Price paid: $ 650
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
This may be the best part of this guitar. The Tex-Mex pickups are amazing, they're the reason I bought this guitar. I love having the tone on the bridge instead of the middle. The hot bridge is very nice and doesn't really cause a volume issue with the other pickups. I'm using a Hot Rod Deluxe with a DS-1 and a Slash Wah. I think this guitar sounds infinitely better than the Standard American and American Vintage pickups, and maybe just the tiniest bit less the American Texas Specials. This thing has pure Strat tone, you can do any Stray tone perfectly with this thing. I play mostly rock, and this guitar is perfectly suited. I also dabble in metal and for my money this holds up well, but probably shouldn't be a metalheads first choice. With the three single-coils and the five-way selector you have infinite tone possibilities.
Overall Impression — 10
I play mainly rock and blues and some metal, this guitar is perfect. I've been playing for about 3 years and I absolutely fell in love with this guitar the first time I played it. I had been searching for a replacement for my Squier and tried many guitars, which all disappointed, except for this one. If it was lost, I be very upset, but I'd save up for an Eric Johnson Strat. I love the pickups and the neck, but the tuners fell short. Overall, a great buy, maybe a bit too much for a first guitar, but a great buy for number two or anyone looking to add a guitar that plays like twice it's price.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This is a Fender, thus durability ensues. I have had only one issue with this guitar, and that was a damaged middle pickup when I swapped out the pickguard. I took it to a shop and got her fixed for about 30 bucks. I drop it and beat up quite a bit, yet the guitar seems fine and I've had no issues since. The finish seems durable. I'd play Live with the puppy with no back up and no fear. It came with strap locks so no issue there. Overall, superb Fender craftsmanship.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This is where this guitar falters slightly. The fretwork, neck, bridge, and nut were flawless and well setup, but I had some issues with the Vintage tuners. Not only was replacing strings difficult, but I seemed to be having tuning issues. I replaced them with lockers and have had no problems since. This guitar can with a crappy 1-ply pickguard so I replaced it with a fancy silver pearled 5-ply deal making it infinitely nicer. The tremolo is wonderful and doesn't cause too much tuning hassle, it's no floyd-rose but by no means is it a lemon either. The color (black) and the finish are superb, and I love how the neck doesn't have that dead bleached look that many other Mexican and even some cheaper American maple necks have, it is a very healthy blonde and a dream to play on. It was adjusted slightly high from the factory, but I prefer it like this so it was perfect. Also, it's soft V shape is fairly meaty and which I instantly loved, although others may not like this. Other than the lousy tuners and the crappy pickguard this would be a 10.
Features — 8
This guitar plays like an American Strat for half the price and all the tone. Soft "V" 9.5" radius maple neck, Mexican Texas Special "Tex-Mex" pickups, hot bridge pickup, American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo, Vintage style "slotted" tuners, and complete with Jimmie Vaughan signature on back of headstock. Wide open middle pickup, 2 tone one for bridge one for neck, single volume control. Basically everything I could ask for.