Price paid: C$ 600
Purchased from: Neil Douglas Guitar Shop
Sound — 9
I play alternative-punk-rock-blues, and the Viking plays along. It has a nice, rich sound. The pickups have a nice sound to them. They are 59-type humbuckers, good for a classic rock range of sound. I was pleasantly surprised by the pickups: it had crossed my mind that I might have to replace them if they were a weak link, but they sound clear and rich, and don't let the guitar down. The tone controls are very responsive too. The Viking sustains nicely, though like semi-hollows tend to do, it tends to feed back at high gain/volumes.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing guitar for more than 20 years. I own an American Standard Stratocaster and Telecaster, a PRS SE One Korina, and an Epiphone Les Paul Studio. I play through a Traynor Darkhorse head+cab and a Vox AC4TV combo. I would have to describe myself as a minimalist. I love the sound of a guitar plugged into a tube amp, and only use pedals when I must in order to achieve a particular sound. To use a particular example of the Viking's range from my perspective: played clean on a rhythm track I recorded, the Viking was chimey and rich, but when I crank the Dark Horse and played the Viking through a Boss Power Stack pedal to boot, it was a ferocious lead guitar with predictable, controlled feedback. For $600 this thing is killer. I love it.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I owned this guitar nearly a year and it is nice and solid. My two-and-a-half year old nephew plays around with it (supervised) and everything is in perfect shape. I'd have no reservations about gigging with this guitar, if I were still doing that sort of thing.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
There were good and bad things about the Viking's finish, though. The bad was that the fret edges were very rough. They left little micro-scratches on my fingers. Totally inexcusable. Fortunately, the guitar shop fixed them right up under warranty, and cleaned the pickup selector which was dirty and not working all the time. A quick cleaning fixed that too. The wood work was very nice, with no noticeable blemishes of any kind. The action was very low, without any buzzing, and the intonation was spot on. Had it not been for the frets and dirty selector switch I would have given the Viking a 10 on fit and finish.
Features — 8
This 2011 semi-hollow electric was made in China at a dedicated factory using Hagstrom parts. It's a 335-type of guitar with 2 humbuckers, 2 volume controls and 2 tone controls, and a three-way pickup selector switch. Mine is the red model, with cream binding. The fretboard is what they call 'Resinator'; not wood, but looks kind of like ebony. The body and set neck are maple. The neck has a proprietary truss-rod (H-expander) that is very strong and stable, which allows for a slimmer neck. It has Hagstrom tuners, a tune-o-matic bridge with a trapeze tail-piece.