This is a very good beginner's guitar with high quality construction and versatility in sound.
Model Year: 2004
Price: $170.00 (new)
Where Obtained: MusciciansFirend.com
Made in China;
Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard;
tone controls for mid- and neck
master volume knob
Poluyurethane finish on neck and body
Double cutaway body style
The action as set by factory is moderately low, and can be lowered more if desired. The Affinity line of guitars has a relatively thin neck, with a very good feel. On my guitar, the neck had a small rough spot that was easily fixed with 0000 teflon sanding pad, and a new coat of rub-on polyurethane finish. The finish on the neck looks like its a few coats shy of what's needed - Its slmost like bare wood. I prefer a thicker, glossy finish for smoother hand movement (easily fixed).
I play only with a small studio amp, and I am switching from acoustic to electric for the first time. I play mostly classic rock and blues. This guitar is very versatile with the various pickup combinations from the 5-way switch. The sound ranges from a full, deep quality with only the humbucker selected, to a very bright quality with the single pickups. The sound quality varies in different switch positions, which is common in the stratocaster style guitars. The guitar stings appear to lack a grounding wire - the guitar hums when there is no contact with the strings. Otherwise, with the humbucker only, the guitar produces little noise. The noise from the single coil pickups varies with the tone control knob - extremely noisy when the tone contol knobs are all the way up (max treble), and the noise disappears altogether at the lower settings. The noise can apparently be fixed by shielding the guitar with aluminum foil(see: www.guitarnuts.com/ wiring/shielding/shield3.php). I rated the sound "average" due to the noise, otherwise, the sound is very good. I intend to install the shielding to improve sound quality.
Don't know about durability yet - I've only had the guitar for a few weeks. The guitar neck and body feel extremely durable, with solid construction - much more than you would expect for a guitar in this price range. The 5-way switch feels likel it is a little fragile. No apparent effects from changes in weather.