Price paid: $ 499
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I am a blues-based, classic rock player moving into a more contemporary style/sound. This ax is perfect for me because I can get great bluesy punch - especially on the neck humbucker - and piercing highs, harmonic squeals and most everything else. The FR bridge is easier to deal with than I had expected and stays in tune despite whammy abuse. I use a Crate 15-inch tube amp(truly awesome), Boss Compression/Sustain pedal (does triple duty as compression/distortion /volume) and with Dunlop Cry Baby Wha-Wha (which I often leave on/fixed for added distortion). I also practice with the Fender G-Dec... The best learning tool I have ever seen: Tuner, amp modeling, effects, drums and bas -- all in one small box... Not for live play or recording, but amazing as a flexible learning tool. There is no unwanted noise from switches, knobs and the pups themselves. I had been concerned that the active EMGs would not give clean sounds or sound good at lower volumes and for blues/rock... But I am very pleasantly surprised. I get a very rich deep tone off the neck and clean highs off the bridge. I am not a huge fan of the double volume knobs (one for each pup)... I guess it helps mix treble and bass in the middle position but does not add that much. I wish I had the coil taps as that would really have extended the range of sounds. Long story short: I can get good cleans off the bridge, amazingly punchy, rich, deep sounds off the neck and must everything in between. My pal with an LP says it feels and sounds a lot like his guitar.
Overall Impression — 9
Really a good buy. Wish mine had coil taps. If stolen, would buy another. Love the looks, the sound, the quality, the price. Have an old beat-up 1976 Telecaster which is going in for a fret job -- that is like a hammer: simple and very effective. Probably dedicate the Tele to slide. The Hellraiser feels more precise, surgical, slick, modern, and has a greater range of sound. The FR is awesome fun... And has added a whole new dimension to my playing.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Quality, quality, quality... Seems strong. Anodizing on the black components seems not so deep: Some screws and bolts on the nut are losing their black-ness. Would gladly gig with this, but would like back-up in case of string breakage.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I had some problems with the set-up... And used them to learn how the thing works: messed with the springs (had 3, need 4), made adjustments to bridge, action pups. Annoying, but time well spent... Points off for this... The guitar is perfectly made, feels like quality throughout. Looks stunning. A 10+
Features — 10
Made in Korea, Standard configuration as described elsewhere. I bought it sight unseen... Advertised on the internet, deal concluded over the phone, delivery to my house (less than $20). The guitar that arrived was made in 2007... An older model. No coil taps. This was a big disappointment and almost made me return it. On the other hand, the guitar that was advertised as used was brand-new... Not one mark, ding, dent or scratch. It has active EMGs, but I am not sure which models and do not know how to tell the difference. This thing is drop dead gorgeous.. It glows with classy beauty in a way that photos on the net could never portray. I was interested in this guitar because of the cost benefit... $500 for a guitar with more, better features than many costing twice as much... I am not disappointed.