Price paid: £ 170
Sound — 9
this is the reason I bought this guitar - best possible les paul tone you could ever hope for, for less than a grand. I love playing it unplugged even; beautiful resonance through the body and right up the neck. Nice powerful feel and it kind of has what I think of as a distorted sound even when unplugged. Not really distorted but when you play softly it is round and sweet, play harder and it has a really aggressive edge to it like a growl - and this is before you even plug it in. However, on plugging it in to my Laney VC15 (maybe its just my amp) some of that Acoustic feel disappears. don't get me wrong, it sounds good and the pickups seem to be a good quality but sometimes your fighting a battle against muddyness. I think this could be down to the electrics and is the reason I'm giving it a 9; change the wiring, pots and capacitors and I'm sure itll come to life. I put some dr pure blues nickel strings on it and cannot recommend them enough. From this guitar I was wanting those classic rock and blues tones that I guess most of us want. These just helped give the guitar a bit more life (not that it was lacking). I did the peter green mod (magnet flip) to the neck pickup and, at the expense of the usual middle setting, gained a load of different sounds in complete contrast to the beef and bite of the neck and bridge by themselves.
Overall Impression — 10
Although I may seem to be picking up on a lot of negatives, I LOVE THIS GUITAR! Really, having had it about a year now, I don't lust over any other guitars and I certainly don't think I'll ever get another les paul type guitar to replace this. The comments I made are really looking to find fault (however much it makes me feel unfaithful to her) because I know when I look to buy something I want to get a better picture than "it kicks ass/rocks etc". I compared this to basically every competitor from cheaper gibsons to all sorts of copies and this one came out on top for me. Really a quality guitar at a ridiculous price. If you're looking for a les paul type solid body for those classic tones, this has them all (and the finish isnt bad either).
Reliability & Durability — 10
Only issue so far is changing strings (every few months) and once had to tighten jack. Nothing untoward here. Finish is tough but not too tough if you know what I mean. it's strong but you don't have that feeling when you pick it up that underneath inches of plastic coating, your guitar is half the size you think it is. Could almost pass for nitro but is resistant to knocks and scratches. All hardware is brilliant and nicely engineered. No problems there.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I was expecting a rubbish finish as everyone says about this guitar that it has a really good sound if you don't expect anything too pretty. I was proved wrong. I really can't fault the finish. I even love the staining and wood grain along the back and up the neck. The plastics are all a nice tasteful aged colour and I like the style of knobs used. The snot green tuners look pretty cool too and I like the logo on the headstock. When I got the guitar, action and intonation were bang on. The action was quite low from the factory and although that would be a dream to a lot of people, I prefer it a little higher so I sorted it out accordingly- the bridge is really easy to use. If I remember right, the guitar was also pretty much still in perfect tune when shitty link dropped it off which was a surprise. I have a couple of gripes with the neck though. Firstly, although this has seemed to have stopped being a problem, sometimes if you just sit there and bend the same note (same fret+same string) repeatedly for a while you'd get this rough feeling like you are planing the top of the fretboard or something. This was like fingernails down a blackboard to me combined with the sound it made. Ofcourse you'd have to be just arsing about with different sounds from the same bend for almost a minute before this would happen. Second, the frets. Although nicely finished down the sides of the neck, many of the higher frets have flattened out on the top. I can't remember if it came like this or whether I did it when I was using the stock steel strings. I've had a couple of snapped wound 3rds where it was only the outer wrap wire that got cut at the 8th and 9th fret. This left the string still on but this little fret long collar that could slide up and down a couple of milimeters. Needless to say the string sounded crap at this point. I'm pretty certain that this was caused by the flattening of the frets and maybe having sharp edges or something at this point of the neck.
Features — 10
as with all review databases, the features have basically been done to death so I'll try not to repeat the marketing blurb or other reviews. Neck isn't quite as wide as I would have liked - it is a decent size, plays well and not at all cramped but I prefer the look of the massive neck on the 50s les pauls even if I haven't played one. Frets are thin/regular. This isnt a problem for me and I spend most of my time bending and am only ever seconds away from a vibrato. All of the parts work as well as can be expected and is (in my opinion) no way inferior to the Gibson stuff. Only draw back - open up the control cavity and the pots are pretty small low quality affairs with cheap little ceramic capacitors. Jackplate, pickup selector etc. Is all good.