Price paid: $ 686.7
Purchased from: Key Music, Brussels
Sound — 8
Since I can barely be considered a beginner (yes I'm that crappy) for now I'm trying out a large variety of styles. I'm planning to hit something of a mixture between blues, grunge and psychedelic later on, so the Strat will be pretty good for later too with a few modifications. So far I'm using a Laney HCM30, a monster of an amp for its size. I can practically get anything with it except for that echoing Gilmour sound or really heavy distortion. Noise is pretty bright, especially when using the bridge pickup which'll practically give you something of a shrill sound. So for now I'm using the woman tone mostly, neck pickup, with tone settings maxed out. Like any other guitar, when using proper equipment the sound can kickass, so the fact that the guitar quality may not be as good as its biger American Strat brother, its still pretty good, and damned cheaper! So I'll give it an 8.
Overall Impression — 8
Well, I love the instrument to bits. Its the very model I wanted. So far everyone's been giving me compliments on how pretty it looks, except for a couple of people who don't like sunburst coloured guitars. I took pretty long considering what guitar to get, so by the time I bought this I was pretty sure of what I was going to buy. Considering I saved lm60 (thats about J140) buying it from belgium instead of Malta thats already something. The only thing I hate is that I'm not yet a good enough guitar player to get the most out of it. If I lost it, I'd actually think twice before buying the same thing again. Not because I don't like the guitar, but its good to try other axes.
Reliability & Durability — 8
So far I've already given it a few bumps, dropped it, carried it around, and taken it through about 4 countries in 3 months. It's still in one piece, still plays, and doesn't have a scratch. It's solid, damned solid I should say. More than solid enough to withstand live playing for small crowds I'm planning for eventually. Wouldn't play it with backup for the following reasons: I'm broke, it's very hard to find lefties in my country, it'll definitely remain in one piece. Strap buttons so far have held. But I'm not gonna risk anything and I'll get meself a strap lock soon enough. It's too early to make any real conclusions about the finish. I live in a very humid country (it's an island, you'd expect that). Humidity is a huge problem, the weather plays havoc with the string tuning and all so I doubt that over the years the axe will remain as good as new, although I have no doubt that overall it should remain the sight it is now.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Well I'm not a guitar expert, not yet at least, but I've had it checked over by more experienced people and they never said that anything was wrong with it. Essentially, the instrument works, everything fits well, and nothing has fallen apart yet. The only thing I gotta grumble about is the lower fretboard. The person who set this thing up obviously didn't have an eye for detail or was probably too hurried to bother. But the finish there is pretty weak. Other than that a few minor rough edges here and there. Other than that I'm pretty much satisfied with it. Giving it a 7, although a 7.5 would be more suitable.
Features — 8
Well, I bought this in July 2005 while on holiday in Belgium, so I'd presume it's a 2005 model (unless it'd been kept there for ages). And more importantly, its a lefty, the only decent lefty I found in all brussels. Made in Mexico of course. Rosewood fingerboard with 21 Vintage style frets. Maple neck with a C-shape and an alder body with a beautiful finish, that's supposedly brown sunburst but looks much more like a three tone compared to other brown sunbursts I've looked at. White pickguard. It's got a Vintage Style Synchronized Tremolo, one volume and two tone controls, and a 5-way pickup selector. Strings are still the factory super bullets (.009 to .042) which I plan to change to 0.010 guage as soon as my playing picks up a little more. Pickup configuration is S-S-S. 3 Standard single-coil Strat pickups with ceramic magnets and the hardware's all chrome. All I got was a pretty beefed up gig bag with it and a bunch of picks.