This review is a first impression of a brand new instrument. I have not heard it at stage volume with a band, nor have I gigged with it yet. I will try to follow up with another report after a few gigs.
I shoot for a traditional rock/country sound and prefer to switch between Fender and Gibson style instruments at clean to mildly overdriven distortion, during live performance. This instrument captures the "Gibson" sound well enough for me to stop jonesing about guitars out of my price range. My live performance guitars are a '00 American Stratocaster, a 1960 Danelectro Bass 6, and until recently, a '62 Gibson SG Special and/or an Ibanez Artist from the 80's. My setup includes a Reverend Hellhound 40-Watt 1-12 combo, Morley ABC switchbox used to select guitars, Boss TU-2 tuner, Duncan Pickup Booster (for the Strat and Dan), a 70's MXR dynacomp, Morley Wah/Volume pedal, Diaz Tremodillo and a 70's solid-state Echoplex in the amp's effects loop.
I found this guitar to be very quiet, even sitting directly in front of my computer screen with my amp under the desk. The controls work well, with no scratchy noises or pops. I like the sounds in every possible switch position. The Treble pot rolls off treble evenly and doesn't affect the volume output like a lot of imports I have tried. It exhibits very Gibson-like humbucking sounds and does not sound anything like my Strat, which is excellent. I don't mind not having separate volume and tone controls for each pickup, because I like to keep things simple. I have read others' accounts of lackluster or no usable sounds concerning the Hagstrom "phase" switch, but I like it. I am not sure what it is actually doing (switching pickup-to-pickup phase or cutting out coils), but there is a definite drop in output volume without extra noise when the toggle is up at all pickup select positions. Tones are still good out of both pickups individually and combined, just at a lower volume. Toggle down seems to be full volume output at all positions. I will try it out as a sort of "Rhythm/Lead" option and see what happens. At least there six distinctly different sounds.
This guitar ROCKS. It is loud and rings well enough to practice acoustically without a headphone amp. I could not get a bad sound out of it through my amp or my POD-based home recording stuff.
This guitar appears to be built to last a long time. I install straplocks on all of my instruments, but the stock buttons look trustworthy. I prefer chrome hardware and the plating looks like it will hold up over time. I gig with two or three guitars onstage anyway, so there is always a backup. My only concern is the wiring is a kind of cheesy, but everything I see coming out of China features less than inspiring wiring. I am an electronics tech and repair my own toys and I will probably have to work on this guy at some point in time.
I have been playing since 1964. I am primarily a bassist, but double on lead and rhythm guitar and own a '75 Rickenbacker 4001 fretless bass, 70's Hofner Beatle bass, Michael Dolan custom 5-string bass, 80's Guild acoustic bass, 1960 Danelectro Bass 6 (LP shape), '61 Gibson LG2 acoustic, '03 Gibson J45, '00 Fender Stratocaster, Reverend Hellhound amp, '53 Fender Deluxe, 70's silverface Fender Champ, Ampeg SVT100 small bass amp, Carvin bass preamp, Phase Linear stereo power amp and Carvin 2X10 cab for big bass amping. I also have a Sansamp GT2, Line 6 POD 2.0, a bunch of stomp boxes and an older Macintosh computer running an early version of Protools.
My requirements included lighter weight than a standard Les Paul instrument. I really wanted to buy a Guild Bluesbird, but could not afford the AAA Flametop models that one sees on ebay or wherever. I compared the Epiphone Wildcat, Eastwood Savannah and a lot other semi-hollow guitars and then just bought it without playing it first. My experience with Bruce Diamond was very good and we struck a good deal. If this guitar was stolen I would definitely replace it.