Price paid: $ 183
Purchased from: EBAY
Sound — 7
I play hard rock mostly. With high gain and a lot of distortion it actually sounds quite good, but only if you like this sound. I use the bridge pickup 99% of the time and this is quite noisy as you'd expect. I use the neck pickup for one song and I use it clean for that. I think it sounds good (for the price it certainly does). Generally though I would not use this guitar without any overdrive or distortion. Maybe some reverb would help as well. If you want natural sustain, don't get this. I can only get significant sustain through use of effects. I do have to say that I tried an Ibanez (RG something or other, costing about 350) and this was not very much better than the Peavey to play. The tone from the pickups was probably better, but other than that there wasn't much in it.
Overall Impression — 8
This was my first guitar so I wasnt expecting it to sound amazing. It took me a year to find out my amp had overdrive. Once I discovered that it didn't take me long to get a good sound out of it. I wouldn't buy this guitar for the sound it makes, I would buy it because it is excellent value for money. It is a very good Strat copy and a great guitar (for me at least) to learn on. I believe it is comparable in all aspects except tone (due to the nature of pickups, single coil/humbuckers) with the Ibanez RG model I've used. If I was starting all over again, this would deffinitely be one of the guitars I would keep an eye open for on eBay.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had this guitar 18 months now and I guess the previous owner had it a few years. I've knocked it on occasions but no damage was done, so it seems quite solidly made. It has not posed me with any problems over the 18 months I've had it and I don't think the previous owner changed anything, so I guess it is quite reliable.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
I bought this 2nd hand so I can't comment on the factory set-up. However I have tried adjusting the action and height of pickups myself. This has helped to improve the quality of tone of notes played on the 1st string and improved the balance of the guitar's sound. This was quite easy to adjust. As far as flaws go, there are probably a few. Notably a noisy 5-way Switch (this is a dirt cheap item). It does however keep tune quite well.
Features — 6
This is an "International Series Raptor I" made in Vietnam. Paid 100 for guitar with Peavey Rage 158 Amp. Maple neck, rosawood fretboard, poplar body. 21 jumbo frets. Came with 3 single coil pickups.