Price paid: £ 285
Purchased from: Second-hand shop in Altrincham, Manchester, UK
Sound — 7
I mainly play thrash, death and black metal as well as some cleaner stuff from time to time and I have been playing guitar since Christmas '08. As I get better I hope to start playing things like jazz fusion and progressive rock. I currently use a Line 6 Spider IV 15 watt and sometimes a Vox VT30. I was of course sceptical of the stock pickups because I had never heard of them before. I was partly right though because initially the distortion lacked power, whether this was because of the amp or the pickups, I'm not too sure. However when I retuned the guitar to C# using Ernie Ball Beefy Slinkies, it sounded much better. Pinch harmonics aren't great but the natural harmonics are much better. Additionally the cleans are surprisingly good on the neck pickup when using the Vox.
Overall Impression — 7
I had originally been planning to buy a Jackson with similar specs that was nearly 400 but then I saw this and knew that I had to at least have a look at it. Whether it was the better choice or not I'll never know, but for the price I paid (285) it is good. Maybe it could be the amps I'm using that inhibit the greatness of the guitar: the Vox isn't a high gain amp and the Spider is... well it's a Spider. If it got stolen I'd save up for a better spec Schecter/Jackson/Ibanez. But it was the first proper guitar I ever got (Squire Strat doesn't count) and nothing can change that fact.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar will withstand gigging as long as it is looked after properly. But with it being Floyd Rose-equipped, not taking a backup would be a risk because of the restringing. As I've already said, the finish looks like it will last a long time. Plus it looks good! With the guitar being all mahogany, it is a bit heavy so investing in strap-locks wouldn't be a bad idea. The hardware does seem like it will last for a while if cared for properly.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The paintjob is very thick and seems like it will last for a while. To attest to this, I have knocked the fins on walls and corners and there are no chips or dents in it. However I did buy this second-hand so it wasn't set up perfectly when I bought it, plus it was a bit grimy so it needed a clean. One problem that arose soon after buying the guitar, was that the output jack came loose which caused a great deal of panic until I realised that all I had to do was tighten it with a pair of pliers. Also, the tone and volume knobs are useless. When the latter isn't at full or minimum, it creates a wash of feedback. The tone knob makes the notes sound sharper but it also creates a wash of feedback. Now, the major problem was that this was my first Floyd Rose-equipped guitar so restringing was a long, painful process. These kinds of experiences can put people off floating tremolo bridges.
Features — 8
Licensed Floyd Rose Tremolo Bridge plus locking nut Randall Egnater passive pickups Phenolic fretboard Buzz Feiten tuning system Mahogany body Set-in mahogany neck 24 XL frets Randy Rhoads-style body Silver finish with black pinstripe Finished neck 25.5 scale 3-way pickup selector, 1 tone knob, 1 volume knob Star inlays I also got a decent bag and a set of allen keys with the guitar.