Sound — 8
As you can well assume, this guitar is perfect for playing blues! But this is no one trick pony. It is a Strat, after all. My style ranges across the board from blues to country to cleans to even a little metal. I plug the axe into a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III (40 watts) running through a Fulltone OCD. The guitar was a little bit noisy and was prone to random radio signals at times. The signals weren't loud (they could easily be drowned out while playing), but when the song ended or got quiet, it was a bit of a nuisance. I later resolved this issue by installing Lace Sensors, but the stock pickups gave that characteristic Fender sound. "Round" would be the word I'd use.
Overall Impression — 9
Like I said before, I play anything from blues to metal and this axe will cover it pretty well, though it isn't really the best for metal. If you're interested in playing blues or even some alternate rock, I would highly recommend the guitar. I currently own one other electric: a Fender Jaguar. As far as experience goes, I've been playing for a bit over 5 years and have played quite a few guitars from Gibsons to Schecters to American Fenders, and I have to say, for the price, this is quite the guitar. Reliable, sounds amazing, and is a classic. Do I have regrets trading for this guitar or would I have traded for something else? I would have to say no. As far as a replacement if it were lost or stolen, I would probably look for another Strat. I love this guitar as I love my arm or hand. The sounds I can get through it are so diverse, it fits any mood I'm in. The only complaints that I have about this guitar are that the tuners weren't the best and the strap buttons were a tad small. Other than that, it fits the bill to what I need perfectly. As far as any additions, I have already made the fix to what I needed. Lace Sensors (to kill the hum/radio signals), locking tuners (more solid tuning), and strap locks (so I don't end up trying to catch my guitar).
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar will withstand most whatever you can throw at it. My friend's little brother was a twister of disaster and the axe stood up against it with outstanding results. As far as real world trials, I played this thing live almost every Wednesday night for 2-3 years. It has never failed me. The hardware seems solid enough for another 40 years, though the stock tuners were prone to slipping when it came to extreme bends. The strap buttons were a bit small for my strap and was prone to slipping off every now and again, but it wasn't a great deal of stress. Getting to paint; the stuff will last. I grew up in a low income house and didn't have a job of my own until a year or so after I had the Strat (So no polish). Aside from a few scratched from belt burn and a really stupid mistake with a washcloth, the finish is flawless. Would I play without a backup? Common sense dictates to always come prepared, but if I had no choice, I would be confident in playing show after show with this thing, though I have swapped the strap buttons for locks.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
As I've stated earlier, I got this guitar third hand from a friend who got it from his little brother, so I am unaware of the factory set up. Despite that fact, the guitar was in pitch, there was no fret buzz, and no nicks (other than those caused from the little brother). I later had the guitar properly set up and it played like butter, though it wasn't much of a difference to what it was before. I did notice that the G string sometimes pulled out of tune when I did extreme bends, but I again resolved this with locking tuners. Using the tremolo doesn't throw the entire guitar out of tune, either, if set up properly.
Features — 8
I got this guitar from a clueless friend a few years back for a little WI14 Washburn I had. It was made in Mexico around 2001 to the normal Stratocaster specs; 25.5 scale, 21 fret maple neck/fret board. It has a non-locking tremolo and 3 single coil pickups all fixated onto an alder body that has been colored in a one-off color (a dark metallic red, almost maroon). To control the aforementioned pickups are 3 knobs; a volume and two tone. The first tone controls the neck and Bridge pup while the second controls the bridge. All of the hardware was quite solid and held up well against my friend's little brother, the one who first owned it.