Price paid: $ 130
Purchased from: Local smalltime music store
Sound — 8
I mostly play technical shredding stuff like Dragonforce, Van Halen, some Velvet Revolver and A7X but I vary it up to stuff like Thrice, Nirvana, whatever I feel like. My style varies from metal to hardcore to latin to classical. The guitar has a good sound for a beginner guitar pricewise only a half step up from first acts. It can handle most of what I play though not nearly as well as I would like. The bridge pickup by itself has a tone that I don't like. It does have a nice sustain on harmonics and really draws out hammers taps and pulloffs. It's very bright and strident, however and makes more noise than it should. The rest of the settings are quite nice. I play it through the Johnson amp it came with with no effects other than some basic overdrive and what I can do with my hands. I have found that I like the sound without pedals and such. I also am dead broke when it comes to effects. However, this guitar has a substantial amount of variety although there's no way to play Unearth on it and you can also forget about Santana. But in between it's a good range and it can get a very good sound considering the price.
Overall Impression — 8
I play whatever I feel like and I feel will improve my technical proficiency. Metal, classical, neoclassical, latin, hardcore, whatever. I have played for 2 years on guitar but practice an enormous amount and have played piano for 10 years. This guitar is generally a good match and when I first started it was a very good match although looking back on it I would have bought something else if I knew how my styles would have developed and progressed. I also have an acoustic classical Epiphone that's also a piece and within a week will have a new electric which I still haven't decided 100% on. If it was stolen or lost I would be pissed cause this is a first and a practice guitar but I would but I different one. The finish is the best part of the guitar, worthy of a guitar 10 times this things value. The whammy bar is definitely the worst part. Since I knew next to nothing about guitar when I first bought this I did not really do any real research and I regret it. However this guitar is all and all an excellent value because it's only $30 up from a walmart guitar and it's 100 times the guitar. I'm very critical so I've pointed out everything that's wrong with it but in all truth this is a great guitar for the money and if you don't play seriously and are not loaded you should seriously look at this guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 4
This thing survived me playing terribly and destructively on it for a half a year before I knew any better and it barely has a dent. I broke the input cord before the guitar took any damage apart from the bridge. The finish will last forever. It has one tiny dent and that's in the wood behind the laquer. The finish is definitely the most impressive thing about this guitar After the whammy bar got taken out and I glued the control knobs on, it became a solid guitar that takes considerable damage and will probably last a long, long time. The hardware should last. Call me lazy but I really haven't taken the guitar apart. All the work I've done is stuff I can do without taking the strings out so I haven't seen any of the real wiring. I would not play this in concert, let alone without a backup. I've dropped it maybe twice and it's fine but it's not the type of guitar to play in a gig. it's my practice machine, not for shows. And I would take a backup. I'm not an idiot.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
Okay, here's the problems start. Personally because this is my first electric I like the action but that's all personal bias because it's pretty bad. This guitar is not built for speed. The notes are clear for the most part although from frets 8-11 on the low e the string scrapes against a fret when plucked very heavily (although it's very hard to pluck that hard if you're playing correctly) and that's a terrible sound. Also bending on this is quite difficult. It's very hard to bend to 3 half steps and virtually impossible to bend further. It's built for a beginner guitarist Who really doesnt't need to worry about these things and just needs a basic machine that's a solid forgiving guitar and that it does well. However, after having the guitar for 2 months of so because of my excessive use of the whammy bar the bridge started getting pulled out of the guitar. I had to take it back to the shop. They fixed it and took out the whammy bar because it's a piece. Now the thing doesn't even screw in properly and because the tuning doesn't like even a mild divebomb kills the tuning. This is a major problem for me because I need a working tremolo. Also, the control knobs were loose and would regularly fall off and I actually had to glue them on. The finish is beautiful for the cost. Now I don't particularly care for the design because I'm not a huge fan of the Strat but all my friends have told me that they love the finish so that's definitely the most solid feature on this guitar. The pickups are set in place fine, no problems with them. The wood is also fine. It has a decent fell and since the guitar is quite light the playability is good, not great, but good. The strap buttons are terrible and I've had to take tape of hold the strap on. It doesn't stay in tune long either. I play incessantely, sometimes 5 hours a day but I have to tune it way to often I feel.