Price paid: $ 695.4
Purchased from: Coda Music
Sound — 9
Seems so far to be quite versatile. I play mostly light rock, a bit of country, and this guitar puts out a good sound for that kind of thing. The pickups wouldn't suit anything much heavier (too bright and twangy, and a fair background hum), but humbuckers can easily be bought to fit Tele's these days! I usually use a Fender Champ amp, mainly for the unbeatable clean channel. It sounds amazing, though that could just be the amp talking. Don't use distortion much, but it sounds ok distorted (again, the pickups dont suit too well). So for my kind of music, this is gettin a 9.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is a great mid-range guitar. Playability-wise, it's no worse than some of Fender's more expensive range, and I personally prefer the SD Alnico pickups to Fender's Vintage ones, so I would probably pick this over an American/Deluxe model - it's a lot of guitar for the asking price (officially 400). I would reiterate here that the pickups really aren't for those with rock in their soul, they are (as the SD website says) specially favoured by and designed for country/blues/alt rock music. However, it could easily support a humbucker at the bridge, and (if the single line was kept at the neck or vice-versa) would make a very versatile guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 8
So far, this guitar seems well up to continuos play: it seems to stay in tune for at least 6 hours regedless of what I do to it, i.e. playing heavy power chords, leaning it up against the wall (putting pressure on the tuners). It just doesn't seem to go out of tune. So far I've had no hardware problems, except that the cover on teh neck pickup is slightly off-level and the tiniest bit wobbly but it hasn't affected the sound, and it's not gonna fall off (its screwed on under the pickguard, I think). The finish is fine, and is thick enough to wear. The pickguard extends both sides of the strings anyway, so it'd be difficult to scrath the body whilst playing anyway.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar came out of the box nearly perfect. It was in tune, and the intonation was spot on. The action on the bass E string was a little low and twangy, but with the fully adjustable bridge it was the work of but a moment to raise it a little, and it stayed intoned afterwards (don't know how). There were absolutely no cosmetic flaws: all the inlays were right, all the frets perfect etc.
Features — 9
A nice little guitar: not sure what the year of production is, but the line has only been out a few years (so its not too old). 22 jumbo frets, bullseye maple neck/fingerboard with funky abalone inlays (they look like marble/pearl). Perfect smooth black finish, no blemishes or smears etc. Neck and fingerboard are fault-free. The body itself (as the name suggests) is made of lightweight Ash, so this guitar weighs in at only 3kg, which makes it much more comfortable. The pickups are Seymour Duncan Alnico-2 Pro's, in standard Tele setup, with 1 volume, 1 tone and 3-way pickup selector. The bridge is a standard tele 3-saddle brass bridge. Not the best, but fully adjustable!