#1
From what I've noticed is that on standard they all for the most part seem okay, but the lower timings you go (one and a half steps down I.e.) the guitar tends to buzz a lot and sounds like crap. Also noticed that they have a huge freaking action, especially after the 12th fret. It's also very difficult to fret down the very first fret due to it being so damn close to the wood itself. The first fret on a cheap guitar sounds like crap.

Any other way to notice?
#2
Look at the small details. Things like fretwork, setup, binding, inlays. That's how I usually tell. Other things to look out for include finish overspray.

Then there's the more glaring problems: Bad construction, cheap hardware, bad wiring jobs... the list goes on.
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Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#3
Quote by oneblackened
Look at the small details. Things like fretwork, setup, binding, inlays. That's how I usually tell. Other things to look out for include finish overspray.

Then there's the more glaring problems: Bad construction, cheap hardware, bad wiring jobs... the list goes on.


what's the best wood type a guitar can be? Is it mahogany? What's the cheapest?
#4
Quote by Granata
what's the best wood type a guitar can be? Is it mahogany? What's the cheapest?


its subjective.
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youre just being a jerk man.



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#5
Quote by Granata
From what I've noticed is that on standard they all for the most part seem okay, but the lower timings you go (one and a half steps down I.e.) the guitar tends to buzz a lot and sounds like crap. Also noticed that they have a huge freaking action, especially after the 12th fret. It's also very difficult to fret down the very first fret due to it being so damn close to the wood itself. The first fret on a cheap guitar sounds like crap.

Any other way to notice?


yea if you don't set it up its going to. if set up properly it should be fine.
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.



****** NEW NEW NEW!
2017-07-07 2017-07-07 Update and a Chat On Noise Constraints *** NEW FRIDAY 7/7
2017-04-13 RUN AWAY from COMPUTERS!!! TCE? RANT ALERT!!!
2017-03-02 - Guitar Philosophy 1001- Be Prepared For the Situation (Thursday 2017-03-02)
2017-02-21 How to Hot-Rod the Hell of your Stratocaster for $50! (Tuesday 2017-2-21)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
#6
Feel is a big one for me. You can just feel the difference between bad and quality. Sound would be another. You're not going to get good pups in a crappy guitar.
#7
Quote by Granata
From what I've noticed is that on standard they all for the most part seem okay, but the lower timings you go (one and a half steps down I.e.) the guitar tends to buzz a lot and sounds like crap. Also noticed that they have a huge freaking action, especially after the 12th fret. It's also very difficult to fret down the very first fret due to it being so damn close to the wood itself. The first fret on a cheap guitar sounds like crap.

Any other way to notice?


Pretty much all of those things are issues of setup, not quality. Good guitars can have bad setups, and vice versa. Especially the lower tuning (not timing) thing. You could have the the best guitar in the world, and dropping its tuning by 1.5-2 steps without changing string gauge or doing any other setup stuff is going to make it buzz a lot.
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#8
Look at the fret ends. Good guitars have beautiful rounded fret ends that should show no sign of straight plane created when the fret is cut. On lesser guitars the hard corners will be rounded but the shape remains. On mediocre guitars the fret ends will have hard edges and be just filed enough that they don’t snag your skin.

Now look at the end of each fret. On a bad guitar you’ll see nicks and notches from worn tools being used to nip the wire.

Wrap your hand around the neck and grasp it gently. Slide your hand up and down feeling for frets that dig into your hand. On a good guitar you’ll feel nothing. On bad guitars you’ll feel the nubs snag your skin.

Look at the nut. Is it sitting flat against the wood without filler underneath? Now look at the slots. A string shouldn’t sit deeper than half of its diameter in the nut. Deep slots are usually poor workmanship. If a nut looks snaggletoothed it needs to be replaced. Detune and tune the guitar and check to see if the strings snag in the nut slots.
#9
Quote by Granata
what's the best wood type a guitar can be? Is it mahogany? What's the cheapest?


Cocobolo is probably the best. It’s rarely used for guitars because the dust can cause dangerous allergic reactions so using it requires lots of precautions. Walnut is a close second. Good walnut is rarely used for instruments because gun collectors pay entirely irrational sums for gun stocks made of nice walnut.

