Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: Sam Ash
Sound — 9
This is a metal guitar. No Doubt. It sounds and plays excellently for heavy rhythms as well as fast solos, and the EMG-85 can even throw out some nice clean tones when you need it to. But if you don't play metal or hard rock, look elsewhere, because that is what this guitar is made for. I play it through a Line 6 Spider II 112 (75 watts). Not the best amp in the world, but I've plugged it into a few Marshall stacks at the store and it still sounded amazing. I also run it through an original Cry Baby. It gets some loud feedback with high distortion and volume if you aren't careful, but that is expected. It has a very full bodied sound. Picks up lows very well, but also picks up the highs just as well and everything in between. The only problem this guitar might have is sustain. It can't hold a note for too terribly long, but long enough for most people to be satisfied. It picks up harmonics very, very well.
Overall Impression — 9
This is one of the best metal guitars out there in it's price range without a tremolo. If you are an intermediate guitarist and don't mind lacking the ability to dive bomb, this is your guitar. It was between this and an Ibanez RG350, and the sound of the Viper blew the RG away. If this guitar were lost or stolen, I would buy a guitar with a Floyd, just because I want a Floyd. I would still buy something else anyway, because I like to try different things.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is a beast when it comes to durability. I've smashed this thing against brick walls, dropped it hard on a wood floor, and I can't even tell you how many times it's simply fallen off of it's stand, but it's still going strong. It holds it's tuning incredibly well and doesn't lose it's initial setup easily at all. It could be used at a gig without a backup, but I'm pretty brutal on stage, so I would bring one anyway. The finish just doesn't die. About 2 years and no visible scratches on the top or anything. It's got some buckle rash but that's about it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Mine was a floor model, so I played it before the store set it up for me. It seemed to be set up pretty well already, but it still needed some work, so I had them fine tune it. It really made a difference. The action is nice and low, just how I like it. The pickups are right in the perfect spot. No flaws in the finish or anywhere else.
Features — 9
This guitar has a rosewood fretboard with 24 extra jumbo frets. It's got a solid top mahogany body and a painted mahogany neck. It comes in either a solid or a burst finish, and the finish is quite nice. The body is a modified SG with a slight slant to it, but it seems to fit snuggly in any case that is designed to fit a normal SG. It has a TonePros tune-o-matic bridge with tail piece. Includes one volume knob, one tone knob, and a 3-way pickup switch. Dual humbuckers with an EMG-81 in the bridge and EMG-85 in the neck. It has very high quality Grover non-locking tuners. It doesn't come with any accessories.