I purchased this guitar to act as an upgrade platform for my American Stratocaster, to act as a sounding board for upgrades. I figured for this price that there would be some work to do, but was hoping that it wouldn't be too bad. To make a long story short, I think the guitar met but did not greatly exceed my expectations.
Out of the box, the guitar was quite playable, but unexceptional.
The action wasn't the worst, but was too high for any ones style of playing. A truss rod adjustment helped, but only slightly. A number of frets were too high. I could hammer some of them down, but had to file 5 frets, two of them heavily, to get the frets flat. The truss rod was set up a little weird, the bend created by relief was too high on the neck, so I couldn't get the action as low as I wanted (I like very low action), but at least it was much better and definitely playable.
Tuning stability was kinda meh. I've seen worse, but it wouldn't hold tune for extended periods. Replaced the tuners with Fender American standard tunes and it now has great tuning stability. I also replaced the nut with a graph tech nut, mostly because I it was on a guitar I was selling, so I figured what the heck. The tuning stability using the trem isn't great, but I figure if I put on a heavier trem block and possibly new bridge saddles, then it might be able to hold tune with heavy trem use.
The stock pickups were okay. Not great, but not terrible either, and definitely a surprise in a guitar at this price point(in a good way). I put GFS single coils in it to see if that would help the sound, and it definitely did. I measured the resistance of the stock pickups (ceramics btw), they all measured in at around 4.5k ohms, so I am guessing they all came out of the same bushel basket. The pickups I originally installed were a Texas Special set I had lying around, and although I liked the neck and middle, I just couldn't live with the bridge. Strong for a single coil, but too harsh and trebley. I opted to go HSS with over-wound GFS singles and a Dimarzio 36th Anniversary PAF in the Bridge. Really liking this configuration. The problem I had with it, was the screw holes didn't line out with a standard strat HSS pick-guard. I managed to get 5 screws to line up. I haven't decided if I want to drill new holes or not. The routing is actually set up for HSH, very neatly done too, another surprise. I have worked on numerous Squires, and the routing on this guitar was much better than most of those.
The paint looks good, but is on the thin side, not as heavily painted as Squires. But it is very evenly applied and overall looks like some attention was paid to it.
Roseacer. I havn't decided if I like this or not yet. I did clean the fretboard when I replaced the factory strings (mandatory of course) and it was very dirty (common with new budget guitars). At first it felt kinda chalk-boardy and perhaps a little fake. But the more I play it, the more I kinda like it. Categorizing it is the hardest part. It is not like ebony, rosewood, or maple. It is really its own thing. The neck is kinda a medium width C shape, I would say somewhere in the middle between slim and chunky.
My overall impression of this guitar is that it is a good out of the box guitar, with some good but limited upgrade potential. I keep up on the Squires they are making nowadays, and would have to say that overall this is a bit better than a Bullet Squire, and would compete nicely with Affinity Squire in regards to sound and play-ability. However I would give the Affinity the nod in regards to overall finish work. those guitars have a thicker, higher quality finish to them. I always thought they were designed to look good first, and play/sound good second. This guitar seems to be designed the other way around.