Price paid: $ 183
Purchased from: Ebay
Sound — 8
Bridge pickup: fat and loud. This produces a very noisy rock/metal sound that fits perfectly for bands such as Rage Against The Machine and Black Sabbath. No hiss and very useable. Middle pickup: Clear. Essentially the acoustic sounding pickup. Very very effective for chordal work. Sounds great for acoustic work such as certain Babyshambles, Libertines, Oasis and the ilk. Does get a hiss occasionally, but not too huge. Probably isn't aided by my old amp. Neck pickup: bright. Extremely sweet sounding pickup for solo work beyond the 12th fret. It does sound a little muddy playing 1-5th frets on occasion, but the tone and sound at the other end of the neck is beautiful. Sounds fantastic playing Hendrix, Kravitz and solo's from Strokes etc. Have also used it to good effect on some Clapton tracks. There is the option to mix pickups (such as half neck humbucker, half single pickup) but I generally find these too weak and indistinctive yo be used effectively. I'm running it through an old Sammick 25W amp and it gets me a nice range of sounds, giving me the ability to play Indie, rock, metal et al. I doubt it's abilities for funk, but blues sounds great. A surprising variety of sounds and never fails to surprise. Obviously, the sound of this pales in comparison to guitars like the Ibanez PGM301 etc, but it's a completely different price range. The pickups are of a high quality for such a cheap guitar and there's alot of potential for upgrading.
Overall Impression — 8
I play a variety of music and have found this guitar is very effective at letting me vary without changing settings. A versatile guitar indeed, not sounding out of place for acoustic, metal, rock or Indie work. It's certainly alot of guitar for the money and I can't reccomend it enough as a first guitar. I'm glad I had this as my introduction to guitar playing and it's served me well and will continue to do so. If it were stolen, I wouldn't buy another one, I'd probably get an Ibanez RGA121, but that's not to say I don't love it. Like I say, I plan on upgrading it and using it as a second guitar, rather than buying one fresh which wouldn't cost much more overall.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've had to tighten the connections around the jack input a couple of times, but this isn't exactly hard. Asides from that, everything about this guitar feels solid and that it will last. I wouldn't use this to gig as a main guitar, but I'm going to use mine as my second guitar once I've changed the pickups. It will be backing up my Ibanez PGM301.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The action wasn't too high, but certainly not low out of the box. Even this setting though yields a fast playing guitar, as the renowned Ibanez neck is superb. The one piece neck is fast, surprisingly so for such a cheap guitar. Very thin and wider than guitars such as Les Pauls. It makes for a very playable guitar, especially for lead and solo work. After playing my acoustic, it feels a dream to play. The pickups were moderately well setup, particularly the bridge and neck. The middle pickup may need a bit of fiddling to get the best sound out of it and least hiss, but it's only of concern if you wish to play acoustic work on it. The finish on the body is attractive, although it does tend to get covered in finger prints easy. One notable thing is that the guitar holds tune exceptionally well. The whole guitar is very playable indeed, much more so than the majority that I've played.