Price paid: $ 349
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 5
I play everything from John Mayer and Coldplay to Tool and Iron Maiden, so, needless to say, I put this guitar to the test. The cleans are a cheap imitation of a HH strat, but distortion just kills the character. Try playing some old school punk and you'll discover exactly what I'm talking about. It should be noted that I did play it through the Spider that came with the guitar, so that may be biasing the results. If you're going to be sticking to more or less clean guitars (alt rock, CCM, etc), this guitar will work fine. Otherwise, move it on down the line.
Overall Impression — 7
Considering this had been my first guitar, I think it worked out excellently. My music tastes have changed a lot since I bought it and it was able to adjust relatively well, considering it's a budget guitar. As of this writing, I've been playing for about 2.5 years and almost entirely self-taught. I mentioned earlier that I bought a MIM Strat, as well as a Yamaha Acoustic (new amp is next). All in all, I'm rather satisfied with this purchase, though if it were stolen, the only reason I'd be upset is because of the sentimental value. It's a very comfortable guitar and superb for beginners, but for intermediate and advanced players, get a different guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've taken this guitar to a few gigs and it worked out fairly well. I've dropped it numerous times and generally beat the hell out of it, with only a minor chip in the finish to show for it. I'd recommend getting strap locks, but you should do that for any guitar you buy. I did a pickup swap for some Dimarzios, which worked wonders. Now that I've invested in a Fender Strat, this guitar has been relegated to backup status, but it could manage a gig on its own. Definitely a great guitar for a beginner, who will likely mishandle and abuse it more than play it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
As I said before, the GC guy did an in-store set-up, which worked fine. The intonation was a little off, but a little handiness with an Allen wrench fixed that right up. Everything else was just as would be expected, with no real issues. I wasn't a fan of the strings that it came with, but swapping them out for .10 Slinkys worked excellently.
Features — 7
I bought this guitar new in 2009 as part of the Laguna "Ultimate Rock Pack" starter set. Contrary to popular opinion, the salesman at GC was actually rather helpful and even set up the guitar for free. I believe this particular model is made in Japan. The body is a superstrat-style made of basswood, with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard (22 frets).It came with a Line 6 Spider III (I know, I know), a cable, a pack of strings, 3 picks, gig bag, a cheap strap (it broke entirely after a month)and a chromatic tuner that is absolutely atrocious. This particular model comes in either 2-Tone Sunburst or Matte Black, with a tremolo bridge--not exactly sure what kind, seeing as mine didn't come with a tremolo. Two no-name humbuckers and a three-way selector switch with Standard tuners. A minor issue for Les Paul fans is the lack of knobs: only two, with one for volume and one for tone. All in all, fairly Standard starter guitar kit.