.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
When I got the guitar out of the box it was fine, not in tune but oh well. I broke the high E as soon as I tuned it and immediately panicked. I was extremely noobish then. Given my noobishness I can't remember what the action etc was like but it must have been fine because I had no problems playing it. Finish is good and strong, only got two chips after a year. The finish also picks up dirt, fingerprints and anything else you care to name with ease, it looks fine from a distance but up close... Frets are fine, starting to get a bit worn though. Woods all seem to be fine. Hardware is mostly ok except for the pickup switch, no rust or anything loose. Bridge is fine, intonation is fine etc.
Features — 6
First off I actually bought it for 500 NZ dollars at the NZ Rockshop. Anyway, made in China (not sure what year), 24 frets, 25.5 inch scale, jumbo frets and I guess a thin you shape neck. Body is agathis, neck is maple with a rosewood board. Finish is extremely shiny black, no quilt top, binding or anything fancy. Body style is a sort of mutant Strat but not disgustingly pointy. Tune-o-matic bridge, string through body etc. 1 volume, 1 tone and 3 way toggle switch (more on that later). Pickups are passive ESP pickups, humbucker in the bridge and a HOT rails style single coil in the neck. Tuners are non locking ESP tuners and fairly low quality. The guitar came with a gig bag, a strap, a lead, an amp and three picks. Overall ok features but I was not expecting it to be amazing.