Price paid: $ 900
Purchased from: Swee Lee Singapore
Sound — 10
My taste goes towards blues and "classic" rock but I was an absolute beginner when I bought it. I couldn't play a single chord. So I went around in stores and just picked single notes on the guitars on display. I never thought I'd spend more than $200 on my beginner's guitar but the tone on this model was just beautiful. And I could not resist buying it. It really had the purest tone of dozens I must have tried. Oddly another same series model in a different store did not sound nearly as nice as the one I bought so both the string condition and individual variation must play a big part here. I have now used it daily for six months with a home built amp, mostly w/o distortion. There is some minor noise in single coil position but it is not a real issue. The sound is incredibly mellow overall but of course on the bridge pickup it is much sharper. All five pickup positions yield a different sound. The middle position is close to jazz/acoustic ideal balance for me.
Overall Impression — 10
I start learning songs now, of the bluesy / singer-songwriter kind. It works very well for this and it has a jazzy tone to it where I can see this will work very well for intricate picking work (should I ever become capable of that - remember, only 6 mo of experience here). I haven't tried effects with it, the "plain vanilla" distortion of my amp doesn't suit it too well but some amp simulators from the PC sound card kind do work well with it. If lost or stolen I would buy the same, but I would choose carefully amongst individual bodies of the same kind. Actually I'd be very sad because mine has a unique tone compared to what I have compared it to when I bought it and that includes the US built models. You'd have to pay several thousands more to get a similar tone. The only one on par in the Fender range for this kind of pure tone I tried was a 2.5 k model, also ash but US made. I tried the various usual suspects, I did not like the weight and feel of the Gibson/Epiphone models, the tone of the affordable Ibanez, and in the Fender range many of the lower end models to me just sounded thin. On the upper end of course you'll always find something special but within some kind of reasonable budget this guitar seems to be a real steal.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I am still a beginner and I only play at home. But it all seems very solidly made. The finish is very thick, sort of a glassy appearance. No reason to believe it wouldn't last. No scratchy sounds from the pots, no mechanical sounds either. It does not seem to go out of tune easily either. If I make it to a gig one day for sure this is what I would bring.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Setup from the factory / store was great for me except for the pickups. I did have to adjust them quite some to bring them in line with Fender specs and the sound improved even more. I have not changed anything else in six months save for 10 gauge strings. I play it about an hour a day. It is much easier to play than my son's small Squier. Finish still looks great as it did from the start. I am really picky in woodworking but I could not see any real flaws. The wood grain is not absolutely select-grade on the body if one wanted to nitpick but I bought it for the tone anyway. And unless you have an eye for this and look closely you won't notice. The bird's eye neck is stunning and the finish super smooth, the thumb glides easily. Action was ok and I did not touch it.
Features — 10
This is a Korean model bought in 2012, year built unknown. I won't repeat the other reviewers' description save for, light yellow body, Seymour Duncan pickups, satin finish on neck and glossy body with black scratch guard. The only accessory I got with it was the tremolo arm, a bare chrome plated rod. The guitar looks stunningly beautiful and not far off some much more expensive US made models with nitro lacquer. What I did not like so much is that the scratchguard came with a protective plastic sheet that was very tricky to edge out of every nook and cranny of the controls where it got wedged in during production.