Price paid: $ 499
Purchased from: Welch Music
Sound — 7
I bought this guitar mostly for metal and heavier styles (Bullet For My Valentine, Escape The Fate, Avenged Sevenfold, etc) since my American Strat doesn't do well with that much gain or the drop-C tuning. It was made for styles like this so it's no surprise that it excels in these areas. The cleans are nice and full-toned, but it seems they lack mids when compared to the massive bass of the Rockfields. Highs are full but a little piercing depending on settings. Mid-gain classic rock settings don't seem up to par, but I haven't played with settings much. The pickups are HOT enough that they want to overdrive the amp into high-gain settings. But, paired with my Peavey Valveking 212, it's a dream team of metal made in China. I don't use effects so I can't comment on that. The pickups are quiet unless you're too close to the amp, but any guitar is noisy by amps.
Overall Impression — 8
I'm really impressed with the Hex XT. It has so many high-flight features for the low price of 5 bills. My only issue is that I am still figuring out the Floyd Rose. It's a pain to change tunings on. I compared this to other guitars for several years before this purchase; every thing from Schecters and ESP's to Gibsons and Paul Reed Smiths. If it were stolen I would try to buy another Michael Kelly, though maybe not this exact one. The Vex NV is another awesome guitar that I just couldn't find at the time. If you want to purchase one of these, jump on it because I'm not sure these are being made anymore; and I'm not even sure of the fate of the company.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I haven't gigged with this guitar yet, but I am confident that it will perform with flying colors. All the hardware is solid, but if I know pickup selectors, it will start to act up after a while. The strap buttons are nice and sturdy for most live playing switches, yet I don't think that they would withstand Yngwie Malmsteen-esque spins and flips. The finish is nice just like all Michael Kelly's.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
This guitar was set-up very well when I bought it, but the shop sets all of its guitars up before selling them so I'm not completely sure about the factory settings. Action was nice and low with almost no buzz; almost. Frets were nicely filed with no sharp ends. The pickups seemed to be adjusted well. Rockfield pickups are high-quality and the Mafias specifically sound incredible. The only flaw I saw was that Michael Kelly didn't include a tremolo arm so I had to wait for one to come in on order.
Features — 9
Made in China in 2009-ish. 24 medium-jumbo frets with a 25 1/2 inch scale length bolt-on neck. Basswood body with a drop-dead gorgeous "black-wash" finished flame maple top. The body is the typical Super-Strat shape with a flat top, but the kicker is that the arms are carved like an archtop, which looks killer but has no real function. The neck is maple with a satin finish, once again suited to fast playing styles. Original Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo, which is rare on a guitar this affordable. Rockfield Mafia humbuckers, 1 volume 1 tone, 3 way switch. Includes a nice hardshell case.