ME501 review by First Act

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 4.4 (107 votes)
First Act: ME501

Price paid: $ 45

Purchased from: Local Craigslist.

Sound — 10
The sound from this guitar is amazing for the price. I play blues and hard rock. I run this through my Peavey Classic 30 and can get very high gain from the bridge pickup. The neck pick up is very smooth but can get a little muddy on the bassy strings. It has a very full warm sound. The alnico pickups are great especially at this price range. Depending on the amp this guitar can pretty much do it all.

Overall Impression — 10
I play blues and rock and this does both very well. I bought this as my first electric and traded it for an Ibanez GRX-20. Big Mistake. Now I own it again and I have to say that it is about even with my two MIM Fenders in quality. If it were stolen I'd definitely buy another. Hell, I have bought another after I "lost" the first one. I love the finish, especially the cream binding and the alnico pickups are nice. Its nice to have a cheap unique guitar that plays well and sounds excellent.

Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is very solid and I have jammed with it many a time. Its held up. The one problem seems to be the strap buttons. On both of the ME501's I've had they were very loose. I wouldn't gig this without a backup but then again I'd never gig any guitar without one. The finish on this guitar is beautiful and rock solid.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I have bought this guitar twice, both used so I don't know how it came set up. Probably poorly since it is from department stores. I will say though that it is very easy two adjust and holds tune fairly well, though it could use some tuners with a better ratio.

Features — 8
The ME501 is a basswood Les Paul Copy with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. It has a fixed bridge with a brass string retainer in the body. It has Alnico PAF style humbuckers with two volumes and a master tone knob and Les Paul style 3 way toggle switch.

