Price paid: $ 199
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 4
Ok, here we go... I got this package being fully aware of what I was getting and I knew I'd be spending alot of time setting it up and replacing parts but I'll review it based on the OEM stuff. The pickups are terrible out of the box, they are not made with any alnico parts, pretty much each pickup has 6 steel pins linked together by a cheap black magnet under the pickup. The resistance is somewhere near 4.5k ohms and they sound thin, tinny and do not take to dist well at all. the clean tones arent bad, just a bit bright. I replaced the pickups immediately after getting it home with Fender tex-mex....huge difference and I also wired the bridge pup to the tone pot. the rating is for out of the box sound.
Overall Impression — 6
This guitar pack is sold as a beginners item but I would NEVER recommend this to any beginner. It will make you pissed off and quit playing. However, for the price and the low cost mods and repairs this IS a tight little guitar. After the setups I did to pretty much every part of the guitar, I would gig with this anytime and without a backup. With some new parts and some tweaking you can have american Strat tone and reliablilty for about 300 bucks.
Reliability & Durability — 5
I see this guitar having many problems if not addressed straight away, especially with the trem and agathis body, I can see trems pulling out of the wood, strap knobs pulling out etc... Just make all the fixes I did and it shouldn't be a problem. Rating is based on stock.
Action, Fit & Finish — 2
The action is hard to describe since the tremolo system is HORRIBLE. The trem springs are flimsy and the guitar will not hold tune with the factory trem set up which also affects the action. The trem bar is made from cheap pot steel and has a tendancy to break off at the threads. I tightened down ALL the trem screws, adjusted the springs and blocked the trem to make it solid but unusable ( I never use trem anyway ). After the trem adjustment the action is ok but still have room to adjust it to how you like it. The intonation is WAY off but still it is able to be tuned at the bridge with no prob. The tuners are OK, seem to hold fine. The finish is not laquer it's polyurethane so it will fade and scratch etc. Since the body is agathis wood which isnt really soft or hard, the screws can strip out easily so be careful, also the strap knob screws should be changed out to keep them from pulling out of the body while playing. The neck is surprisingly nice, maple with rosewood fretboard, seems to be same as an unfinished Fender neck, you will want to hit it with some tung or lemon oil to keep humidity out of the wood. The pickups will need to be adjusted, I like to have mine 3/16 below the strings. The rating is based on stock setup since it's unplayable without setup.
Features — 10
Comes with the guitar, strap, tuner, stand, gig bag, lesson cd, 10 watt amp, cord. Body is agathis wood, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, 5 way selector Switch, 1 volume, 2 tones, 3 single coil pups (passive). I only rate this at a 10 because it comes with a bunch of stuff.