Price paid: $ 130
Purchased from: Music Go Round
Sound — 7
This guitar sounded decent, but it was not what I was looking for personally, so I replaced the bridge pickup with a used epi humbucker I got for 8 bucks, so now my cheap Strat basically sounds like a Korina Explorer. As for the sound, all of the pickups sounded good. It had a good bright twang on the bridge and a nice, round soft sound at the neck, with everything in between possible with a little tweaking if the tones. The bridge pickup was very noisy, that's why I replaced it. This guitar is works great for almost any sound you want. It can give you a nice country twang, or a screaming lead on the bridge, or a smooth blues rhythm at the neck. You will need to upgrade the pickups eventually, but I recommend getting a new instrument if you don't like the sound because getting new pickups really isn't worth it. I upgraded mine because I got a good deal on a pickup.
Overall Impression — 8
All of my nuber ratings were based on the kinds of customers this guitar is marketed to: beginners. J. Reynolds is a really chearp company, but this guitar is excellent for beginners. I bought mine in March last year, and I've been teaching myself ever since. This was my first guitar, and I enjoy playing it. If you are thinking about taking up guitar for the first time this is a good option because it plays very well and is cheap. I would not recommend this to anyone Who thinks they will be playing for a long time because you will want to invest in something that you won't need to upgrade in a year or so. It is also not good for people who want to learn metal because it's not the style of this guitar (wrong pickups, not enough frets). This guitar is basically the same as an entry-level Squire. I plan on keeping this guitar for the rest of my life because it was my first guitar and because it doesn't have any resale value at all!
Reliability & Durability — 5
I doubt this guitar would stand up to Live playing, it goes out of tune easily, and has too much feedback/hum for any kind of distortion at those kinds of volumes. The hardware is just fine, but I put Schaller straplocks on it because I can't stand normal strap buttons. If you try this on a J. Reynolds, fill the holes with JB Weld because the scews for the factory buttons are larger than Schaller straplocks, so the locks aren't actually secure if you just put them in the way they are. When I start gigging, I'm probably going to get something better because I don't want to use this for much longer. The finish is great, it did crack a little when I dropped my new pickup on it, but you can only see it up close.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
This guitar was set up rather poorly. The action was alright, but the fine tuners on the bridge were. Far too sharp, I had to adjust it myself to make the higher frets in tune. When I first played it, the highest frets were almost 1/4 step sharp. The pickups were adjusted well. Everything was routed nicely. It had cavities routed for humbuckers at the bridge and the neck, but the middle one was a single. There really weren't any flaws on it. The finish was beautiful, everything worked great. The only problem was that the knobs were very loose, but all of J. Reynolds knobs in that style are like that.
Features — 7
This guitar was made in China, probably for about 3 cents an hour, but there were no quality control issues. 21 frets. Solid top. Poplar body (very light, bad sustain), Maple neck (a little flat, but very playable), rosewood fretboard (I prefer maple for strats). Sunburst finish (it's availible in many other colors, but this one looked really nice). Strat body. Vintage tremolo bridge (goes out of tune easily, but that's more of a nut problem). Passive electronics. Volume-tone-tone, 5-way selector. S/S/S pickup configuration (don't know what brand, but they sounded OK to me). Tuners: Schaller, or a Schaller ripoff model because these were really nice. The only included accessory I got was a cheap cable from Music Go Round.