Price paid: $ 99
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 10
This was my first seven string/extended range guitar and is still my only one. I purchased this guitar used in standard (gloss) black. The M-17 includes a bolt-on "U-Shape" maple neck with rosewood fretboard. It has 22 jumbo frets. The pickups are standard HH passive ESP Designed humbuckers. The body is basswood, and the tuners are standard ESP tuners, which stay in tune well for the price, and the bridge is string-through. It also includes a 3 way selector, which is to be expected. No accessories were included in my purchase. It came with pretty bad strings, but mostly likely because it was used. I immediately put some light gauge D'Addario EXL110-7 10-59 strings on them and the quality of sound was worlds better.
Sound — 8
I normally play hard rock and metal, which is most likely the category the M-17 would play best in. I play through a (not great) Marshall MG Series 30 watt amp. With the stock pickups, the guitar is probably best for rhythm. I would like to point out the pickups do get a little muddy with high gain. Pinch harmonics sound decent. Every knob and the pickup selector are pretty sturdy. One point I'd like to mention is the basswood body. It's not resonant and having the bolt-on neck, I'm surprised it has as much sustain as it does. However, being a beginner/7 string entry level guitar, it's what I'd expect. I'll give it an 8.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Buying this used, I have no idea how it would've been set up from the box. The action was way too low, and when I raised it, there was still fret buzz, primarily on the low B, low E, and A strings, which may suggest some problems with the neck/nut. This will be fixed when I take it to a guitar tech for a professional setup. Besides the fret buzz, everything else arrived to me in decent shape. After raising the action a bit, it's very comfortable to play. The neck is nice: I'm used to playing six strings but the neck was easy to adjust to after a couple minutes of playing time. I'll give this an 8 also, just because of the "unfixable" fret buzz.
Reliability & Durability — 9
As I've seen another review for this guitar say, it feels cheap when you hold it. I've never dropped it, but I would probably not rely on it too much to hold up after a bunch of drops. The strap buttons are fine and I've had no problem with them. So far, they seem pretty dependable. Other than the problem with the weak pickups, I wouldn't mind taking it to a gig. I don't gig with my seven string, but if I did, I would likely bring a backup just because I tend to break strings, but that would be my fault. I can't tell you anything otherwise. 1 point off because it doesn't feel as sturdy as I'd like it to.
Overall Impression — 9
As I mentioned earlier, I play mostly hard rock and metal. Considering this guitar was built for rock and metal (but is still versatile as well), it should be pretty decent; and it is. I also own a Gibson SGJ electric. I wouldn't compare the tones of these two since they're completely different guitars, with the Gibson being a much higher end guitar than the M-17. A pickup swap would surely change it. Besides the muddy pickups and not too much sustain (and if you turn up the gain it should help with that), the guitar isn't bad at all: I got it used preparing for the worst and instead got a pretty decent guitar that's easy to play (minus the fret buzz). If it were stolen or lost, I would hunt the guy down and get it back. Obviously. But if for some reason I can't, I would go for an Ibanez or Schecter 7-string that's a bit higher quality. If this guitar came with better pickups, it would be a dream come true, but since it doesn't, it's a pretty decent guitar anyway, and just what you would except for an entry level guitar.