Price paid: $ 500
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 7
The stock pickups sounded alright, hot but pretty sterile. I have used them through everything from a Peavey Vypyr to my friend's Marshall Vintage Modern. The parallel switching was a plus, with a very single-coil like tone on the 2nd and 4th positions on the switch, great for cleans or a Brian May type tone. Obviously, from my guitar choice, I play mostly metal, and this guitar suits it well. The stock pups retained good clarity at high gain and are well balanced for the low-end focused tone of modern metal. This is worth a 7, to me at least. With the Blackouts, it absolutely screams. The basswood accentuates the crunchy lower midrange punch of the Blackouts well, and it never sounds thin. With the upgrade, I give it a 9. It is a pretty versatile guitar, and I could see it being used well with jazz fusion or something. For classic rock or blues, it plays a little over aggressively, likely due to the super-thin neck, but since it's a metal guitar, this is irrelevant.
Overall Impression — 8
For metal, this guitar is perfect. I have been playing almost three years, and am writing music and gigging a little. If I had my $500 dollars back, I would likely buy a used guitar, maybe an ESP or something with better features. I love the trem, and it works perfectly, but I wish it had some kind of stabilizer. I block it and make it down-only in the future.
Reliability & Durability — 4
This guitar does great live. It is perfectly balanced, and light. The hardware is top-notch, and the Edge III trem, while problematic for some, has never let me down. It stays in tune with the lowest dive bombs. The strap buttons are great, literally as mechanically strong as possible without getting strap locks. I don't think that the strap would ever come off with the stock buttons, though. The finish is amazing, and pictures don't do it justice. You have to feel it to understand how unique it is. There is one issue though, with the trem screws in the back of the guitar. I hadn't messed with them, no more than was required for adjustment, but the trem mysteriously started leaning forward. Changing the springs didn't help at all, and in the end it required $100 dollar redoweling. This also happened to my friend's RG, so it may be a manufacturing issue. It is fine now though.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
From the factory, the action was a little high, and there was some fret buzz. After putting on 10's (I generally play in D#) and giving it a slight setup, it is pretty good. There is still some slight buzz, and the action could be a little lower, but I think it is fine. The pickups were perfect and the woodworking seems fine, except for one issue that will be discussed later.
Features — 8
2010 model, made in Indonesia. It is pretty much the Standard RG fare, 24 frets, two humbuckers (no middle single coil), Edge III trem, basswood body. It has a cool textured finish, called melted black and a dark rosewood fretboard that is bare except for an X inlay at the twelfth fret. Pickups are INFs with a five-way Switch with series/parallel options, but I swapped them for Blackouts.