Price paid: C$ 75
Sound — 9
I have been playing for over 35 years, in many styles from prog rock, to experimental and fusion, and is the first Strat I've ever used, had Telecasters, Gibsons, Gretsch, four different Ibanez models. This is as suitable as any I've had. My guitar rig consists of a Zoom G9-2TT, Zoom G1 (in effects loop mode) and a Boss DD20 gigadelay, through a Roland Cube 60 amp. It is a single coil configuration so can pick up RF and electrical noise, but it's not overwhelmingingly so. It has all the tones one would expect from a Strat, is very versatile in that department. The pots seem to be very responsive over a wide range, and the 5 position selector Switch really does change tones drastically. This is a good thing.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm in a jazz fusion band presently, I think a Strat is acceptable, can't see why not. I have been playing for over 35 years, and have three other guitars, all Ibanez, an ICX 120, SA 120 and S 470. If it were stolen, I would probably look for another, or go up a couple of grades with Squier. This guitar plays like butter, very smooth, fast neck (C shape) it's well balanced and the tones are great. I know it's classed as a beginner's guitar, but with some care and attention to set up, you will have a perfectly playable instrument, for very little cash outlay.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have not gigged with this yet, but will next week. I'll take my Ibanez SA 120 as a backup, as I want to put this one through its' paces before saying I'll rely on it. The hardware seems to be just fine, can't see any obvious limitations. The strap is staying on the buttons, haven't dropped it yet. The finish looks bulletproof.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
When I bought this (used from a friend) the action was too high, and the tremelo would not lay flat, making the trem useless. I put lighter strings on (09-42) added two more springs for tension, lowered the saddles and it was a different beast. The pickups needed to be brought closer to the strings, no probs. The finish is just fine, and I have to say, the fit is amazingly good, better than some instruments costing 3-4 times as much. Materials seem solid, not sure about the Bridge material, probably stamped metal, but it works just fine. Intonation adjustment was very easy, and holds well. The knobs seem well seated, not coming loose at all. No buzz or clicks from the selector switch.
Features — 10
Not sure what year it was made, but says behind the headstock, crafted in China. There is a serial number on it. CXS 110803251. I believe the body is Agathis wood (solid, not ply) with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. It has 21 regular frets, reasonably well finished (not drawing blood). It's finished in polyurethane Hi Gloss Black with a pearl white pick guard. It has a synchronous tremelo system, regular Stratocaster body shape, with 3 single coil pups and two tone pots and a volume pot. It comes with sealed tuners of unknown origin. It came with a small practice amp, SP 10, strap, tuner, cables etc.