DeMont Goldfinch Electric Guitar Review

Courtesy of

Cost: $999.00 for this model, but check out options on their site or find one on!

Overview and Final Score: 8.9

The DeMont Goldfinch caught my eye the minute it popped up on my screen. The distinctive finch pickguard, offset body, and gold foil pickups make it one of the most unique guitars I’ve reviewed all year. The Goldfinch is made of Silver Poplar with a Walnut top paired to a Quarter Sewn Rock Maple neck. The Walnut fretboard holds 22 frets on a 25.5″ scale length build. All lumber is milled, dried, and cut by the crew over at DeMont, giving you a truly American-made boutique guitar for a surprisingly not-boutique price. The two pickups are controlled by a blend knob, which takes the place of a traditional 3-way selector switch, by letting you roll on different mixes of the two pickups’ signal in addition to just neck, bridge, or an even split. The two gold foil pickups are microphonic to mimic the classic, vintage guitars produced in Chicago in the ’60s. Lastly, volume and tone controls round out this inspiring take on the electric guitar.

A close up with the stunning Goldfinch I was sent!

Sound: 9.5

The pickups are probably the best feature on the Goldfinch, giving you crazy fun sounds to mess around with. First off, the two gold foil pickups are warm, buzzy, and pretty quiet even though they are microphonic. The hand wound DeMont pickups provide a lot of sustain and chime, but really shine with a distortion or fuzz pedal cranked up. Don’t get me wrong, the clean sounds are great, clear and rich, with note to note clarity ringing out in chords. But with fuzz, this instantly takes you to the Black Keys/White Stripes world. Even better, you can get some of those delta blues tones that inspired those two bands with ease. The pickups sing and snarl and hiss with aggression but complete clarity.

The blend knob deserves a particular shout out too. You can mix and match so many tones that are not available on other guitars by controlling the signal blend between the two pickups. Of course you can get the 3 classic sounds, neck, bridge, and both together. But you can really dial in everything from warm, chime with heightened bass response to straight up round, neck tones. Using the other two knobs make it borderline limitless when it comes to tone shaping and a lot of fun to play. Fans of simplicity shouldn’t be scared either, pretty much everything sounds good if you don’t want to go searching for tones.

Playability: 8.5

The tuning stability on the Goldfinch seems phenomenal so far, with note bends and hard picking attack doing little to throw it out of pitch. The neck looks and feels great, but I have to say the gloss finish felt a little sticky, even though it seems nicely applied and thin. Perhaps it just needs to be worn in a bit, but it wasn’t a huge deal and more personal preference. I love the look of the vintage, covered bridge, but it does add a few seconds to string changing, so if you’re really picky about that take notice. Otherwise, there are no really playability flaws, the neck is smooth and fast, and I really love how easy it is to access the higher frets.

Finish & Construction: 9

The clear finish they put on these guitars is perfect because the wood they use is just naturally gorgeous. The Silver Poplar and Walnut top have this beautiful, natural grain that just looks super unique, and gives the guitar a rustic look. It’s definitely a really cool looking guitar to have on your wall or in your studio that even non-musician’s would appreciate. Besides the good looks, the guitar is just built well. It’s incredibly small and light, really deceptively small from the images. But that makes it incredibly comfortable to play sitting down or standing up. The hot pickups and light weight make it especially interesting to me for live rock shows and I would love to take this on the road for a nice Black Keys cover or two. The finish looks good, everything is screwed or wired in well, and the guitar doesn’t have a ton of buzz like I thought it would.

Value: 8.5

One of the best things about this guitar is that it mixes boutique quality and really stunning design together, all without having a really inflated price tag. Most American-made guitars are thousands of dollars while most boutique American-made guitars can be $4000-$10,000 for something that’s fairly comparable to a standard Gibson or Fender. Not the Goldfinch, it is its own beast, with a unique, “pawnshop” guitar inspired sound and artistic aesthetic. This specific model is going for $999 and will be available for purchase, but others seem to range from $750 to $1000. It’s a hell of a guitar for that price, and it’s one I certainly would want to add to my collection!

Fender Ultra Stratocaster Review


Cost: $1999.99 new, find your own on

Huge thanks to Heather from Fender for sending this over for review!

Overview and Final Score: 9.5

Fender’s new Ultra Stratocaster right out of the box.

