Price paid: $ 520
Purchased from: Music Go Round
Sound — 8
Don't let most of the other people fool you, the play of this guitar is great. The neck pickup is pretty good, giving a nice full sound (kind of suprised me coming from a single), but the humbucker is merely pleh. The single actually generates more sound than the humbucker. I'm planning on replacing the stock humbucker with a Dimarzio Evolution DP158 or 159, so it's not really a big deal. The phase really only generates a lower tone unless you phase both pickups, which gets you twangier, lower sound. It suits my music style amazingly well (mixture of grunge, alternative, punk, blues, ect) and never really fails to dissapoint. I play it through an old 12" tube amp (the only brand name I could find is REX, but it's made of wood if that gives any clue to the age) with a Dunlop Original Crybaby wah as my only effect. Sounds great, but I'm knocking it down to an 8 because of the weak stock humbucker.
Overall Impression — 10
As I've said, I play a varied amount of chunky music with rock or bluesy time influences and this guitar is a great match. I've been playing for one and a half to two years, depending on whenever I decided to play seriously, and this is probably the most expensive musical piece of equipment I've bought. It easily beats the Epi Les Pauls and Strats that I've played from other people in my opinion. Great guitar for it's price range. I just hate how Fender decided to put cheap, crappy electronics in to imitate the great ones Cobain had in the original, a Texas Special Single and a Dimarzio H3 but I love the shape and sound this thing creates. The 24" scale neck takes a little getting used to, but the 14-22 fret range is very playable. Early on I compared this to the Jackson DKMG (or DXMG, whichever is around $500), the Epiphone standard Les Paul, the Standard and Highway One Strats, the Fender Cyclone, and the Fender reissue '69 Mustang. If I hadn't found one of these I probably would have gone with the Mustang or the Cyclone. And no, I'm not a Kurt Cobain fanatic, I just like the guitars. I chose this because it has a single and a humbucker instead of the Strat's 3 singles and the paul's 2 humbuckers, the shape and color were both very cool and different, the 24" scale, and the switches as opposed to the selector stick thing. If it were lost I'd find it, and if it were stolen I'd create an elaborate and overly dramatic scheme to behead whoever decided to make off with it.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar will definitely withstand live playing. Don't let anybody tell you differently. Over a long period of time you may have to replace the selector switches, but that's just because plastic will eventually wear down. Same thing happens with a car's standard gearbox. Wears down over time. The strap buttons are nice and solid, though I know that a lot of people will never trust buttons. I can depend on it... never had the trouble with the vibrato throwing the guitar out of tune like a lot of people apparently have. And yes, I do use it. Nothing can go completely wrong with a guitar or two to back you up, so I'd take a backup to any larger gig just because. The finish is pretty good, though basswood is generally easy to dent.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I have absolutely no idea how well the guitar was set up originally, but the action is ok on mine. I'd like to lower it, but all of my guitars before this one had Tune-O-Matic bridges, so I never learned how to lower the action on one of these. Eh, it's not too bad anyway. I expected to have a beat up guitar on my hands seeing as how it was made almost 10 years ago, so I was prepared for large dents 'n such. But a few dents and only one real scratch was all that was wrong. The pickup selectors are still holding up, everything was routed pretty well, the input wasn't loose at all, and everything seems fine. I especially like the way that the bridge saddles are rounded instead of cut... it saves a lot of strings in the long run. The e string will occasionaly slip out, but it's only happened to me once when I plucked the string close to the bridge. It'd probably happen on the Tune-O-Matics too though.
Features — 9
I bought a used 1996 Sonic Blue Jag-Stang. Apparently this was Fender's 50th anniversary, if that counts as anything. Basswood with a 22 fret rosewood neck, floating bridge with a "dynamic" vibrato, "special" Fender pickups (1 single at the neck and a humbucker at the bridge) with an on/off/phase slider, volume, and tone controls. I got it with a gig bag, but I don't think it's the one that originally came with the guitar. It's a bit beat up, and the funbar's missing, but neither really makes much of a difference in the long run. Dents give character anyway.