on November 23, 2012
I took a risk when purchasing this product, as there was little to no documentation on this line of guitars when I ordered it.
That being said, I am quite pleased with my purchase.
Here's a quick summary of my review for those who don't want too much information.
Build quality is nice, paint job is flawless. Maple neck and fretboard are nice, but frets can be sharp on the edges and will need a little work if it bothers you. Input jack was very tight although fixable. The sound is decent, about what you would expect from a $100 guitar. Great beginner guitar or platform for modders.
And here is the full on "Harmony Central" style review, mainly directed at modders.
I will be constantly comparing this to a Squier Bullet Strat, which is about the same guitar at the same price point. I do currently own one and love Fenders/Squiers, so if this review feels anti-Squier, it isn't. It's just my honest opinion. I will refer to this guitar as the "Indy" and the Bullet Strat as the "Bullet," to avoid confusion. Here we go...
Features/Action, Fit, and finish:
Standard S-type. I'll go from top to bottom. Headstock is maple, says Indy Custom on it, silk-screened in black, nicely done. Tuning keys are decent quality, MUCH better than the stock Bullet tuners. You see this quality on Squier's next line up, the Affinity Series. I'm certain the nut is made out of plastic, but it has this nice off white appearance to it (similar to aged bone), which compliments my further mods. *See user submitted pictures.
The maple neck and fretboard is very nice, as I am a sucker for maple fretboards. The frets, however, are sharp along the edges and can bother you if you have sensitive hands. I don't. The Bullet has a much better fret job, but the Indy has a nicer overall neck and fretboard. Inlays are black and smooth. The Bullet's inlays are faux mother-of-pearl and have poor finish quality.
Neck is bolt-on and the neck plate has a sort of a plastic spacer between the plate and the body. Will likely protect the finish, but can't guess the effect on sustain. Nice either way. Bullet is standard metal-on-wood. Neck is very easy to play, smooth matte finish. The Bullet's neck feels... odd. Same C-shape profile, but there's something about it that makes it slightly less playable than the Indy. Maybe you'll like it better, I don't.
The body has a flawless "Fender Surf Green" knockoff finish. As "surf green" is my favorite color, I couldn't pass it up. The body is also Alder, as opposed to Basswood in the Bullet, and any guitar you will find around this range. Can't comment on the sonic differences between the woods, and they are both solid finishes, so even though the Indy may look nicer underneath, they both have solid paint jobs. Indy's paint job is nicer though, especially under the pickguard, where the Bullet's primer and wood are slowly chipping away. It's an ugly sight. Indy is fully finished everywhere, and since I remove my trem backplate on all my s-type guitars, it looks very sharp.
Pickguard is three-ply white-black-white. The Bullet's pickguard is single-ply white. Both only shielded at the pots. I can't stress how much nicer the Indy's pickguard and pickup wiring is. They actually used tiny zip ties to keep the cables in check and did a very clean soldering job. The Bullet is about the same quality soldering job, however, the cables were not even close to as organized as the Indy.
Indy advertises "Spitfire Pickups." Also known as "generic pickups we gave a name." About the same quality as the Bullet's pickups. I do believe the Bullet's pups have a little more bite and treble, but it's been so long since I swapped those with Fender Vintage Noiselesses, so I can't really compare. As far as electronics go, they pretty much use the same pots, but the switch in the Bullet is much higher quality, as with the input jack and metal used on the jack plate.
The trem system in the Bullet is garbage and unusable with stock tuners. The Indy's is decent, the saddle system is more comparable to Squier's Affinity Series Strats. Again, a step up on features for the same, if not lower, price than the Bullet (it was $99 when I purchased it a few years ago but it's now $129 due to last year's Fender brand-wide price increase). I'll also add that the Indy's trem springs are nice and clean. The Bullet's springs, out of the box, were corroded and nasty. Likely sitting in storage for a while, which explains the internal chipping of wood. Neither guitar can really go through any trem usage without needing constant tuning. Expected.
Both have similar strap buttons, both also have a white foam washer to protect the guitar's finish.
Now to my mods, as well as stock setup information. I replaced the tuners with some Squier Affinity Series keys I had lying around. They are a bit more solid, but the tuning ratio is likely the same. Didn't have to mod the width of the holes for the keys, but I had to drill a dowel, as the tuners are screwless.
Didn't even have to touch the truss, as the neck relief is perfect out of the box for my taste (it came with 9's with action a little low, I play 10's and it made it just perfect for me), and I didn't even have to touch the saddle height afterwards. It did, however, need intonation, and it ALMOST gets there. If the low E could get a little further back, it would be perfect. The Bullet, on the other hand, can't even get intonated on the E and G strings, not even close.
I swapped the generic pups with Fender Vintage Noiseless, and the pickguard with a US Strat type replacement by Mighty Mite in off white. It did need about three holes redrilled and I needed to Dremel a bit out of the bridge area to get it to fit. But boy, does it look sharp (again, see user submitted pics). Sounds great, too. A little better than the Squier with VN pups, but I think that's mainly due to the lack of intonation and the odd neck.
I mentioned the switch and jack were much better on the Squier, and since I like the Indy better, I swapped those out.
If you're honestly still reading, you probably already have a set of pups you wanna swap out. But if you're really interested in the stock sound, as I stated earlier, it's about on par with the Bullet. About what you'd expect from a $100 guitar.
Solid build, but I always question the longevity of off-brand or inexpensive products. Only time will tell. As of right now, all I can say is that it feels nice and solid.
If I could give a rating out of 10 stars, it would be a 9/10. I'm only knocking off one star for finish issues (frets, super tight input jack, a little scrape on the fretboard), but I am still taking price into consideration. For about the price of a Squier Bullet Strat, you get a much higher quality product. Highly recommended.
And that's about it. I'll likely update this in the future, in case I forgot something.