Sound — 9
I play true heavy metal, death metal, black metal and hardcore. I also like to play some clean stuff too, usually classic rock. I use a Line 6 Spider II 112 (75 watt 4 channel combo). I also use my Dunlop Original Crybaby Wah pedal. This guitar is lovely through this amp. I usually tune low, either to drop C, drop B, or even drop A. Otherwise normal tuning. The open pickups on this baby produce lovely sounds. I usually use the 490T in the bridge, and change the EQ and thickness/brightness of the sound on my amp. However sometimes I use the 490R in the neck for warm, thick clean sounds and deep crunch. This guitar has a very deep bottom end which helps when tuned low, especially with extra thick strings (I'm talking Roto Greys, 13-52 gauge). The distortion is brutal when tuned low, I use mostly the Insane (green) setting on my amp, but sometimes the Metal (red) for other stuff. The Metal setting has less distortion and sustain, and a smaller mid-range. The pinch harmonics scream on this guitar, and with its mahogany body it has great sustain. This guitar also does wonders with clean sounds. When used in conjunction with some a semi-warm tone and some chorus for that little bit of shimmer, it can produce beautiful sounds, but also has the capability to make more modern clean sounds with my amp's flanger added in. One thing I am upset about however is the crunch tones of this guitar. I find it difficult to get the right tone for modern rock, because I either end up with a compressed and very 'digital' sound, or a high-gain metal sound. I'm not sure whether the amp or guitar is to blame for this, but I believe it's the amp. Only thing I can think would improve the sound of this guitar would be for me to upgrade to Gibson burstbuckers, which I may well do in the future.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall I think this guitar suits my music style well. However if fitted with either Gibson burstbuckers or EMG pickups it would be just what I need. I've been playing for nearly 5 years now. I also own an Epiphone Les Paul Custom and an ESP LTD Viper-50 (the ESP is being sold now). If this guitar was stolen or lost I would probably buy it again, because it's pretty damn cool. However I'd have new pickups fitted straight away. My favourite feature is probably the light weight and slender feel of the body.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've never played live with this guitar as I'm not in a band, but it seems to be holding up very well. I've had no problems so far in the last 16 months, and it seems to be going great. I would use this at a gig but would probably take a backup with different tuning, just so that I didn't need to stop and tune my guitar in the middle of a show.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
When I got this guitar the action was a bit high, but that was soon fixed by lowering the tailpiece slightly. I don't get any fret buzz and the action is just perfect. I do think, however, that this guitar is more suited for rhythm work than solo's and lead, which I am disappointed about. It can do some lead work, but solo's aren't as great as with other guitars. So far this guitar has withstood the test of time. I've had it for a year and 4 months now and had no problems. Strap buttons stay in place, finish is still great. I apply some lem-oil to the fretboard every 3 months to keep it in good condition, which is no bother. All in all very well set up.
Features — 9
Made in 2004 in the USA so fairly new, this guitar comes with 22 frets on a rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays. Also has a '50s rounded mahogany neck and mahogany body with either faded cherry (mine) or faded brown finishes, Tune-O-Matic tuning system with stoptbar tailpiece, chrome hardware and Gibson open 490R and 490T pickups (in the neck and bridge respectively). Comes with the standard Gibson 2 volume and 2 tone controls plus the 3-way pickup selector. Mine also came with a Gibson gig bag and I bought a Stagg hard case to go with it. Only thing I'd wish for would be the Gibson burstbuckers in here rather than the open pickups.