Price paid: $ 109.99
Purchased from: Rondo Music
Sound — 6
As I mentioned earlier, the STL-50 has two single-coil pickups. The typical chrome tele pickup in the neck and angled pickup in the bridge. Both are cheap in construction and therefor lacking in sound. To my ears both pickups seemed a little thin and lifeless as opposed to the twang you would expect to hear from a telecaster. I have tried the guitar through both a solid-state as well as two differently voiced tube-amps, all bringing me to the same conclusion. Being that both pickups are single-coils and only hum-canceling in position two on the selector switch, don't expect this guitar to playing anything with too much gain; then again, that isn't really what most telecasters are designed to do, all artist models aside of course. With the stock pickups, you can rule out any chance of metal and higher-gain genres without proper modification. If you do you plan on swapping out the pickups with something hotter I suggest using a 250k volume potentiometer and a 500k tone potentiometer with a.047uF capacitor in order to add some "darkness" to your tone. The reason I suggest this is because of the alder body. A 500k volume potentiometer with an over-wound pickup might make your tone a tad-too bright - the layout I recommended could help around this. A.002uF capacitor and 100k resistor wired in parallel with the input and output terminals of your volume pot also make a nice little treble-bleed mod - preventing your tone from becoming muddy as you roll back the volume. Anywhoo, the stock pickups aren't very impressive as they are, but as with any guitar there is room for improvement - all guitars have potential. Stock pickups / 6.
Overall Impression — 6
I have been playing guitar for over four years. I have played many guitars ranging from copies to the "real-deal", strats to les pauls, just about every guitar I could pickup and play before the shop owners get annoyed and ask me to leave (joking of course). When ever someone asks me what my playing style is, or who my influence is, I simply say "me" - and that couldn't be more true. I feel that everyone has their own playing style, it's what makes every guitarist unique. I play everything from jazz to blues, rock to metal, fusion to funk, you name it - I play it. I feel that in order to grow as a guitarist you can't limit your playing to one specific genre. This being said, the STL-50 isn't no magic marvel. Don't expect to play some chickin' pickin' licks and bust right into a thrash metal Bridge just by stomping on a pedal. Definately suitable for cleans and lower-to-mid-gain music, anything more might leave you with something to desire. Like I stated before, it would make a great entry-level guitar or a cheap project guitar to get you familiarized with doing work on guitars. As far as a live or recording situation, you might want to look elsewhere. -Versatility in sound: lower-to-mid-gain. / 6 -Useability (I think I just coined a term there): for beginner guitarists and for the use as a project guitar. / 5 Average between the two: approx. / 6.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Can this guitar hold up in a live-situation? In my honest opinion, you wouldn't want this on stage. The STL-50 is a great budget guitar, both as a beginner instrument or a project guitar. Using this guitar for a live performance... Well... I leave that up to you, take my review with both a grain of salt and an open-heart and decide if you feel it can hold up to a live situation. Both the body and neck are coated with a polyurethane finish, as mentioned earlier, so don't expect to wear through to the wood anytime soon - even if you have a horrible sweating problem. -Use in a live situation: I just can't see it, sorry. / 4 -Finish durability: definately solid. /10 Average between the two: / 7.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Ah, the ever-important action aspect of the review. I'm going to leave out the "finish" part as I have already discussed that in the first section. Out of the box, the action needed to be adjusted to my preferences and there was some slight buzz regarding the low E-string - not a major problem at all and easily fixable. The pickups are another aspect that can't really be judged fairly. Everyone has their preferences, some might like their pickups high for that extra output while others want them sunk into the pickguard - it's all personal preference. The neck-joint appears solid, not too much going on here. -Action: focusing only the buzz, as the rest of the modification to the action was purely preference: / 8 -Pickup height: again this personal preference: / 10 -Neck joint: solid. / 10 Average between them all: approx. / 9.
Features — 7
This guitar is just another "run-of-the-mill" Telecaster copies. Made in Korea, the body is a three-piece alder configuration with a Powder Blue finish (other finishes available), while the neck and fretboard is maple and "aged" maple, respectively. The neck radius is approximately 13.7" and the guitar itself falls into a scale range of approximately 25.5". The STL-50 has the features you would typicaly see on most telecasters; 21 jumbo frets, two single-coil pickups, a three-way selector Switch and the ever-so-simple master-volume and master-tone controls. Chrome hardware and a plastic nut end this list of what you can expect to see on the STL-50 - but how do all of these "doo-dads" stack up in the end? In my honest opinion, not too well. After hearing a lot of good reviews about the Agile series, also sold at Rondo Music, I decided to try one of their lower-end guitars - bringing me to the purchase of the STL-50. At first glance, I was impressed with the finish right of the box. I was unable to find any imperfections in the finish, a rarity amongst lower-end and even some higher-end guitars. Although the body finish was great, the neck finish caused me much disappointment. Now don't get me wrong, there wasn't any imperfections with the finish, it was the finish itself. When it comes to necks, I prefer my necks with a nitro finish, the neck on the STL-50 is coated with a thick layer of polyurethane - a major turn off in my books. Like I previously mentioned, I find necks with a light nitro finish much more comfortable to play and the poly-finished neck on the STL-50 isn't anywhere in my comfort zone. However, this will not affect the scoring in this section - everyone has different tastes. The hardware on the STL-50 is far from anything you would find on a Mexican Telecaster, but we must be reminded that this is a lower-end budget guitar. That being said, you must be willing to accept any disappointment that you may find within the construction and durability of the hardware. Let us start from the very top of the headstock and work out way down to the very last strap-peg shall we? I am going to be very honest with you, the tuners on the STL-50 are way below mediocore, in my opinion of course. To the touch, they seem feel cheap and flimsy and when it comes to tuning stability, they do what they're supposed to for the most part - keep you in tune. Onto the nut, there isn't much going on here either. The nut is made of plastic and isn't filed to perfection. As a result, you will fall short in terms of both stability and sustain when compared to nuts made out of graphite and bone. The frets themselves were fine, no excess on the sides and a seemingly-flawless filing job. The Bridge is yet another typical piece of hardware, not the greatest but it can hold its own. Last but not least, we have the tuning pegs - solid for casual play. All-in-all, when compared to other Telecaster copies in the same price range: -Finish: Great (excluding my personal taste in necks) /9 -Hardware: Below average in everything except the frets. I found the fret-work on the STL-50 considerably better than other copies. /5 Average between the two gives this section a 7.