Price paid: A$ 850
Purchased from: Billy Hyde Music Worx
Sound — 8
I mainly play heavy music, and it suits me quite well. I don't really play thrash, but I could see this guitar being suited to it. I run my guitar through a computer, and it's producing less background noise than any other guitar I have. It's hard for me to comment on the tone because I use an amp sim, but if you're using a program such as Guitar Rig or Revalver, you will be able to tweak your presets to arrive at a very high quality distorted or clean sound. I am planning to replace the pickups with EMG's because the passive Duncan's aren't "hot" enough for my liking.
Overall Impression — 9
One thing I would like to add is that this guitar is "top heavy", when standing up it tends to dip downwards. This could be fixed with a good quality strap, I'm not sure. I have used this guitar in E standard, D standard, B standard, and Open C tunings, and each time I've been able to easily set it up to my liking with a few different string gauges etc. I'm very happy with this purchase and expect to be using this guitar for a long time.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I don't play live, however I see no reason why it wouldn't be suitable for it. The chrome hardware seems to be of a high quality, and the guitar generally feels very solid and durable despite it's light weight. I've knocked it around a bit and the finish has stayed perfect. It stays in tune very reliably even when using the tremolo a lot.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was not set at all when I got it. Tuning and adjusting the pickup height went smoothly and only took a short while. The action is able to be set very low with no fret buzz or yucky sounds. There were no visable flaws, everything was nice and shiny.
Features — 9
This guitar was made in Japan. It has 24 XJ frets, 25.5" scale with a bolt on maple neck. The V shaped body is made from basswood and has a black finish which so far hasn't got a scratch or chip to be seen. The passive Duncan Designed pickups fair quite well, lots of people complain about the neck tone, but so far I'm pleased with it - even with clean tones. The bridge pickup is solid, however I find that pinch harmonics don't "jump out" at you. The gig bag that came with it is very cool, black with red detailing and a picture logo. There is a volume and tone control with a 3-way selector. Knobs are in good order and not loose. This guitar comes with a "low profile" Floyd Rose, it's slightly different to the normal Floyd Rose in terms of how it sits in the body, but all-round it's very good. In fact, I prefer it. The one thing that is disappointing is that the shark-fin inlays are on the 1-22 frets like normal, but not on the 24th! I find it throws off the look of the neck, but it's only a minor issue.