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Inexpensive guitars

I follow DBG and other YouTubers who post content on more inexpensive guitars (Harley bentons, Cort etc).
I’m just amazed at the quality being offered for these prices. DBG does pretty good review going through the specs, doing a tear down, comparison with a major brand and I’m just blown away.

15 years ago when I started learning, I couldn’t buy a decent guitar for double the price some of these are going for. Plus they come with pretty decent specs for what can’t be changed (wood) and the workmanship looks good. Hardware can be a hit or a miss but that’s upgradeable.

i feel a little envious sometimes that I didn’t have such options. More importantly, Ido believe that at some point, major brands may have to re-evaluate their ‘standard’ lines and may be relegated to being custom shops.
What do you think?
 

RevDrucifer

Power User
I’m a very firm believer that if you’ve got a good neck and a good body, you’ve got a killer guitar. Hardware and pickups are quick and easy changes and even the best hardware/pickups won’t do squat on a guitar that plays/sounds like a pile of ass.

My two main players are an Ibanez JEM I bought new in ‘97 for $1650 (goes for $3200(+?) now and an Ibanez SZ320 I bought new for $500 (see them used for $125 now). The SZ has been the most reliable guitar I’ve owned in 26 years of playing and it‘s needed a neck tweak maybe 3x in the 15 years I’ve had it. The JEM....ha, I wish it were as solid as the SZ. I won’t even get into the work I’ve done on that in the 23 years I’ve owned it.
 

Andy Eagle

Power User
An Ibanez RG 550 was always great, but a pickup swap was needed really. There have been good solid not expensive guitars around for a while now probably since the 80s
 

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
It's amazing what kind of gains in quality and consistency you can get when you eliminate humans as much as possible from the guitar building process. While I love to build guitars with my trusty router, the routing itself only takes a fraction of the time. Fixing the mistakes, little dings and imperfections with filler and sanding on the other hand takes forever. I always joke that when you build guitars 9/10th of the time you will be sanding. And a pretty huge chunk of that fixing your mistakes. Automated CNC machines can do that all without making mistakes and for a fraction of the cost of a master craftsman who cut his teeth on hundreds of guitars before reaching the level where he can rout without making mistakes. Cheap untrained labor only produced crappy guitars. Cheap labor with well programmed CNC machines and as much automation as possible can make good guitars for a fraction of the cost of a master luthier. It's only the parts of guitar assembly that you can't automate where the cheap untrained labor part still shines through negatively. But as has been said, those can be fixed with better parts and some fret work.

And I've said it before and I'll say it again. Turning a cheap guitar into an awesome guitar is fun. Way way way more fun then just buying an expensive high end guitar. Unless you really can't be arsed with putting in some elbow grease and parts and want something that is good from the start. Which is a totally valid POV too.
 

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
An Ibanez RG 550 was always great, but a pickup swap was needed really.

I've heard about those Ibanez guitars being good but in need of a pickup upgrade.

There have been good solid not expensive guitars around for a while now probably since the 80s

Yeah, but that watershed mark of good solid and not expensive has dropped off the charts in more recent years. Cheap labor in Japan and Korea could produce good guitars in those days for a good price, but CNC now allows it for even less from even cheaper places like China or Indonesia.
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
Cheap guitars have been miles ahead of their 90s counterparts since the mid 2000's. It's a great time to be a guitarist!
 

Piing

Fractal Fanatic
Just picked up a Diamond Series Schecter Nick Johnston model and have been blown away.

I own the Schecter Nick Johnston Custom Shop USA. I've played the cheaper Indonesian Diamond Series version, and I couldn't notice a significant difference. Even Nick Johnston said that he couldn't notice the difference.

My old RG550LTD that I have played for about 25 years in hundreds of gigs and my new JEM7V are on the same league. Purchasing the JEM7V was an unnecesary old man's whim
 
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jlynnb1

Axe-Master
I own the Schecter Nick Johnston Custom Shop USA. I've played the cheaper Indonesian Diamond Series version, and I couldn't notice a significant difference. Even Nick Johnston said that he couldn't notice the difference.
it honestly has me considering selling my Suhr
 

pharmd07

Experienced
I have an Agile AL-3200MCC, which is a very good Les Paul copy. With a hard case, you can get these for about $500. I was blown away by the quality.
 

rossipedia

Experienced
Even in the mid-range ($1000-$2000 USD) the quality is insanely good, on the whole. You can get something for $1500 that would've cost $3k-$4k easy 20-30 years ago.
 

sprint

Fractal Fanatic
I would be interested to know about any experiences with HB-35Plus as I'm seriously thinking of going for the LH model. Others I'm considering that are more accessible from a purchasing standpointe are: this one, and this one but the HB is 1/2 the price even with duty/shipping.
 

Mark-B

Experienced
Agree with pretty-much everything said. With a decent setup and minimal investment on new pickups and a fret-dress and etc., even a poorly playing cheap guitar can become a top-shelf go-to machine.

I had my eye on A HB Fusion II for a while. Looks like it wouldn’t take much to turn one of those into a winner. I just have too many guitars of that configuration to warrant actually buying one.

These days I buy busted 80’s dream guitars off Ebay - guitars I couldn’t afford back when I was a kid, and completely rebuild them. So yeah..when it comes to guitars, you can definitely turn pretty-much any sow‘s ear into a nice silk purse. :0)

..these newer lower priced guitars though - you do get a lot for your money. And there’s not much work involved in getting them where I would want them to be.
 

ScotHessler

Inspired
I gigged for quite a while with a 200 series Laguna. The pickups were good, the neck was straight, a tuner change and it stayed in tune. I paid something like $200 for it and never had to worry about some drunk idiot wrecking it. I still like it.
 
A lot of what I am hearing is that the guitars come setup pretty great from the factory. The fretwork can be a little iffy, but even a Gibson cannot guarantee you that nowadays.
 

BBN

Fractal Fanatic
Even in the mid-range ($1000-$2000 USD) the quality is insanely good, on the whole. You can get something for $1500 that would've cost $3k-$4k easy 20-30 years ago.
Agreed, which makes it hard to look at a new $3500 Les Paul Custom that plays 'ok', and want to spend that money. The multi thousand dollar guitar market (unless it's a vintage piece) just doesn't interest me any longer. You can get amazing guitars for $1k. I will never 'need' anything better.
 

TG3K

Power User
I'm a big fan of inexpensive guitars. My main gig guitars are a combination of MIM Strats and various PRS SE models. There's also a Michael Kelly in the stable as well. I've replaced the pickups in most of them. I bought most of the guitars used, and that saves me even more money. The average price of my gig guitars (including pickup changes) is around $500 each. As long as the neck is good, I can fix anything else I don't like, and even then, there's seldom much I have to fix.
 

rossipedia

Experienced
Agreed, which makes it hard to look at a new $3500 Les Paul Custom that plays 'ok', and want to spend that money. The multi thousand dollar guitar market (unless it's a vintage piece) just doesn't interest me any longer. You can get amazing guitars for $1k. I will never 'need' anything better.
For the most part, I agree 100%. $1000 is my sweet spot (maybe $1500-1600 if it's something special like a Strandberg).

The only exception for me personally is I've wanted a USA Kelly in all black for almost 3 decades now. I'm finally in a financial position where I can get one, so I'm gonna treat myself damnit.
 
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