Price paid: $ 150
Purchased from: Best Buy
Sound — 7
This guitar was great for me when I was just starting out, but as I developed a taste for heavy rock and metal, I realized that the single-coil pickups were way too low of output, and too bright. It does, however, do classic clean strat-tone wonderfully, if that's your thing. When plugged into distortion, the 60-cycle hum is quite annoying. To remedy this, I replaced the Bridge pickup with an off-brand rail humbucker. That improved the note-definition, harmonics, and distortion. This guitar is pretty decent tone-wise, now that I've done some work on it.
Overall Impression — 7
I play mostly heavier rock, with some metal, and a lot of lighter rock as well. While this guitar is no metal axe, it holds its own alright when playing metal (with my aftermarket pickup). It really shines on clean tones, though, and I think that a lot of beginning guitarists will find that it's a good match for them. I've been playing for around 4 years, and all but one of those were with this strat. I play it through a Fender FM 65 DSP 1x12 amp combo, with a DigiTech Grunge Distortion pedal and Dunlop GCB-95 Crybaby Wah. If I would have known that the amp was going to give up after a year, and I had known what I know about gutiars now, I might not have bought a pack. Other than that, no regrets. If it were stolen, I might have to track the guy down and injure him (severely) just because this guitar has a lot of sentimental value. After that, I would invest my money in a nice Schecter or Jackson axe. I've compared sound quality and playability with several Squires, and some Epi LPs. This one gives you the most bang for your buck, because you get about the same quality (if not better) as a Squire while costing a fraction of the price.
Reliability & Durability — 6
I think that it would withstand live playing fine, because it's withstood me carrying it to school everyday, and stuff like that. I would play it live, but I hope to have a new and better guitar by the time I play live too much. Good solid strap buttons, they haven't come loose or anything. I would obviously rather put some straplocks on it, though. I would play it live without a backup. I haven't had any catastrophic problems with it, and I don't think I ever will. The finish is pretty thin. I compared the finish around the scratches with those of a friend's Jackson, and his finish is easily twice as thick. I've scratched it off in several places, even though I've never dropped it badly or anything like that. I'm not very impressed with the finish at all.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The factory set-up was alright, considering that I was only a beginning guitarist when I got it. i later changed the strings out for my customary skinny top, heavy bottom strings, and at that time re-set it up. It now has a good, low action. I also adjusted the pickups to my liking, but there wasn't anything to really complain about with them, either. I've gone over this guitar's electronics extensively, and found no flaws or sloppy soldering joints. i've also gone over the tremelo, and found nothing wrong with it, either. Overall, the guitar is pretty well put together.
Features — 8
This guitar was made around 2006-07 in China. Yes, China. It has: 21 frets Solid-top basswood body Maple neck and rosewood fretboard. Gloss polyester finish. Stratocaster body Tremelo bridge 3 cheap passive single-coil pickups 1 Volume control, 2 Tone Controls, 5-way Selector Cheap, Non-Locking tuners This was a kit, so it came with the basic picks, strap, and gigbag. It also came with a Fender SP-10 amp, which lasted me just over a year before completely dying. Not Impressed with the amp.