Purchased from: Ocean Blue Music
Sound — 7
I play mostly Metallica, AC/DC, SOAD, etc. and this is just my first electric guitar, so I really wasn't expecting much of it. There is a slight humming noise when it's played clean if you turn your amp up loud, but that's expected from the single coil pickups. It doesn't give close to the sound of AC/DC but with distortion you can get fairly close to Metallica sound. Overall, it suits the way I play, but it needs a few ajustments here and there. The bridge pickup is very noisy when my amp is overdriven, and the others make surprisingly low hum. One thing I don't like is the neck pickup is very muddy, even with the tone set all the way to bright. When overdriven/distorted I always use the bridge pickup because it's the only one that sounds bright, even though you can't set the tone for it.
Overall Impression — 7
This guitar seems to allow me to play Metallica fairly easily, but it's definetly not a match for playing AC/DC. If I would get another guitar, or if it was stolen or lost, I would probably get an ESP or maybe a Gibson SG, but not the same one. I use this through a DigiTech Grunge Distortion pedal when set right gives me the sound I want (a Motley Crue-ish sound) and a worthless cheap amp I bought (the overdrive sucks which is why I bought the distortion pedal), but I have tried it in a Crate amp and it sounds fairly good. I wish it had a better whammy bar and a better adjusted neck.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The Grover tuners definetly deserve my applause, they are the only perfect thing on this guitar. Nothing wrong with them, I would reccommend them to anyone looking for non-locking tuners. However, I wouldn't really trust the rest of the hardware. I've never played it live, and it's already starting to fall apart. Without the whammy bar problem, the bridge is OK, considering sometimes I go nuts with my whammy bar, nothing's broken yet (fingers crossed). Once my hand slipped and I hit the pickup selector Switch and it bent nearly in half. The pots seem dependable, but the output jack stopped working (2 bucks, a trip to RadioShack, and a soldering iron fixed that). The strap buttons are very solid, my strap broke 3 times already yet the buttons seem invincible. I do not trust this enough to play live without a backup, though I most likely wouldn't use it. The finish seems like it will last, there's no scratches or dents in it (and I've bumped into lots of stuff with it and dropped it 3 times (when my strap broke). Fortunately, everything that broke and probably will eventually break is all cheap to fix.
Action, Fit & Finish — 4
The bolt-on neck's angle isn't right, though this only became obvious after a few months of playing it, it's too far outward and the strings are raised too far off the last fret, even though my saddles are set low. The nut was cut a little too low and when your strings get broken in, they start to rattle slightly against the first fret. The bridge sucks because if you use a whammy bar, your strings instantly de-tune themselves (a few times they de-tuned when I was screwing in the whammy bar, that's bad).
Features — 8
made and purchased in 2004, Standard Strat style, 3 single coil pickups with 5-way Switch, 1 volume, 2 tone, bolt-on maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, dotted inlays and grover tuners, comes with a whammy bar and a black finish with a white pickguard.