Price paid: £ 50
Purchased from: Car boot sale
Features — 8
I've had a hard time finding out information about this guitar as I bought it from a bloke at the local car boot sale who had no idea about guitars (or why he had it). This Les Paul styled guitar is as close to a "chibson" as you will get without the ripped off feeling after buying it. With 22 frets, a surprisingly good paintjob, accurate Gibson-like features (pickup design, three way switch, individual tone and volume for each pickup) and most importantly, good playability, I didn't do very bad at all for £50. The tuners hold quite well, I don't have to retune this nearly as much as I do with my Squier Tele Standard. The bridge feels very solid, all metal. First impressions are very good with this beginner guitar.
Sound — 7
The pickup sound surprisingly up to task, I even feel like the neck pickup beats my EMG Hz in both handling distortion and providing a nice clean tone. In middle position with all volume and tone up, you will get a great lead tone: not too dull and not too cutting. On bridge position the guitar will provide a very good tone with some distortion, well suited to post-'80s rock. The neck pickup alone will take some edge off the distortion, working perfectly for rhythm guitar. One problem is that, when you turn down the tone slightly on either pickup, noise increases a significant amount.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The action was near perfect when I received the guitar, though I have no idea if work has ever been done to it. Bending is perfect on this guitar, no cutoffs and very little work needs to be done for a full bend. The pickup height was fine, though the neck pickup seems to be slightly diagonally-angled. The intonation was perfect for me, even when I started top-wrapping the strings over the bridge. There is a big cosmetic issue near the neck: the body at the cutaway seems to have pulled away from the neck slightly, leaving a 1mm gap. This isn't too noticeable but it does bug me. The tuning pegs are quite tight, the pickup selector isn't too noisy (though it does seem to have a bias with going towards the "treble" side) and the paintjob does seem like it will last. Overall it probably exceeds the beginner guitar expectations build-wise.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Everything on this guitar does feel solid. Most the hardware is metal, the screws are well fitted and the tuning holds. My strap doesn't seem to stay very well on the button, but that's probably just because it's about 4 years old. I would definitely use this guitar as a backup at a gig (hell, I'd probably use it as my main), it looks nice, sounds good and can probably take a good kicking too (I'm yet to find out though). As I've already said, the finish seems to be very lasting without looking too plastic-y. For a punk or hard rock player I imagine this will tick all the boxes.
Overall Impression — 7
I play a lot of prog, thrash metal and soft rock. This guitar can handle all of those styles very well. I have played since I was 9 and this is one of the better guitars I have owned. With maybe a new pair of pickups, this guitar would hold up to any Epiphone very well. I suspect that I may have got lucky with the one I found, but if you see one around for under £100, I absolutely advise you to go and get it. Definite value for money right here. I maybe wouldn't use it to record, but for a live gig I think it is definitely suitable. I also think this would be a guitar guitar to mod, maybe peter green it?