Sound: 9.5

The addition of the S1 switch adds a ton of versatility to the Ultra Stratocaster, as it cuts some of the highs on the 1 and 2 positions. You end up with a warm, more rounded tone that sounded great for rhythm sections or bluesy lead lines. The only complaint was that I felt a minor drop off in volume when switching between these two settings. Otherwise the Ultra Stratocaster went from blues to rock to country with ease and it was pretty inspiring to have those classic Strat tones in a more playable, comfortable package.

The tone and volume knobs were also super sensitive, providing another easy way to tweak tone here and there. I went from John Mayer’s tone to Buddy Holly sounds in no time. I feel like the real sweet spot on this Ultra Stratocaster is the classic Strat in-between sounds, the 2nd and 4th positions. Which for me is perfect because if I’m going to spend a lot of money on a premium Strat with “modern” features, I still want that classic Stratocaster tone, I’m not buying a Suhr or Ibanez for a reason.

Playability: 10

As expected, the action and set up was perfect out of the box, which it should be at this price point. The guitar is also well balanced between the neck and body, and very comfortable thanks to the classic body contour. It’s just as comfortable and familiar as any classic Fender Strat, which should put some skeptics at ease. The neck is slim for a Strat and comfortable, both thanks to the satin finish and rounded fingerboard. As someone who plays with their thumb, access to the low E string was noticeably easier and more comfortable. It’s a lot of fun moving up and down the fretboard, and the Ultra Stratocaster makes you want to play it. 

Finish & Construction: 10

The Red Plasma Burst finish was stunning and was a nice change up from the classic Strat colors I usually go for like Sunburst or Candy Apple Red. Better yet, the finish seemed really strong and they were absolutely no flaws evident on the guitar, indicating good quality control and fit. It’s hard to find any flaws on this guitar and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it out on the road.

The neck is incredibly comfortable, especially with that new neck contour making higher fret reach a bit easier on the hands and wrists. Tuning stability was superb as well, as the locking tuners and 2-point synchronized trem system work well together. Even after a whammy bar bends, the tuning didn’t seem to move much, it at all. In fact, the guitar came out of the box, after travelling cross country, in perfect tune. The included hard case is about as sturdy and protective as they come and certainly makes the $2000 price tag a bit more appealing.

Value: 8.5

At first glance, I wanted to give this a lower score in the value department because I usually find guitars in the $400-$700 range to be the best bang for your buck. But after playing this premium Strat, I think the Ultra Stratocaster is one of the few high priced guitars worth it. It’s definitely a perfect fit for players who can only afford to own one premium guitar. It’s incredibly versatile in terms of how many tones it can provide, plus it’s a classic guitar design and brand that you can rely on. It still may be a bit too overpriced, you have to pay for that Fender brand name, but it’s a hell of a guitar to play and I’m really not excited to give it back to Fender. Overall, Fender’s Ultra Stratocaster is worth the hype to me, don’t let the negative YouTubers and journalists tell you otherwise, this is a fantastic Strat!

Xaviere PRO845 Electric Guitar Review


Cost: $229.00 direct from Guitar Fetish or check out Reverb to find a new or used one!

My beautiful new Xaviere PRO845!

Overview and Final Score: 8.1

I’ve been singing the praises of GFS pickups for some time now, but I’ve never actually had the chance to try one of their Xaviere guitar products until now. The Pro845 immediately caught my eye as both an affordable and awesome alternative to Fender thinlines. My Pro845 came in the beautiful sunburst finish with a Maple neck joined to the Alder body. A Graphtech nut, Mother of peal pickguard, and GFS Gold Foil Humbuckers wrap up the surprisingly premium features on this sub-$300 beauty. The 25.5″ scale length Tele is also incredibly lightweight and comfortable, with 22 easy to reach frets and string-through body construction.

Sound: 8

The GFS Gold Foil Humbuckers are incredibly versatile and sound great through the resonant, thinline body. They sound more clean and clear than warm, giving them a distinct single coil-like tone but with higher output and no buzz or hum. The pickups in both positions were very responsive to the attack of your pick or fingers, staying jangly and full of chime when lightly played, before churning out more mid and low-end muscle when you dig in. With a little bit of overdrive and distortion, classic humbucker tones were easy to coax out. This made it easy to go between playing The Killers, Rage Against The Machine, and Coldplay without needing to change guitars. When played clean, you were left feeling a little wanting for more of a full, well rounded tone that usually get out of humbuckers. The PRO845 is certainly a better option for players who want more sparkle than depth.

