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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Changed My Mind on Most Cheap Guitars

    For the longest time I have enjoyed picking up a $400 guitar as a back-up to my nice guitar. This is because in the past (1980s, and 1990s), those cheapie axes were made in Japan where they used to make good stuff cheap.

    No longer.

    I admit defeat, the "Under $500" class of guitars just aren't up to snuff. I'll forgive a lot, but when they can't even put in a screw straight (I'm talking to you, IBANEZ) then I don't even want to pop the bay panel to inspect the wiring job. If quality can't catch a bad screw job then the whole guitar is a screw-job.

    Ibanez is releasing a new Destroyer this year, and I really want one. However, before I put my $800+ down, I'm popping panels and inspecting everyting close. If it guitar is not up to speed, I'll spend the extra cash on a Peavy Wolfgang-looking thing.

    Crooked screws? Seriously?
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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  2. #2
    5150
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    04.02.10 @ 06:19 PM
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    have you tired the new sterlings by musicman?

  3. #3
    Eruption donkost's Avatar
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    12.10.17 @ 08:16 PM
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    There is still some fantastic quality in the under $800 range. For the fun of it I recently picked up an Epiphone Zakk Wylde Les Paul Custom (Bullseye pattern, w/case) for $730 w/15% discount, and it's made in Korea. The thing is built like a tank, just a little bit lighter than my 1988 Gibson Les Paul Custom (bought new, still mint). The raw maple neck w/satin finish on the Epi. Z.W. is very fast, and the passive EMG's on the thing scream.

    Funny you should mention Ibanez since last year I picked up a RG2550Z but that's a Prestige model, made in Japan. It IS screwed together very well but it should be for the price (still not too bad). I bought that one from Rich at I.R. (if you know of him) and he even installs the good locking stud kit.

  4. #4
    Top Of The World Benjami's Avatar
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    08.12.11 @ 01:51 AM
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    i have a 100 euro strat copy and im extremely happy with it, the set up could be better and stuff but the thing plays great and in ive always been getting comments on how nice my tone is, wich comes from a bridge pick up covered in rust, i mean, wtf?
    i think its not really the price range that counts but more how you like the guitar how it plays that stuff etc.

  5. #5
    Forum Frontman
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    07.04.16 @ 08:03 PM
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    I suppose with any cheap(er) guitar it's a complete crap shoot what you'll end up with because quality control is so hit-and-miss. Maybe the combination of woods, craftsmanship, and care on a particular day just happens to make one out of the bunch spectacular. I bought a Hagstrom Ultra Swede for $240 a few months ago, and thing has been damn impressive. I swapped out the pickups and electronics right away, but as it was the thing still held up well, and the neck reinforcements they use are freaking spectacular (Minnesota = woods drying like crazy and dropping in pitch--not the Hagstrom). You really do need to know what you're buying, however. Even though names like Ibanez and Kramer have been around for a while, they aren't the same guitars they used to be. Ibanez basically bottomed out in the early 90s and somehow managed to survive, but one thing they did to help them get back up was cheapen their labor costs by going to China and Indonesia (something MANY companies have done). And Kramer was gone but resurrected by Gibson only semi-recently so as to hit that niche market. There are some companies that have done consistently well with regards to quality control on their lower prices guitars. Yamaha is one name that comes to mind. The $200 Pacifica model the store I teach at sells for a starter is guitar is by far the best guitar in its price range I've seen in the last few years. And, though a little higher than the $400 mark, the PRS SE series guitars are excellent across the board.

  6. #6
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    12.11.17 @ 05:18 PM
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    I think I've lost my love of cheapo guitars. I own 3 really cheap ones, way under $500 and once you play a quality instrument it is difficult to go back to the cheapies. I recently bought a used Yamaha in really nice shape, a 420 DL which I don't think they make any longer, and I can't believe the difference. It isn't a high end model but it isn't at the low end either, but it plays fantastic and sounds fantastic. I don't even pick up my other guitars any more because they feel so shitty in comparison, so I'll keep those to work on my meagre luthier skills. I think I'm going to start saving up for an EBMM Axis or something else high end.

  7. #7
    Little Dreamer
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    01.05.12 @ 07:11 PM
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    $400 can buy a used axe that sold new for twice that. I don't buy new unless there's something that just hit the market and I gotta have it now.

    I have 3 guitars, all Yamaha. They are all mid-range quality, and play like butter. The electrics have Duncan pickups stock, Grover & Sperzel locking tuners. High quality stuff. They are not a high-profile brand (not a lot of name endorsee of their guitars-- bass & keyboard are different matters entirely) so resale value is low. You can get stupid great buys on these things used.

  8. #8
    Hot For Teacher ME100472's Avatar
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    02.14.14 @ 07:11 AM
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    To me it's the acoustics. If you go to a guitar shop and pick up a cheap acoustic, then pick up a $2000 Martin, the difference to me is night and day. A cheap electric can generally be masked with enough effects pedals IMO. But, with that said I still like the high dollar electrics better too. LOL.
    "Boards don't hit back" - Bruce Lee

  9. #9
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    04.02.10 @ 06:19 PM
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    i thought the olp did ok as far as cheap guitars. it wasnt the best but it wasnt the worst. now the sterlings by musicman are a step up and almost liek a special version of the axis. i thought they were pretty good when i tried one out.

  10. #10
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    The Zakk Wylde runs around $695 here, I don't consider it a cheap guitar, and yes it is a great guitar for the price.

    Ibanez put out a new Iceman last year that was assembled in SE Asia, and it was crap. At least when compaired to my 1978 Iceman which I bought for around the same price. I know that things have changed, and that Japanese-made Ibanez's tend to be as expensive as their US counterparts. Still, a screw is a screw, and either you can put them in straight or you can't. If you can't then you shouldn't be working with wood.

