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Amazing cheapo guitars
Old 8th April 2008
Gear Maniac
Rigg's Avatar

What about Michael Kelly guitars? Seems like a pretty good buy for 400-500 bucks. Flame maple cap on mahogony body and neck, ebony fretboard, coil tapped buckers, grover tuners, and an awesome looking finish for $500. Seems like a lot of guitar for the money. I've got my eye on a patriot custom and I think I'm gonna pull the trigger on it. I cant find a review that doesnt rave about how good these guitars are for the money.

I also agree that epiphone and PRS se guitars are a good value if you can find a good one. I found a good example of each at guitar center last week after sifting through a couple of bad ones. I probably would have walked with the gently used epi if i hadnt stumbled across the michael kelly online.
Old 16th April 2008
Lives for gear
Absolute's Avatar

I'd just like to add...

Whether or not a cheap guitar plays well when you buy it is moot. The quality is something that shows up later. I cant tell you how many cheaper guitars I bought whose necks cracked, bent, tuners crapped out, etc

Usually the first thing you notice is it wont hold pitch anymore. Then the electronics start to crap out and it just snowballs from there

So if you think you got a deal.......just wait, the odds are not with you.

By far, the best cheap guitar you can buy is an Ibanez. I wouldnt bet on anything else in a low price range
Old 16th April 2008
Lives for gear
darkwater's Avatar

I've heard the Jay Turser line is surprisingly good. And only slightly more expensive than DIRT.
Old 16th April 2008
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by Absolute View Post
I'd just like to add...

Whether or not a cheap guitar plays well when you buy it is moot. The quality is something that shows up later. I cant tell you how many cheaper guitars I bought whose necks cracked, bent, tuners crapped out, etc

Usually the first thing you notice is it wont hold pitch anymore. Then the electronics start to crap out and it just snowballs from there

So if you think you got a deal.......just wait, the odds are not with you.

By far, the best cheap guitar you can buy is an Ibanez. I wouldnt bet on anything else in a low price range

I would have to respectfully disagree on this. I have an MIM Tele that's been played to death. It's well over 10 years old and although it has aftermarket pickups and a bone nut (which I replaced because that's what I wanted, not because they failed) everything else is holding up on it extremely well (much better than some of the 70's Fender junk I've had, no comparison). A number of people have offered to buy it from me for American Fender dollars, not noticing it has a Mexi SN.

My guess would be that if you played 20 American Fenders and 20 Mexi Fenders you would probably find more American ones that "made the grade" .
That doesn't mean that all the Mexi ones are crap though.

There certainly is cheap junk out there (and Fender makes some of it) but there is also some very well made stuff for very reasonable prices.
Old 16th April 2008
Lives for gear

+1 on the Danelectro and PRS SE's. Used to have an SE, sold it for an American one because I wanted the real thing, but the guitar rocked. Can't get more value for that kind of money. The Danelectro's are sweet as well, especially the DC59. So good for slide guitar...
Old 16th April 2008
Here for the gear
Jack FFR1846's Avatar


I just joined and this is my first post. I joined, seeing this thread as I constantly search for good cheap guitars. With the fury out in the market about anything with Gibson or Fender attached to it, I've tended to see what else is out there. I regularly spend 3-4 hours a week in guitar stores playing everything I can find (both new and used).

Squier: Hit or miss. I've found one that I've liked...had a straight neck...tuners stayed in tune for more than one song...didn't feel like it needed to be thrown in a wood stove after the first song. My inclination is that if you try 100, 10 are acceptable, and 1 is really good. (yah, I have played at least 100 at this point). One bullet squier was the most memorable (along with the squier strat that was very good). The bullet would literally not stay in tune long enough for an average solo. I stopped string bending solos and tried some easier stuff. Stupid tuners.

Ibenez LP copy: Played one a couple weeks ago. I love the look of LP's but very rarely find one that I like playing. The Ibenez was probably the best playing one I've found. I can't remember exactly the price, but I think it was in the $200 range. I might have to go back and buy it. :D

Godin: I have become a huge fan. I bought a used Exit 22 from Guitar Center. (they don't carry these new). It played better than 90% of the guitars I've played. They no longer make this model. It's cheap because it's very simple. Rock Maple neck, solid mohogany body with clear matte finish, HSS with single volume/tone and 5 way switch. It plays similar to an LP but the neck is way more comfortable. I also played a new Detour model. Similar to the Exit 22 but with a 3 piece body. Silver maple center with poplar sides and only 2 pickups. Painted body. Only $250 brand new. I almost bought it just because I thought the value was amazing. They have a few more low priced guitars. All are on this simple note. Once you start going up the ladder with Godin, you get the fancier finishes, quilt maple tops, binding, 2 voice/3 voice setups. Then you're paying $1500+

