Price paid: $ 300
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 8
I like to play ambient music, trashy rock, classic rock, country, and folk. This guitar does very well for these types of music, though it lacks a certain punch necessary for the trashier music. I play it through a 50-Watt Marshall and it sounds absolutely beautiful when played clean. The distortion leaves a bit to be desired - it lacks punch - but this guitar certainly sounds better than my cheaper guitars. This guitar is a bit noisy when the distortion is turned up, which can get annoying. The sounds though is fantastic when clear. It can range from a mellow bassy sound reminiscent of 60s soul music, to screaming distortion from early Led Zeppelin/Yardbirds, to good reggae sounds, and of course the classic twang. It is definitely on the brighter end of the spectrum though meaning it lacks the bassy wallop necessary for heavier songs. The sound, however, is immensely better than the sound of most other guitars that fall in the $300 price range.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing for four years. My other guitars are cheapos (Lotus Les Paul, Memphis Strat) and this one is miles away in terms of quality. I think of it mostly as a workman's guitar though. Were I to join a band, I would probably buy something else to play as soon as I got the money. This guitar is very dependable, however, and for very certain kinds of music (when twang is necessary), I think it would be tough to find anything better.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I don't play live so I don't know how this guitar would stand up to Live playing. I have, however, dropped it several times and knocked it over even more times and it has only one small ding on it. This leads me to believe it's pretty durable. The hardware seems quite simple and durable. The strap buttons are fairly good, though I would probably replace them with better ones were I to perform frequently. The finish is thick and dependable. Even in the place where I dented the guitar, the finish is still solid and uncracked.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The factory set-up is not particularly good. The guitar was quite difficult to play when I first got it though I've gotten used to it. The set-up is not horrendous but I do need to pay to get it fixed. I know basically nothing about pick-up adjustments, but I never hit the pick-ups with my pick, though that's probably a function of where I tend to do my picking. There is a major flaw on my guitar (I don't know if this is Fender's fault or Guitar Center's) which is that there is an area on the 17th fret that has been damaged and thus the strings won't sound when they touch it. The reps at Guitar Center blamed this on old strings (presumably because they thought I was an idiot) but this was extremely dishonest on their part. For the record, the Guitar Center in question is in Seven Corners in Falls Church, VA.
Features — 7
This Telecaster was made in 2006-2007 in Mexico. It has 21 frets. The neck is made of Ash and as far as I can tell so is the body. It has a black gloss finish with a white pickguard. It features a Standard Tele-style bridge and the rest of the features are Standard. I feel dumb complaining about this, but Fender should really try to include tonal controls for both pickups, if that's possible.