The literal cheapest is pine, which is rarely used because it isn’t remotely durable. But there isn’t a bad wood in the guitar business, probably because those woods are sold for furniture. Although some people would probably argue that basswood is worthless
#10
I was going to have a luthier do a cocobolo guitar. I know that wood from other things I own... He was willing to do it, but I felt that asking him to put up with the hassles & hazards of a wood he didn't usually work with- plus the expense- wasn't worth it. If I ever DO commission a cocobolo guitar, it will be with a luthier who works with it more often.

I scored some awesome walnut to have him do a couple of guitars instead. The results..whoooooooaaaaaaa! I have also seen some guys with pine guitars- mostly Telecasters- that sounded great. Looked nice, too, in a road-warrior sense.

So, in one sense, you're probably right.

However, I am leery of some of the new woods finding their way into lower-end guitars, like agathis.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Jun 1, 2015,
#11
There is no "best", it all depends on what you want, I like light weight, so basswood ranks high for me - my favourite electric, very cheap and reputedly basswood, weighs less than 5 1/4 lbs, all up. Leo chose the basis of price, availability and general suitability for his style of manufacturing. Gibson chose mahogany because there was a lot available for the furniture trade in big sizes.

The benchmark in acoustic guitar b&s timbers is Brazilian rosewood, with maybe alpine spruce for tops. So would you want to assume that either of those was "the best" for electrics? I certainly wouldn't.
#12
There is no "best wood." It's really what weight you like most, however most cheap guitars are made from basswood. BUT many higher end guitars are made from basswood as well. Wood is pretty much irrelevant. But look for cheap parts that are made from plastic that would otherwise be metal, has a hard time staying in tune, has a cheap paint job, just stuff like that really. But also look at everything else everyone has mentioned, they've had some good input
#13
Look out for high action and try and gauge more or less how it sustains. If you really like a guitar, bad fretwork, bad pickups, bad tuners, etc can all be fixed. If the natural sustain is poor, if it can't be intonated because the fret spacing is slightly off, those are more serious problems. High action often indicates an overall poor design. Pick both E's very hard. Listen for fret buzz on the low E, and a ping in the high E. That ping hints at the string cutting into either the nut or the saddle. Listen for clicking sounds from the pickup switch, through the amp.
#14
As for wood quality, it matters, but not in the way a lot of people think. A lot of people diss basswood for being cheap, but look at what Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Kirk Hammet use. They can afford any damn wood they want.
#15
Woods are less a quality thing than a preferential thing. This is a guitar built out of a cheap Ikea end table. The guitar itself is spectacular in terms of sound and playability, but the body was done from the end table just for fun:



"Cheap" and "Crappy" are sometimes not the same. I have a B-stock Agile AL-2000 Floyd. It was cheap (under $200 with case, shipped to my door). The "B-Stock"-ness is a finish issue (so maybe a *bit* crappy <G>. The fretwork was good, but not great. I handed the guitar to Gary Brawer in San Francisco, and he put it on the PLEK machine, superglued the frets, and did some setup work on it, and it has been a thing of beauty with action right down on the deck all the way up to the 24th fret and a cheap Floyd that does flutters with the best of them.

Conversely, I have a Gibson custom shop Axcess Custom that's almost identical to the Agile (both are black guitars with Floyds and special neck heels), but it was $4000 with case, shipped. Its fretwork and playability were, by any definition, crappy. It went to Gary's shop to have exactly the same work done as the Agile, and now IT is an excellent player as well. It was decidedly NOT cheap. But I've seen so many Gibsons over the years with fretwork and other quality issues that I'd have to dub more than a few over-three-grand guitars "crappy."

I've also got a stack of Carvins. Nearly every Carvin I've seen come off the line has had gorgeous fretwork and playability, great and sometimes just stunning woods (their Claro walnut is expensive but just gorgeous), including burls and spalts, flames and quilts and some of the best Koa around. Their finishes suffered for about a 9 month period several years ago when their best painter left, but are definitely back to their former state of Wow. I've generally viewed Carvins as mid-range guitars, at least where pricing is concerned. But they rank much higher in the quality department; amazing value for the money.
#16
Cheap guitars have a low price. Crappy guitars have a lousy fit, finish, and don't play very well. Different animals. Sometimes a moderately crappy guitar can be revived but if the build and hardware are low quality, move on.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

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Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#18
if it sucks, its too cheap. otherwise you'll be OK
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#19
Quote by v.grelsson
A guy tried to sell me a guitar made out of cardboard and shoestrings, I didn't want to seem like a guitar snob so I bought it.
Now I can't pay my rent..

sounds like a personal issue
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#20
Quote by v.grelsson
A guy tried to sell me a guitar made out of cardboard and shoestrings, I didn't want to seem like a guitar snob so I bought it.
Now I can't pay my rent..


