Price paid: € 250
Purchased from: Local store
Sound — 9
I tried it twice in the store on a Fender Frontman 15G before buying it. What made the sale for me was the sound when playing it clean. It had that bluesy-rock sound I prefer. Also I liked the "silence" of the pup's. In the mean time I got a Peavey Vypyr 15, and I'd say these to go together really well. I mostly play stuff from AC/DC, ZZ Top, BB king and such. Probably some Epiphone would've done nice for that, but couldn't find one that suited me as well as this one, and I did get the desired sound so...
Overall Impression — 8
Fits me fine for what I play and for the neck design preferences I have. I generally don't really like the Strat shape, probably just too tired of seeing them around, but it looks kinda nice in olympic white, besides the sound and the action is what matters the most for me. It is definitely lot of bang for the buck and I believe I'd buy it again if I had to, though I have yet to try an Epiphone G-400 ;)
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have to say it feels really solid built. Kinda heavy solid if you know what I mean... I'm sure it would withstand live playing abuse and I doubt any strap buttons would fall off. The finish also seems pretty solid, but time will tell. Anyways some aging might even look cool in time. Don't plan doing any gigs for sure, so can't comment on the need for a backup. Either way, having a plan B is always a good idea; ) Not sure about the solidity of the bolt-on neck design though. Not that it wobbles or anything... Seems solid, but I' just not sure about the design in general. I'd give it 8.5
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
OK, the factory set-up sucked. There was another one in the store that had a really good set-up, alas it was black bodied with white pick-guard and a bright fretboard, so I decided to spend a bit more and get the better looking one - for my liking at least. The set-up cost me about 10EUR so it was not much, and was done by a guy licensed by Fender and it shows when playing the guitar. The action is sweet and I like the shape of the neck (my last Acoustic guitar I played for 3 years now, is a Fender so I'm rather used to their design approach) The finish has no flaws, and the paint job seems very solid. I wish only that the pup's had some sort of casing around them. As it is they don't look very cool. One has to look closely to notice that though. I also don't like the looks of the knobs (on any Strat in general), but that is something that can easily be changed in the future. After the first week or so, I have to say it holds tune really good. Sometimes it takes 3-4 days until it needs some small adjustment (probably due to the gig-bag touching the tuners). This was one of my biggest concerns, but it came out OK. I don't use the whammy, so I can't really comment on that one.Either way it's not blocked, but it doesn't make any problems as it is.
Features — 8
Standard Strat features (looks, knobs, tremolo and frets) apart from the 3 Duncan design hot rails, single coil sized humbuckers. These might not be same as the full sized humbuckers, but there just ain't no space to put 3 of the full sized ones on a strat. Mine was made in Indonesia, never checked the year. The price was down from around 370EUR (prices here tend to be higher than in the US or Europe in general) so I decided to have a look and try it. Got it in Olympic white with black knobs and pup's because I preferred the dark fretboard. I do like the slightly thicker body the Deluxe series has. It just felt better. Came without a gig-bag or anything else (apart from the whammy bar and the alen keys of course).