Price paid: £ 169.99
Purchased from: eBay
Features: The Encore E69 is a cheap beginner's model of the Gibson SG. It comes in black and cherry red. No indication of when or where the guitar is made. Body and neck is made from basswood with a rosewood fretboard. Chamfered and contoured edges. 22 frets with a scale length of 630mm. 2 Guitar Tech Humbucker pickups that don't actually buck any hum at all. 3 way pickup switch. Tune-O-Matic bridge with a stop-bar tailpiece. 2x Volume and 2x Tone controls. Guitar Tech chrome tuners.
Comes with a cable, gig bag, strap, cheap tuner, pick, tutorial DVD, guitar stand and a BB Blaster 10 watt amp. // 6
Sound: Beginners won't know the difference when the guitar is played well, but even intermediate guitarists can tell that this guitar's tone is pretty poor. I play modern rock music, both acoustic and distorted, and while this guitar can handle solos and acoustic chords, powerchords sound very messy on this.
I play it on a Peavey Vypyr 30 Watt amp and while it's miles better than the beginner's amp that comes with the guitar, I discovered the tone is still rather limited. You can play anything with a light distortion or no distortion at all, but if it's hardrock or metal you're after, forget it.
Encore guitars tend to have a problem with hum due to their cheap pickups and this one is no different. Again, without distortion, it's fine even at high volumes but any Drive at all and you'll have a problem with fighting off background noise. The E69 has a very shallow sound. The cheap cable that comes with it doesn't help much with the hum either. // 4
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar has nice aesthetic appeal but I did find a few flaws with my particular model. One of the frets wasn't filed enough, the piece above the nut was poorly aligned and one of the pickups wasn't fitted correctly. The action seems alright however. The neck pickup is slightly tilted and makes a buzzing noise when any of the bass strings are picked which is probably the cause of the messy powerchord noise. // 4
Reliability & Durability: The guitar itself is sturdy but strings won't keep in tune, even though this guitar has a tune-o-matic bridge. I need to tune it every other day. Definitely not a guitar for gigging with, this is strictly for beginners. The finish is very thin and flakes off easily with the slightest bump. // 4
Overall Impression: I've been playing for 4 months now with hours of practice every day and already I feel like I've out-grown this guitar. Encore guitars are cheap beginner's guitars and nothing else, so don't even think about using it even as a backup for a gig. The tuner that comes with the guitar is rubbish and only deals with standard EADGBE tuning so if you want to experiment with Drop C or the like you'll have to get a better tuner.
Even though the guitar itself is a poor standard, it doesn't need to be much more than this. Actually, the value for money is good considering everything that comes in the Encore Blaster Pack. While the tone and quality of the guitar leaves something to be desired it is actually a good starting point for anyone who's interesting in starting to learn. The tutorial DVD is adequate and the package has everything you need to get started. The distortion on the BB Blaster Amp is awful though so I recommend you stick with practising acoustic sounds until you get a better amp. It's also much easier to string than many cheap Strat models for example, thanks to the stop bar.
Overall, it's a good beginner's guitar but you may be better off with a Squier. // 4