    I will still give the low end models a look, but I'm really going to inspect the hardware installation.
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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  11. #11
    Top Of The World Benjami's Avatar
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    08.12.11 @ 01:51 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axxman300 View Post
    Ibanez put out a new Iceman last year that was assembled in SE Asia, and it was crap. At least when compaired to my 1978 Iceman which I bought for around the same price. I know that things have changed, and that Japanese-made Ibanez's tend to be as expensive as their US counterparts. Still, a screw is a screw, and either you can put them in straight or you can't. If you can't then you shouldn't be working with wood.

    I will still give the low end models a look, but I'm really going to inspect the hardware installation.
    Im actually thinking about buying an Iceman i tried one yesterday thought it looked and played great, sound was good too, its was an ICX from 2004 i believe.
    But i didnt try any of the higher end models so i dont know the difference :P

  12. #12
    Good Enough SLEEPER5150's Avatar
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    12.03.10 @ 03:16 PM
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    There's no doubt there's guitars out there with dubious build quality, and I agree that there are some offshore guitars that have horrible finish detail, such as electronics, or as mentioned screws not driven in straight, but i gotta say that this is not limited to offshore inexpensive instruments. I'm sure most of you know of my rant toward Gibson regarding their QC. $2.000.00 + instruments with the following deficiencies:
    Sharp unfinished frets
    control cavity screws stripped
    control cavity screws missing (one being not even drilled!.....and passed.)
    pickguard support screw missing...and again not drilled......and passed!
    Binding separating from neck at 14th. to 17th. frets
    Granted this was not only one guitar.....it was ONLY 3. That's still nothing to brag about right?
    My own Gibson SG which I bought and was very happy with for the first two weeks became damn near unplayable once out of the perfectly climate controlled showroom floor. The problem though relatively minor was the wood was not dried properly and wash shrinking and formed a hump around the 5th to 9th frets. Fortunately my tech repaired it with a relevel and crown and it's fortunately not worsening, but these are examples of American made guitars with fairly high values attached, and they exhibited the very problems I associated with cheap offshore guitars 10 to twenty years ago. Now...take the Chinese made Gretsch slide guitar I just picked up. I tend to check my guitars over thoroughly whaen i get them home. The finish is absolutely flawless. The tuners hold tune exceptionally well. The pickup has a great sound and is very quiet, and when I pulled the control cover, I found a very clean cavity with sheilding paint applied, decent quality med. friction pots with nice clean soldering. Even my SG had "acceptable" soldering performed. Same applies to a Danelectro DC59 (Jimmy Page style) again made in China I use for Zep covers. Body aside which is of coarse masonite, but the neck is of excellent quality. Great finish, nice fret level, and has needed no adjustment except for right after purchase and lighter strings. I use 9's and it came with 11's, so no surprise there. The frets dont buzz and the volume and tone controls are clean. Maybe I've just been lucky with these two, but I've changed my mind on offshore for the better.
    She looks so $#@!'n good ,so sexy and so frail....Somethin's got the bite on me, I'm goin' straight to Hell.

  13. #13
    Good Enough SLEEPER5150's Avatar
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    12.03.10 @ 03:16 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by SLEEPER5150 View Post
    There's no doubt there's guitars out there with dubious build quality, and I agree that there are some offshore guitars that have horrible finish detail, such as electronics, or as mentioned screws not driven in straight, but i gotta say that this is not limited to offshore inexpensive instruments. I'm sure most of you know of my rant toward Gibson regarding their QC. $2.000.00 + instruments with the following deficiencies:
    Sharp unfinished frets
    control cavity screws stripped
    control cavity screws missing (one being not even drilled!.....and passed.)
    pickguard support screw missing...and again not drilled......and passed!
    Binding separating from neck at 14th. to 17th. frets

    Granted this was not only one guitar.....it was ONLY 3. That's still nothing to brag about right?
    My own Gibson SG which I bought and was very happy with for the first two weeks became damn near unplayable once out of the perfectly climate controlled showroom floor. The problem though relatively minor was the wood was not dried properly and wash shrinking and formed a hump around the 5th to 9th frets. Fortunately my tech repaired it with a relevel and crown and it's fortunately not worsening, but these are examples of American made guitars with fairly high values attached, and they exhibited the very problems I associated with cheap offshore guitars 10 to twenty years ago. Now...take the Chinese made Gretsch slide guitar I just picked up.
    I tend to check my guitars over thoroughly whaen i get them home. The finish is absolutely flawless. The tuners hold tune exceptionally well. The pickup has a great sound and is very quiet, and when I pulled the control cover, I found a very clean cavity with sheilding paint applied, decent quality med. friction pots with nice clean soldering. Even my SG had "acceptable" soldering performed. Same applies to a Danelectro DC59 (Jimmy Page style) again made in China I use for Zep covers. Body aside which is of coarse masonite, but the neck is of excellent quality. Great finish, nice fret level, and has needed no adjustment except for right after purchase and lighter strings. I use 9's and it came with 11's, so no surprise there. The frets dont buzz and the volume and tone controls are clean. Maybe I've just been lucky with these two, but I've changed my mind on offshore for the better.
    Thalt's not to say their all gems, but I must confess that I've been pleasantly surprised with the more recent examples I've played.
    She looks so $#@!'n good ,so sexy and so frail....Somethin's got the bite on me, I'm goin' straight to Hell.

  14. #14
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    11.17.15 @ 08:56 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewThomas.net View Post
    ... the PRS SE series guitars are excellent across the board.
    +1

  15. #15
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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dino5150 View Post
    +1
    I tried the Allander model, and I actually was quite impressed.

 

 

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