Price paid: A$ 449
Sound — 10
It sounds like a good strat. Poplar makes it quite warm sounding. Pickups are strong, volume and tone works well. I guess the pups are potted, they're not especially noisy for a strat. Will work well for most genres. No it wont be any good for death metal, so don't ask. I have to say more to make up the 500 chars - like all strats this guitar is not suited to being tuned down much below standard tuning, D# ok, maybe D, no lower.
Overall Impression — 9
Waaaah! Every now and then you find a low priced guitar that just is a real instrument. (Makes up for saving up and buying an expensive clunker - I've done it!) For a younger person this is a guitar you could maybe afford at school which would last you through college. Get one before they either put the price up or change the spec. NB - watch out! Vintage make other Strat models that are quite ordinary. The one you want is a distressed Orange or light blue finish. I'm so impressed I'm planning to go back to the shop and sift through the Vintage LP copies to see if there's one as good as this.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Fine for gigging, I have used it for band practice - also its very light for a Strat so good for gigging - very resonant. The hardware is all Wilkinson and pretty solid - Vintage style trem, kudos for the patented tuners Very thick fretboard probably affects the sound in a good way. This will be my back up guitar for live playing, maybe also for open tuning.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar looks attractive but not authentic. Its called fiesta red but its almost orange. Only an octopus could create the wear patterns on the this distressed finish. Set up good but a little high, intonation spot on, whammy usable. Bridge and tuners etc all high quality. There were no flaws but Vintage in Australia pre setup their guitars before they send them to the shop.
Features — 9
I purchased this as a backup to my American Stratocaster. It cost 1/3 as much and is 99% as good - way way better than a Mexican. The pickups are actually stronger than my Fender, you need to turn the treble down on the bridge pickup a little to tame the sound. All the fittings are high quality, patented tuners are a great idea. 22 frets, fairly flat rosewood board - maybe 10 or 12 inch radius. I just play it and play it, not afraid of knocking it because of the distressed finish. Came with allen keys, whammy bar and a de-luxe cardboard box. A great guitar!