Price paid: $ 217.77
Purchased from: Back Alley Music
Sound — 8
I like to think a guitar will make any sound I want it to. This isnt the case unfortunately, especially with my Strat, but the Stagg comes much closer. It gives a really gutsy blues tone on the middle selector with the tone on both pickups set at about 7/8, and that rich sound on the neck pickup. It's pretty good for leway on tone, because if you use the right amp or multi-effects pedal (I have the Zoom G2) you can create multiple sounds. I wouldn't say it had a really bright sound, but you can move away from warm and into the shreddy kind of thing when you whack the gain up. I tend to play a more bluesy, but still heavy sound, and this guitar delivers on the sustain, even if it's shorter than the Gibsons. The output is also much higher than I expected, having played with a Squier Strat so long, it wont go half as loud as the Stagg. I was also able to get a lot more feedback on a lower volume setting with the Stagg when I cranked up the gain. It suits my music style very well.
Overall Impression — 9
I tend to play heavy blues, close to metal, and this guitar works, I don't go for any of that gothic stuff really, I just wanted black and gold and I got it. I've been playing 3 or 4 years now, and I've got a Squier Strat and a Zoom G2 multi effects pedal. there's not really anything I wish I'd asked before buying it. I wish I'd tested it but I bought it off the internet so that's not really possible. If it was stolen I'd definitely buy it again. It worked out cheaper to buy this than the Encore P29 with delivery costs, and this guitar is a million times better than the Encore. I love everything about it except the nut. My favourite feature is probably that beautiful shiny black body, it complements the gold hardware really well. I didn't really compare it to other products, I'd already bought it when I found out about the Encore, and I was laughing. I chose this because it looks stunning, and it's got a jaw dropping price. 119 quid very well spent. If anything, I wish it had a spare cream scratchplate, because as much as I like the black one, I think it'd look better with cream.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar will definitely withstand live playing. The hardware will also last, it's definitely been well built. No problems with the strap buttons either, and I would depend on it. I wouldn't depend on it enough not to take essentials like screwdrivers and stuff, but then all guitars are the same in that respect. From the look of the finish, a nuclear bomb wouldn't strip the finish off.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I thought the guitar was quite well set up at the factory, the action was better than I expected for a set neck, and I had no trouble getting used to it. The pickups were well adjusted too, although they could use screwing up towards the strings slightly. The finish on the body was absolutely f--king superb. It looks absolutely gorgeous whichever way you look at it, from the multi ply binding to that sumptuous black finish, you could hang it up on a wall and use it as a mirror if you wanted. My biggest complaint was the fact the nut wasn't finished properly, as is with most guitars today. It needs filing when you get it home with some sand paper, especially the bottom strings, they all buzzed when I got it. The intonation was only slightly out though. Some people have said be careful about the jack socket, because it comes loose, but I haven't had that problem. It might feel loose but when I checked it it wasn't.
Features — 8
Made this year (2006) in China or Korea I suppose. 22 jumbo frets with really nice pearl inlays from the first fret. 24.75" scale with a rosewood fingerboard, it's a hard maple neck. Solid top body made from Alder wood (so the sustain wont be as good as the Gibson or Epiphone) with a shiny black finish (looks beautiful). The body is based on a Les Paul design with a softer cutaway, and contains passive electronics. 4 knobs, two volume, two tone and a 3 way selector. 2 humbucker config made by Stagg probably. It's also got a Tune-O-Matic bridge. Stagg tuners made from diecast gold. It came with a cable and an allen key for the truss rod. Pretty standard stuff, but well made all the less.