Price paid: A$ 800
Purchased from: Local Music Store
Features — 9
Mine is a red 2012 AFS75T made in China. It has 22 medium frets, a beautifully finished and smooth playing mahogany neck that makes me want to practice. The vintage vibrato unit has a cool art-deco meets steampunk look to it and is very functional. I just finished seeing if I could do the dive in The Black Keys "Lonely Boy" riff using the tremolo instead of the usual pedal. Obviously doesn't sound the same, but doable. Things like "Bang Bang" by Nancy Sinatra - or anything subtle - sound great with this trem. The adjustable roller saddles work great in combination and make it very easy to adjust intonation.
The guitar comes with a 3 way pickup selector, 2 tone and 2 volume knobs. Standard as chips. The tuners are non-locking, functional and sturdy. They haven't needed replacing and don't go out of tune but with tuners it's always a time-will-tell thing in my experience. Ask me again in 5 years.
Sound — 9
Sounds great for blues, rock, jazz and pop. I find it to be very versatile, which is important to me. This thing can sound sweet and pure, crunchy and full, thin and cutting, whatever I want it to really. There is no noise that I can find, which is golden after owning a telecaster that just would not stop buzzing to some extent.
I can see why the pickups could be described as bland, there is not a lot of individual character to them. They just sound like what I expect pickups to sound like. Nothing more, nothing less. I really like this aspect. It gives me a blank canvas to work with. If I want the guitar to stick out, I can impart the character through the amp settings, pedals, or my playing. If I just want a standard sound, I have that as default. After fully redoing the electronics in my last guitar, I can see that this one will probably make me buy it some new capacitors and pots. The tone knobs could be more responsive for my taste, as could the volume. This is me nit-picking though, ymmv.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The intonation needed a bit of fiddling on mine, but with the adjustable bridge it took all of 5 minutes. Also, the strings stuck a little in the nut, which graphite fixed but I might widen the string slots at some point. It can be hard to rate a factory set-up, as most people like their guitar set up slightly differently. For me, the action is perfect, the pickup height is perfect, I haven't even changed the strings yet, which means that they must be not too shabby either (though they are getting pretty dull at this point).
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar can take a few hits - I've already dropped it once and dinged it on a few tables, doors and walls - it has survived unscathed. This is a pre-requisite for any musical gear I use, because inevitably it is going to take some knocks while on the road. The hardware feels sturdy. I'd definitely use this at a small gig without a backup. I've had it out, plugged into an amp while writing this review and my 21 month old daughter has been plucking, twisting and banging away at it on the floor. It's not child proof, but you could say it's child resistant.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been singing and playing guitar for a living for the last 10 years - a huge range of genres, venues, and audience sizes. I don't tend to spend a lot of money on musical instruments - my most expensive guitar is a moderate Martin acoustic which was only about $2500 AUD new. Also, though I've played guitar for 18 years, my main instrument is definitely vocals. If you're a guitar sound connoisseur, take my review with a grain of salt.
I played quite a few other guitars before deciding on this one. Some American Fender Teles, Strats, Gretsch hollowbodies and a few others. This one felt and sounded the best to me without spending 4 times more money. If this was stolen, I would definitely get another. It can be hard for me to find a guitar that I enjoy playing when I do it all the time as a job. This guitar and my Martin acoustic, make me want to pick up the guitar.