Price paid: £ 189
Purchased from: wesleyguitars.co.uk
Sound — 9
I play a lot of country and blues with a lot of slide work, the action's a great height for slide, but easily adjustable if you need some upper fretwork. This guitar is incredibly well suited for anything that happened before about 1980, if you want a nice mellow bluesy sound or a Scotty Moore sound with a bit of reverb it's equal to a far more expensive guitar. It handle distortion well to a point, but will feedback a lot with too much volume. The neck pickup was set up very low and had difficulty picking up anything, but it was easily fixed and has a great sound now. It's not great unplugged, quite tinny, but that's not really what it's made for so the fact that it sounds acceptable at all is good enough. The pickups aren't noisy at all, no idea what brand they are but there's no fuzz even on high volumes (until it starts to feed back) and they can handle a lot of gain very well. The neck pickup is surprisingly bright for a big jazz box, if you wanted something that sounded like The Jam, The Libertines, Buzzcocks, you can handle it very well on this, but I'd say the general rule is that if it happened pre-80's, this guitar is ideal. Think anything Jack White would do, it can do. Amazing quality for the price, couldn't be more satisfied even after some significant time.
Overall Impression — 9
I initially bought this guitar because I wanted a big hollowbody like Jack White's Kay to pick up some of the sounds he manages to get out of it that are difficult with a solidbody, and found that for country, blues, rock n roll and a surprising amount of punk and new wave it's incredibly well matched. Wesley don't make guitars anymore, and it's getting to be tough to find one of these on eBay, so if you find one and want a different kind of guitar that sounds very different from a lot of stuff on the market, buy it straight away. I've got a few guitars, I mostly play acoustic, Epiphone Hummingbird, a Gear4Music 12 string (also an astonishingly good value guitar), also an Epiphone Les Paul Jr and a Frankenstein Strat cobbled together with a few different parts, one HOT Rails pickup, Tele neck and Grovers, and this guitar is my favourite. I spend more time playing my Wesley than any other guitar, and if it were stolen, I'd initiate a worldwide manhunt that would shame the McCann family in it's scope. I'm considering getting a bigsby for it, but beyond that, I can think of very few modifications I'd undertake. I've considered switching the pickups out but I'm very happy with its sound so never have. It is almost unbelievable that this guitar went for the price it did. If it were made of better wood, this guitar could have went for 500+ easily. I you find one, buy it. Immediately.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar has stood up very well after a year and a half of heavy use, with no hard case and intermittent use of a stand at best. It's been all over the country with me, has been stuffed in the backs of cars, left on a beach, covered in piles of mess on my various bedroom floors, fallen down stairs and been knocked and dinged countless times and it's still playing great. It's incredibly light, lighter than any of my acoustic, but it's been battered and beaten and is still perfect. I would absolutely gig it without a backup, sitting down though, as the strap buttons aren't great. The finish, for a cheap veneer, have also held up well, no big cracks or scratches, just standard wear and tear. A surprisingly reliable guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The only part that lets this guitar down was the setup, even though the issues were all easily fixed. The neck pickup was set too low, the 17th fret was badly finished so the top E string sometimes got caught during a high bend, the input jack comes loose easily and the toggle switch seems flimsy. The electronics have all stayed in place well so far, the tuners did settle in eventually and the nut, bridge and action are all fantastic, so it's not an enormously big deal.
Features — 8
I purchased this guitar new in early 2011, I believe they're made in the UK by the company, 20 frets, medium-thick c-shape maple neck, laminated top. Four way selector, two chrome humbuckers, individual tone/volume, the tone's all or nothing on the bridge but the neck has a nice low fuzz with the tone rolled all the way down. Perfectly functional, for the price very impressive, I've had this guitar for over a year and a half and the only issue I've had has been with input jack which will occasionally wiggle loose. The tuners had trouble staying in tune initially for some time, but eventually found their groove, I found that if I downtuned the guitar a half step, or even dropped it into an open tuning they stay in place for days.