Price paid: $ 812.52
Sound — 9
I mostly play heavy metal (Iron Maiden, Pantera, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold), but I also dabble in the likes of Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Pink Floyd, and such. The Freshman caters for all of these easily. I play it on a Line6 Spider II 112 75 watt amplifier, and while the amp is more suited to heavy metal, I can get more than reasonable clean sounds out of it. There is very little noise from the guitar, especially compared to my old ones.
Overall Impression — 9
Playing heavy metal, a Freshman guitar, considering they're renowned for acoustics, might have seemed an odd choice (Santana plays a similar one to mine, and his style is definitely not metal). But it doesn't matter; this guitar is the best I've ever played, and, for 444 quid (about $888) it's the bargain of a lifetime, even though that's its recommended retail price. I have recently seen one online for about 320, so for anyone looking for an affordable (but not 'affordable' as in crap) new guitar to suit any style, get this. It rules. If it were stolen, I'd have to steal it back or take it by force, because I don't actually know any stores that sell it (I'm not sure about the online thing). Then, for good measure, I'd give the guitar back to the theif, because everyone deserves to play it. But then I'd kill them 'cause he/she stole my guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The guitar's got a nice weight to it; not too much so that your shoulder or back aches when playing standing up, but not so light that you feel like you're playing something cheap. It's the kind of weight that you take notice of because of the amazing sound you get out of it, you'd think it was a little more cumbersome. It's hard to explain. Such is the irony of writing a review. I haven't played live with it yet, but I would definitely use this guitar in a gig without a backup, simply because if the guitar failed on me, it would be divine intervention, I was never meant to play that gig (basically, it's pretty damn solid). The finish looks like it's going to last for quite some time.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar, aesthetically, is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I recently wrote a poem about it, but using metaphors to make it seem like a woman. This guitar is more beautiful than any woman. From the wonderfully shaped headstock to the slim sapphire of the body, it is, quite simply, a sight to behold. The icing on a truly delicious cake is that, instead of regular fret markers, there are shiny silvery swallows. All of the elements of the look of he guitar really add to the experience.
Features — 9
The Freshman FEP-BL is no more than a couple of years old; I think it was first manufactured in 2006. Freshman produce their guitars in China under the rigorous examination and supervision of Scottish employees (they are based in Scotland with their main factory in China, apparently). It has 24 very easily played frets, with very little pressure required to get a clean sound, and chords and single notes are as easily performed as you'll ever feel on a guitar, especially for this price. I have owned a Squier Showmaster and a Les Paul Special II Custom, the latter of which was superb; the Freshman outstrips it in every department. It has a sapphire blue mahogany body and maple arch top, one tuning control, one volume control, a three-way pickup Switch and two truly awesome humbuckers. I'm not 100% on the exact model of the pickups, but they are certainly magnificent, with quality sound produced wherever you play a note.