I bought this guitar because I thought it played well, looked nice, and at low volume sounded pretty good. I didn't turn the amp up much in the store. A mistake. After I got it home and turned my Peavey transtube 212EFX' dirty channel up to just over 1 with high distortion the cheap (not duncan designed) bridge pickup fed back horribly. At the time I played mostly hard rock and metal so I never even used the neck pu. I replaced the bridge pu with an Seymour Duncan Distortion model and man it was a 100% difference! Hence the 9 rating. The guitar sounds very good now. I just purchased a Peavey Valveking 112 tube amp and it makes the little Samick sound almost another 100% improved! I'm done with transistor amps!!! With the new pickup I can get a great sound for the Sabbath, Pantera and even van halen stuff, or roll off the guitar volume and get an acceptable skynard southern rock sound. Also with the Valveking I've found myself enjoying the stock neck pickup, on both modestly distorted and clean channels. Stock, I'd give the Samick a 5 at low volume. With some choice modification it becomes a completely different and enjoyable guitar.
This may be the kicker. I'm don't gig at all so I can't comment on the Avanti's road worthiness or lack thereof. I've owned it close to five years and it's led an indoor life serving regular playing by a closet guitarist. It's given me no trouble at all short of my hateing the stock bridge pickup. The neck and finish are still just fine and no scratchy pots.
I've played now for 17 years. I currently own an ESP Vintage Plus strat with prigional Floyd, an Squire Stagemaster, and an Yairi DY85 accoustic and have owned a Charvel fusion and middle of the road Ibanez RGs. My current amps are the Peavey transtube 212EFX and my Peavey Valveking 112. No pedals.
I play my Duncan loaded Samick more than my EMG-81 and Duncan rail loaded Vintage Plus if that lends any credit to the possibilities of the Samick. I'm upgrading all four pots to 1meg and installig a Duncan Jazzbucker in the neck, and I can't wait! Thank you.