Price paid: $ 199
Sound — 9
The humbuckers on this guitar provide a very full sound. While these pickups are relatively low output passive humbuckers the tone these guys produce is phenomenal. The low end boost in the neck position is awesome for slow legato licks, the bridge pickup has a good full rawness to it that sounds like the definition of the sound of blues rock and classic rock, and in the middle position you have a very open rhythm tone. I play everything on this axe from Santana to Nirvana, from Led Zeppelin to Johnny Cash, from the Beatles to some of the more tame Megadeth. I will say that when you get the level of distortion necessary for Megadeth or other heavier Metal, the pickups seem too muddy to me. Metal is obviously not what this guitar was designed for, though it seems to handle everything short of that with ease. I would have liked for the pickups to be slightly higher output, but the tone makes up for it.
Overall Impression — 9
I play various styles of music - outlaw country, classic rock, blues, acid blues, early metal, thrash metal, whatever you would call Santana, modern rock, nu-metal, etc. the list goes on (I just like music) - This guitar is very very versatile with the exception of it does not handle heavy metal very well - the pickups just get too muddy. On a side note, I have not found a guitar that is anywhere near my price range that doesn't get too muddy with distortion, I haven't found a set up pickups that I've been happy with for metal. Eventually, I may see if I can fit soem live wires into an old RG I have lying around. Anyway, I've been playing about 4 years, I own a lot of low to mid range gear and have played a lot of higher end gear that friends own. When I got this guitar, the online retailer I got this from actually sold me the AXD82P model, but then after making the sale it was discovered that they only had the AXD83P in inventory, and so I got upgraded for free. Since then, I've actually thought about buying up a second one of these to just store in case something happens to this one because I am so fond of it, but they are very hard to find now. I love the finish on this guitar, and I love the tone you get out of this thing when you pair it with even a low quality tube amp. For me, this gutair - in appearance and sound - is inspiring and I feel like I play and practice more often because of it. I buy other guitars - one or two a year - and I will be excited about them for a little while, but I always come back to this one and soon my new purchases are being sold or collecting dust.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I imagine this guitar would do fine in a live environment, though I haven't played it in a live environment. I have jammed with it several times with friends, and for the first year that I owned this guitar it traveled virtually everywhere with me. The hardware still looks brand new, the strap buttons have held up fine. This guitar really looks as nice as the day I bought it new, which was very early in 2006, I believe. I have had absolutely no problems with this guitar. It really does look and sound beautiful.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
When this guitar arrived the action was perfect, but the intonation was off more than a little. After the intonation was adjusted, it was great. The finish was immaculate - very beautiful and you can't appreciate it fully from the pictures online. It does take up fingerprints very easily, so I wipe mine down every time I use it before putting it back in its case. The neck isn't super slender - it isn't a shredder's guitar, obviously, but the neck has found a nice balance somewhere in the "mid-chunky" range, and is easy to chord, slide and bend. The mother of pearl inlays are stunning on this guitar. The back of the neck is stained and laminated to match the body of the guitar, and normally laminated necks seem like they slow me down, but this one hasn't caused me any problems. I will say I am not a fan of strap buttons on the back of a guitar, I just don't like the way it hangs. It is, however, very well balanced neck vs. body, and doesn't hang as uncomfortably as some other guitars where the neck strap button is mounted on teh back of the guitar. Because of the rear mounted strap button, I am only giving a 7 here, because I feel like "Action, Fit & Finish" should take into account the comfort of playing - while it is fine sitting, it is annoying, to me personally, to play this guitar while standing.
Features — 8
I believe this guitar was made in 2005, it was one of the last ones made before this model was discontinued. This guitar has a maple neck, rosewood fretboard and a spruce arched top with f holes. It has two humbuckers with chrome covers and cream colored liners. The finish is reminiscent of the stained finish of a violin. The guitar body is a single cut-away. There is one volume, one tone and a 3-way pickup selector. The tuners are non-locking, but seem to be of good quality as this guitar stays in tune for weeks as long as it is stored in its case when not in use. I don't think any accessories were included with this guitar - possibly an allen wrench to adjust the truss rod, and a cheap cable. If so, I threw them out a long time ago and don't really remember. I found a generic hard shell case made for a smaller bodied less paul and this guitar fits snugly into it. As this is a lower end semi-hollowbody, you would want to get a hardshell to protect it, but you can't expect a hardshell case included at this price.