Price paid: $ 179
Purchased from: GuitarFetish.com
Features — 6
I think I bought this is new in 2013, but I can't find the country where it was made anywhere on it, obviously it'll be somewhere with cheap Asian labor. It has 21 medium frets on a maple neck, with a maple fretboard and the body is either poplar or alder. It's correct strat-style body with a modern looking trem system and saddles. Normal strat electronics, with normal sounding single coil pups (GFS Vintage Alnico Staggers). The body has some sort of poly finish and neck had some sort of satin finish to it. Came with some solid tuners, but I replaced them with some locking tuners. Came with two allen wrenchs, I believe. The nut is allegedly some material from Graphtech (I think it said Nubone when I bought it, but they've since altered the description on their site, so I can't be sure). I got a sonic blue colored finish. The neck has a flatter 12" radius than what I believe is standard on strats.
Sound — 7
I play normal rock music, so any strat-like thing does that pretty well. Lately I like throwing this thing through amp sims in Guitar Rig 5 and it gets some good sounds. It sounds like all the other strats I've played and owned (good, versatile). This works well for me as a backup to my other strat because it doesn't wildly deviate from the classic sound I know, but at the same time it's nothing special if you're looking for some secret sauce that'll set your tone apart, you'll have to do some modding.
Action, Fit & Finish — 2
I don't recall the state of the action and pup heights when I got it, I always set those on my guitars a certain way, and I don't remember it needing any wild adjustments. The body has several tell-tale signs of being produced hastily, including orange peel in the finish and two visible lines showing the points where the body wood was glued together. The holes drilled for the trem cavity cover are pretty crooked. The bridge saddles are spaced to not be touching each other, which is abnormal in my experience with strats, and likely a result of random import saddles being tossed on what they call a "Vintage USA spaced" bridge/trem. There are pretty bad chips/dents near the neck pocket on the body on both sides that they went ahead and applied the finish over, and some faint purple paint underneath the clear coat on the side of the guitar under the bottom cutaway.
The frets came in a terrible state. They were leveled, but they never crowned or polished them (must have been interrupted by a lunch break)! I've never seen something like this sold on a used guitar, much less something being sold as new. At least I got to learn how to crown and polish frets. The neck was done in a satin finish, and although this is desirable to many people that think gloss finish gets sticky and slows them down, this is a straight up cost/time saving choice from my perspective and one that I dislike in feel and aesthetic. The nut was actually very well cut, which is annoying to me because it shows, in the context of the rest of the fit and finish, that the people at GFS know what they're doing, they just don't care.
Reliability & Durability — 4
Though the guitar is as cheap and poorly made, it'll hold up fine. The hardware is suspect to me because of all the other issues I've come across, but so far, so good (and I block my trem off anyhow, essentially taking me most likely hardware failure out of the equation). I would never use this as a main live without a backup, but this is a backup guitar for me anyhow. The finish color is fading in weird ways, but I actually don't care because sonic blue is notoriously difficult to get right, and it was known to me that this type of color can often change towards all sorts of other colors (daphne blue, surf green, white-ish etc.). The poly has already chipped in some weird ways on the back and took the paint with exposing the wood, but this is a beater guitar, so with that in mind, it'll "last."
Overall Impression — 4
This is fine for the music I play (normal rock music). I've been playing for over 20 years and I've owned several strats and strat copies. Though I'm disappointed in the purchase, I bought this to be a project platform, so I actually got what I wanted out of it, despite the fact that I'll never buy something with frets or paint on it from GFS again. I wouldn't really be upset if this were stolen. I love the color(s), hate the neck and my favorite feature is the nut. I chose this because I wanted a cheap strat copy that I could mod, and I did get that, just nothing more. If I didn't have other guitars I would have made this a nightmare for them and returned it over and over again until I got a perfect one, but I just couldn't be bothered given my current situation - it was just easier for me to cross Guitar Fetish off of the list of places I'd by a guitar from and move on.