Playability: 7.5

I was surprised by how well the guitar stayed in tune, even though the die cast tuners really should be replaced. The string-through body design really helps stabilize the bridge and added a ton of natural sustain though. The finish on the Maple neck felt a little thin for my liking, but was still above average in comfort. On the bright side, the neck feels thin and fast, despite their website describing it as “not fat, just beefy” thanks to added “chunk”. I much prefer the slim feeling of this neck though, and think it inspired me to move around between many different positions while playing. Plus, it balances the lightweight Alder, semi-hollow body nicely.

Finish & Construction: 8

The finish on the Sunburst model I received is stunning, it actually looks better than the Sunburst finish on my Fender Stratocaster. The hardware was also well polished and clean, giving it a really high quality appearance. The tuners and pots feel a bit cheap, and likely could use an upgrade, but they were overall non-offensive as they didn’t really interfere with the tuning stability or tone shaping. That’s more me being picky, but still worth noting for those who may want to get this guitar and just spend a few bucks on modifications. The construction does seem better than expected for the price, with good action, little to no fret buzz, and no dings, scratches, or signs of poor finishing.

Value: 9

I think the fact that you can get such a quality guitar for around $230 is insane. As some one who loves cheap gear, I’m used to handing out scores like this to something in the $400-$600 and being really happy with the bargain I got. This guitar is more comparable to a higher end Squier model than it is to the similarly priced low end Squier Affinity or Bullet series. The Gold Foil pickups shimmer, sparkle, and chime giving you many tone shaping options, and the overall design is just beautiful. Having a thinline Tele has always been a dream of mine, and I feel like I fulfilled that dream for a few hundred less dollars than I expected to pay!

CMG Ashlee Electric Guitar Review

The stunning CMG Ashlee paired with the Devilcat Jimmy amp we’re reviewing!

Cost: $1099.00 but price varies depending on specs of each Ashlee made, visit to find your own!

Overview and Final Score: 9.25

The CMG Ashlee is probably the nicest guitar I’ve had sent to me to date, and I doubt it would disappoint any of you! The model I was sent has a few specific changes from the standard Ashlee model but generally, the specs are as follows…Available in 15 standard colors, you can also custom order the finish of your dreams through CMG’s website. The Ashlee features masked binding, which lets you see more of the wood’s natural finish and a deeper cut horn that they refer to as the E bend cut, this lets you bend a whole step up even on that last fret.

The body and neck are made of Mahogany with a Rosewood fretboard that sits atop the set-in neck. The top of the guitar is Arched Maple, and the guitar comes standard with Frog Dog humbuckers, but you can choose DiMarzio or Seymour Duncan add ons. A tune-o-matic style bridge, Grover tuners, and nitrocellulose gloss finish round out this 24.75 scale length beauty.

A more standard Ashlee model, credit:

Sound: 9

CMG’s Ashlee is best described as loud, especially thanks to (purposely) heavy body on the guitar I was sent. The guitar is rich, warm, and full, pretty much making it one of the best Les Paul derivates you could purchase. Specifically, the sustain was phenomenal thanks to the heavy body weight and air-tight construction. Notes rang out full, adding tons of dimension to soloing or lead lines, as I was inspired to not force notes in to fill the space.

The pickups sounded great, especially the neck setting, which was creamy and bluesy as hell. The extra sustain really came in handy with the neck pickup as I always feel the fatter, bassier sound doesn’t ring out quite as long as the treble. The bridge pickup had a surprising amount of sparkle to it and I really enjoyed seeing what clean sounds I could get out of it and the Devilcat Jimmy and Vox AC15 amps. Rolling off the tone knob provided incredible control of the sound, it’s always great to find the knobs have great sweep. Even at this price point, you would be surprised how many tone pots can still be sketchy. Overall, this guitar is a Les Paul through and through, but with a bit more sustain, at least on the heavy model I was sent.

