Price paid: $ 549
Purchased from: Ebay
Sound — 8
This is one of the most versatile guitars I've played. The bridge single coil can really squeal if you want it to, switching to the humbucker gives a really deep rich tone, then you can get virtually anything in between using the blend position. I've used this for everything from DC Hardcore through to jazz and it has a damn good go at all of them. I very rarely run it with any effects, just straight into my amp on clean though I do like a good thick ethereal reverb. The neck is lovely to play and you really feel every resonance running through it, just makes me want to use it more and more. My only fault is the poor wiring inside (as is the case with a good many manufacturers) making the instrument noisy out of the box (though no more than any other tele I've played). I have since shielded it completely inside, ditched the chrome pup cover (quieter without it and looks cooler) fitted a (switchable) pre amp to the bridge pickup (gives it a little more warmth when it's needed, plenty of space inside for active electronics too) and added the option of series pickups, though I don't usually bother with this, it's mainly just to Drive wah pedals a bit harder. Since shielding it, I have recorded with it many times, often exclusively- there's nothing like the sound of two of them playing against each other across the channels. Personally I'd rate it 10 for sound, the pickups sound fantastic but I understand not everyone wants to pull their instrument apart to shield it so I knocked a couple off.
Overall Impression — 10
I like to keep my guitar collection to a minimum as I prefer to play them all as much as possible. I know as soon as I've found a keeper and this is most definitely one of those. As to whether I'd buy it again, yes, assuming the replacement plays as well, looking at other reviews it seems the QC is generally very good as I haven't seen many bad words said.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The pickup selector has died on me since I had it, it is one of the odd ones with long Switch plates and the solder connectors out to the side, I didn't fancy paying the premium for one so I used a rotary Tool to sand enough of the body away to fit a standard vertical type. The cavity is still covered by the scratch plate so I don't know why they don't use these from the start as they are much cheaper. Other than that, there isn't too much to go wrong really. Mine has taken a number of hits, the 'e' tuner has been bashed around again and again, it is bent but still works fine. As for playing wear, I've played it every day since I've had it, very little damage and what there is would have damaged any guitar (e.g. I kicked a coffee mug off the desk and naturally, the corner of the mug landed right on the edge of the guitar, going right down to the wood). Once you're over the first ding, the rest don't seem so bad and if you want to keep it perfect, don't gig it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
It took me a while to get the action just right on this. I play with flat wound strings, so the heavier gauge meant I had to do a full setup anyway, but the action was unnecessarily high when I got it. The neck bow (truss) and pickups were fine though. The Vintage type saddles are a bit annoying, running two strings across one means it can be a real fiddle to get the intonation just right and the grub screws to adjust the saddle height can be pretty vicious, I've cut my hand on more than one occasion. I have thought about fitting modern saddles but to be honest it isn't that big a deal. Despite the little problems, the guitar really is worth your time to get right, when it's spot on, it virtually plays itself and holds it's tuning very well. Again, I'd give it 10 for the end result but it looses a mark for all the time I've spent on it.
Features — 10
Mine is a Mex, lovely maple neck which has gone a nice shade of yellow since I've had it (4/5 years now), Tobacco sunburst Alder body which has also aged really nicely- the colours really show well. I think everything else has been covered. It didn't come with anything, though I got a hardcase at the same time for obvious reasons.