Purchased from: Long And McQuade
Sound — 10
I bought this guitar because it's the brand of a number of great metal and rock guitarist's, and I didn't want a fruity sounding Strat. I've had it for three days, and right now am playing U2, OLP, SOAD and Finger Eleven with much success. The guitar fits me perfectly (as opposed to the Epiphone Special 2 I bought a little while back and returned the next day). I bought a 15 watt Traynor amp, and they really seem to compliment eachother better than any other pairing I found (I really cannot overemphasize how important it is not to buy a starter pack for your first electric purchase. You wind up paying too much for substandard equipment. I spent only $380, including tax, for everything: guitar, amp, patch, tuner, strap and gigbag, and wound up with much higher quality gear than a Strat Pack which would have cost 100 more). Anyway, playing with the tone (again, why affinity strats suck) and the three band equalizer on the amp gave me a huge spectrum of sounds. I'm talking everything from the Edge's ES-335 in All Because of You, to Steve Mazur's Crunchy Bridge and Screaming solo in Not Enough to the myriad of sounds that Daron produces with SOAD - this guitar did it all.
Overall Impression — 10
This is my guitar! It fits me perfectly. I've been playing casually for a few years on the two acoustics in my house, some Suzuki POS and a Fender F-03. I had the oppurtunity to learn some songs on the acoustic that I transferred right to the electric with much success. If the guitar was lost or stolen today, I would get another. Down the road well in the words of k-Os, heaven only knows. If I get more into playing because of this axe, I'd ideally like to get both an Epiphone Dot and an Ibanez Iceman down the road. However, right here, right now, this is the s--t. My advice to all starting guitarists never compromise. Dont think that because some Fender major guitar manufacturer offers some crappy second line of guitar under another name packaged with a bad amp and a bunch of substandard accessories you have to buy that. Find the guitar that suits your style, taste and price. And if you seem intimidated by the prospects of getting all the required components to get started, remember that the staff of whatever music store you are shopping at are paid to help you. I wound up getting along really well with the woman who helped me get everything together, which is something that wouldn't have happened had I simply walked up to the counter and said "Hi, I'd like the generic Starter Kit that most buy." The bottom line is that you need to be true to yourself, your style, your music, your identity.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I played several guitars while trying to decide which to purchase. Without a doubt this is the most solid of all of them. I was always ginger with strats b/c I felt like I was going to break them, but this thing is solid. The strap buttons aren't going anywhere, and the finish looks like it would withstand prolonged nuclear bombardment.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Everything was pretty good. No fret buzz, the only prob was that the bridge PU was a bit slanted, closer to the low e that the high e, which took all of a minute to fix. Flawless finish.
Features — 10
Current model, made in China. 22 medium frets, rosewood fingerboard. Either basswood or agathis body (the site said basswood, the people at L&M said agathis). Really hot jewel blue finish, it looks completely different depending on the lighting, from royal blue to navy to purple. The shape is really cool, almost like a fusion of a LP and a SG, it has the Horns and thickness of the SG, with that big round bottom of the LP. The bridge is HardTail with thru body stringing, when I bought it, it didn't seem that big a deal, but it makes a huge difference once you sit down and play. Two standard Ibanez humbuckers in the bridge and neck positions. I really like them, and they sure beat anything I've heard on the squires and epiphones in this price range. Three way selector neck/neck-bridge/bridge. One volume and one tone (which really works). Generic tuners, but they do the job. Comes with a ten foot patch, but it's garbage, it's really thin, and I only use it to tune the guitar. Spend the ten dollars for a ten foot yorkville patch, it is 100 times better. The rating is not for all guitars, just ones in the under 300 bracket.