Price paid: $ 449
Purchased from: Guitar Center NYC
Sound — 8
I use it with a Vox 15 watt modeling amp and it gets a surprisingly wide array of sounds. I mostly use the California style metal setting with lots of gain and add in a little reverb. i.e. It sounds FANTASTIC even on a tiny amp, is easy to play and is inspiring me to play more.
Overall Impression — 8
I play loud, hard styles of rock: metal, punk, funk, etc. This is an excellent choice for those styles. A great toy! I don't play blues or folk or "Acoustic" styles so I can't comment on its viability for those. I'm a novice who's been playing for a long time, but want to get more serious. I have a Yamaha Acoustic guitar which I don't like at all and use a Vox 15W modeling amp. The issue for me when buying this was weather to get the tremolo. Since I never really used one, I almost didn't get it. I knew in advance about the pains of tuning and changing strings. In the end, the guitar sounded and played better in my hands than any of the other models I played that didn't have tremolos (e.g. a Schecter I was interested in). So I just keep the whammy bar off most of the time and will attach it when it's needed. **It almost never goes out of tune.** So far, I have no major complaints about this and would buy it again easily. I think that there's not much of a quality difference between this and some of the guitars I played that cost 2x as much. This just felt better and I love the sound -- it inspires me to play more. At some point, the whole locking tremolo thing might end up getting on my nerves but it hasn't yet. Overall: YEAH. Great axe. Nice looking. Great sound. Good feel.
Reliability & Durability — 6
I didn't buy this to perform and have no experience performing so take what follows with a grain of salt ... No reason to believe it couldn't withstand years and years of Live playing. It is a well built, mass market guitar whose flaws are mostly minor and cosmetic. The finish seems good, although I'm already noticing some minor wear on the fret wood. Strap buttons are tiny and may be a problem. Now the Edge III -- If you break a string on this guitar, you'll need at least two tools to replace it and a lot more time than you would on a guitar without a locking tremolo. That being said, it almost never goes out of tune. The whammy bar is kind of clumsy the way it's attached and unless you lock it into place with an allen wrench (and probably need to remove it for hard cases), it WILL fall off.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
This is a great guitar for a beginner, because it's super easy to play -- fast movement on the frets, strings are nicely located all along the neck and a thin neck that suits my hands well. I believe it's a maple neck (unfinished back) with a laminated basswood body. The frets have those magnificent "sharktooth" inlays, which I love to look at while I play. I'm not an expert on palm-muting or anything, but it seems a little tricky with the Edge III (especially on the bottom three strings. I'm still learning. There were some minor flaws and dings -- especially around where the metal frets are set in. Some of the components appear cheaply installed and there are tiny annoyances like the cheap plastic knob on the pickup Switch. Obviously this was put together in a factory. The finish isn't bad and there are some flaws in obscure locations, but again you can tell that it was mass-produced. The cutaways are pretty well done too and look cool -- even diabolical. Frets 20-24 are still a little tricky for my reach, but the extra room is nice. Haven't detected any electrical problems at all. Overall, the guitar is amazingly playable and beautiful to look at. It didn't need an initial reconfiguration or tune-up. I carried it out of the store on the day I first saw it and it plays great today.
Features — 5
New guitar manufactured in Indonesia. 24-frets with a fast neck -- the back of the neck isn't glossy. 5 position switch with humbuckers in the bridge and neck position and a single-coil in the middle. It's a black/gray combo with natural woodgrain (and unusual burst pattern). Edge III tremolo. I think the body is basswood and the frets maple, but am not sure. I'll rate it a five only out of ignorance of what to compare it to. My only other electric guitar really sucked!