Price paid: $ 224.99
Purchased from: Zzounds.com
Sound — 8
I'm an eclectic musician (mostly classical, blues and heavy metal)and the only way to get the sound I want would be to own other guitars; but for heavy metal, this guitar is an excellent choice for a beginner. The pickups are very high gain and turning up the gain just a little creates a distinctive and noticeable distortion. The guitar can get very noisy when playing with amp distortion if gain is set over 4 or 5, but pedal distortion (with Boss DS-1 at least) is rather clear and effective. The sounds that can be created are various depending on technique and effects, but one thing sticks: this guitar was born to be loud and distorted.
Overall Impression — 8
As my first guitar, it served it's purpose, you can't expect much from a guitar under a half grand. The guitar will seem inferior gradually as you realize that there are more suitable guitars out there. The guitar was good for my headbanging music, but it's hard to fingerpick for classical sound and a bit noisy for blues although the strings bend nicely on the guitar and the frets are very accessible. For aspiring metal guitarists, this is a great starting instrument, plus it's sexy to look at.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've owned this guitar for about 3 years and the only things that rusted were the strings (obviously they need to be changed regularly) and the pick ups slightly. The sound is still the way it was when I purchased it though despite the minor rusting. The guitar itself feels like a hammer and likely will stay in one piece. There would be no need for a backup as this guitar is built to last. The only issue is the fact that the strap buttons are a bit narrow and many straps will not adjust to them tightly. I usually play sitting, so this isn't much of an issue for sitting musicians.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was very well constructed, but upp-frets are harder to reach (what did you expect from a bolt-on neck) and can be a bit annoying when stringing. The action is great however and fretting is like a hot knife on butter. There is slight buzz in the lower strings, but can easily be corrected with development of finger strength and practice. The overall set-up was an A-class job.