Price paid: A$ 122
Purchased from: TradeMe (Second hand)
Sound — 7
I'm playing through a Blackstar HT-5 combo. I play pop-punk music generally, but I am getting into a bit of jazz. It has a quite bright sound, so I tend to use the neck pick-up. For clean playing it sounds very good for the price. Rolling back the volume and tone is great for a warm smooth jazz tone. Switch it to bridge and cranking my amp creates a great twangy gritty tone, but it isn't really for me. It doesn't deal with gain very well, and it is near impossible to get good chugging palm muted power chords. It is fairly noisy, but that's a given as it has single coils. I am playing to get a Seymour Duncan Invader put into the bridge for more versatility.
Overall Impression — 8
At the moment, the guitar doesn't quite suit me. I bought it for modding though, and it will be getting refinished, and some different electronics, etc. I've been playing almost 7 years, and I also own an Epiphone Les Paul Standard and a Greg Bennett D6CE acoustic. It is a very comfortable guitar to play, great for beginners and intermediate players with a few modifications. Of all budget guitars I have played, this has the best neck by far, easily compares to much more expensive guitars. When I bought it I was just looking for a cheap Strat, straight away I looked at Squier as they are great build quality for the price. My only main complaint is the nut, but that is a cheap fix. Overall a great guitar, not without it's flaws but for it's price you I bet you can't find a better Strat.
Reliability & Durability — 8
It is a very solid guitar, everything seems solid. I wouldn't play live with it without using straplocks though. I will wait to gig with this guitar till I get the tuning problems fixed and installed the humbucker though. I would happily play without a backup when the time comes.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
As I bought this second-hand, it is a few years old and has been gigged a fair bit. The finish has quite a few scratches and dings. It seens to be rather strong though, with the inch-thick lacquer cheap guitars always get. The neck came a bit sticky and oily, so I rubbed it down a bit with a scourer pad and it has a much nicer satin feel. It is very comfortable to play. The frets are fairly worn, and I will definitely get it refretted one day. It still doesn't affect playability too much though. The big flaw with the guitar is tuning stability. It didn't come with the trem arm, so I will be getting the bridge blocked soon. The Jackson tuners seem to be stable, but the nut is quite horrific. It catches when tuning, playing a song puts the guitar noticeably out of tune. I'm getting a TUSQ nut installed which will hopefully fix this, as well as new strings. The bridge has also rusted where the saddle screws come in contact with it, making intonation difficult.
Features — 9
21 medium jumbo frets, maple C shape neck. Basswood body, SSS configuration, 5 way switch, master volume and 2 tone. It has a Standard Strat shape, but the body is thinner. Has the normal trem. My one came with aftermarket Jackson tuners installed by the previous owner. All you would expect from a Strat.