Price paid: £ 40
Purchased from: Gumtree
Features — 9
It's a good no nonsense budget guitar in a Strat style shape with one overwound humbucker pickup in the bridge position and a volume knob. I have the sky blue model. Looks nice. I like uncomplicated things.
The simplicity of it's design means it's made to be played and not to be twiddled with. There's no hardwear or other garbage in the way to obstruct your hands or complicate things in a live situation. You can just get on with the business of playing it.
I picked up mine for £40 from Gumtree without a case or a lead but those things are not that important to me as I get what I want later once I decide if I like the guitar (and I have a few).
Sound — 9
The overwound double coil pickup has a very different sound to the sort of bog standard humbuckers you get on most things in this price range. It's a much "hotter" pickup so it sounds great overdriven, better than most humbuckers on similar guitars, but also has more depth of sound so I actually find it quite versatile. Unlike most guitars the volume knob is actually very useful here and combined with this pickup you get nice distortion turned up full or roll the volume knob back for a cleaner sound that's not at all as thin and screechy as most bridge pickups and sounds almost like a middle positioned pickup. I was very surprised what this single pickup guitar can lend itself to.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The neck on mine is perfectly fine with great action and feels very fast and playable. The body is solid and well balanced. The overall quality is very good, and I'm not even a big fan of Strat shaped copy guitars.
It's easy to fine tune the bridge to suit your chosen strings and playing style and the "pearloid" scratchplate is actually quite good looking and decent quality compared to most other "budget" guitars.
Even the paint on this one is better than on some of my more expensive guitars and the body isn't just a three hole design with only one pickup in it, it's only got the one cavity routed in the wood so it's been designed to BE a single humbucker body as opposed to say a Strat copy with two pickups missing. This means the body is a bit heavier and more substantial than a Strat copy body.
Sure, you could make a similar looking guitar to this by modifying a Strat copy but it wouldn't be the same, and the overwound pickup really makes the Stagg much more individual and useful than a butchered Strat copy.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Feels as solid, or better even, than any other similar guitars, which means it's actually pretty good. Guitars these days are built way better made than they were 30 years ago, especially the cheaper models, so the quality of something like this is almost comparable to say a '70's Fender DuoSonic or Mustang.
Only the tuning keys let it down. Mine all work fine but you can just feel that they are cheaper made than what you'd find on a Fender or something but that's hardly an issue so long as they work.
Overall Impression — 8
Being a single pickup solid body guitar it won't do EVERYTHING but what it does, it does well. I've played guitar for decades and have had everything from cheap unbranded plywood crap to vintage Gibsons and Fenders (etc.), and as far as I'm concerned the Stagg s301 is a great guitar in my collection. The pickup is overwound (look it up morons) so it's got a very different sound and it plays very well. Of course trendy halfwits who favour lightning bolt shaped guitars with fifteen active pickups and three whammy bars will always say a guitar like this is crap, but then people like that should just stay in their bedrooms beating off to internet photos of flavour-of-the-month guitar shreaders and picking their noses for inspiration.