OLP: Officially Licenced Products. I bought an OLP copy of an Ernie Ball Benji Madden guitar. Simple basswood body with a single H pickup with volume/tone. Great maple neck. Play an Ernie Ball Musicman, then play this. Very, very similar. Mine has a flat black painted body and a cheap plastic pickguard that's not even screwed down flat. But it plays fantastic. I paid $100 for it used. It's my work guitar. I leave it at work and play at lunchtime. If it's stolen, it's only $100. I'm planning to also buy another OLP when I can get to a dealer carrying them. They make copies of the Ernie Ball Musicman Axis (Eddie Van Halen guitar) with a cheap trem for $200 or with a Floyd Rose for $400. I'm debating which one I'd get since I've got one guitar with a floyd and don't usually use the trem and do a lot of string bending.....which the floyd totally screws up. I guess I'd stick without the floyd and block the trem completely.

Old 16th April 2008
Gear Nut
tyro's Avatar

Couple of years ago I bought an 80's Ibanez Roadstar II and an old Halkan amp (designed by the guys who later started EBS bass gear) for 200$. A really nice jazz tone can be had with this guitar through that amp, and the guitar's in use by several players I get here, since it tunes better (and stays perfectly in tune) and plays easier than their guitars.
Old 17th April 2008
Gear Head

In researching Epiphone Les Pauls, I found that as far as bodies a necks go, they're all basically the same. You might get a mahogany neck instead of maple, or a chambered body even. Flame maple tops and square inlay is all about the look, imo.

Ya'll chould check out for some LP, Strat and Tele copies for cheap. Also, Jay Turser makes some very beautiful copies (sadly I haven't held one yet) that are amazingly inexpensive.

I messed with a Agile, and I must say, it was pretty sleek.
I also played a Aria LP copy from the 70s or 60s that was amazingly nice sounding...

My current axe is a 68 Mustang, tho, a girl pulled it out of a trashcan for me.
Old 19th April 2008
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

To be fair I won't count my ''66 Hofner for $99.00 new or my '64 Jazz Bass for $250.00 back in '73

More recently, my Ibanez AF105NT is truly an amazing
guitar for the money. Paid $629.00 new with case and now they're listing at
$100.00 more at MF.

The build quality overall and fit and finish put many $3000.00 Gibsons to shame.
The neck is just right and once she was set-up, just wonderful to play.

This guitar can go from smooth creamy jazz with flat wounds to full blow roar
and with the right amp it has amazing sparkle and chime.

I really love this guitar!!~

Another pretty cool guitar is my rather rare Gibson/Epiphone Skunk Baxter Cutaway.

This is pretty much my beater and does well enough direct through the PA or mic'd in. small venues.
It was about $500.00 with the case new.

It sounds like cardboard compared to my Larrivee, but it's still a keeper.
It does a great job mixing regular acoustic and nylon strings for certain effects
and I can play it detuned down to baritone, to work with certain vocals.
Old 21st April 2008
Gear Addict

I played a few Reverends last week. They are defintly winners. The Club King HB really opened my eyes. All solid wood, decent humbeckers, a great chunck neck, a rich and warm sound,...... It is a steal.
Old 22nd April 2008
Lives for gear

I have a Korean Epi Casino.

I own a 1967 Gibson 335 that is absolutely mint and plays perfect. It is the epitome of the reason why we love Gibson guitars.

That Casino plays every bit as good. I frickin love that thing.

I have a bone nut, some new P90s, all new electronics(pots, switch, input) some Grovers and a bigsby on the way to get is as good as can be. But that thing plays great.

All in, $600.
Old 23rd April 2008
Gear Addict

Definitely Aria!
I had an Aria stolen from me years ago. It was the Cardinal II series double cutaway in Blue. Someone broke in and chose that one over the other 4 guitars that were with it, all of which were worth 4 times the price of the Aria. But that Aria happened to be my favorite, so it really stung to have it stolen. I still scour Ebay looking for one just like it.

Also the Ibanez Flying V is another fave for me. I beat the crap out of that thing on stage for years. Throwing it, knocking over amps with it, and it never went out of tune. And most of all, the tone was pretty spectacular. Someone swapped the stock electronics for all Les Paul electronics on this one. Why? I don't know but it sounded good..
Old 21st May 2008
Here for the gear

