Price paid: $ 99
Purchased from: eBay
Sound — 7
The pickups on the Saga are typical ceramic single coils and are wimpy. I bought the kit because I wanted a Strat with humbuckers in it. I found a pre-wired pickguard on eBay with PAFs in the neck and bridge and slapped that into it. I must say, it rocks. Stock, I'd give the sound about a 7 - Strat quacks and such, but too much noise and weak pickups. After modifications - 9+. The beauty of the Saga kits is that it's not a big deal to alter them. If you don't like what they sent with it, sell it on eBay and find something else. The body is routed HSH so you can fit pretty much anything you want in it. I'm going to buy another one so I can put P90's in it. For $99 I won't give it a second thought when I chisel the body up to fit them in either!
Overall Impression — 8
I play rock, alt rock, country rock, classic rock, whatever. After you put it together, this guitar is what it claims to be: a fun project that gives you a decent strat-copy. Think of it as a Starter Kit. A base to build on. After I finished modifying it, I like it better than several cheaper Les Paul copies I have played. I was going to get and Epi or something along that line. I never have liked the weight or the feel of Gibson's design though. That's why I made this one. Even with new tuners and replacement pickups, I'm into this one for less than $140 and it sounds as good or better than anything in that price range that's already made for you. Plus, no one else has a guitar like this one! Mine's yellow with floral inlays I put right into the lacquer on the headstock and the body. It looks great, sounds great and was quite a bit of fun to put together. Bottom line: If you have basic carpentry skills, the ability to work a soldering gun (the pre-wired pick guard that comes with it actually snaps together so you don't even have to solder it if you want to stay stock) and the time and patience to put into it, you won't be dissappointed with these. Especially when you put a bit of extra dough into some upgrades, you'll get a one of a kind that's all the more enjoyable to play becasue you did it yourself. I'll give it an 8 overall, but I really like mine much more than that.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Will it withstand live playing? Already has. I use it on a few classic rock tunes when I want the PAF crunch. My #1 is a tele with humbucker in the neck. This one I play mostly in position 2 with both pickups to get a meaty rhythm crunch. I love it. Strap buttons are solid, if not remarkable. The hardware is typical Far East and who knows. I'll probably replace parts over the years, I'm sure. I would bever gig with one guitar, too limited and too risky! This one is a backup/alternate and performs. The finish I put on it is weak and thin and I beat the crap out of it regularly. I like the old and beaten down look. Until I've put more miles on it, I'd give it an 8.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Since I built it, I guess it's all on me. There are instructions included with the kit that tell you how to intonate the bridge, properly set the strings at the nut and adjust the truss rod if necessary (probably won't be, mine was spot on). They are easy to follow, but if you have to adjust the nut, it requires needle files which means you're probably better off taking it to a repair shop and having it done for you. I give myself a 9 because I got skillz and it didn't take anything beyond my ability to get it rocking.
Features — 9
Made in 2005, I assume, in China. This is probably the most popular guitar kit out there, for good reason. Quality workmanship and quality materials and the end product is pretty damn strong. The body is basswood and is finished in a clear coat ready for your finish. I sprayed mine with automotive paint and a spray lacquer. It looks amateurish, but not too bad. The neck is a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard on a maple neck. The headstock is shaped like a big oar and you need some skills with the coping saw to cut into your desired shape. I cut mine into a Fender CBS type headstock. A hell of a lot of sanding and shaping with vareious wood files got it close, but the paddle shape is off just enough so it's not exactly right. All the hardware is included, made in China, of course. I have no complaints about anything except the tuners. Two-piece garbage that immediately went into the trash. Replaced those with some Gotohs and it was darn nice. I give it a 9 because the tuners were crap.