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.