Purchased from: Carroll
Sound — 5
I've gotten quite a bit more experienced than when I first got the set. I decided to have some fun with the Strat and installed Seymour Duncan "Hotrails" in the bridge, put on GHS Boomers and now D'Adario 11 Gauge strings, and then spruced up the apperance with a pearloid pick guard and a fancy art strap. The guitar after these modifications sounds and looks excellent. Before these modifications though, the guitar is passive and very "low powered." A trill or hammer on is virtually impossible even with the amp and guitar at maximum volume. Any form of distortion on the bland single-coil's sounds terrifying and muddy; nothing cuts through the fuzz. The guitar with the supplied pickups and strings can play little more than "Smoke On The Water" and sound acceptable.
Overall Impression — 6
I play all types of music. With the guitar out of the box and without the modifications I have put on it, it is not good for all types of music. The only music you're going to be playing with skill is Mary Had a Little Lamb. I have been playing for going on two years now and I'm only now deciding that its time to get some more gear. I'll probably get a better Fender or Squier guitar and amp but I'll keep the Strat in this pack along with it. If the guitar and amp out of the package was stolen or lost I wouldn't bother and would try something else instead. If my guitar as it is modded today was stolen I would be angry and want it again. I don't have any favorite features with this package, it's all just OK. For the price and what it comes with, you can't complain, though. If there was one thing more this guitar should have is a bigger sound and richer tone.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The guitar now, after I fixed a few things, got a locking washer, replaced the pick guard and bridge pickup, and keep it well maintained, clean, and polished holds up great. It's durable and doesn't have a scratch on it other than a bit of wear on the finish where my elbow is near when playing. The strap buttons are solid but sometimes come loose and have to be tightened with a screwdriver. Because it's my only guitar at the moment I would not do a gig with it other than playing for friends, simply because although it is dependable it would be risky. The hardware and wiring inside is a bit shotty and covered in sawdust. The wires to one of my knobs/pots is partially broken for no apparent reason, making my tone knobs do close to nothing. The finish is fine although can be easily scratched and worn, therefore you need to take extra good care of the guitar if you want to maintain it's appearance.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
The guitar out of the box was acceptable. The neck wasn't too bad. The action was a little bit high but when you're first starting you probably won't even know what the action is or that it is badly adjusted. The strings out of the box were crap to begin with, as they were Fender bullets and broke after a few weeks. An issue I had and only recently fixed was that the screw holes holding in the plate over the jack were worn out and it was constantly loose. The tuning pegs work great but when the strings are off the guitar they get very loose. The Pickup selector is noisy and sometimes "clicks" when you're switching through it although single coils hum anyway.
Features — 5
15 watt Frontman amp, 21-fret Strat, tuner, gig bag, picks, strap, book, cable, and a replacement spring & strings. This package comes with everything you need to begin playing guitar, but it sure has no frills. The Frontman amp is great for beginning players but if used with the supplied guitar it will sound rather flat. The gain on the amp is horrific and makes more fuzz and noise than crunch. I had to return my first Frontman after it died for no reason but the second Frontman I own works like it should; hardly. The guitar itself is a fairly good basic instrument. If you are using what comes in the package and not planning to add anything to it, you'll get a brite, noisy instrument. In fact, the pickups in the guitar are so bland that if you don't change atleast the bridge you'll be left dissapointed if you ever rise above the title of beginner. An overall very passive sound, but for the price, what more could you ask?