Sound — 8
The combination of the DiMarzio humbuckers and the interesting wiring schematic gives this a wholly unique sound. There isn't another Fender that can do anything quite like it. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on the player. It sure doesn't have a 'Fender' sound to it but that may be part of the attraction for some. I'd say the DiMarzio's give it a little more sustain than the company's usual signature guitars and it's versatile enough where you can push some different types of distortion besides the grunge factor. Check out the video for sound examples.
Overall Impression — 8
I've never been the biggest fan of paying up to have a guitar look like it's been beat up. It seems like cheating, and believe me I've never had any problems when it comes to systematically ruining the finish on a guitar. However, this being a 'tribute' and not just a run-of-the-mill Road-Worn, there's a little more to it. Rightfully so, a lot of people will balk at the price-tag for a Mexican-produced guitar (especially when the country of origin is possibly the only inaccuracy from the original), but after picking it up and playing it, it feels like it's priced about right. Philosophically, you may or may not have an issue with Fender making a few bucks off a dead rock star who almost certainly would not have enthusiastically endorsed such a product, but I think they did a pretty tasteful job. Or at least slightly more tasteful than say... I don't know... Publishing his diary or something.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The best thing about having a relic-ed guitar is that you don't really need to worry too much about dinging it up. It feels very sturdy and the quality of the components is obvious. The Fender textured vinyl hardshell case is one of the best in the business so you can gig it with confidence.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I'm a little conflicted about grading a relic guitar's finish because it's, obviously, supposed to look like it's in pretty rough shape. It's not as if Fender is new to this kind of thing (see the Road-Worn series) but what they did with this model is particularly impressive. You can tell that a tremendous amount of detail was given to every aspect of the build, they even jammed dirt into the grooves of the pickup screws. Despite everything they've done to make the guitar look completely beat up, it still plays and feels like a new guitar. Part of this effect I attribute to the fact that the neck has a super bright, white binding. Still, as far as mass-produced relic jobs go, it's the best one I've seen.
Playability-wise, it's exactly what we've all come to expect from any Mexican-made Fender, which is 'pretty-good-not-great'. The dings on the back of the neck do nothing to slow it down. I'm still giving it a 9 just because the relic is that good.
Features — 8
Due to it being a tribute guitar, there are quite a few nice features. There's the Road-Worn aged finish and hardware treatment, which we'll get to in a minute, it has a Strat headstock, a very unique pickup wiring configuration (see the video), a really nice black textured vinyl hardshell case, and an exclusive book featuring photography by Charles Peterson and an exclusive interview with Nirvana's guitar tech. You also have the option of going with a lefty model, which is the only Jag Fender currently offers in that orientation. Sadly though, these features come at a price, which is $1299 retail, and almost $1900 list. For a Mexican-made guitar, that's kind of outrageous.