Playability: 9

The Mahogany neck on the Ashlee was smooth, finished beautifully, and even had this stunning grain pattern to top it all off! It felt pretty chunky to me and the action was perfect out of the box. The tuning stability has also been off the charts, with the guitar taking bends, finger picking, and heavy down strokes like a champ for hours on end. The neck isn’t finished quite as heavily as the top of the guitar, which I love because it never feels like your going to get stuck when you move around the neck. Overall, the playability is near perfect and the easy access to upper frets is the cherry on top.

Finish & Construction: 10

First things first, the finish on this guitar was stunning! Look at that Zebra wood down the middle! And even if you get a more standard color option, the nitro finish is smooth, spotless, and seems ready to hit the road. The guitar came packaged very securely and is flawless from my inspection. The E-bend cut makes access to the higher frets so comfortable and the back body contour is way more suited for playing while sitting than most other LP’s. Overall, it seems this guitar was constructed and built to be more of a players instrument and not just another attempt at replicating a LP from a boutique source. The tuning stability is top notch and this thing is studio or tour ready out of the box.

Value: 9

It might seem odd to give such a high value rating to a $1000+ guitar, especially because you know I love cheap stuff! But with even the baseline Gibson Les Paul’s setting you back $1000, this guitar just stacks up so well comparably. You can get a more unique finish option, the pickups felt more diverse in tones than any PAF-style Gibson, and the E bend and contour are just so comfortable. There is a lot of that same LP goodness here, in an American-made package, at the same or cheaper price than so many of the wallet-draining carbon copy Gibsons they keep churning out. If you’re an LP buff looking for something new, the Ashlee should top your list!

Aria Retro-1532 Electric Guitar Review

A wonderfully unique offset that will delight vintage and modern fans alike!

Cost: $299.00, new

Huge thanks to Kazu and the Arai & Co company for sending this great guitar, it is one of the coolest ones I’ve ever reviewed!

Overview and Final Score: 8.3

The Aria Retro-1532 is by far one of the most unique and visually inspiring guitars I’ve ever reviewed. Despite the humble price point, it actually sounds delightful. The guitar features a 3-tone sunburst finish over a basswood body with a maple neck and Techwood fretboard. 21 frets grace this 24.75″ scale length guitar, giving it a comfortable, shorter feel, almost like a souped up Fender Jaguar. Two VLS, half covered single coil pickups provide not just a unique look but a unique sound that recalls those classic ’60s big single coils found in Tiesco or Supro instruments. The slanted neck pickup is a great touch too, both visually and sonically.

The pickups are controlled by a familiar volume, tone, and 3-way selector switch, making this a fairly straight forward rock machine. A tune-o-matic bridge leads to a Jazzmaster-style tremolo system, adding further sonic options. The offset body will likely attract many Fender fans looking for a Jazzmaster or Jaguar body, but the smaller scale length should also appeal to Gibson-style players looking for an outside the box addition.

Sound: 7

Most of the sounds that come out of this thing are really unique, much more than the more traditional single coil sound Aria’s DM-01 provided. The VLS pickups have a bit more output and crack then traditional single coils, because of their huge size, which gives all three settings a great distorted tone. At lower volumes, the cleans still shimmer and chime, especially out of the bridge and middle position, while the neck takes on an almost humbucker-like sound that is great for blues, jazz, or even atmospheric sections.

The addition of the tremolo arm especially helps make this guitar sound great for more modern indie and pop sounds where guitars may go from shimmering ambience to full bodied chords in seconds. The bridge pickup is your best bet for more of these bright sounds, while also sounding great for overdriven, tube amp garage rock with the tone just slightly rolled off. Overall, vintage single coil sounds abound in this fine guitar, and I think it adds a really quirky option to my rig for the studio or live performances.

Playability: 8.5

This guitar’s playability far outperforms both the sound and price of this guitar. First off, the heavy gloss finish on the neck feels great, to my hands it makes the guitar’s neck much faster to move around on and more comfortable to play for long periods of time. It’s almost like a high end lacquer finish, and greatly out competes the DM-01’s raw-feeling neck. From there, the tuning stability is really great and the guitar has yet to move more than a bit out of tune, even after a few hours of going at it. The frets are comfortable, and while not specified, feel like medium-jumbo, and none of the edges were sharp or poorly cut.

