Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
I usually play alternative/pop/punk rock (a lot of U2 and Muse, some Franz Ferdinand) with the occasional metal indulgence (Metallica), and I usually use Line 6/Vox amps. The guitar really isn't a feedback machine like a lot of Fenders, if you're really going for the heavy stuff, it's not going to screech at you the second you kick in distortion (like the usual, run-of-the-mill Strat or Tele). It does still sound pretty typically Fender in the lead circuit, so the more intense metal-heads will probably want to change out the pickups or stick with the rhythm circuit.This Jag can pull off some pretty mean, gritty sounds in the rhythm circuit and it really wails in the lead circuit, so you can go for the dark, background kind of bassy verse/chorus stuff and then kick in the lead circuit for your crazy-ass solos. The versatility of this guitar is really one of the coolest things about it. You can cut between Gibson-style and Strat-style sounds with the flick of a switch.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing guitar for a good three years. I've got an '88 American Standard Stratocaster and a "rat-rod" Telecaster that we built in addition to this guitar, but I reach for this one first every time. I was torn between this Jaguar and the U.S. '62 Reissue, but this one finally won out because of the humbuckers, the killer looks, and the price! It's a lighter, maybe slightly less quality version of the '62 for half the price, and minus all of the '62's problematic features.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The pickguard, with it's mirror-like finish, is really prone to little cosmetic scratches. You certainly won't be putting any horrific dings in this thing if you treat it pretty nicely, but I can see the little scratches from my pick when I look at the guitar in direct light. I've pretty harshly (and accidentally) bumped my Jaguar into a chair or two and the occasional cabinet/desk (I know, I'm just terrible) and the thing still looks just about like new, so the body finish is pretty durable. Also, in light of the very mirror-like finish of the black and the chrome hardware, it's prone to getting very finger-printy and dirty looking without some upkeep. Those very minor cosmetic flaws aside, the biggest problem (and by that I mean the only problem) I've ever had playing Live with this thing is that sometimes, if you're not careful, your hand can bump the pickup switches when you're playing in lead circuit, which will turn off the pickups, which means that your guitar will, embarrassingly, stop making noise. I've done this twice so far, and it's primarily because my left arm just really gets moving when I'm plowing away in the chorus of the song. Just keep your picking hand towards the bridge (or under control) and this guitar will never lead you astray on stage. I did change out the strap buttons for locking ones, but that's just personal preference.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar required absolutely no work out of the factory. I literally plugged it in and jammed away (well, to be fair, I did tune it first). My dad, Who has been playing guitar for fifteen or twenty years, Who was very skeptical about the quality of a Japanese guitar that was "messing with a classic design," was very impressed by the out-of-the-factory quality. The whole thing was really pretty picture perfect from the get-go. It is at least on par with my American-made Stratocaster, maybe a little better.