Price paid: $ 567
Sound — 8
I play mostly 2000's metal (Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, Trivium, As I Lay Dying etc.) and this baby's got what it takes. The pickups were much more than I expected. Most of the pickups I've "experienced" aren't much without a bigger amp or a distortion pedal. I have just a small 15w amp at home (not sure of the manufacturer) with simple gain-volume-tone controls, which I think is good if I want to hear the sound of the pickups without anything extra modifying the sound. And no other pickup I've tried home has had such a rich and "heavy" sound (not to mention how easy it's creating pinch harmonics), as these ones. The slim set-neck construction gives a long sustain and despite the guitar's simple and few controls, it has a lot different sounds to offer, especially when playing clean.
Overall Impression — 9
I think this guitar is excellent if you prefer heavier stuff, beats the hell out of the Explorers made by Epiphone, Hamer etc. I've been playing for about 3 years now and I don't own any effects or pedals. If the guitar was stolen, I don't know, I'd most likely buy this one again or something with same kind of specs. I love the guitar's looks. I love the shape, which isn't quite the most traditional model of the Explorer and I love the finish revealing the beauty of the wood at it's best. I love the pickups which I never thought I could get on a guitar this cheap. I just love it! I can't really say there's anything in it that I hate. All I can say, which is pretty childish I think, is that I'd prefer the fretboard without inlays. To me the most favorite feature is, after all, the light wood material. I just hate playing while standing when the guitar weights a ton, and after a two-hour practice my shoulder and back are killing me. With a guitar this light, I feel like I can do anything! At first I was actually going to buy a gothic Les Paul Studio, by Epiphone (it had most of the features this guitar had), but after the dude at the store convinced me that I'm making the biggest mistake in my life (well not exactly but he sure didn't recommend it), I started looking around for a guitar the same price. I tried also Epiphone's Gothic Explorer but I realized it looks better made than it actually is. I just couldn't find anything that I would've been excited enough to have the guts to buy it. Then, I saw it: the most beautiful thing I've seen (beauty and beast you could say) with such a great prize! I actually never got to try it out before buying it because no store had it, but I tried out the FX400, which is 200 more expensive than the 260 but so much alike, only with different pickups, tuners and nut. And here I am: Me try, me like, me buy. For you readers I'd like to say that if you want a unique design axe with not just the looks but awesome action & HW also, seriously try out this one!
Reliability & Durability — 9
Now, I haven't taken the guitar out Live but I've used it in our band's training sessions, and I gotta say, I can't wait to play with it live! I've never had problems with the strap buttons, only with old and worn out straps that have snapped during playing. I haven't got a lot stage experience, but enough to realize that there ain't no guitar I would take onstage without backup if I don't have to. Anything can happen out there, so I'd always take another guitar securing a successfull show. However, if I just could manage to get myself a backup guitar, I would definately rely on this one thinking, that only like a lightning or Inferno would stop it (or a snapped string, but only for a while).
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I'm not sure if the guitar was set up in the factory. I ordered the guitar from an instrument store and I'm pretty sure they adjusted it when it arrived there. Anyway, I haven't felt a need touching the guitar with a screwdriver (or any Tool). The strings are low as I want them to be and the pickups (bridge) are close enough to the strings to create the sound I like. The finish is just plain wood, which makes the texture unique in every guitar of this model. I haven't spotted any flaws in the guitar, at least not yet.
Features — 9
This guitar was made in 2007, and it says "Indonesia" in the back of the headstock. It has 22 XJ frets on a rosewood fretboard, mahogany body with spalted maple top, mahogany 24.75 set-neck, natural satin finish. The body is like the ESP's EX style (like an Explorer but sharper) with an ESP "F" headstock. Tune-O-Matic bridge, Passive EMG-ESP LH-300 pickup set (which I think have replaced the EMG HZ's in the ESP guitars and are a lot alike), 1 volume, 1 tone, ESP Ltd tuners. The guitar normally cost J489 (about 670 USD) but I paid J480 total with a Warwick gigbag. This was my second guitar I bought and demanded set-neck, mahogany body, a little larger frets than normal, "heavy" pickups and balance. This guitar pretty much had it all for my budget.