Features — 8
This would be an excellent guitar for a beginner that would be just getting into guitar. The construction is solid but we pay for what we get in every regard so I'm not here to give 10/10 and say wow if it doesn't deserve it for this price. Pretending this guitar was 400$ Canadian when the dollar was better let's keep that in mind as I only know one Steves the other guy used.
Mine was a candy apple red one with cosmo black (ruthenium) hardware which looked fantastic.
- Made in China
- 3x3 headstock - reminds me of an ESP or Schecter
- 10mm modern tuners
- Floyd Rose locking nut and string retainer
- 25.5 scale like Fender to Ibanez
- 24 jumbo frets
- rosewood fretboard
- white dot inlays and side markers
- U shaped maple neck - not too thin not too thick
- satin polyurethane finish on the neck
- bolt on construction
- H/H configuration (two humbuckers)
- a thin finish and as little paint as possible
- no name humbuckers - I'll get to after
- licensed Floyd Rose
- knurled knobs
- football style input jack
- the wiring is passive
- basswood body
- master volume - A500k
- master tone - A500k (why)
- 0.047uf metalized polyester capacitor (cheap green caps)
- 3 way blade selector
- 22 AWG wire
- stereo input jack (seriously, there's 4 contacts on mine)
Sound — 6
This is an interesting guitar. You've got no pickguard so the wood isn't all scooped out so there is a lot more tone and sustain compared to a Fender Strat or an Ibanez RG. This is personal opinion.
The pickups I took off the guitar and they were very heavy. The ceramic magnets were like if you stacked two regular magnets from say a Seymour Duncan JB or a cheap Chinese eBay pickup as I've taken my share of them apart so on top of each other. Now you'd think the sound would be massive. An amp with 10 gain you'll tear down the wall or something but I didn't feel it. Tried putting the pickups closer to the strings but it didn't help in the bridge position. The neck pickup I didn't mind but the bridge wasn't loud enough for my taste. Although the same night I tried a Seymour Duncan JB and didn't care for it. So on it's own shredding like Dream Theater or Steve Vai inspired stuff using big names only this may be ideal. For metal you'd need like a way huge green rhino pedal, a Maxon OD808 or some sort of gain pedal before your amp to really get that huge sound as the amp I played this on wasn't lacking in gain or distortion by any means.
Why a 6?
The pickups were way too similar in resistance. Approximately 12.8k and 12.5k or so, very balanced so either you're going to love or hate the tone of this guitar. The pickups are two conductor (wire) so no coilsplits. You'd have to put a capacitor before the neck pickups hot lead to get more versatility as it would give more contrast (difference) between the two pickups. All our amps and pedal setups are different, what we want is different as I don't think of pickups as an instant fix for guitars but I just wasn't liking the overdriven sound of this guitar. Pro guitar wise though Kirk Hammet of Metallica does use two of the same pickups in his guitar. Both are EMG 81.
Also they were really cheap on the shielding paint of this guitar so if you get your hands on one that is a heads up. An easy fix but if soldering irons terrify you, you're in for a treat if you're very picky about how much your guitar hums with the gain at anything above 5. But if you're a beginner guitarist this is not going to be noticed.
So a 6 because the lack of contrast in sounds out of the box. Higher end potentiometers just last longer or are harder to get them to crackle. They do nothing for tone, they are also just more consistent.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The soldering they did an excellent job on. You want to see bad go grab a no name Best Buy or Walmart guitar like a Silvertone, Robson, Academy or whatever else. But I'm not sure how old this guitar is but the only thing wrong with the wiring was how it crackled. This is the guitarists job to maintain though as I bought this guitar used just like you should polish frets or keep the rosewood hydrated to prevent frets from shifting.
The tuners feel solid; had the guitar for a short time but I've played much worst like the rock bottom Squiers like the bullets. You've got a Floyd Rose locking nut and string retainer too so assuming the bridge is flush (flat) when you're not doing your 100 dive bombs a song you'll be fine.
the routing for the controls I didn't like. It was huge. I could probably get away with shoving a guitar pedal into this as I do know electronics quite well and make it work BUT my big concern is that the volume and tone pots are so close to the walls of the routing so if they touch the walls you may run into some issues as that is a big beginner mistake for guys getting into wiring. Use electric tape or packaging tape where you think the pots will touch and you're good.
The pots are cheap import ones but honestly for this price what do you expect. The capacitors are green metalized polyester. Similar to what was used in the 1960s on Jimi Hendrix personal guitars. If you're a metal guitar player who cares honestly just switch the guitar to two volume as even the perfection that Gibson and Fender guitarists think of as the Sprague (Vishay) Orange Drop won't improve on as much as having two volumes at this point any capacitor you use will cut a few decibels off of your tone. Personally I'm a fan of paper in oil capacitors from USSR Surplus or the Mallory 150 as how the capacitors react with the guitar is different material to material. But based on the way the guitars routing though larger CTS pots guys will run out and buy may not be the best idea as they are more likely to touch the guitars walls and short the harness so try them, make them sit in the guitar before you solder so you can possibly return them.
