Price paid: $ 320
Purchased from: Coyles Richboro Music
Sound — 9
I play a variety of metal and punk music, and the rawer, more old school sound of passive pickups in a traditional Les Paul style suits my playing very well. I have played this guitar through a few Peavey valvekings, a Tech 21 analog amp, and my Marshall TSl, and it has the ability to take you from woddy sounding clean chords all the way through Clapton, Sex Pistols, hard rock all the way to death Metal, the pickups that came stock were one of the biggest surprises in the package, as they were voiced in a unique way that did almost everything good, with a warm bottom end and very articulate high end, but with a hint of tht EMG low mids sound when you crank the gain and the bass. This guitar has that warm Les Paul sound, from rocking tone to rolled back jazz chords, it does everything a $4000 Gibson does, for a fraction of the price. The dual volume and tone knobs allow for a large amount of tone mixing, and the Bridge pickup position is articulate and crunchy, and the neck pickup position is very warm and creamy due to the higher position that two less frets allows, which is good for screaming leads and super-smooth chords. The guitar is also very quite, quitter than my EMG equipped ESP.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing punk and metal for six years now, both on bass and guitar, and this guitar has become my favorite go to. I actually traded in a bass worth twice the value I paid for this guitar, and I couldn't be happier with the decision. This axe stands up to my ESP and outplays many guitars that I've picked up that are far more expensive. Besides the godly neck and fretboard work, one of my favorite features of this guitar was the stock pickups. I did replace the Bridge with a 498T for added bite and crunch, but the neck pickup will remains, since it is so creamy and warm, yet articulate even at low volumes. In my opinion there is nothing to hate about this guitar, although shredders would probably prefer something with 2 frets and a floyd. If this guitar were stolen I would chase down the guy who took it and whack him in the head with my whammy pedal (its quite heavy), then I would buy another one just to be safe. I compared this to my esp, which is more than twice the price, and it plays just as good, the shop I bought it at also a/b-ed it against a Gibson LP Custom and they liked the SVK better, I love the slimmer neck, it facilitates the shredding and quick chords of modern playing while still keeping that comfortable Gibson style feel you get out of an SG neck. I also compared this to a Gibson LP Studio and I liked this one better because of the Custom looks and nicer fretwork and binding verses no binding. Overall, I think Gibson could earn a thing or too from this guitar about quality at affordable prices!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar is a rock. The hardware is tuff stuff, the only thing I would ever replace is the tuners for some licking tuners, but they are still very reliable. The strap buttons are very large and I have yet to have problems with them. This guitar could definitely be used as my only guitar for a show, it bends nice, plays hard, and the knobs let you get any sound under the sun. The finish is just as good if not better than those you will find on an Epiphone that's double the price, so no complaints here.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action and factory setup of this guitar are impecable, I have yet to even have it set up at a shop, and I've had it for almost half a year with no problems yet. All the parts were top notch quality, and there were no blemishes in the finish. The binding was particularly good for a guitar at this price, with no defects and no noticeable edges.
Features — 8
This 22 medium fret Les Paul Custom copy was a Diamond in the rough find for me. I had just bought an ESP single cutaway guitar with EMGs, and I was just browsing in my local store when I saw this guitar on the wall. The black beauty Les Paul Custom style immediately caught my eye, and upon closer inspection it was made very well. The mahogany body and maple cap are true Les Paul staples, and the tune-o-matic is the best Bridge I've had on a guitar yet. It has the traditional volume/tone volume/tone setup of a Les Paul for versatility, and the stock pickups that came with it were of a very high quality. Every aspect of this Chinese made guitar is up to the same specs as my 800 dollar ESP, as they were manufactured in the same factory by the same exacting standards. The binding and fretwork on the rosewood fretboard is phenomenal and the neck is a 43mm instead of 42, which actually translates into an extremely comfortable neck perfect for bends and speed runs in conjunction with the slim-taper style neck similar to those found on an SG. The tuners were chinese made 18:1 and are reliable, I live an area known for wild weather changes, and this summer has been around 100 degrees with high humidity and the guitar still stays in tune even when I blast the AC on and off and mess with my rooms environment. This guitar shreds, but some may miss the extra jumbos and last two frets, but I hardly think they are necessary with a neck and fretboard like this.