Price paid: $ 679.98
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 5
I play a few different things at this point. I'll always play in a Grateful Dead Tribute band, and I've recently started doing originals that sort of fuse Jazz, Rock, and New Age and this guitar will be made to work VERY WELL for both of these. I play through a Mesa Boogie Nomad 45 2X12 with a Line 6 M13 and a Lexicon Reverb. The sound of the guitar is both good and bad. The VERY good sound (in fact more pleasant than my Strat, SG, and Tele) comes from playing the unplugged guitar. It has great sustain and rich tone. The problem comes when you plug in. The pickups that come in the guitar are garbage. GARBAGE. The neck pickup is the best of the bunch and it is alright with a little reverb but it doesn't really Shine in any way. The other 2 pickups are very nasal and too hot (bridge humbucker) and thin, doing a bad job imitating a mexican Strat pickup (middle single). It's not noisy, very well grounded as there is no hum even with the single. There is one big plus to these pickups. They all cut through the mix very well (though not in a good way). The other thing is that they really did sound fantastic when I was monkeying around with some 80s hair metal riffs during sound check. Maybe I'm being too harsh as they did do that 1 sound exceedingly well. If only it was 1987 again... These pickups do Ratt like nothing else...
Overall Impression — 8
This guitar is pretty much what I've been waiting for. It's a low priced, good looking guitar that really has a very usable locking tremolo. I've loved the look of this guitar ever since it came out as the s2170 Prestige. Of course that was way overpriced, so my waiting paid off. I've been playing 21 years and have owned more guitars that I care to remember. The big thing I look for now is a good feel and inspiration. That's what I saw in this guitar. It's a new style of guitar for me and I feel like it's giving my playing new places to go. I'd definitely replace it if it were stolen. I need to replace the pickups, but really, they should just leave those off from the factory so you can buy your own. I don't think I've ever kept a set of pickups stock on a guitar. It'll also allow me to tweak out the wiring and do some funky electronic things in there. Overall, I'm very satisfied with the guitar now that I've got it playing right. Just a matter of time before the thing sings with sweet tone...
Reliability & Durability — 8
Everything is good so far... The hardware is well made and everything seems up to snuff. Can someone take the gig without a backup off this site? That's just moronic. If you are a guitar player and are playing more than a 1 set gig, you need a backup. If you're playing a showcase, you need a backup. It's a stupid question. The only thing I'm concerned with is the Cosmo black finish on the metal. If it wears poorly it will make the guitar much less visually appealing.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Here's the bad part... The guitar was set up badly from the factory. The pickups were too high... the middle single caused terrible stratitis and the bridge was almost touching the strings. The action was very high due to too a bit of an overadjusted truss rod. The back of the trem was almost touching the bottom of the cavity. There was also the back of the neck which is more of a personal preference anyhow. When I pulled it out of the case at home, I felt a few rough spots and didn't really like the satin feel. This is easily fixed with a piece of OOOO steel wool. In fact all of these "problems" weren't terrible since I have to change the strings to 10s and reset the trem and pickups anyway. It's just kind of nice to have it get there in perfect tune with dead on action... Now here's the good part... The finish was flawless. There were no bad routs and no frets popping. There was no pitting on the metal parts. Everything was in place and nicely cleaned up. The back of the neck I would have hit with steel wool anyway to give it just a touch of gloss... Nothing was wrong that wouldn't have been changed anyway. In fact, the slightly back bowed neck had perfect relief under the tension of the 10s...
Features — 9
Brand New, just arrived at the store 5 minutes after I arrived. Made in Indonesia, which I was a little worried about and that was only partially justified. It's got 22 frets, a Wizard II neck with locking ZR Trem. The finish on this guitar puts the photos I've seen to shame. It's a one piece poplar burl top that is flamed, curly, just overall fantastic with a matte clear finish. The mahogany back is 2 pieces that are center joined, and very good looking pieces of wood. The neck is maple and the fretboard is bound rosewood that has been stained to make the grain appear more consistant.