This is a first time I've seen a predominantly plastic 3-way blade housing. The blade flicks effortlessly. So either the guitar was played quite extensively or it's really cheap. I mean even the cheapest 3-way blades on eBay are much stiffer and all than these. Usually even the cheapest eBay ones the part the screws attach to the housing is zinc but this is plastic! I can understand that this switch should only be taken out if the switch for some reason fails but the pro to a metal housing like on an import with the green sides is you can also ground pickups on it. The only thing nice I can say about this switch is there is 8 contacts instead of 3 to 7 so there is a few wiring options and mods.
The wire is 22 AWG so harder to break if you touch it with your iron by accident. I have no idea why they went A500k on the tone control though as the taper is really different so rolling the tone down will be weird. 10 is still 10, 0 is still 0. But swell on a tone pot is weird. They are both 500k pots thankfully so you do get the highs and all associated to humbuckers in the volume and more control over the tone. Lead Solder sticks effortlessly to this brand. No sanding a metallic coating away needed.
The finish is paper thin. The last time I saw a finish this thin was a Dean Razorback Shards from Korea which cost 3-4x as much money new in Canada. This offers a great acoustic tone but if you aren't relicing it or paint chips bother you, you're going to be in for a treat.
The action you can adjust as low as you want. I forget exactly what a Floyd Roses radius is but you can get it really low without de-tuning the guitar. Don't forget to adjust the trussrod to prevent fret buzz.
The fretwork was good, better than the more recent Ibanez and Gibsons I've played, no sharp ends either.
Neck access and all is to be expected. Both of the mounting rings are the same size and all. They aren't flat either so did Yamaha just buy a big box of humbuckers or these are left overs from something. There isn't even indication of the pickups bridge to neck. They are the same color and all. Nothing on the base plate. The screws are an import 4-40 threading.
To me the flaw of the tone pot being A500k and the bad routing is why this isn't getting a 10. Plus the plastic 3-way blade that switches effortlessly. That can't be desirable with everyone. It feels like a light switch.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar would withstand playing live. How well it stays in tune really depends on you as Floyd Roses and aggressive bends don't really mix and blocking a Floyd Rose is a "sin." It's like why buy a race car? to go to McDonalds drive thru, to go camping? (damn you're rich if you do!) no you want to race. But these days who doesn't have a tuner pedal to tune up between songs.
The way mine was before I heavily modified it, it's durable or dependable. Let's pretend this is the greatest guitar tone wise when you play it acoustically, you're wowed but that kid won't stop hogging the only tube amp in the store. Damn he's good at sweep picking for a 12 year old! and we think it's the 50s still. Let's pretend that you get the guitar home and want to push it to the limit, you have about 400 or so dollars you could have put towards a better guitar but NO you bought the best guitar in the shop as you're savvy and know that "made in" is just marketing.
New tuners - Grover Mini Rotomatics, Schaller M6, Sperzel Trim-Lok
A 4 wire pickup set - whatever has the coolest name as names matter more than what your guitars EQ is. We are going 4 wire like Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio or whatever as we can split coils and all.
A regular 8 contact 5-way blade or a super 5-way. We want to get the most tones out of the guitar to accompany the 4 wire pickups as the Seymour Duncan triple shots take time to get used to.
A Switchcraft or Carling input jack (mono). Maybe a Seymour Duncan Liberator system if soldering terrifies you to switch pickups without soldering
A Floyd Rose Original (German) with a brass big block upgrade with noise suppressors on the springs and the fender style rubber tubing instead of springs on the pickups.
Why this isn't getting a 10 of course is The finish being too thin and the same parts and electronics you get on just about any 200$ guitar is why this isn't getting a 10/10. Plus the "matching" pickups are limiting. You can adjust the height all you want or even swap the magnet material which isn't for the faint of heart all you want but it's a limited guitar.
Overall Impression — 7
An excellent gift with lots of wow factor for the metal or shredder in your family. A backup guitar, something along those lines. I hate to suggest it because it is so over rated but swap the pickups and put a brass big block on the Floyd Rose and it'll really come to life. If you got money to burn and love the guitar consider some of the upgrades above.
The biggest hatred I have for this guitar is whammy bar how it attaches to the base plate. Floyd Roses usually have threading to catch onto right? No not this. The last time I saw these bridges was a Jackson Kelly from the 1990s or so. It has like an adapter like thing twisted into the hole and the whammy bar is almost Fender Strat like. The electronics and pickups don't matter at all playing acoustically so that is a big concern for me. A Jackson low profile or a regular Floyd Rose licensed I'd much rather.
I love the:
- the neck shape
- it has no pickguard, more tone, easier to swap parts
- 25.5 scale and 24 frets
- the blade toggle
- the pickups wire to drill into the body to get to the controls are drilled individually so you can actually swap say a neck pickup much, much easier than say a Gibson Les Paul where you got to lift up that bridge pickup for a second.
If I could change anything more contrast in the pickups change the 3d model file for the guitars control routing apply more polyurethane, the paint shouldn't chip this easily other than that it's our job to shape the tone how we want.
You'll play much worst guitars in your life I guarantee this isn't one of them. It's a solid guitar for a child going for lessons. A backup guitar you don't mind scratching or something. If it sounds great put the money in and modify it. There are plenty of amazing bolt on basswood bodied guitars out there. This just isn't for me.