Have you tried changing the shoestring gauge?
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#22
Quote by v.grelsson
Dude its all buzz, and it can't get tuned because not even the tuners know what note I play..
Im beginning to think he tricked me somehow.


Just excuses for poor technique. We've all been there, just practice slowly ;-)
#23
Quote by v.grelsson
Dude its all buzz, and it can't get tuned because not even the tuners know what note I play..
Im beginning to think he tricked me somehow.

Try adjusting the truss rod.
#25
Quote by Tony Done
Thanks. I'm not so sure about the headstock...


You reckon??? They really screwed the pooch with that one... What a shame, its beautiful all the way to the nut then ERRR MAAAH GAWDDDDDD.
#26
Quote by Granata
what's the best wood type a guitar can be? Is it mahogany? What's the cheapest?


The best wood is one that's been properly dried to the right moisture content and stable. Necks should be hardwood IMO due to the stresses they'll be under.

Ken
Moving on.....
#27
Cheap guitars give no guarantees, they might be so called "plywood"(not really a fair term as it isn't ply as one sees in the building trade, but far more solid stuff) or basswood of one type or another. Sometimes though a ply guitar might have quite decent sustain. In my experience with cheap guitars (had plenty since the mid eighties), the major problems lie with sticky necks, poorly set frets and dodgy/ poor quality electronics. I have an old encore strat circa '85 that no amount of love could help. There is a nasty little burswood strat in the house that sounds surprisingly nice on a practice amp. I have an old Columbus superstrat that greatly benefited from a few frets being set right. The pros and cons of entry level guitars are quite individual specific..a bit of a lottery. Better to save and spend your money on a decent instrument than take the chance that you might have bought a plank. In playing a crap guitar, you don't overcome issues and progress...that guitar drags you down with it
#28
Quote by v.grelsson
Don't people say tonewood is a myth?
And if it is not, only the neck changes the sound and most necks are maple right?
If that is the case I would only worry about the durability of the body, and I don't know what material would be best for that.

Now don't crucify me, Im just asking.



Back 25-30 years ago many entry level guitars and basses had maple necks and fretboards. I don't know how rosewood gradually became so popular on cheapies but it must be something to do with sound..many is the night I've sat down and tried to work out if there is a difference..only that maple seems crisper ..on my fingers! . The body material must affect resonance etc..think about the arguments for bolt on and thru necks etc or the popular body templates. Then again, I've seen good guitars mad out of clear poly..so that says something!
#29
Woods are irrelevant - some plastic guitars are great. the true test for a guitar is how it sounds and whether or not it is well setup, intonated and can stay in tune. Electric guitars are tricky to evaluate because they need to be properly setup to really evaluate their merits. Acoustic guitars can be judged with a few strums.

A good guitar sounds in tune, has good action and stays in tune.
#30
Almost exactly in accordance to my signature...

The above post is in terms of 'YMMV' and 'IMO', etc...

Quote by Offworld92
This debate is exhausting to read.
The guitar world is drowned in fairy dust.
We need to start at the very beginning. What is tone.
#31
Quote by reverb66
Woods are irrelevant - some plastic guitars are great. the true test for a guitar is how it sounds and whether or not it is well setup, intonated and can stay in tune. Electric guitars are tricky to evaluate because they need to be properly setup to really evaluate their merits. Acoustic guitars can be judged with a few strums.

A good guitar sounds in tune, has good action and stays in tune.

Was just going to post this. Good on you sir!

If it can't hold its tuning it's going to be a frustrating time. Can't gig with it, can't record with it unless you tune after every take, and can't practice for long hours unless you keep tuning it. It's so much work.
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#32
Not to bump an old thread but this is an interesting conversation so I figured I'd weigh in.

