Price paid: $ 340
Purchased from: Musiciansfriend.com
Sound — 7
For an active pickup I was a little disappointed. The clean tone sounds very close to an actual EMG 81/85 set, but when you add distortion the output isn't as good, They tend to have a lot of high end which I don't mind, but more bass than I wanted (I assume that's the mahogany body that does that). Also the battery they put in this guitar wasn't a very good one, I may want to try a fresh more powerful battery and see if that fixes the output. The pickup were set a bit low so I raise them to get more response. If I don't get a change in sound after a new battery and some tweaking I may just goes with a real EMG 81/85 set since they seem to work well with a heavy wood like mahogany.
Overall Impression — 8
I think this guitar looks sharp, has everything I would need to gig with like a Floyd Rose, excellence smooth neck and a sturdy build. I was disappoint with the pickups a little bit. I'm sure yet if it was the solder job, the cheap battery they used, my amp or they're just not that good, but I'll find that out in the next couple days. I got this on sale through Musiciansfriend.com at 15% off and for $340 if I had to replace the pickups with an EMG set them it still would be cheaper than buyer a comparable model with EMGs already installed with the exception that I still have the one volume know and a simple 3 way switch (that the biggest plus for me). If lost or stolen I'd probably cry for the next 10 years (no just kidding), really I'd replace it with the MH-330FMFR because if I had realized that was only $50 dollars more I would had gotten that even though it does have a tone knob because of the better design and paint job. I had to wish for anything I have to say that they do better electrical work with their soldering. Overall I did get my moneys worth and even if I have to replace the pickups other than that this guitar is extremely playable and durable. Video from YouTube:
Reliability & Durability — 9
Other than the soldering job being questionable and the fine tuner being kind of hard to turn, the rest of the guitar is very sturdy and well designed. Useless I figure out what going on with the pickup I wouldn't gig with this guitar in it's current state, but if I fix the pickup problem or decide to go with an EMG set then this guitar would be gig worthy. It's nothing I be ashamed to play on stage, it looks sharp(especially with the Shark inlays). It's a little heavier than other guitars I've played, but so well balance that I couldn't see the extra weight being an issues. Yes, I would recommend a gig bag if you play out with this guitar, even though it's sturdy and has a hard wood it's9as well as any guitar you're gigging with) is not worth risking.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
As far as the set up goes the action was higher set than I would of like it to of been. That's something I can fix myself though. The neck was a little thicker than I thought it would be, but actually I was very surprised how comfortable it felt. It's a smooth maple neck with "NO" gloss finish on the back and that I love. Even though it's a tad thicker than what I'm used to I still don't mind because of the comfort of how my hand move around the fret board so no points taken off for that. The fret work is nearly flawless, I can't say it's 100% perfect, but for what I paid I'm very impressed. The Floyd Rose trem seems ok, it's responsive and stays in tune, the only gripe I have is the fine tuners are hard to move. Maybe after a little usage they'll break in a bit. For the most part the guitar looked great, but around the neck joint near the body it looked a little dirty, but nothing rubbing alcohol can't clean off. I checked out the inside compartment and I was kind of disappointed at the solder job they did, half the wires weren't tinned properly which would give me more of a reason to put in an EMG set. I do love the fact that rather than using a blade switch they used a Les Paul style pickup selector, easier to change pickups with that and the fact that it only has 1 volume knob, this keeps it real simple for me. I let my amp do the tone adjustment and I never use a tone know personally. I know some people like that option so this one may not be for you if that's the case.
Features — 9
This is an Indonesian made guitar. Mahogany body, thin maple neck, rosewood finger board, reverse head stock, Strat style body, bolt on neck with cut away plate for easy high fret access, 1 3 way switch and volume knob, Floyd Rose special double locking tremolo system (this is what I'd call an official licensed version since Floyd Rose designed it with the exception that the trem block is a little smaller and the other part aren't quite as good as a real one), 43mn locknut, 2 active ESP pickups designed from their passive version on the newer 100 series guitars and a simple black gloss paint and finish.