Price paid: C$ 250
Purchased from: Classified ad
Sound — 9
The dual humbuckers provide a pretty decent output for a guitar of this price range. With a little coaxing from the EQ, I can get it to sound pretty good through a Vox AC30VR. The neck pickup's cleans are pretty warm with not a lot of treble, but a very clear sound. With distortion, it provides a pretty decent lead tone. On the bridge setting, everything brightens up substantially, especially with distortion. The last reviewer complained about pinch harmonics, but I've never had any particular issue with them on this guitar. The pickups have a very clean sound, without a lot of noise. You can pretty much play any genre on this guitar, even though it was built for hard rock. I've been playing prog and djent-y stuff on it with great ease.
Overall Impression — 8
The issues I have with this instrument are relatively minor compared to some of the flaws on my other guitars (like faulty electronics, misaligned necks, severe tuning issues), which makes this guitar one of the better instruments I own. Even though it's a cheaper guitar, it never makes me feel like I'm only playing a "beginner's" instrument. Just a simple, ready-to-rock guitar. It's a great match for my style of music. The only thing I could have asked for to make this guitar perfect for me would be a whammy bar option. Other than that, this is a brilliant budget instrument for the money, and definitely going to hold me off until I can afford a PRS SE 7-string. Overall, I score this guitar a solid 8/10. Not perfect, but for the price, it's hard to beat.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I'm fully confident this guitar can withstand the punishment of the road. It's a solid instrument, the hardware doesn't feel cheap at all (even though it looks the part), and the finish has seen its fair share of bumps and dings without flaking off, so this instrument will probably hold up pretty well to touring. This guitar may be a budget instrument, but it's only for the sake of making this guitar as no-frills as possible. Nothing about this guitar feels like it's going to fly apart at the seams as you play it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
This is a solidly built instrument with very few issues that I could discern. Arguably the most pressing issue I have is with the 3rd string tuning peg, which often likes to slip slightly flat. Other than that, this guitar is a quality instrument. Smooth fret edges, no loose components (save for an output jack washer which was quickly and permanently rectified). The included strap buttons are a little small, but I usually end up replacing them with strap locks. The only design issue I have with the instrument other than the upper fret access is the neck-heaviness of it. Let go of it while it's strapped on, and that neck is plummeting to the floor. This isn't serious enough to cause me any particular issue, but it is kind of annoying.
Features — 8
I purchased this guitar earlier this year to replace a seven-string Squier Stagemaster which had been stolen from me. This seven-string guitar was made in China in 2000, and features 22 jumbo frets, a mahogany body, a 5-piece maple/walnut neck, rosewood fretboard, dual passive humbuckers, matte metallic grey finish, two volume and two tone controls, fixed bridge and a 3-way selector switch. It's a dead simple no-frills instrument which won't intimidate beginners, but is solid enough for an intermediate guitarist. This guitar is purported to be of worse quality than the similar AX7521, but I find this has a few things that beat it out, like the classy binding on the neck, and the smaller fretboard inlays, which actually go a long way to improve the look of this guitar, which is sort of a mix between an SG and an ES-355 in shape. The neck is fat and wide, like any seven-string would be, but comfortable enough to play most styles on. It's a bit slow for Steve Vai-style shredding, but having played an RG7321, I actually find myself liking this neck better than the RG necks. My only real problem with the guitar is the relative lack of upper fret access, caused by the very small cutaways. This guitar was obviously designed with the nu-metal wave of the late-90s in mind, as the guitar doesn't really cater to soloists above the 17th fret.