Features — 7
Black 2004 series. Made in Indonesia. 22 standard frets, looks to be a rosewood fingerboard. Body and neck composition are unknown, as this is a repair job for a friend, which is the reason for this review.
The finish is flat black, with a white pickguard covering the selector switch and interior cables, and the device is done in an Explorer style. The bridge style is simple, with two floating pieces that detach when unstrung, and no tremolo. The electronics are passive. At first glance I would assume they are still the factory setup. There are three knobs, unlabeled, most common configuration is two volume and one tone, and a 3-way selector switch.
The pickup configuration includes two double-coil humbucking pickups, at the neck and bridge positions. They are the factory items. The tuners are non-locking, and not labeled.
Sound — 9
After finishing maintenance on this device I plugged it in to a small amp that we keep downstairs for practice. The sound, both clean and dirty, has a full, bright sound with absolutely no noise or feedback. This device can make a decent variety of different sounds, with articulation between picking, plucking, scratching, hammering, and accents below the bridge and above the nut. On a clean channel the strings seem to sing as they are played, and chords are voiced with resonating clarity as they progress from one to the next.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
During maintenance, one of the first things I did was adjust the action, both through the neck and via the bridge's string seating system. The result is a very low action that almost buries the strings into the fingerboard, requiring almost no effort for chord grips or to sustain a note. The fit of this device is suitable for almost everyone, but the solid-body construction provides some extra weight that may cause discomfort when used extensively. The white pickguard contrasts nicely with the flat-black finish.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I would recommend this device for practice sessions, live playing and even recording. The hardware is easily adjusted but durable, indicating the ability to last. Each piece of hardware is tooled onto the frame in a way that makes adjustment easy to perform. The strap buttons are large and solid, and held my strap easily, without discomfort.
Overall, I would rate this device as dependable, but I would always advise a backup be carried to any show, regardless of venue, size, time allotment, et cetera, in case something does go wrong. A broken string can interrupt a set as easily as a fire. The finish is lacquered over, and will not wear or fade with use. However, care should be taken not to scratch or ding the device while in use.
Overall Impression — 9
My overall impression of this device is positive. It is suitable for many different styles of music, though its cut and body shape suggest a somewhat heavier feel or style. For the record:
I am trained in jazz, and have been playing music for almost 20 years. In my studies I have also taken up maintenance and am able to repair guitars, basses, drum sets and other such instruments. My own gear list includes a Pearl drum set and a Dean Baby ML tuned to drop-A (A E A D G B). I also own a multitude of recording and sequencing software, and am an audio engineer.
This device is set up with simplicity in mind, and maintenance is very easy to perform. Its weight may be an issue for some, but it is a reliable instrument, and if treated right it will last a long time.