Price paid: $ 999
Sound — 8
I play everything from Jazz to Blues to Rock and a bit of Metal, so I was in need of a versatile instrument, and I must say: this guitar fulfills that job pretty well. Using the S-1, I'm able to get a far warmer, thicker tone on the neck pickup by combining it with middle in series instead of parallel (or maybe vice versa, I'm not sure), and though it doesn't quite achieve a humbucker tone, it gets close enough to give me my own unique sound. The Tex-Mex pickups are decent and can achieve a nice thick blues tone, though they're not quite as rich as the more up scale version of them (the Texas Specials). The humbucker, however, is pretty tinny and mid-rangy / trebly, and noticeably lacking in bass; not a very smooth sound. The S-1 switching allows a huge a variety of different pickup combinations, giving me a nice range of sounds to choose from in the many different styles which I play, making it a very valuable addition to the guitar.
Overall Impression — 9
All in all, this guitar is immensely versatile and sounds great in many styles. It plays great and feels great, but could do with some upgrades in regards to the pickups. Because of this I might recommend the extra few hundred dollars for the Deluxe version, but if you'd rather not this guitar is a great choice for someone looking for an all around great guitar that holds its own in many different musical situations. Its my go-to guitar: durable, reliable, versatile, highly playable, well built and great sounding.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Very solid, and very durable, though I have had to get the tremolo slot threads tapped out. Besides that, it's been banged around a decent bit and has held up fine.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The finish looks beautiful, the action was a little high (I adjusted it a bit lower as is my preference), and the intonation was fine. Really no big flaws in its setup.
Features — 8
The guitar came with Tex-Mex pickups, a "Diamondback" humbucker of which I've been unable to find any information on, rosewood fretboard, maple neck, the S-1 switching system, and an Ash body (it was the Sierra Sunburst finish). The S-1 is actually a great addition to the guitar so I'm glad I bought the guitar before Fender stripped the guitar of this feature (along with hiking the price!); it expands the pickup configuration of the guitar greatly, allowing for greater variety in tone. I bought this a couple years ago (2007, maybe 2008) so the features differ slightly from the current (2009) version in that the S-1, as I said, is missing, the saddles are the cast type as opposed to the bent, and the block is made of a slightly different material.