I feel like even 10 years ago, it was very easy to tell cheap guitars from more expensive ones. Dodgy fretwork, various workmanship glitches, etc...

But nowadays, the tide has really shifted. I have $3000 USA custom shop instruments and Korean guitars that I bought for $150-200 a piece. The gap is really narrowing. Now, I'm not saying they're equivalent of course...but the fact is, I can gig with any of my $150 guitars tomorrow and be happy. This was simply not the case even a decade ago.

We are lucky to be musicians in a time with so many choices and so much quality for so little money. That's why I don't feel guilty about owning this many guitars, even though I definitely should .
Custom guitars, vintage amps, boutique pedals. Blah, blah, blah.
#33
Quote by Granata
From what I've noticed is that on standard they all for the most part seem okay, but the lower timings you go (one and a half steps down I.e.) the guitar tends to buzz a lot and sounds like crap. Also noticed that they have a huge freaking action, especially after the 12th fret. It's also very difficult to fret down the very first fret due to it being so damn close to the wood itself. The first fret on a cheap guitar sounds like crap.




Not necessarily. That may be the case on the cheap guitar YOU played, but these are setup issues, not expense/construction issues, nor do they NOT appear on some guitars that I'd ordinarily consider UN-cheap ($3500 and thereabouts).

Lower tunings will almost always disrupt the setup on a neck and reduced string tension will allow backbow and you'll get fret buzz. Cheap OR expensive.

I have an Agile AL2000 Floyd that was a B-stock and under $200 with case, delivered. It's an LP-alike guitar with a 24-fret neck. Action was actually very good with a minor fretting out issue on the 16th fret when doing two-stop bends. We fed it to a PLEK machine, superglued the frets, and it's absolutely a stunning player.
#34
Quote by Clbryant1981
Feel is a big one for me. You can just feel the difference between bad and quality. Sound would be another. You're not going to get good pups in a crappy guitar.


Again, not always (or even often) true.

"Feel" can be compromised by dry weather (or a long period in an air-conditioned store) producing fret sprout, by old/rusted strings, by slightly corroded frets, by a bad setup and much more, and that bad-feeling guitar can be quite expensive and otherwise good quality. Some time spent bringing it back can produce great feel again (or can produce it in a cheap guitar).


Pickups aren't "good" or "bad." That's all subjective. I'd been told that my cheapo B stock guitar was going to have crappy (because it was cheapo, right?) ceramic pickups. I've spent some time with them and decided NOT to change them out; they sound just fine. I've handed the guitar to others who've really appreciated them as well.

I've got another guitar, picked up used, that was around $130 all up. I cleaned it up , set it up, etc., and handed it to a friend who has a '59 Gibson LP Special identical in body shape to this one but otherwise all original. We later found that mine had a $200 set of hand-wound P90's (M.Reilander AII's), but we BOTH liked the sound easily as well as his vintage, very expensive piece, and that he like the playability a LOT better on mine. At some point we auditioned the P90's that would have been original to this guitar and decided we liked THOSE as well.
#35
well you know it's cheap if the price tag doesn't make you want to cut your own jewels off. i personally can tell after seeing and playing on many cheap and high quality ones. you can tell without having to plug it in:

neck looks/feels flimsy, as in you can break it if it drops
buttons for tones/volumes look cheap
body feels unbalanced or unnecessarily heavy/light proportionate to neck
fretboard feels like sandpaper

even low end guitars seem more 'balanced' than cheap fake ones. I tried a high end warwick the other day and i could immediately tell it was fake despite the high price, the neck felt like it was made of bamboo or something.
#36
Quote by arvarna


neck looks/feels flimsy, as in you can break it if it drops
buttons for tones/volumes look cheap
body feels unbalanced or unnecessarily heavy/light proportionate to neck
fretboard feels like sandpaper


Wait. You're describing Gibson SGs here...
#37
Quote by arvarna
I tried a high end warwick the other day and i could immediately tell it was fake despite the high price, the neck felt like it was made of bamboo or something.


the streamer 5 i just set up and did some neck pocket work on was that light. i ran the serial numbers too. the neck feels like it's got air in it. those things are so funky who would bother making a fake -it would cost more to make a fugazi then the make a profit from it.
Last edited by ad_works at Jul 22, 2015,