Price paid: $ 209
Purchased from: Best Buy
Sound — 10
It has an incredible crisp snarl if you Drive it at all. It doesn't sound overly bell like. It always has a good round tone. This is one of the best Blues Guitars I have ever Played. I play through a 70 Fender Vibro-Champ and a 90's Fender Princeton. If you add Gain in a 2 stage amp like the Princeton, this guitar really snarls. I promise you will like this. I use an original Tube Screamer I bought in 1979. It really works for these pickups. The Neck position rolls off well and in my opinion is not boomy at all. Just tone up to work it, and it has a really big sound. Scratchy blues stuff works well here. I also can get that nice clear crisp sound. On any of the pickups to do the Stuart Smith "pretty" tone I like so much. Pickups are not noisy at all. And are very sensitive. I use my fingers a lot in my playing, Rockabilly stuff. And it works better then my Strat for that. The plucks are picked up much better. If that makes sense. It works really well for Chording chunky on the Neck pickup or sweetly on the Middle. The Bridge pickup, in typical Strat fashion really mioves you into the bright zone, and with the tone knob at say, 3/4 up, and with your amp in Strat mode (treble at say 4 and bass at say 6) It is a good Neck sound for searing or smooth lead runs (Depending on any gain you introduce). For High Gain metal. I can get a good version of that sound with lots of gain on my amp. But. You true mid boost gainers, look elsewhere. It's not a high gain Humbucker guitar. I wont kid you. A very versatile guitar no matter how you cut it. You have to get used to playing softer on a medium or Jumbo fretted guitar after playing an old Strat like mine that didn't have these "modern" jumbo frets. I find that It's easy to chord out of tune near the nut if you play hard like I do on my Strat. First noticed this on my Friends newer Les Paul a while back and It's the case on this guitar. I guess it's a modern feel thing. I'm getting used to it. ON my old Strat I have learned to carefully put the 3-way Switch in that position to get the funky out of phase sound. This position is a nice midrnage
Overall Impression — 9
I'm 50. I'll get that out of the way right now. Been playing every kind of music and guitars for 35 years. Why would someone would buy an inexpensive foreign made guitar? Some people really have a preconceived notion about certain brands. You shouldn't. I play Rock, lots of Blues, Rockabilly, I play lots of Acoustic Fingerpicking, New Country in my lastest gig. I love to play old Allman Brothers, etc. I have an old Fender Vibro-Champ and a newer Fender Princeton, Mesa Boogie SOB, Tube screamer, etc. 6 or 7 various Acoustics, nothing expensive really. Some old some new. Regal Resophonic, I play slide on. Epiphone Crestwood, 60's tele, 73 strat, 70's Ibanez solid body (don't know the model). It sounds great and is easy to play. Isn't that really something we shouldn't be ashamed of admitting is a reason we buy a guitar? It just plays really well. I haven't found out anything I didn't expect after buying it. I played it twice, comparing it against 5 or 6 various Guitars of a all kinds in the under $500.00 range. I'm not embarrassed at all to play this thing cost, country of origin or size aside. It's a fine a-s little guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The painted Olympic White Finish looks. Great. It was not poorly applied anywhere. THe pickgaurd is well made and mounted solidly. The Bridge is crisp in the machining of the parts. The knobs and controls have no crackle or looseness. The tuners are average. The feel only OK. But the guitar tunes and stays in tune well. The Cord goes in at a Right Angle so it's rather susecptible to being hit or bent I would suppose. You can use your right angle cord here. This was the simple Vintage touch. They didn't even put the slotted angled connector like Strat has on it. It makes it look old skool. I have played 2 gigs with this on half the tunes. I am liking it more and more.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Finish is fine. Already looks like my aged Strat, except no arm wear. Medium Frets are dead on. Smooth at the edges and no buzzing. I can't fault where it was made or the low paid workers that made it. It has no flaws. I really dislike how some very well made guitars have a sharp end to the fret finish and your finger will pull the string off the neck. Over the years I have considered buying many Les Pauls, etc. Or the reissue Strats, etc. That's one reason I never refretted my Strat and kept playing it, I was afraid I'd never get that same smooth radius on the fairly small frets that are on it. On an old Strat you really learn to work hard at playing. You have to bend hard and stretch. It's great, a real connection to the guitar. On this guitar, it is a nice break to be able to bend the snot out of a note and get a nice easy vibrato without a workout. The "Short" Scale contributes to this. Gibsons have this feel to a degree. Far easier to play then a Strat. A Gibson's 24" 3/4 scale although not much of a difference, makes them softer then a Strat at 25" 1/2. So taking 3/4 off the scale to 24" on this guitar is noticeable and makes it very easy to play.
Features — 9
I have been playing my 1973 HardTail Start since 1976. It's finally getting to the point It needs a fretjob. Oly White. Fantastic original guitar that plays great, except it's starting to fret out in a few spots. I also have an old Epiphone Crestwood that I've beaten for 30 years, and repaired a few times. Great old humbucker squawk with nice soft feel. Also have a '66 tele body with a 22' scale '64 Bronco neck on it. A frankenguitar. I wanted a new inexpensive player. Tried a number of guitars. Duo-Sonic guitar is fantastic. Great value. 24" scale. 3/4" shorter then Les Paul/Gibson 1 1/2" shorter then a Strat/Fender. Maple One piece neck Bolted 4 ways. Body wood. I'm not sure. Its not very heavy. Similar to an Old Mustang double Cutaway. Olympic white Vintage paint. Brushed Aluminum anodized pick guard looks industrial, and I really just like it. Large metal Tele style single Volume and single Tone controls work flawlessly and roll off smoothly. The body is about the size of a Strat but the bottom has more open space between the Bridge and the bottom. Neck is a nice Vintage shape, not too round not to narrow. It's a tad thicker and a tad wider at the nut. Simple Tele style Bridge with 3 threaded saddles. Intonates well and stays in tune. The 3 way selector gives you the Out of Phase sound in the middle position. Medium Frets. 2 Alnico (whatever that is) pickups reverse wound as noted above. Very quiet so far. Far more so then my Strat. Tuners look like old Fender Tuners. Simple but they fell pretty good.