Price paid: £ 80
Purchased from: Gear4Music
Features: Well I've done it again. Purchased a very inexpensive guitar from Gear4Music because I liked it. These beasts are so cheap they are almost disposable! But ya know what? They ain't bad at all!
This time I came out of their York showroom with no less than 3 examples of industrious Asian luthierism. All three for less than 250! ($400 USD at the time of writing, my American Friends ).
So. This one is obviously a Telecaster copy/replica/fake? :p Lets have a butchers, as we say. Here's the spec lifted from Gear4Music's website as usual:
* Body: Solid Alder
* Pickguard: 3-ply Black
* Finish: Natural Alder
* Neck: Maple
* Scale: 648mm / 22 frets
* Neck Joint: Bolt-on
* Fingerboard: Maple
Pickups & Hardware:
* Machine Heads: Chrome die-cast
* Pickups: 1 x single coil 1 x T-style
* Controls: 1 x Volume, 1 x Tone
* Pickup selector: 3-way
Came with a free gig bag, strap and a short lead. // 5
Sound: It sounds like a Telecaster. Now this may offend you. How can it possibly! Its so cheap! I look at it this way: It cost less than 10% of a Telecaster. Does it sound 10% Telecaster? No. It sounds at least 50% Telecaster.
If you know your axes to the point you can identify types on sound alone, on hearing this beast you would instantly say its a Telecaster, perhaps not a fabulous one, but a Tele non the less.
On the bridge pick-up it has a bright and trebbily quality with a cut through tone, with loads of low mids and a jangly melodic quality on the bridge.
Volume and tone controls are responsive. Tone cut on the bridge gives it that 'ding dong' 50's melodic bell tone, Full tone at the bridge and it goes 'bum chicka bum chicka' a familiar rhythmical stabbing sound. Plenty of gain on the bridge and those low mids come out to play with a bluesy, muted sort of sound.
Did I say this thing sounds like a Telecaster? :)
I play through a variety of amps and effects, so to be fair to the instrument I'm describing what it sounds like 'dry' through a 100 watt all tube head of my own design and a Marshall 2X12 cab. Its a fairly clean head with lots of high mids, a bit like a Vox but it boosts its bottom and goes a bit orange-ish on the button.
Anyway, the guitar. As I said, It sounds like a Telecaster. Not a good one by any means. But It was 80! That makes me laugh. Man this thing was cheap! ridiculously cheap! and for a copy Tele it sounds O.K. Not great. But for 80, 'O.K' is a flipping bargain! // 6
Action, Fit & Finish: This one was the showroom demo. That's a deliberate trick I've come up with in regards to Gear4music.
Normally you go into a guitar shop and if you buy one, it will be the one you tried right?
Not with Gear4' on their budget lines. They might just send you to the warehouse with a ticket and they will get you one from stock. Gear4Music sell most of their stuff through internet orders. You should never buy a guitar sight and sound unknown, not even one that's so cheap.
The last guitar I bought from them was not the one I played in the showroom and it wasn't set up properly at all.
This time I deliberately requested the demo model I had in my hand. It is in their interests to make sure this is a good one that's set up properly.
I could see that someone had been at those frets. Familiar dressing marks, not something you see on a brand new Asian guitar of such low cost. I even made them give me a discount because it was 'ex-demo'. They payed ME to set it up properly. He he . .suckers ;)
So the action was spot on and it is a reasonably set up guitar. It does have its flaws, of course! its so cheap. The nut isn't great, it doesn't fit 'right' and one pot is faster than the other. The tape around the bridge pick-up isn't very neat and there was a big blob of wax protruding out (at least it means its potted!).
You could perhaps pick little insignificant faults all day with it, as you could with many guitars. My answer would always be: "It cost 80!" For that, it is really rather good!
It looks good. Its fair quality. The finish on the body is very good. For the price its astonishing! The neck and fretboard are neat and tidy and fit well. Heck Just to lacquer a bare wood Tele body to this standard I would ask for more then the price of this whole guitar! They know what they are doing these Koreans/Chinese you know. and my God its cheap! // 6
Reliability & Durability: Telecaster type guitars are mighty simple. There really isn't that much to go wrong. The hardware on this cheapo seems pretty sound and everything is screwed down properly. The solder joints are done properly and nothing looks like its going to combust/fly off or fail in the near future.
Time will tell with this ridiculously cheap instrument but due to the price paid, it would have to fail pretty spectacularly to upset me. I doubt it will.
It will be gigged where the sound is required and doubtless laughed at, but I'll just remind them: 'Dude,..80! and listen to it! Who's laughing now! // 6
Overall Impression: I play all sorts of different genres in different bands and at some gigs I don't want to take my 1000+ guitars. So I'm collecting 'Sounds like a..' guitars. For this purpose it is spot on. A very, very cheap guitar with a reasonable sound and play-abilty. At this price it is a delight of an instrument. // 6