Price paid: $ 157
Purchased from: Sam Ash Music Co.
Features — 5
At nearly two inches thick, the Pac102 is without question the fattest solid-body electric guitar I have ever played. It has a tummy-cut contour, but what it really needs is a contour for the forearm; playing a flat guitar this thick is uncomfortable without one. The alder body and maple neck appear to be finished not with any nitro or poly materials, but a waxy, almost oil-like finish. This opens up the natural sound of the wood, which is great, but it seems cheap - the finish on the neck is starting to wear off after just four months. The fretboard is scalloped past the 12th fret - an amateur post-purchase mod done by the previous owner.
When I first found this guitar at the store, it was used. The headstock logo was gone. It looked like a Telecaster, but no, the cutaway was too dynamic and sharp to be a normal Tele. I was convinced for a while that I had picked up an amateur builder's project. I'm not disappointed that it has turned out to be a Yamaha, but I am disappointed that I own guitars of similar price which have held up much better than this one.
Sound — 6
Telecasters are up my alley. I like them for their brightness and twang. Being a guy interested in stuff like Captain Beefheart and Pere Ubu, a sharp, bright tone is something I need. I can't tell you about the stock pickups, because this one had been outfitted with GFS Fatbodys. It still has the snap and twang of a Tele, but it's missing a lot of the brightness and glass. It sounds dark and woody - I attribute this to the thin finish and the thick body. Noisiness is about what one would expect from a Tele.
This guitar is run into blues overdrive and phase shifter pedals, both from Boss, and then into an Orange amplifier. Even with the gain turned up all the way on the drive, the clunk and pop cut through, never lost. The darkness of the tone means that rolling back the drive pedal's tone can create a very thick, sludgy fuzz, great for covers of early Rush tunes such as "Working Man."
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
For all intents and purposes, there are no structural problems with the instrument. Strings are nice and low, potentiometers are great. Since I bought mine used, it had signs of use, including small tents and dings here and there. Thankfully, there was nothing like cracking or splitting. The nameless tuning machines hold well. The one minor problem is that the tone and volume knobs are swapped, a la Eddie Van Halen, who had a volume control marked "Tone." But since there are only two knobs on the guitar anyway, it doesn't really matter.
Reliability & Durability — 6
The guitar is built like a tank. You could throw it against a wall and it wouldn't so much as dent. Whatever strap buttons are on it (possibly aftermarket) are incredible. Your strap will not budge from there. A guitar like this was made for gigging in terms of construction. You can count on it to hold up. It's whether you WANT TO that matters. If I had to gig with it, I would, but it certainly wouldn't be my first or even second choice. The finish is disappointingly cheap and vulnerable for a brand name with such a great reputation. If you want a relic'd guitar on the cheap, just play one of these things nonstop for a few months!
Overall Impression — 5
The Pacifica 102S has the looks and the characteristic twang of a Telecaster, but that's about it. It's not a friendly guitar in terms of sound or construction, and it's not a good choice if you move quite a bit up and down the neck - if you do much more than "cowboy chords." On that note, this guitar might find use in the hands of someone who plays country or, if paired with a fuzz, stoner rock, and needs an inexpensive fiddle. Even then, however, one can do better. A Squier Telecaster would be a better choice at the same price. Buy that instead.