Price paid: $ 129
Purchased from: Trade Up Music
Features — 8
The Peavey Predator is one of the most underrated guitars in existence, in my opinion. I don't know the exact year of mine. It is likely between '93-'95. Poplar body with poly finish. The finish chips a little too easily, but looks good when it's intact. The edges of the body aren't as rounded and "soft" as a Fender body. The headstock says the guitar is "crafted in the U.S.A." but I've seen reports that the guitar bodies were actually made overseas in Indonesia or something like that. The pickguard is single ply. The pickups are 3 singles. They are controlled by the typical Strat configuration of knobs: v-t-t. 5-way switch. The bridge is a 4-point bridge, which is unique. Seems stable, but it's missing the trem bar, so I can't vouch for it completely. The neck is a two piece maple laminate capped by a maple fretboard. The glue joint on the two piece neck is so tight that I thought it was a one piece, at first. The truss rod is covered by a plastic plate with one screw in it, which is more convenient than the usual 3 screw plate. The tuners are no-name tuners. They look like the typical tuners you'd find on a Squier or Mexi-Strat. There's a string tree for the 5th and 6th strings. The neck has a satin finish on it.
Sound — 9
The sound is great. It sounds like a nice Stratocaser. The pickups are no-names, bt they are well-balanced. They are slightly hot. Running two together, they don't hum. By themselves, they have the typical strat hum. They are wired in the usual strat format. However, I have to say that the volume and tone knobs seem very responsive. The tone knobs, in particular give a wide variety of tones and frequencies. Maybe I've just been too long without a strat, but I don't remember my previous strats having so many sounds. I use it with a Blackstar ID:Core10 amp. When the amp is on a "bright/clean" setting, the guitar has a shimmery, sparkling tone. It's lovely. I don't even care that I lose my man card for using the word "lovely." That's just what it is. On a "warm/clean" setting, the overdriven sound is really good. Stratocaster tone surrounded by light fuzz. I'm not joking. It really sounds like a strat. It doesn't sound like an American custom strat, by it sounds as good or better than a Mexi-strat. Sound is always subjective so don't take my word for it. You should definitely play any guitar you are considering before buying it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I bought the guitar second hand. I don't know how it was set up from the factory. It was set up reasonably well when I got my hands on it. I lowered the action just slightly and it is perfect now. There are some chips in the finish, but that's not important. If you're concerned about finish chips, you probably are more interested in collecting guitars than playing them. The neck on this guitar is a pure player. It's a thinner profile than what I'm used to. It's also not as wide at the nut as a Fender strat. It's perfectly straight. For a 20 year old neck, it's amazing. The story on the necks that I've heard is that the neck is the only part of the guitar that was truly manufactured in the U.S. Just don't try to put it on a Fender body. It won't fit in the Fender neck pocket. This guitar is worth the price for the playability, alone.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Seems durable. It's lasted 20 years already. That's pretty good. The frets are low, but level. The electronics are all perfectly functional. The tuners could be upgraded, but they work well enough. The strap buttons are tight. Even the input jack is tight. I'm not a rough player, so I could probably gig it without a backup. The finish is weak, but to reiterate: I don't care about that. Even an American made Strat can break down if you abuse it, so I figure a cheap guitar will hold up just as well as an expensive guitar, if you treat it right.
Overall Impression — 9
Love this guitar. I like cheap guitars. I like the VW GarageMaster that First Act made. This is like the Strat version of the GarageMaster, for me. It's a severely under-rated gem. People knock Peavey all the time, but if you know what you're looking for Peavey made some killer gear for cheap and a lot of it is just laying around, waiting to be picked up. This is at least Mexi-strat level quality at Walmart price. If it were stolen, I'd be super angry. Then I'd just get another one. Simple. Actually, forget I said that. Anything that says Peavey on it is garbage and you should ignore it. :-)