Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 10
I've tried this in the store on high end Fender combo amps, and it sings like a bird, but when I received mine from UPS (poorly might I add) and played it on my cheap Frontman 25R amp it sounded damp, and the distortion if above 4.5 will sound muddy. SO I've invested in a better amp so as to get the full taste. Like many acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars the lower strings will "thump" on the higher frets, but the higher strings will sound like something out of a Stray Cats hit, very twinkly and bright like a bell. I'd reccommend using medium gauge Gretsch Electromatic strings (only available from Musicians friend) because you will get the best archtop tone. Just be careful as it is quick to feedback, so unless you can tame it like Jimi Hendrix did, stand about 2 feet or more away from your amp.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm big on rockabilly, which an archtop will suit, and this is better compared to what the originals started playing on (Danelectros with lipstick tube pickups, sticks with rubberbands, etc). I also like AC/DC, and can get those fat tones Malcolm Young plays on his Gretsch. As this guitar is built like an expensive axe, it seems to have picked up the expensive taste, so don't be surprised if it sounds cheap through a cheap amp, save the extra $100 to get a better Vox or generously respected used Fender amp. Love, piece, and hair grease!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have a friend in a psycho/rockabilly band Who owns the now discontinued double cutaway version of the AFS75T and never had a problem while performing. If it comes time when I get good enough to gig I won't think twice about bringing this guitar. The overall weight is very light, I can even comfortably play this while wearing a Vintage Fender skinny strap, and those would dig into your shoulders with a Strat. This guitar can take a thrashing, but be careful if you lean it up against the amp or anything besides a guitar stand, the weight displacement is a little lop-sided on account of the vibrato tail piece, I have already put a couple dents in the backside, but no ones gonna see that when you're playing it. The finish seems to be generously applied so don't worry about fade spots, this bad mother will hold its own, and your own, and the person next to you's own.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
My action was too low for me and any thing less than light classical songs made my strings buzz like a swarm of pissed off hornets, so I simply detuned all the strings and heightened the bridge a couple milimeters and the problem went away. The Vibrato bridge had a brushed finish instead of mirror, but I guess thats the way they designed it, if it works I don't care how ugly it is. The finish and binding were emmaculate (considering UPS dropped it off in my backyard without knocking on the door on an 87F degree day). I managed with the original strings for about a month until I eventually ordered the Gretsch strings. When you read reviews and people say change the strings right away, they know what they're talking about.
Features — 10
The AFS75T Artcore archtop is one of the few Chinese-made guitars that don't get me pissed off about outsourcing (theres rumors Gretsch is doing the same with their high priced models). I was getting sick of the singlecoil hum from my Squier Affinity Strat, so a cheaper archtop with humbuckers was a gift from God for me. The tuners seeem to be Grover-style, which are very durable. The floating adjustomatic bridge is nifty, but I never move it so as to not screw up the intonation. The vibrato tailpiece is Bigsby-licensed so thats really cool. The finish is breathtaking, mine was the translucent blue, makes people call it pretty and thats when you start jamming out psychobilly to change their tune. My only complaint is having to hook the string ends on studs welded on the vibrato bridge instead of pulling em through holes, but I was just spoiled from string-thru designed guitars.