Price paid: $ 560
Purchased from: From a friend
Features — 7
My Fender Rotor EXP was made in Korea. It has 24 thin frets and the fretboard is rosewood (some sources say it's ebony but I'm certain mine's rosewood). It has Grover tuners (not sure if it's locking or not). The body and neck are both mahogany. It has two volume knobs and a single tone knob as well as a 3 way selector switch. The pickup setup is H-H and both pickups are hot and passive.. Mine came with a gig bag. Mine does not have a tremolo but there are some out there with tremolo systems. The body is like an explorer but has extra cutaways to give it an edgier design. It has a locking strap holder and an all black finish with abalone trim. The neck is not bolt on and I believe it's set-in neck but it could be all one piece of wood. Overall, there's nothing fancy about this guitar but it isn't skimp on features and gets the job done.
Sound — 8
I play mostly metal (High on Fire, Baroness, Mutoid Man, Electric Wizard, Acid Bath, and Sleep are my main influences) and this guitar gets the job done pretty good. The pickups aren't amazing, but they can take a fair amount of gain without being too muddy. With a new set of pickups, this guitar would sound very very good. The mahogany wood makes this guitar a bit darker sounding but the pickups aren't active so the tone is fairly bright and warm. You could get a fair amount of tones out of this thing. I can see someone using this guitar for playing AC/DC covers or jamming to Nirvana tunes, but I think this guitar excels a lot at getting '80s and '90s metal tones, specifically thrash and death metal. Slayer, Kreator, Morbid Angel, and even Cryptopsy sound pretty damn good when ran through this guitar. Pretty much the only thing this guitar would be bad at is getting a good classic rock sound. Stuff like Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin would sound a bit odd in this guitar. It's passable, but it's not it's strong suit. I'm also not a fan of the neck pickup. Besides for getting dark cleans, it's sounds really muddy and cheap and the bridge pickup sounds much better.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar was set up pretty good when I got it (it's used, however, so I'm not sure if it's been set up out of factory or what). Nothing is wrong with the tuners or knobs. The switch isn't lose and works fine. There's a few nicks and scratches, but that's expected if you buy a guitar used. As far as how the guitar looks, it's ugly. I hate plain black finishes and I'm not a fan of abalone. Overall, it doesn't feel really cheap. Everything is together and it feels okay. Some might not like the thin frets, but you get used to them.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The guitar has locking strap holders but if you're going to be gigging a lot, locking tuners are recommended. But it seems well made and built. Since it's Korean made, I would have a backup, but you could probably toss it around and beat it a bit and be perfectly fine. I don't take particularly good care of my instruments and if this guitar has handled my abuse, it can likely withstand most other people's abuse (assuming you don't hit it against a brick-filled fridge or pour gasoline all over it). I'd say it's trustworthy enough.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall it's a good intermediate guitar. If you can pick this guitar up for 500-700 bucks, I say go for it. It's got a good sound for hard rock and metal, it's solid, it's not cheap, and if you ever want, you can buy new pickups and locking tuners and you've got yourself a damn good guitar. The main downsides are that it's kinda ugly (unless you get a sunburst EXP, that one looks pretty damn sexy) and that the thin frets aren't very comfortable (you get used to them, however.) The neck pickup is also pretty subpar and sounds really muddy. The bridge pickup is decent. I'd recommend this to any intermediate guitarist who wants to get a new guitar or for anyone who wants a solid guitar but is on a budget.