I wasn't in the market for a guitar, but at this price...
I ended up with a small and unexpected lump of money burning a hole in my pocket, so I thought I'd treat myself. I've bought guitars before and ended up chasing a deal and loosing sight of the guitar I actually wanted, ultimately buying the one I didn't want because it was shiny and came with discount. This time, I wanted to read the reviews, make an informed decision, stick to it, and buy the guitar I wanted.
I want to share with you my buying experience, without the 'honeymoon period' of a new guitar fogging up the context. I feel some reviews are composed by starry eyed people who want to share the enthusiasm they feel for thier new guitar with you. That's not a bad thing, but I'll make an effort to be as objective as I can to help you make your own decision.
I'll start by trying to help manage your expectations (always excellent Thomann customer service and support aside). This is a guitar for around £100, don't forget.
Guitars at this end of the market have flaws and imperfections. If they didn't, they wouldn't be at this end of the market. Don't get me wrong, this is nicely finished for the price, but there are some imperfections. None of them are obvious and you really have to look for them, but all of the things you touch are great. The neck is nice and smooth, but offers enough resistance to give your palm good feedback. It's quite thick and chunky. That could be an issue for small hands, but I quite like it. The frets are good. No rough edges, no sharp points. It's not perfect, but it cost around £100. If you want hand luthiered quality, there's no other option but to spend 10 times this amount. The body is quite heavy and thick, but not overly so. The body is also well contoured and very conformable. It's very easy to pick up and play. Good marks for design (even if it's heavily inspired by another, more famous guitar manufacturer).
Despite what you might read, guitars do not come set up out of the box. Not at this price, anyway. They might come roughly correct, but you still tune it up before you play it, don't you? I mean, it's a guitar. It's not going to be strung like a hen house, is it? You will have to make alterations to some settings to taylor it to your taste and to get the intonation exactly right. Such set up changes are usually quite simple, so try it for yourself and you'll be very pleased that you did. My guitar was nearly there, but not quite. That's normal at this price, so to expect otherwise is not fair on Thomann.
Plugging it in to my Peavey Envoy 110, I am quite impressed. This sounds great - not just for the price, but great full stop. Very versatile. Good clean tone. From bright and shiny to muddy and dark, these pick ups hold their own. On the lead channel, they cope well too. Strong rocky tones and punchy enough to produce some sinister metal sounds. To make a comparison, it's quite like my LTD Viper. A guitar that cost three times the amount of this! The pots feel nice and weighted. My only criticism is that the selector switch feels a little cheap, but who cares? It still works! Anyway, I've read that these pick ups will accept a 5 way switch, so upgrade it if it bothers you.
All in all, this a great little guitar. If the finish was slightly better (and it had Squire/fender on the headstock), you'd play more than double the price and be okay with it. It's that good. There are a few rough edges, and the 'gold' hardware will probably look 'bronze' by Christmas, but don't let that spoil things. Good enough for studio work, better at being a quality front room guitar that gets passed around on social gatherings, but stays in tune when all is quiet.
Very usable, very cheap and very good. If you want a great value guitar, buy this and have enough money left over to tell your friends about it in the pub afterwards. If you want a Fender, buy a Fender and turn the heating down.
OK, so, a year or so on, I might have got a little carried away describing the sounds this guitar makes. The pick-ups have become somewhat frustrating. Very high output and kind of flat sounding. Not too bad, but not nearly as good as my LTD Viper, as claimed earlier. They're are two different animals, so comparison is unfair.
It is lasting well, though. Still plays well and looks good. The hardware doesn't look as bright as it once did, but what do you expect for £100? No complaints at all.
I still tell people about this guitar because I'm still amazed that you can buy a guitar this good for the price. It's simply unbelievable.
Things have moved on since the 1990's cheap guitar...