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have been playing for 36 years and own around 30 guitars. Yeah I know that's a lot but I'm blessed with a wife that loves to hear me play and knows that guitars/music are a big part of my life. And, she has picked up over time an ear for the tones that some of my guitars have. Every guitar is unique. I have high end guitars and mid-low ranged guitars price wise. Bottom line, I like guitars that play well and sound good and if they look good too, even better. Concerning First Act, I want to be clear, they make good instruments. My intro to even trying one occurred at my local Guitar Center where they had a barely used VW Garagemaster for $99. It was very attractive from the distance. I was not expecting much to be honest, but sat down to plug it in. Neck was straight & solid. Frets were perfect and smooth ended,flush perfect with the neck, not knives like some cheap guitars. As I played a grin came across my face. This was a nice guitar. Plastic volume/tone knobs were my ONLY displeasure. Once I stretched out the strings and started cranking, I was freaking. First Act? I left the store without it as I thought surely I would regret it if I bought it, surely something was going to fail on a F.A , I mean they are el cheapo's right? Wrong! Over the next couple of days I read about F.A online and their commitment to quality. Their whole plan is to make solid affordable instruments for beginners and then also sell a higher-end product for regular players/performers. I went back and bought that guitar. I have since acquired the above ME501 and an awesome custom Delia that someone sold for way to cheap on Ebay thinking it must be a 'low end'. I'm talking a set neck, bound fretboard with solid hardware for $129. It is positively beautiful and plays nicely . Read up on them. If you dismiss them out of hand you have never tried one. Some of the really nice ones show up on Ebay frequently. Maybe these sellers got them at estate sales or storage lockers or something and think "great, a Walmart F.A...dump this cheap". Well, I'll say this, my set neck is worth $500 easy as the workmanship is stunning. If you want a good guitar,and I do mean GOOD, go look on ebay or anywhere else and look for them. People are catching on though, especially regarding the ones coming from their shop in Boston, the higher end ones. Too many people undervalue them on auction sites. YAY !!!! Blessings to al!!
    People see "FIRST ACT" then says the guitar sucks without even playing it. You cant strum a logo.
    As an owner of Gibson SG's mainly, along with some Epiphone counterparts, a couple "parts-caster" Teles and some other odds and ends, I can say I'm a fan of certain First Act models. My First Act Paul Westerberg signature model (of which I bought TWO!) is actually one of my go-to rhythm guitars for recording (kind of an interesting blend of Tele, "Junior" and Gretsch tones), and the fretwork (and BOUND NECK) on it was really nice out of the box. Good quality tuners as well. As far as the "el cheapo" (aka: "Wal Mart") models are hit and miss. Tuners aren't that great at all (probably the one thing I'd even recommend a beginner have replaced IMMEDIATELY), but the electronics aren't terrible (pickups are actually decent with some adjustments; not "Duncan" good, but better than a lot of low-end pickups), and in most cases they can be set up well for banging around. Actually, I own two lower-end models (one of the double-cut "tattoo" graphic single-pickup models and some weird-shaped single pickup model; paid less than $30 for each) that I have as beaters for outdoor shows and when I'm playing in $h!tholes where some drunken idiot may stumble onto equipment or spill beer on it. One I have covered in checkerboard duct-tape (if you look on the Duck Tape projects site, my guitar is in their projects), and the other I'm actually trying do decide what to do with right now. Even with the stock cheap tuners, they get the job done with a decent set of strings, and they save me from having my Angus Young SG stolen or smelling like smoke, so win/win. Perfect? Hell no. But for "shut up and play" simplicity when you just don't want to risk damage to your nice gear, they have been alright to me. Especially if you take a little time to shim a neck and adjust a truss rod here and there; my cheap guitars with heavy-bottom-10's play better than my other guitarist's Ibanez and '83 Les Paul, even with 9's on his stuff (of course, that has more to do with the setup than the guitars themselves), and through a blaring PA system, "tone" is only a myth anyway, regardless of what you're playing, so they serve me well. And if the club gets set on fire or I have to take a good ol' Sid Vicious golf-swing at an unruly patron, no chance damaging my Gibson. So no, they're not perfect guitars. But with a little TLC, they can hack it with a Squier Affinity or low-end Epiphone, and you won't feel the least bit guilty modding the crap out of one.
    E V H 5150 wrote: Cost matters nothing. You could probrably run the cheapest, worst first act guitar through a really nice amp and a good setup, and it would probrably sound better than a Gibson through a Frontman 15G. The point of Squires and Epiphones and other cheaper guitar lines is for learning. I will say, however, that those brands do have some nice guitars.
    i beg to differ about the fact that they are not only for learning. I started using a squier hot rails deluxe a while back and use it for recording and gigs. I have a tour booked for the next summer so say what you want. The choice of a guitar is a thing of individual preference. Some poeple like the twangy cort lp copies, some like the classic fat fender neck, and some may prefer experimenting with different pickups... It's a matter of individuality. If u don't want to find your own sound, be it on a 200$ or a 600$ guitar, you will just start to sound like most of the generic ''metal'' bands that are on the market today.
    Ibanezbass4life wrote: SilverRock113 wrote: doesn't deserve 10s as much as i hate you bandwagon 10 haters, this i can actually agree on, it doesn't look 10-worthy, but it COULD be if you threw on a nice set of pickups though! i'd throw down some cool riffs with this guitar!
    No, because then you would have a modified guitar and guitar reviews should be written with stock equipment. And the rating is not only about how it sounds. It's also about how it feels and I think that feel is the most important thing. Sound can be improved, feel can't.
    JPA96 wrote: That looks so good! Seriously contemplating buying it just as a guitar to sit on my wall. Either that or i'll sort out all the electrics and use it a my actual guitar, which is an Encore E99 at the mo.
    The guy I sold it traded it to used it as a wall decoration in his shop in mexico. I traded it for a ibanez grx20. big mistake. This is a nice guitar to play as is. Upgrades are always nice though.
    I just bought this from an online auction site for $50 and I'm excited about it. First Act has a terrible reputation among musicians, and maybe it's deserved but they did it right on the ME501. It feels solid and sounds great. The action is a little high, but it's no problem to lower it. It's too bad they don't turn out guitars like this and the Lola, Delia and Sheena any more.