yup i own the RX-40, but it's a 1998 model, the current RX-40 is a better buy. IMO, the current model sports a better bridge, as advocated before (in another thread) the string saddle screws don't protrude to stab your palm. it's very comfortable.
1. the RX-40 will make an ejoyable subsequent guitar
2. can't comment, me not in Oz...
3. mine has a warped neck out of the box but that was rectified easily- allen wrench. it also has a badly cut nut, i re-filed it + add lubrication & it rocks. the bridge humbucker sounds thin & lacks bass. but a tone zone works wonders in there.
if yer friend is used to large frets mate, then the rx's medium frets is a breeze to play. also, he might wanna consider the RG-170 as an alternative if he wants a H-S-H pickup combo.
other budget contenders: GAX-70/ GSA-60