GETTING THE MOST FOR THEIR MONEY IS ON EVERY SHOPPER’S
mind these days. And with so many guitars available for very reasonable
prices, probably the toughest part about searching for a new ax is sorting
through the huge assortment of what’s availible to find something that inspires you
to play. Is it the sweet ring of single-coil pickups through a clean Fender amp that gets your mojo
workin,’ or are humbuckers pummeling a Marshall more your calling? Need the speed that a guitar
with a thin neck and a flat fretboard provides or do you prefer the feel of a fatter, vintage style
neck? Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a happening guitar, but when it comes to
price, we can all agree that the more you get for what you have to spend, the better things are.
As evidenced by the ten guitars we selected for this roundup, which range from $249 to $655
street, you get quite a lot of performance no matter how much you have to spend—if only that
were the case when it comes to buying a new car or computer.
As our past roundups have revealed, guitars in this category can be quite impressive in terms
of workmanship and playability, with the pickups tending to be the main things that could stand
improving. This time, however, it’s been surprising to see some of the lower cost guitars delivering
high-quality tones that are a direct result of improved pickups. Obviously guitar designers
have come to recognize that it doesn’t pay to skimp on such an important element, which only
makes sense considering how much effort goes into make sure that the finishes are glass smooth,
the hardware is solid, and the setups are happening. So next time you pick up a guitar that sounds
good, plays in tune, feels great in your hands, and is fairly priced, show a little appreciation for
the company that built it and the store that hung it on the wall, and buy it!
We tested these guitars on gigs and in our studios using a variety of amps, which included a Dr.
Z Remedy head though a Dr. Z 2x12 cabinet, a Mesa/Boogie Electradyne 2x12 combo, a Fender ’65
Deluxe Reverb reissue, and an Orange Tiny Terror Handwired Edition and a new Peavey Masterbuilt
50—both of which we ran through a Bogner 1x12 loaded with a Celestion Vintage 30.
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