Price paid: $ 417
Purchased from: Mid-Michigan Music Center
Sound — 10
This guitar is directly strictly to metal and shred fans. The pickups do a great job with transfer the sound with minimal noise, and gives assertive tone whether on clean channel w/ both pickups or on distortion on the bridge pickup. The sound is surprisingly well rounded on clean channel despite the metal look to it(Think like Seven Mary Three's acoustic version of Cumbersome). It's very good for both clean-channel playing, as well as the metal and shred you grew up with.
Overall Impression — 10
An axe like this exists to be played Live, although I am not able to do so at this time, and plays even better than it sounds. It is durable, but the moment you get reckless with it you'll probably end up paying to get the spike replaced. The spike and the possibility of low action upon delivery from the manufacturer to the dealer to the player are the only things you need to worry about. Want something that can play like it looks? You've got it. Want one that's not so ridiculously expensive, but has top of the line hardware? Right again. Need something that isn't a hollow-body, but can give deliver a shimmering warm tone? Check. For the metalhead that needs to shred, this axe is what you're looking for.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Durability didn't seem to be a big thing driving this guitar's sales, but it turns out (after constant use for a while) that it is stable like most guitars. Just playing it for, say, a couple weeks gives you the feeling like it will last, if taken care of. If you took it on stage and thrashed it around trying to break it, you wouldn't have a hard time. The large point looks as though it would break easily if it were smashed onstage or run over with a car, but just playing it wouldn't bring you any worries. This guitar's finish will hold up, but don't hit it on anything, I made that mistake the night I got it and it chipped right on the large point. If you take it onstage without a replacement backstage, don't go hitting it on the floor or the amps!
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The pickups and action upon first receiving it from the store were just where they needed to be. With this system, however, watch if your action is too low, since the one I have seems to hint toward needing adjustments in a month or so. The model I got didn't contain any flaws that I found aside from the audio cable input slot needing to be screwed back tightly to the body.
Features — 9
This guitar practically IS a feature all its own. The crimson-swirl finish is the easily most noticable feature, followed closely by the Duncan Design pickups. This is a 2006 model, but I was lucky enough to find it at Mid-Mich Music. I have yet to receive the special-order hard case, so I don't know about that unfortunately. It does, however, have the massive benefits of a double-locking Jackson bridge system and 22 frets. Has a 3-way Switch w/ passive pickups, and master volume knob, giving you just what you need to pick up and play.