Price paid: $ 549
Purchased from: Sweetwater.com
Features — 8
- Basswood body with gloss polyester finish
- Maple Neck with Rosewood Fretboard
- Bridge: TonePros adjustable/String-thru-body
- Comes stock with Duncan Designed HB-102N (Neck) and HB-102B (Bridge) humbuckers
- 1 Volume, 2 Tone knobs, 3 way selector
- Non-locking tuners
- 24x Jumbo Frets
On paper, this guitar sounds of a mid-range quality for a mid-range price. This could be true depending on what you decide to use it for.
Sustain is good, no bridge problems, nothing wrong with the wiring. I bought one in a Quicksilver finish.
Sound — 8
I use a Marshall MG100HDFX with the matching MG412A cabinet. I use a ModTone-Speedbox Distortion pedal, ModTone-Clean Boost pedal, and a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor pedal. I have a very clear articulate heavy metal sound on a normal basis. Stock, this guitar comes with the Duncan Designed HB102B/N's. These pickups are very hit-or-miss on quality as they are mass produced and can sound decent, or very shoddy. I was fortunate enough to get a decent set of these. Could you get a worse set? Yes. The pickups themselves were not too noisy, standard feedback from a high gain setting, Played clean they sound as good as any standard mid-range pickup would sound. Since the guitar does not come with a tremolo system, you're going to be able to make your standard hardtail sounds. It has a solid sound that, for heavy metal, won't fail to impress. That said, I switched the stock pups for Seymour Duncan Blackouts a month later.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I had the action set for me before I played it by someone I trust, but I heard nothing bad about it. Everything was in functional order, but there were a few finish flaws. The beveling on the top fin was poorly done, but could only be seen by close inspection. The faux-binding on the fretboard cracked within a few months but this did nothing to hinder the sound or play-ability of the guitar. The knobs were relatively loose compared to what I'd prefer, they could probably be tightened but my problems were fixed with the hardware change for the pickups. I mostly care about the general look of the instrument instead of the smaller details, but for the sake of criticism I'll give this a 7 because of the flaws in the finish and the cracking.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I've owned the guitar for nearly two years now, and haven't had a single problem with it. It has withstood live playing no problem, and the stock hardware still on it has had no functionality problems. Strap buttons should (In my opinion) ALWAYS be changed for a set of strap locks on any guitar. I could depend on using it without a backup. The finish itself is tough, it has buckle scratches on the back but nothing that has penetrated deep into the finish, and to see you'd need a very bright light to reflect off of it. Just like every guitar, no matter how much you try, you're eventually going to hit it off of something, and it has stood up to walls, corners, and chairs without a single scratch on any points.
Overall Impression — 9
As stated before, I play heavy metal. This ranges from progressive speed metal to your standard Metallica sound. I've been playing guitar for 7 years and have owned a multitude of instruments, but as of now, this has been one of, if not the best guitar I've owned thus far. If this were stolen, and I had the money to replace it, I would do so in a heartbeat.
What I love about this guitar is that it is a very solid gigging instrument, that could double as a recording instrument. As someone who loves Rhoads and other V style guitars, this was a perfect purchase. There is nothing to hate about this guitar at all besides it making you not want to play any of your other guitars. The only thing I wish it had was a model with a Floyd Rose. Neither the 24 or 22 fret version of this guitar have tremolo systems, nor the option to add one from the factory.
On a personal level, I give this a 10 because the instrument suits me and my style perfectly. Versatility-wise, this can be used for your standard rock to extreme metal, but it has a bit too much bite for anything much softer.