Price paid: $ 600
Sound — 10
This guitars tone is suited to all forms of rock, but the shape is metal! The mahogony body gives an excelent metal tone. I use this guitar with a whammy IV, a generic wah, and a Boss MT-2 metal zone to a Marshall MG250DFX. It gives easy pinch harmonics and the natural harmnics are easy to get. I can get my guitar to sound anywhere from until it sleeps and nothing else matters clean to testament, early Metallica, and pantera crunch to randy rhoads/judas priest high gain tones using my amps distortion and the metal zone.
Overall Impression — 10
I play metal/thrash and this is the perfect guitar for the job. I have been playing for 2 1/2 years but most people think I'm advanced for my experience. I have one other electric and it is a Washburn WI14 which I don't play because of the horrid buzz. If it were stolen I would hunt him down, beat him with it, and then fix it. The only thing I wish it had wuz two tones. I love everything about this guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I don't gig but the hardware is very durable. I put strap locks on after it fell of of the strap but that was the straps fault. I would gig without a backup if I gigged. The finish is durable, thick, only on spot where you can see the wood but that was my fault. The only wear is the sweat stains just turn the finish shiny. So if you don't like the flat black, you know what to do.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I did not get my explrer from the factory so I'll talk about the setup when I got it. With 10-46 strings there was absolutely no fret buzz! it was amazing! the action is low enough but I'm no expert. I put 10-52s on and the neck did not warp at all. But there was a little bit of buzz. Only one flaw and it's almost 9 years old. The switch would snap back to the middle or treble position if I tried to use the neck pickup but I just replaced the Switch and viola!
Features — 9
Mine is a 2000 and I belive it is USA made. It has a "hybrid" neck but really it's thin until the very upper frets. Ebony fretboard, mahogany neck and body. Very comfortable neck. It (of course) has black everywhere. The body is matte black and all of the hardware is black (other than the finish this is exactly the same as a regular Explorer) mind you I'm not sure if it is black chrome or nickel but I think nickel. Body shape is a little unwieldly but you get used to it. It is a slighly heavier guitar the body shape allows good access to upper frets on the higher strings. Also, if you like to do the dive-bomb thing by pushing on the neck shame on you and it is difficult to do on this guitar because it doesnt't have an upper horn. The bridge is Tune-O-Matic with a stop talpiece. The pickups are passive Gibson humbuckers so they are excelent. The treble is very hot, and the neck pickup has nice clean tones. Two volumes and one master tone. Mini grover tuners that work like a charm.