Price paid: $ 155
Purchased from: Al Dawliah
Features: Please note, as you read the review, that it is written three years after its purchase by a well experienced guitarist. I'm led to beleive that Samick has stopped manufacturing this guitar since I cannot find it on their website. As a result, most of the features I've had to figure out myself.
Anyways, the guitar is made in Indonesia. The body is made out of alder I believe, but I'm not sure. The finish is a solid color dark blue; its nice because you can see the grain beneath it. The body is a cross between an Ibanez RG and a Fender, though closer to the latter. Its also rather heavy, which makes it hard to play it for more than 3-4 hours at a time. The strap knobs are well placed since the guitar remains more or less balanced. Also, the body has curves on the back and the side similar to the Squier/Strat body. There are two cavities routed in the back, one for the bridge and the trem springs, and one for the electronics. There was some odd white powder sprayed all over the bridge/trem cavity. The three trem springs did not seem to have any of this on it so I assume it was put on before the strings. The electronics cavity was painted with shielding paint.
The neck is made out of maple while the fingerboard is made of rosewood. The scale length is 25.5" and the fretboard has 24 frets. Samick has an original headstock which is bent backwards in order to increase tuning stability. I didn't notice any major effect but I'll take their word for it. However, their original headstock shape does look nice and is immediately recognizable. This unique headstock comfortably places three tuners on each side.
I should probably add now that the blot-on neck pocket was a bit too big. So tuning, was obviously more of a problem. Forget the Ormsby Test (see the GB&C forum) as lifting the neck alone will just leave the body on the ground.
The hardware is not the greatest and all of it is non-branded. The tuners are alright, not the greatest. The nut is made out of graphite. The saddle is a Squier-style string through but the quality is horrible. After the first six months, the whammy bar couldn't even be used since the hole was too loose. The chrome knobs are nice though.
The electronics are again, not the greatest. The pickup configuration is S-S-H. There is a five-way Switch to manage the pickups, and three knobs: two for tone and one for volume. I will detail more on the electronics in the Sound section. // 5
Sound: The two single coils produce an semi-decent tone focusing more on the mids but the output tone is simply too low in volume. The humbucker is noisy as hell and sounds much too thin. But I've used it much more than the single coils simply because its output volume is decent. The five-way is noisy as hell and every time I move it around, it crackles a lot. The volume knob is also much too noisy. I have a feeling they used extremely cheap pots with the guitar. The two tone knobs... Well I never use them anyways.
I have reached the conclusion that the great amount of noise is not due to shielding issues as there is shielding paint in the control cavity. Rather, it is the terrible quality of the pots and the wire they have used. I'm pretty sure the circuit is not properly grounded either but I haven't had the chance to check that out since I haven't touched the guitar in over a year.
I've been playing music for about four years. I used to play nu-metal, grunge and, rock, then I moved onto prog metal and classical music, and now I'm knee deep into all sorts of death metal. Currently my favorite is melodic tech-deth. So yeah I've played tons of different stuff on the guitar. My set up was simple: guitar->Zoom G2.1u>Marshall VS15R. I would have to throw tons of noise suppression from my pedal in order to get rid of the annoying electrical buzz. After that, the guitar would sound extremely thin, just without the buzz. So I would somehow, using tons of eq, make up for that. Then the guitar would sound decent. I mean, it is by no means an incredible sounding guitar, but for the price, it sounds alright. Just remember, no matter what, the tone will always be a bit too thin. // 4
Action, Fit & Finish: As if the rest of the review wasn't bad enough, this section just kills the guitar. The set-up on the guitar was terrible. The action was high, the saddles weren't adjusted for intonation, the truss rod wasn't adjusted so the neck had a backbow and the guitar wasn't in tune. Well I guess I can forgive Samick for not keeping the guitar permanently in tune but the rest was still crap. So yeah, I had to pay the shop guys to get it adjusted. Thankfully, they didn't charge too much.
Once adjusted... it played horribly. I couldn't understand why. In order to avoid epic amounts of fret buzz I would have to keep the action extremely high. A few years later I figured that the guitar had probably never been leveled and crowned properly. So once I invested about $12 worth of tools and 4 hours of time to level and crown the guitar, it played perfectly on very low action. But of course, I should not have to do that in the first place.
The pickups were also very low on the guitar. In order to get a nice sharp tone on distortion, I had to to adjust the humbucker. As I said earlier, the entire electronics section was noisier than a beehive.
There's nothing I can complain about in terms of the finish, it was perfect. But unfortunately for Samick, a good finish doesn't make up for terrible fretwork and electronics. // 3
Reliability & Durability: I've played live several times with this guitar, so it does last. However, the bridge is terrible and the intonation knobs wear out in a few years. The finish lasts however, and this guitar wouldn't fail me at a live setting.
At least Samick got the durability part down, besides the horrible excuse for the bridge. // 6
Overall Impression: Being as honest as possible, this is only a beginners guitar. The fretwork forces you to keep an action of almost 1cm, sometimes more. So playing solos is incredibly hard. The only upside here is that it will make your fingers pretty damn strong, but that's only a problem when you Switch guitars.
I've been playing an Ibanez Xiphos for the last year and its a beauty. I'm judging this guitar right next to it. So yes, this review is really harsh. But its honest.
I lived in Saudi Arabia and this was the only 24 fret guitar to be found and it was cheap, so of course I bought it. But if I were living else where, I would've bought a second-hand cheap Ibanez RG. It would've saved me lots of time and effort.
One thing that is nice about the guitar, is the fact that I can mod it a lot. Leveling and crowning the frets made all the fret problems go away, If I go to GFS and buy a few pups and some hardware, this would make the guitar so much more enjoyable. But again, this is 3 years after owning the guitar. The 3 years I owned it, were terrible. But the catch is, they were only terrible in hindsight. Besides the fret issues, none of the issues were that obvious to me back then. Only now, after I've gotten into building and modifying guitars do I notice a lot of the problems.
The final verdict is this: If you're a beginner and are incredibly low on cash and this is the only guitar around, buy it. Its pretty damn cheap in Saudi Arabia, even cheaper in the US/Canada. The first few years of playing, you'll do fine but then you should probably do some fretwork on this. And then change guitars altogether. If possible, just buy a cheap second-hand Ibanez RG.
Intermediates and advanced players should only bother with this guitar if they want to experiment with different electronics and try their hand in guitar modification. Otherwise, Steer clear.
I'm sure Samick learned from their mistakes and the Interceptor II has few of the flaws that this guitar has. They're quite smart in choosing to discontinue this product.
Last but not least, if it were lost now, I'd be mad as hell at the guy who stole it because I've modded it now. But if it were lost a year or two ago, I'd feel sorry for the guy who stole it since he's stuck with a crappy guitar now. // 5