Price paid: $ 150
Purchased from: Springfield Music Store, PA
Sound — 7
I'm actually surprised by this guitar, for as thin as it is compared to some other guitars, it does have a nice range. For the lower strings it has a great low end but also does great in the higher strings. I wouldn't necessarily say this guitar is as versatile as a Fender Stratocaster, or a Gibson Les Paul, but it definitely does have a very nice metal sound to it that I like. You're not going to get a dark sound like you would out of an ESP Viper but it does well especially in Standard tuning. I have yet to use thick strings on it but the lights do well. I've used it on a Fender Frontman, a Crate something, and a Line III Spider 30 amp, and it defintely sounds great. It's nothing revolutionary but I like it.
Overall Impression — 10
This is definitely a great guitar for heavy metal. Because I play mainly Thrash, Heavy Punk, and Power Metal, I need to Switch between 5 sounds but it happens to do great with it. I've been playing for almost 2 years and compared to an ESP V-50 and a Fender Squier I own, it's definitely my main guitar. The ESP I use for Drop and Open C and the Squier I'll use for Powerblues (basically BB King + Yngwie Riffs). But the guitar is awesome. One thing though struck me. For $150, one of the better guitars I've ever played not only was a definite buy. The guitar is very solid and very nice, but what I really like with the low end RGs and certain LTDs is that they aren't really expected to perform as well as the higher end models, and (in most situations) it looks as a sort of canvas. People think that you should save up for high end models and even then there are things that they don't like some things about them, but if you saved up $1000, buy a cheap guitar, something that you're happy with, and spend the money on better pickups, or hardware, new finish. This guitar has matched my expectations and I really like it enough to start pouring money into perfecting it, which I advise a lot of guitarists to start doing. Sure it doesn't have some of the things I want like a Floyd Rose and an integrated tuning system but it definitely does the things that actually matter. So I will give it a 10 in the respect that it does what I want and gives me something to do with it. (Come on, I could put a 85/81s in a Strat, but if I don't like the Strat where's that going to get me?)
Reliability & Durability — 8
When smashed, it's going to break. The guitar will withstand playing Live, depending how energetic you are and how many [beer bottles/tomatoes/groupies] get thrown at you during the average show, I doubt anything is really going to happen to it. The hardware seems pretty sturdy, and the strap buttons hold. It's rather reliable, I think the only thing that will happen will be the strap breaking. Since I've heard the this guitar line was made for like 4 years in the 80s, the paint is still factory fresh, it's pretty good.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The guitar was well setup, like almost every new guitar, it had to be tuned. Oh well, it's good enough to not snap 4 and half strings the first time I tune it. It is comfortable, no fret buzz, comfortable tapping, no real outstanding flaws. Pickups were a little screwy, I felt the neck pickup was too low and I just took a screwdriver and ADJUSTED IT. But everything is great. Again, nothing revolutionary. The only reason I'm rating it a 6 is because I had to tune it. I mean what the crap is that?
Features — 7
Features: Mid 80s; Made in Korea 22 frets; Rosewood Fretboard; 25.5" Scale? Black with White Stripe Iceman Body Tune-O-Matic Passive Stocks; H-H Non-Locking Stock Tuners