Price paid: $ 150
Purchased from: Ken Stanton Music
Sound — 7
I'm just a starting guitarist, just playing for a little over a year. I play mainly metal and rock. It's a pretty good sounding guitar for rock/punk music (or bluesy music for that matter). It also sounds good unplugged, and able to play well in clean channels. However, this isn't necessarily a good guitar for metal. The G-string buzzes something fierce when struck with any force, which sounds pretty bad when you kick up the distortion (I don't know if it's just my guitar, but I can assure that restringing didn't help much). I'm using this with a Spider III 15w amp (yeah, yeah, yeah). Without turning the knob up considerably, it's a quiet, bright guitar on cleaner channels, and (obviously) louder when put on the metal and insane settings. The guitar itself doesn't have a variety sounds. It can have a more Acoustic (but distinctly tinny) sound, or it can be flat. There don't seem to be any more built-in settings, so hope you guys have your pedals and amps at the ready.
Overall Impression — 8
As a stan-alone guitar, this isn't great. However, as a beginner's guitar, it's pretty awesome. It's basic, but is durable and has a good sound. It's withstood more than a year of mostly active playing, and is still going strong. If this guitar was stolen/lost or anything, I would probably upgrade to a less newbie-type guitar, though (maybe an IC 400 Iceman or a Tony Iommi G-400).
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is a pretty reliable piece of work. It's been going for over a year now with no problems at all. The hardware is long-lasting, as I haven't needed to replace anything but the strings since purchase. The strap buttons can turn in place and everything, but they ain't going anywhere (they outlived the straps I've used without even so much as coming out a bit). If I were ever to take this guitar to a gig, I wouldn't even worry about a backup.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar itself is well-built (It came pretty well set-up, at least). All the hardware was working fine, and there weren't any noticeable flaws in the construction. The pickups were (and are) fine, but replacements may be necessary in the coming months. I will say that the controls are a little loose, slight contact may completely raise/lower the volume/tone (which can get frustrating when strumming chords and accidentally hitting the knobs).
Features — 7
This is a fairly basic beginner's guitar, made in 2009 (if I do remember correctly), and I honestly do not know what country it was made in. There are 22 medium frets on a rosewood fretboard, at a neck scale of 25.5". The body is basswood, and the neck itself is maple. It has a three-way Switch and volume and tone knobs. The pickups are humbucking with ceramic magnetics.