Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: Lakewood Music - Lakewood, NJ
Sound — 6
I have a fairly wide range of musical influence so I bought this guitar with the intent of having a cheap, durable, flexible guitar to play along with my favorite songs. As I am relatively unskilled, it suits me just fine. It can stretch to the open airy chords and down to the harder crunch sounds of metal. Distortion isn't bad either. However, it doesn't do any of this very well. The sound is ok in all areas, being horrible at none, and excelling at none. I have to use a pedal to make it scream at all, and it's not really that much of a scream. I don't play in a band, or for other people in general, so the sound is ok for the hobbyist or beginner. I use a Kustom Quad 65DFX Combo. It's a gig ready stage amp that is actually pretty good. When I play with the amp effects often enough the guitar sounds good. The electronics are reasonable so that after a pickup replacement it would sound fairly professional. As a general rule with electric guitars, the fewer controls the clearer the signal. Hence one can look at the single 3-way Switch, single volume control, and the single tone knob as a major advantage. This is evidenced in this guitar with the sustain being fairly good and clear even with the sub-par pickups it comes with. At the same time, you ONLY have 1 volume and 1 tone knob for 2 pickups which some guitarist are not too happy about. It can get a bit noisy (I hate rattle) when you slam the low E if you don't have a death grip on the fret, but I also run my action a bit lower than most. Since it is a fairly flexible guitar it can go from bright to warm fairly fast. Its' weakest area is its' neck pickup. It's really hard to put any sort of crunch on power chords. The advantage to this is that the sound is easily (and somewhat inexpensively) upgradable to a 9 or 10 rating.
Overall Impression — 9
It's a good match for my style and level of playing. I have been playing approximately a year now and this is my first guitar that isn't a 70 dollar Wal-mart acoustic. I have been around electrics for half a decade however, so I know a little something about them. I wish I had been more clear on the effect and possible sounds of the stock humbuckers as well as the coil tap. It was actually HARD to figure out if I was in single coil or dual coil mode when I pulled out the Switch. That should be more obvious but I think it is more an effect of the pickups than anything. Also, it doesn't hum very much near the amp even in single coil mode which some people Who prefer short guitar cables will appreciate. For the price it is a great guitar. I would buy it again if lost or stolen due to the light pocket price and the features it comes with stock. I plan to replace the pickups and the knobs at which point it would be a good durable road guitar. Most reviews of this guitar suggest EMGs, but I hate the idea of keeping track of batteries and won't get EMGs. I'm still researching my options here, maybe something active on a phantom power source (from the amp) for the neck, and something open, airy, and passive for the lead. A large number of guitarists from a large variety of bands use this guitar as a workhorse guitar for average shows and day to day play. I would not ever consider this a prize guitar, and plan on buying a few specialized guitars for certain songs for flexibility. It's good for about everything else though. I've compared it to a lot of guitars (too many to list) in it's price range, and it was (IMO) the best for the buck.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The guitar is durable. Despite the paint not being as well protected as I would like, you won't have to worry about the bridge or tuners coming loose in mid session. The wood is light, but has no inherent flaws (mine at least doesn't.) The bridge looks like it will outlast the guitar, the tuners look like you can keep them if you want but may loosen with age, and the knobs look like they will need to be fixed soon. The cable jack seems pretty solid and tight, but I am extremely conscious about messing with that so my experience may vary from yours. The strap buttons are fairly solid, but as noted before, non-locking. I have never gigged but I play very heavy, very loud, and very long at home and so far it has not failed me. The finish is good and protected, but the protective layer is thin. I rubbed on what I thought was black sticky junk and it took up some of the paint around the damaged part of the finish by the volume knob. I put some clear nail polish on the area and it is holding firm and secure. In a nutshell, if a part gets scratched, it's easy for the scratch to spread. However, if it's not scratched it's pretty durable. A very thin layer of clear nail polish near the few sharp corners works wonders. Since electronic durability is what matters this guitar does well in this catagory. If looks are a big deal to you, it scores a bit lower.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action was the single best thing about it. It came already adjusted nicely which is very important because, in my opinion, action affects how much fun a guitar is to play. It is very fun to play, and numerous people have said as much upon having tried it for only a few minutes. All of the parts on mine are fairly tight, especially the bridge, except for the tone knob which has a half centimeter of rotary give. It's aligned well and routed well, which is better than I expected considering the price. However, some of the paint was worn away at the edge around the depression the volume knob sits in. The clear-coat on the paint is nice, but not very thick, so you can scratch it up if you start bumping it into stuff fairly hard. The guitar cable jack is on the bottom edge of the guitar so it can get in the way if you like to rest your guitar on something when you sit and play. The jack is really the only annoying thing about this guitar that you can't fix.
Features — 9
Mine is an `05. Parts manufactured in Korea, but put together in the US. The C series body is reminiscent of the Strat. It weighs almost nothing, and I mean almost nothing, being closer to 7 pounds than anything else, if that. The body cut-away allows for easy access to the upper frets. I got mine in white, with abalone binding along the whole body and neck, as well as the knobs. It looks beautiful. It has a medium width short scale neck (meaning the frets are a bit narrow) with 24 frets. That means it's easier to miss a note if you aren't accurate, but easier to move around the fret board in general as well as easier to stretch across notes and chords. The neck and body are one piece, which is good because truss rods make me nervous. The body is mahogany, and the fret board is rosewood/mahogany. The tuners are Grovers which is good for stability, but they aren't locking. If you are particular about your sound, you'll find yourself retuning every one in a while with heavy use. That is OK though because you won't have to worry about retuning during a session/gig or even every few days. It uses a humble 3 way Switch for your 2 pickups, 1 volume control for both, and 1 tone knob for both. You can pull out/push in the tone knob to switch between single coil and humbucker. The humbuckers are HG 108's which are Duncan Designed, but they aren't Duncan made. They are closed coil and chrome, so they look nice if nothing else. All of the hardware is chrome. The humbuckers are not wired in phase/in series as most humbuckers are, but are wired for the coil tap. As such in dual coil mode the guitar does have a fairly unique sound. The bridge is a string-through Tone Pros locking. Action adjustment is easy. You can get the black version of this guitar (which looks every bit as good as the white) left handed if needed. A single Diamond inlay is on the fret board at the 12th fret, but it has marker dots on the side (that only the guitarist can see) at the important frets. Anyone Who has had a strap break on them may be paranoid as the tabs don't lock. They are solid tabs though, so you should be ok if you aren't swinging it around your back ninja-style. The store owner who sold it to me threw in a gig bag, a strap, and a cable.