Price paid: $ 835
Purchased from: EBAY
Sound — 10
I play anything from '50s rock to current hard rock through a '65 Reissue Dlx Reverb, and although it fits the earlier stuff (and probably C&W music) to a T, it doesn't really get the heavier modern vibe, even through effects. The Vintage wiring (3-position Switch: bridge p/up w/tone control, neck w/tone control, and neck w/no tone control) didn't do much for me, so I modernized it. It's pretty quiet on all settings for single-coil pickups, but intend to shield it anyway. It sounds like a Tele. Twangy, bright, bluesy. Sound rated 4 before the upgrade.
Overall Impression — 10
Been playing on and off for about 20 years, and although it fits a lot of what I play, it's lack of versatility (two pickups) kind of forces more than one guitar. I also have a Strat and a Jackson. I really like the Tele and would probably get another one, but if it's your first guitar, remember that it's a reissue with accurate '50s-style features. I highly recommend trying out as many other guitars as you can get your hands on before committing to it.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Does withstand live playing, albeit with quite a bit of buckle-rash. Hardware seems built to last. Very dependable, w/the exception of some mid-song grabs at the tuners. The nitro finish is thinner and more susceptible to collateral damage than poly, but is very cool. Retro. The finish feels comfortable to the touch on the neck.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Terrible setup (what're you thinking, Fender?) With a 7-1/4" radius, you're going to be stuck with a relatively high action in order to get string-bending without "fretting out", but the initial action was ridiculously high. Not very crazy about Fender's Vintage tuning pegs. Adjustable-tension pegs would be a good upgrade. No real flaws, though.
Features — 10
Made in 1999, USA. 21 Vintage (thin) frets, tinted maple neck w/7-1/4" (relatively high arch) radius fingerboard. Ash body w/butterscotch nitro finish. Came w/brass-barrel saddle style bridge as well as six-saddle bridge, but haven't seen any reason to change. Tweed case, strap, cord, etc. Also came w/capacitor and wiring diagram to upgrade stock Vintage wiring to modern configuration, Regular Fender/Gotoh tuners.