Finish & Construction: 8.5

The finish on this guitar is beautiful and really well done, and there was no damage from shipping. Overall, the finish just doesn’t feel cheap, which is not a very specific definition, but sometimes you just know it when you feel it. So much of a guitar’s appeal to each individual is feel anyway, so I have to give the Retro-1532 props for feeling great, sounding, great, and being an overall inspiring instrument. I already raved about the neck finish and the whole neck and headstock are really the highlight of this guitar. There were no apparent flaws in any of the construction, the 3-way selector worked, the pots worked, though the tone didn’t have great spread, but that’s expected in this price range. It is both stunning and well built for a Chinese-made guitar that retails for $300.

Value: 9

Aria’s Retro-1532 is not just one of the most affordable guitars out there but it is probably the most affordable AND interesting guitar I’ve ever played. Often when I see instruments like this, I say to myself, wow I’d love to have one but I can’t justify spending the $500-$1000 for an Eastwood or Danelectro I’ll only use for a few songs. With this guitar being this nice at this price, it makes it incredibly accessible for those who want something sonically and visually different. I’m a big fan and can’t wait to work this guitar into my rig.

Aria DM-01 Electric Guitar Review

A stunning, Mosrite-style guitar meant for all sorts of vintage rock goodness

Cost: $379.00 new

Huge thanks to Kazu for sending me this awesome guitar!

Visit Arai & Co for more info on the DM-01

Overview and Final Score: 7.1

The Aria DM-01 is a modern take on a classic vintage guitar style beloved by thousands. Based on the classic Mosrite body shape, Johnny Ramone and Ventures fans alike will rejoice at the ability to get their hands on a great playing modern update. Part of the Retro Classic series, the DM-01 features a basswood body, maple neck, and Techwood fingerboard. The 25.5″ scale length guitar also holds 20 frets alongside chrome hardware, a tune-o-matic bridge, and floating, Jazzmaster-style tremolo system.

Dual APS-9 single coils, Aria’s take on P90’s, give the guitar a distinctly killer look and tone. The two soapbars are controlled via a standard 3-way selector switch as well as a volume and tone knob. Along with the Vintage White finish I received, the guitar is also available in Black and 3 Tone Sun-burst.

Sound: 7

The choice of P90’s as opposed to the Johnny Ramone set up, mini humbucker and single coil, really make this guitar more appealing for modern guitarists in my opinion. First off, the two P90’s are capable of a bit more variety of sound, and this guitar can go from searing lead squeals on the bridge to slapping country tones once you turn down the gain. The neck pickup is a bit muddy and notes get ill-defined, as expected with cheaper P90’s pickups that don’t have quite the brightness of Fender-style pups or the output of Gibson-esque humbuckers.

The best sounds were produced with just a bit of overdrive, courtesy of my tube screamer pedal, to push my Vox AC15 over the edge. The pickups break up really nicely and the guitar felt right at home amongst these garage rock tones. I don’t know if it is just my association with Mosrites and P90s, but this guitar really just inspired me to play noisy, classic punk and garage rock sounds, and it sounded best doing it. The pickups were fairly hot enough to rely on in a live setting, but I kept feeling myself moving towards my boost pedals, even when playing cleaner tones.

Playability: 6

The playability on this thing didn’t quite match up with how good it sounded. There are no major flaws on this guitar whatsoever, I just felt it needs a proper setup especially when compared to some of the other guitars I’ve reviewed. The fret edges were just a bit rough, and the guitar stayed in tune okay, it overall felt very average in that department as the trem bar would throw it out of tune after a 10-20 minutes of playing. This makes it more of an issue for live use, not so much bedroom or practice players though. The action was great out of the box however, and it is overall not too uncomfortable to play.

Finish & Construction: 7.5

Overall, the DM-01 is very well put together and I found no major flaws, dents, scratches or other issues. Of course the guitar could use a set up as I said before, but that’s not a huge disappointment especially at this price. The finish looks great and seems very durable, especially considering the guitar wasn’t shipped in a case, and survived fine inside the cardboard box. The finish on the back of the neck is just a bit too thin and cheap feeling to me, and I much preferred the high gloss on the back of the other Aria I received, the Retro-1532. The wiring seemed well down when I cracked it open, and there isn’t any excess buzz from any components of the guitar, besides the slightly noisy single coils.

