Price paid: $ 170
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 8
The Michael Kelly PAF Plus humbuckers have an surprisingly rich, warm tone. Using it with an Epiphone Valve Standard through a variety of different effects. In comparison to other stock pickups, I'd put these above the Duncan Designs I see commonly on other guitars. Great for warm blues, rock, and metal with the right effects. Now, I don't normally do much with volume rolloffs and normally keep the volume maxed, relying on my amp for a set volume then a pedal for added boost, but I noticed as I would roll the volume back and forth that there was a considerable amount of hiss as I passed through the "middle" of the volume control. It was non existant either at either end of the spectrum. I'll investigate this further and if anything, possibly replace the pots as I replace the pickups sometime in the future. The tone knob didn't exhibit this at all.
Overall Impression — 8
I like to play anything from dirty blues to various genres of metal. This guitar fit's in fine with what I like to do, providing nice warm cleans as well as enough punch for the heavier stuff. For the price that I got it at, I was quite surprised at the quality. I wanted something inexpensive that I could use to practice with, without the worry of anything happening haphazardly with my more expensive guitars if I was just fiddling around in the comfort of my home. I can't really complain about the lack of extras considering the cost I paid for it was even quite a bit lower than it's already low cost. If it were lost or stolen, I'd definitely try to replace it, even if I had to pay the regular cost. My favorite "feature" about this guitar is it's simplicity and the quality of the build for such a small cost. The only gripe I have with it so far is that odd hiss from the volume pot, but I'm sure that will be remedied when I decide to do some modifications on it far in the future. Even then, it's only a mild annoyance.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Although I haven't had it for a very extended period of time, the guitar seems very solidly built. The guitar has a very simplistic nature and I don't see any reason why this couldn't handle Live playing. The strap buttons themselves seem quite solid. The hardware also is time tested (Grover, Tune-O-Matic). Looking at the the guitar from the side, the finish seems decently thick enough, although not as thick as on my Fender MIM or Schecter Blackjack. As far as gigging, I wouldn't gig without a backup regardles of the guitar, as accidents are just what they are, accidents. However, This guitar definitely seems well built enough to handle a Live gig without any issue if it came down to it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Now this was ordered from eBay as Brand New. It wasn't packaged in the original factory box (it was in a Parker Guitars box), so I don't know if any setup had been done previously on it. I was suprised that the neck on this guitar was perfectly straight, yet had very little buzz, if any, on any of the frets. No jagged fret edges (my Fender MIM feels rougher), and the lowest action of any of my other guitars (on par maybe with my Gibson SG). Pickup height was fine. Finish on the guitar was flawless, not a scratch. The figured maple top looks quite striking, along with a natural binding and black back. All the chrome bit's are nice and shiney, without a scratch and the pots turn fine and smooth without any gritty feeling. The 3-position Switch switches back and forth without any pop. Upon opening the back cover the wires were neatly soldered and tucked away.
Features — 8
This was purchased in March of '09, most likely made in 2008 in China. It's a 24 fret (25.5' scale) bolt-on neck made of maple with a rosewood fretboard. This particular piece has a figured maple top on a Paulonia body with a glossy, clear finish. The body is that of a super Strat style with dual Michael Kelly PAF Plus covered humbuckers. Tune-O-Matic bridge with a string through body, Grover tuners, and master volume/tone knobs with a three-way Switch done in shiney chrome flesh out the rest of the hardware. No case or extras were included in the purchase, but considering that these normally sell for approximately $350 and I got it new for $170 on eBay, I can't really complain.