I thought the thread said cheapo. In my book $500 isn't cheapo. My best guitar is a $200 strat with a stripped and shaved maple neck. I picked it up, played it, bought it. I was in the car before I realized I hadn't even plugged it in. I liked the feel and the sustain so much I went home with it anyway. It played just as great plugged in as unplugged when I got home. Still my main guitar 15 years later so I got my money out of it.
I also like my 6 string rouge bass for about $100. Rings out like a piano and I play it just like a baritone guitar.
I almost bought a dean vendetta when helping a friend buy a guitar. The thing weighed nothing, had a cool natural finish, jumbo frets and humbuckers and played just bitchen. Not a fluke either. The 4 or 5 that weren't broken played great also. They also had a few epiphone sg for $100 that were truly horrific. Unplayable by anybody. Also saw a beautiful gibson firebird for $1200. It played like crap. The dean was 5 or 6 times better. With modern mfg and cheap overseas labor it seems its getting very hard to justify spending anything over $400. $1000 guitars had better be made out of an extinct tree or be collectable these days otherwise you are probably just fooling yourself.
Old 22nd May 2008
Lives for gear
allphourus's Avatar

Originally Posted by octatonic View Post
Originally Posted by GTR
I bought a Gibson ES-135 back in 2004, and I paid ~$950 New.

This was a great guitar for the price - too bad they discontinued it in favor of the "custom" 137.

I'll give you $900 for it if you want to make your money back. :-)

135's are great- I prefer them to almost any of the Gibson semi-solids.

I have a ES 135 reissue mid 90's period ( 96-97? ) Translucent red finish with subtle ( nothing fancy ) wood grain showing thru , Got it new for $600.00 . I love it dearly, I really like the P-100 PUs, though I know some don't. They work really well with my Boogie Triaxis. I love the way I can hear the wood in this guitar, the way the acoustic properties come thru in the amp, the hollow log vibe.

There is a story behind that, A musician friend who is a Cabinet Maker was doing the interior of Victor's House of Music's ( they were also AMS ) when they moved to a new building in Paramus NJ ( Now gone, leased to GC ). He built and installed all the displays cases, cabinets and such.

Took some of his pay in trade. He knew I wanted one and got it for me with out me knowing.

That's a a great guy for you.

That's a steal But I still don't consider that a cheap ( or Inexpensive ) guitar by any measure.

But for inexpensive I'll go with my Ibanez Roadstar RG 440, basswood body, nice rosewood neck ( I've filed down the ends of the frets to neck width to avoid injury, some of them Ibanez's will slice you open if your not careful ), H-S-S with push/pull coil tap switch on the tone pot. good locking nut trem system.

I use this guitar more than any of the others ( I have bunch of High End Gibsons SG Cust, ES Artist). Plays wonderfully, stays in tune of course, again works well with the Triaxis. It's all stock, everything on it is original, except I've added a switchable Hi-pass filter across the Volume Pot so I don't loose Highs when I back off on the volume (and I like the muted highs when I back off the gain for somethings like mellower jazzier tones ) and a switch to bring in the bridge PU to get that tellie bridge neck combo and all three at once.

I stole It for $200 bills From Bill Paschick of Rain Recording probably 18 yrs ago.

It belonged to a friend of ours, Dave, who was his landscapers/roadie, whom it seems had gotten himself into a little trouble with NJ Dept. of Motor Vehicles over un-paid traffic fines or something like that and of course need the cash fast, they were going to throw him in jail. To be fair ( or maybe out of Guilt ), over the years I have repeatedly offered it back to Dave for what I paid for it. I'm glad to say he lost interest in playing guitar for some reason, much to my relief.

Not exactly Teisco Del Rey but thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
Old 24th September 2009
Lives for gear

I'm bringing back this thread to get more ideas.

The Reverend stuff has really caught my attention... the Manta Ray, Volcano and Ron Asheton signature especially. I know if I got one of the V's, it could handle heavy rock/metal and it wouldn't sound like a Gibson; not better, just a lot different. Then again I might change out the bridge pup for a duncan 59.

Just ramblin' here.
Old 26th September 2009
Lives for gear
Unclenny's Avatar
When it comes to discussions like this I always need to give Stella some facetime. You can get a guitar just like her for 60 bucks on eBay.

As mentioned in another thread, sometimes a cheap acoustic guitar can yeild great results for a particular tune.

Old 26th September 2009
Lives for gear
lovekrafty's Avatar

I'm really surprized no one has mentioned Greco yet.
They made some great knock offs in the late 70's

I have a Spacey Sound Strat , that play's and sounds really good.
Old 1st October 2009
Lives for gear
Santiago's Avatar

Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
When it comes to discussions like this I always need to give Stella some facetime. You can get a guitar just like her for 60 bucks on eBay.

As mentioned in another thread, sometimes a cheap acoustic guitar can yeild great results for a particular tune.