Value: 8

The DM-01 is a great guitar at a great price, coming in at just under $400. I think it fits best in the hands of garage rock fans, punk rock players, and those who like their guitars to look just a bit different. While it is a larger scale length, it might also make a great and affordable alternative to a Gibson DC Les Paul Junior. The guitar also gets extra points here because it is one of the cheapest options out there for this guitar design. Eastwood makes some great models just like this, but most are far closer to $1000 than to $400. Danelectro’s similar models also come in well north of that benchmark, like the $800 ’64 Guitar. For the money, it just plays and sounds above average and will help you stick out of the crowd, not sure you can ask for much else out of the DM-01.

Donner DST-100W Review

A surprisingly nice guitar and package deal for around $130

Cost: 129.00 new via

Generously gifted for review by the Donner Deal company!

Overview and Final Score: 5.4

The Donner DST-100W is a surprisingly reliable and enjoyable take on the classic Strat design. Coming in at extremely budget friendly prices, the DST-100W is overall a fairly average guitar, with no frills or features that would wow you. However, for a guitar to be this cheap AND average is an accomplishment. The AAA solid African basswood body features an AAA Canadian maple neck with Ebony fingerboard and a HSS pickup configuration plus 5-way selector. The guitar also features a one-way tremolo along with the standard volume-tone-tone controls of a Stratocaster. 20 dot inlay frets adorn the classic C-shaped neck, and the guitar comes in four finish options: Sonic Red, Sapphire Blue, Tidepool, and Vintage White.

Sound: 5

I was pleasantly surprised by each sound and tone coaxed out of this vintage white (looks more like buttercream) Strat. After the Glarry Strat left me wanting more, I was expecting to be let down once again by a budget, foreign model from a lesser known brand. That was not the case this time as the guitar performs admirably and doesn’t sound or play all that different from a trusty Squier Stratocaster. The humbucker is loud and offers a ton of sonic diversity, allowing you to go from John Mayer-esque in-between tones to high output, gain sounds in seconds.

Now, the pickups in here aren’t necessarily good, they are somewhat noisy, easily get muddied as you adjust tone, and don’t have the same rich, sparkling tone that most associate with Fender Strats. The thing is, they just aren’t bad. The pickups in that Glarry? They literally fizzled out when you kicked on a distortion pedal and you lost all the mids and highs. For not a lot more money, this guitar actually works, and sounds enough like an HSS Strat. The in-between settings on the 5-way selector switch are pretty much useless thanks to a cut in output and thin sounds, but the 3 pickup settings are much more reminiscent of my MIM Fender Strat. Hear for yourself when we publish our full demo of the Donner DST-100W, but I think you may be surprised at what you hear.

Playability: 4.5

The fretwork is a little bit rough, as to be expected, but not uncomfortable or painful to play by any means. The neck came extremely bowed upwards, something that was easily fixed via the truss rod. Ironically, the bowing made the action better, and it was pretty easy to play even though the tuning stability was impacted. Once it was returned straight, I had the lower the action just a bit but quickly found a great feeling spot. The Canadian maple neck and Ebony fingerboard were quite pleasant once those adjustments were done, and it held tune infinitely better after that. Shockingly, the use of the whammy bar did not quickly throw the guitar out of tune, adding a fun and useable feature to the Strat copy.

Finish & Construction: 5

The construction was a bit wonky, as evidenced by the bowed neck and high action. The wiring however seems really solid, even once I cracked open the guitar, and the excess buzz or hiss of the single coils is more minimal than I would have expected. The finish is labeled as Vintage White and I think they were going for that aged, yellowish hue of older guitars, but it really comes out as more of a buttercream or swiss cheese yellow color in person. There were no noticeable chips or dings, and it was very nicely packaged inside its case when it arrived.

Value: 7

While a $130 guitar being comparable to a Squier isn’t a huge achievement on its own, the DST-100W is really buoyed by the package it comes with. As you’ll see in our soon to arrive video demo and discussion article, the DST-100W comes with a rechargeable 3 Watt amp, a case, strap, picks, whammy bar, clip-on tuner, capo, AND extra strings. That’s a whole lot of stuff thrown in for $130. At the end of the day, the guitar doesn’t suck, stays in tune, and sounds a bit like a Strat, making this a completely reasonable guitar to learn on. There is nothing here that would discourage a student and I look forward to taking this thing apart and modding the hell out of it as an expert!