Callisto CUS review by SX

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (3 votes)
SX: Callisto CUS

Purchased from: Rondo Music

Features — 8
The Rondo Callisto Custom is made in China for Rondo Music and is the top tier SX guitar before the Korean made Agile series. It features pretty much everything on a standard Les Paul type guitar, 22 frets on a 24.75" scale neck, mahogany set neck (yes, mahogany set neck on a sub-$200 guitar), full size mahogany body, et cetera.

The features differed somewhat from expected, it does not have a quilted maple top as expected (!) but it does have much better fret inlays and headstock inlays than expected as well, which makes up for it in my opinion. No accessories or anything came with it, just the guitar in a plain cardboard box, but it arrived without a scratch so I'm not complaining. The features are standard - for an Epiphone Standard guitar that costs 2-3x as much. Excellent for the money.

Sound — 9
Isn't that the all-important question? The body and hardware contribute to a pretty good base tone and the pickups translate it into a pretty great sound overall. Neither is perfect or on-par with $1000+ guitars... but in the right hands, it will compete with the best of them.

Both pickups give a pretty standard output, not super high output for metal but a pretty classic Les Paul sound, great for hard rock, classic rock, and some metal. I was expecting to change them out but I don't see any pressing need for that - why don't you just listen to the samples and decide for yourself?

YouTube preview picture
YouTube preview picture

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The factory finish on the guitar was (past tense - more on that later!) pretty standard thick gloss poly finish. Not bad, if that's your thing, no imperfections except a few tiny nicks under the pickguard and the truss rod cover, nothing to worry about. The color of the finish is totally personal preference - I think iced tea burst Les Pauls are the greatest, but a bright cherry isn't bad either. In the Rondo pictures it looked kinda like a "clown burst" but in real life the colors aren't so bad, it's a rather bright cherry burst. Surprisingly the cherry finish on the back is even more beautiful than the front, it's just a very nice color and I think most people wouldn't have any complaints.

The headstock has abalone inlays, and they look fantastic. Pictures can't capture it, but they do look outstanding in the right lighting, so happy surprise there! The action and playability isn't the lowest or fastest I've played, but it's quite good for the money and I have no difficulty playing, it's a millimeter or two high for really shredding but what do you expect?

Reliability & Durability — 10
It's essentially built like a rock. No tremolos or funky moving parts keep it simple, and I have no issues. The hardware isn't perfect but it's pretty good and shouldn't have problems over time. The strap buttons are good and I trust this guitar plenty to use it at a gig without a backup. The stock hardware is pretty decent overall. The tulip-head tuners aren't great, but work well enough and are better than the average Squier-level tuners in the price range, and the shape is rather nice. The bridge and stop bar aren't top tier but they certainly work well enough, swapping them won't make much of a difference. The pickup switch so far has performed flawlessly, definitely happy with that. The volume and tone pots are decent but sometimes scratchy, overall good enough.

Overall Impression — 9
This guitar is great for everything from cleans to a light overdrive, classic rock to classic metal. I've been playing for 2-3 years, it's my sixth or seventh guitar (mostly electric) and I'm thrilled with this one for the price I paid. For the mandatory "If it was stolen" question, I'd definitely buy another since it's cheap enough, but I'd be pissed because I've customized this one a bit to my liking (mods and pics on my blog). It's pretty unbeatable for a Les Paul at $200 or below, highly recommended. Extended review with lots of pictures and mods on my blog.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    nice review man! I love my Agile AL 3100M. Kurt sells some great guitars.
    I have several SX guitars a Les Paul, and SG and a Tele! They are all great guitars. I have upgraded the pickups in two of them and left the Tele Stock. It doesn't need anything. Great guitars for a great price. You don't need to spend $1000 on a good guitar. The Les Paul has aged nicely and looks nice.