Price paid: $ 118.5
Sound — 8
Sonically, this guitar is quite suited to just about any style. The pickups were one pleasantly surprising feature on this instrument. It has a quite trebly sound through my Yamaha VX 65D amp, and a very clear sound with distortion. It's possible to make the sound a little bassier and muddier, though, if that's what you're aiming for. The tonal variety is quite nice too, since the tone controls and pickup selector Switch actually seem to work on this guitar quite well. Also surprising is that this guitar is not that noisy. There's not a lot of hum from the pickups, which makes it a fairly good guitar to look into for a beginner. Still, if you want something that sounds a lot clearer, and something a lot more expressive, you're still better off looking for a more high-end guitar, especially if you're not a beginner.
Overall Impression — 7
As a guitarist who plays plenty of heavy metal and prog, I'd say that this guitar is okay for someone starting out, and it can pull off the tone of guitarists like Alex Lifeson (I got a fairly convincing "YYZ" tone out of this thing today) and John Petrucci, but the features it has prevents it from really standing out and being something that would make it a perfect buy. My seven-string Squier Stagemaster-7 doesn't quite have the clarity of sound, or playability, but it has 24 frets, and is a much more expressive guitar that's definitely of a higher caliber. What I do love about this guitar is that it sounds very nice and clear, and it has a very beautiful tone for such an inexpensive guitar. It's not the most expressive tone, but it definitely gets the job done. It's also quite a playable guitar, as it feels good in my hands. I don't like the fact that it only has 21 frets (even 22 would have made this guitar a winner), and that it doesn't have locking tuners. Those two features alone are what keep me from rating it any higher. Overall, this guitar is a great guitar for anyone just starting out Who doesn't want to spend more than $250, but for anyone Who is willing to spend a little more, there are much better choices out there. If it were stolen, I'd be pretty upset because I lost pretty much my main guitar, but I'd take the opportunity to buy something a little better to replace it. Perhaps an ESP M-100FM to tide me off until I can afford a decent Ibanez RG with a Floyd Rose. The final verdict is that this guitar is good for beginners, but avoid it if you're willing to pay more than $250. It's still got it's charms, but it's merely a taste of the greatness of the guitar, and not the full course.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar has been used on stage a few times now, and I can say for sure that it's definitely held up quite well on stage. I've never lost my strap from the buttons, the hardware's held up quite well, as I've never had a problem with something cutting out yet, and although it has some scratches and a couple of dings from my rough playing, it hasn't fallen apart in my hands yet. I'd still prefer a backup, but I trust this guitar well enough to play it with confidence on stage.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The action on this guitar is perfect for my needs: not too low, not too high. Everything on this guitar was adjusted just fine, and everything fits together quite well. When I first got this guitar from my band's ex-vocalist, however, the nut on the output jack was loose, but that was quite easily fixed, and I haven't had a problem with it in the two years since. I wish the pickup selectors were of better quality though, and perhaps a little less noisy. As well, there's no information on this specific guitar's wood anywhere that I can see. A different Raptor model has a poplar body and maple neck, so I am assuming that that's the case here as well, but I can't confirm it for sure.
Features — 6
Not sure when the guitar was made, but it was definitely around 2003-2004. Not sure where it was made, either. The neck is maple and the body is poplar (though I can't really confirm it, because I am going by what the regular Raptor has), and mine came in a sunburst finish. It features a Strat-like tremolo system, one volume and one tone knob (which is really all I need), a 5-way selector Switch, two single coil pickups and a humbucker in the bridge position. I wish this thing had locking tuners or something, so that whammy bar dives wouldn't affect the tuning, but seeing as how I rarely use the whammy bar for anything more than vibrato, I could do worse. This guitar is fairly impressive for one in its price range, being a really low-end instrument, but there are a lot of things that a guitarist like myself, Who has been playing for a few years and wants to have something better, needs that this guitar doesn't offer. Overall, the features are excellent for a beginner, but lacking for everyone else. My biggest gripe is the fact that it only has 21 frets, and I've become a much more advanced player Who requires a little more, which is why I'm starting to favor my Squier Stagemaster-7, which has 24 frets.