Price paid: C$ 699
Purchased from: Long & McQuade
Sound — 8
It's a very straightforward sounding guitar with the active EMG's, I love being in the crunch and lead sections, and has a very clinical clean sound. I play a fairly wide range of heavy metal, from death/ thrash metal, to melodic death, and power metal. It has a fairly good range, although I did find the mids a bit muddy compared to a few guitars I tried with the EMG 81-7. At rehearsal/ live setting it's run through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, with some eq out front (MXR 10 Band), which helps with the mids, and not overdoing the lower frequencies. And at home is an old Randall RG100SC, and it sounds great through both.
Overall Impression — 8
Playing different types of metal with several bands, this was a good addition to my collection of guitars, although it was my first 7-string, it's fit and finish and overall quality helped me fall in love quick. I've seen a few reviews putting this guitar down, and I really don't see why. It is exactly what it's advertised as, a straightforward, no frills heavy metal/ hard rock guitar, and for the price does it very well. Aside from wanting to put and 81-7 in the bridge, I'm very happy with this purchase.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've only had this guitar a short while, but so far it seems most things will hold up pretty good, this is actually my first bolt on neck in over 10 years, so I'm waiting to see if there will be any issue there. Everything right from the store was nice and tight, and has stayed that way. The only thing I will say sucks, is the finish on the hardwear, but I knew that going into it. I have a ART500DVS that has the same finish on the bridge (also a Gibraltar bridge) and it doesn't so much wear off, as it becomes staind by your hand resting on it. And I'm not one of those guys that has sweaty hands that rot strings or anything like that. So just be aware of that.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Well L&M set up their guitars in store, so I can't say "from Factory" but it was set up very well. No adjustments were needed. The only flaws I noticed were a couple small spots in the binding of the body were a little off, and the neck along the bubinga strip was a little rough, but very little, extremely light sanding and it was all good to go. The black finish is actually one of the best I've ever seen on a guitar in this price range. It's actually flawless, mirror finish with no marks, bubbles or anything.
Features — 8
Brand new, made in Indonesia. 25.5" scale length. 24 frets with a Rosewood fingerboard, Maple & Bubinga neck, Basswood body. It's in a super Strat style, with a "piano" black finish. Has a Gibraltar HardTail bridge, (non Trem version) with regular Ibanez tuners on the head. Active EMG 707's in both the neck and bridge positions. Volume knob, three way selector and a killswitch. There really isn't much else to say about it. Aside from the mostly useless killswitch instead of a tone knob kind of sucks.