Price paid: C$ 220
Purchased from: Private sale
Sound — 8
I play mostly blues and ballad kind of music, and this guitar sounds good in clean or overdrive mode through a Crate 80-watt amp, also a little Traynor 10-watt portable amp. I don't use pedals except a Boss tremolo. The "Powered by Lace" pickups sound good and produce no noticeable noise; some people people complain about those "budget" pups but for less than $40 a piece I think they are pretty good, better than the basic unbranded pups we usually get the factory anyways. The heavy guitar body provides good sustain.
Overall Impression — 8
I have been playing guitar for many decades, this is the nicest electric guitar I have owned so far. I had Yamahas strat-like guitars in the past, this is my first axe modeled after a Gibson model and I like it so far. Samick makes great guitars (and other instruments) at the right price point. Even an entry-level model will bring lots of guitar for the buck. The main difference between the AV3 and higher-end Avion models is the hardware and pickups. There is nothing I don't like about this guitar, I would buy another one anytime. Way better than a similar Epiphone sold for 30% more because of the name. The Greg Bennett label has brought features like Grover tuners even to the its basic models. Great guitar. A definite keeper.
Reliability & Durability — 8
As mentioned earlier the guitar seems like it's very well made and I could find no construction flaws. I haven't had it for a long time but everything seems like it's built to last, the metal parts are high quality. I have no problem is taking her out to a live gig and use it as my primary axe. No need for a backup although getting another one won't break the bank! The finish looks like it will last, but time will tell, if it's polyurethane it might get yellow after 10+ years and the guitar may turn green!
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I bought it used, so I have no idea what the factory setting might have been. In any case I always spend time setting my guitars to my liking, adjusting the action and individual string intonation. It's fairly easy to get a low action without any fret buzz with simple 10-46 strings. The Grover tuners are smooth, keep the strings in tune and have positive action. The build quality is amazing for a guitar of that price range. It feels solid and nice. The finish seems like polyurethane and is very nice and glossy. The guitar has a set neck so it's one solid unit.
Features — 9
Others have said it all, solid-body with carved top, Les Paul style guitar, etc. This is a copycat of the Epiphone and other Les Paul copies that Samick makes for other manufacturers. But it seems that with the Greg Bennett label the quality has improved and we get more for our buck than buying other brand names, even though the price is lower! Mine is a Korean-made guitar with Grover tuners, the pickups have been upgraded to "Powered by Lace" humbuckers which are not as bad as some people say. The finish is transparent blue with white pickguard and trims, which looks very sharp. The bridge and tailpiece seem made of high quality metal and adjustments are easy to make. The 3-position switch and Volume and Tone controls all work fine.