Purchased from: Guitarfetish.com
Features — 8
Solid Alder body, double bound maple top, 21 frets, candy apple red, telecaster body style, tele style bridge, string through body design, GFS TC Alnico Tele pickup matched set. Maple neck. Very pretty guitar with a nice finish and a solid feel. This is the double bound version of the XV-820. I have always been a sucker for guitars with colored bindings. Their website claims these come with D'Addario strings, which is new since the last time I bought from GFS. This tele comes with that great, classic look of a maple neck, silver hardware, single coil pickups, and that great telecaster body style.
Sound — 8
How on earth can you lose with a $ 174 guitar? My friends and I have bought from GFS before, and we have all had excellent luck with them. I worked at a music store and was able to compare my GFS Les Paul copy with others, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good mine was, so I decided to get a telecaster copy. I settled on the XV-840, and man have I been pleasantly surprised again. I play through a Blackstar ID:15 or a Crate V18 tube amp, and this guitar has some great tone to it. The pickups are clear, and depending on the selection, you can go from chicken picking to blues to flat out screaming. It's a great sounding guitar, and this is before I have even put any new strings on it. No hiss, no clicking through the amp when swapping the selector switch, no fake sounding highs or lows. Just a really nice, telecaster sound, exactly what you would expect. I have played Fenders, Squiers, even a Schecter telecaster style, and I really think this one is right on that second tier below the Fender American made tele's. From a great twang to a wailing scream, I love the tone this guitar has. I would give it a 10 because it's UNDER $200, but to be fair and compare against others, I'm going to give it an 8.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Once again, no issues with setup from GFS. I think just about any guitar needs a good setup out of the box, but nothing out of the ordinary on this; no problems with tuners or finish, and no flaws. The guitar really is pretty, I am glad I went with the candy apple red, it's a nice, glossy, glittery finish. Frets are all level, intonation is good out of the box, no problems. The neck is a bit thinner than I expected, which gives it a faster action than I expected, and I actually like it more each time I play it.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I am sure this guitar would withstand live playing, it seems quite well put together and I find no reason it would fail. It did not come with a case, and it does need a string upgrade (my preference is Elixirs). The tuners are fine, nothing to write home about, but the guitar doesn't drift out of tune. The strap buttons seem fine. The finish on this guitar is great; I noticed a lot of their Thinline Tele copies had issues with the pickguards peeling, but I have seen no such issue on mine. GFS has really improved on their delivery time as well, I ordered mine on a Thursday and received it in less than a week's time. You do pay for shipping, but I still ended up under $200.
Overall Impression — 9
I play all kinds of music, it depends on my mood; my XV-500 from Xaviere is great, but I was really looking for another tool in the toolbox for some other tones; I was after a strat or a tele, then settled on a tele for the simple design, the classic tone, and the great price I found. I would replace this guitar if it were stolen. I have been playing for a few decades now, own an Epiphone SG, a XV-500 Les Paul copy, lots of pedals, two amps... I find that I enjoy this guitar's sounds without a ton of effects or overdrive added; just that great, clean, jangly tele sound was what I wanted, and I got it for less than $200!