Similarly, I have a great all-solid birch 1962 Silvertone archtop (actually made by Harmony). Despite the bad reputation of these guitars, it sounds really good and is nicely set-up.
Old 1st October 2009
Lives for gear
M.S.P.'s Avatar
I bought a Squire Strat on a whim a few months ago (it was only $75 and I didnt have any single coil only style guitars at the time) and I gotta say, I really like this guitar. A lot more than I would have predicted. I still may drop a new set of pickups in it, but for $75 Im more than impressed.
Old 8th October 2009
Gear Addict
byoungman's Avatar

I found a 1989 Squier Stratocater MADE IN THE USA about 6 mo's ago...a rare bird, only made for a year or so. Paid $150.00 for an American Strat with the hardcase! Now if only I could sand off the "Squier" on the headstock...
Old 8th October 2009
Gear Nut
Infrablu's Avatar

I love the the Korean made Gretsch Historic series guitar with the cats eye F holes no longer made. The stock Gretsch pickups are decent for more of a PAF type sound or you could always install some TV Jones pickups but workmanship, action and detail is surprisingly good this is the 3160 model made around 2000-2003.
Attached Images
Amazing cheapo guitars-celos_gretsch.jpg 
Old 26th November 2009
My Squier fat strat's tuning was all over the place until i tightened up all the screws on the thing. (Ah-ha!) It's actually the nicest guitar i have owned. Still have a Hohner- got it new for 100 bucks, not even full sized. It has no tonal character at all, but it's got a great thin neck and it's versatile, so easy to play. Stays in tune, just takes awhile to get there. Actually drilled some additional pieces of junk on it to increase it's weight.
Old 26th November 2009
Lives for gear
Jamz's Avatar
Almost all of their guitars retail for well under $1K.
Welcome to Eastwood®

Also: Hagstrom
Hagstrom Search | Guitars | Musician's Friend
Old 26th November 2009
Gear Maniac
megl's Avatar

Originally Posted by byoungman View Post
Now if only I could sand off the "Squier" on the headstock...
NO - don't do that! Sell it to me for $250 instead, and you've made a 100 bucks :-) :-) :-)

Old 27th November 2009
Lives for gear

I have two Squiers, a Squier ProTone, and a MIM Tele, and I don't worry a bit about the logo on the headstock. The way I look at it is that these guitars are made better than the cheesy '70's Fenders and cost a lot less (I didn't pay over $100.00 for any of them).

I haven't had any of my cheapo guitars go into decline if they're played on a regular basis--I keep the basic tools out, and if something needs tweaked, it gets tweaked. Guess what, you can't expect USA made guitars to remain stable through the seasons, either.
Old 27th November 2009
Gear Addict

De Armond M65. . dark thick creamy sound,nice neck + pick ups.. Needs nice set of grovers and electrics etc ,then it will be perfect for its sound..Paid about 100 pounds...
Old 29th November 2009
Lives for gear
Igotsoul4u's Avatar
Washburn Idol WI45 really impressed me. I love SG's and it reminded me of an SG. Sounds pretty good and stays in tune really well. Just felt good to play.
Old 8th February 2010
Gear Maniac
willerichey's Avatar

I've found cheaper washburn acoustics to be pretty impressive. I have to sand the bridge saddle down to lower the action, but all and all it is a nice dark sounding mahogany acoustic.
Old 13th February 2010
Gear Maniac
Godin Exit 22 left handed. Humbucker at the bridge with two single coils. Really a nice guitar. Paid $200 for a blem. After 2 years still can't find the blem.

Fender Squire Pro Tone left handed with a set of Lollar Vintage Blonde pickups - $250.

Line6 Variax 500 Left Handed - $220. Nice sounds, keep thinking I am going to swap the neck out, but I never do.
Old 14th February 2010
Lives for gear
SighBorg's Avatar

Hagstrom Swede: Grabbed it for $150. Neck pickup is super deep sounding, bridge is slightly midrangy focused but has a smooth no-hash top end. Bandwidth of the guitar is similar to an SG (thick top end, but not much high end extension past it) but less woody tone, more lows, and smoother top. You'll need to cut the lows a little for some more modern tones and the filter switch would have been more usefull as an HP filter. There's LOTS of plastic all over it (I think the top that makes it look like a carve top might even be plastic) but once you get past that it's pretty good for the price. Neck has stayed dead on as advertised.

The sound clips at Hangstrom's site is a surprisingly good presentation of what it sounds like.

Traveler Speedster: Not so hot on soloing but there's a lot of clarity when using it for high gain chords.

80s Japanese strats: plays really good.

Aria LPs: Dont know if this is how they all are but the tone out of the ones I've run into is big and warm. Seem to have problems with the truss coming through the neck though.

Epiphone Les Paul bass: Not "wow", but it doesnt turn into mud/boomy and has a pretty even response compared to a lot of basses in the price range.

Fender Jaguar Bass: Maybe not super cheap, but lots of tonal options and can a grit similar to MMs at a lower cost.
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