Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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burpgun
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by burpgun » Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:50 am

Best cheapie I ever had was my Squier short-scale Jaguar bass. I've had two. Both were well made, but had huge weight differences and I eventually sold the lighter one due to balance issues. The one I kept, which I paid like $180 for, is just a great bass and at the time I got it nearly 10 years ago, Fender didn't even really have anything good in the short-scale range. I've modded mine modestly but didn't really need to it. The bass is very well made, everything works fine, sounds good, and it is a way better bass than the US-made Gibson SG I had for a spell.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by cestlamort » Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:58 am

The Ibanez mini chorus and delay. Not (super) cheap but just outstanding effects.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by noisetape » Tue Oct 20, 2020 7:32 pm

Danelectro Tuna Melt (tremolo)
https://reyreymusic.bandcamp.com/

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by BoringPostcards » Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:02 pm

Fender Mustang Amp. I thought they would be garbage, but I tried one and liked it so much, I bought it.
So cheap, why not go for it? It's fun to record with and to mess around with effects.
It's not something to be used in any serious manner, but it's a fun little amp for practice.
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by HarlowTheFish » Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:57 pm

BoringPostcards wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:02 pm
Fender Mustang Amp. I thought they would be garbage, but I tried one and liked it so much, I bought it.
So cheap, why not go for it? It's fun to record with and to mess around with effects.
It's not something to be used in any serious manner, but it's a fun little amp for practice.
This is a pretty great one, especially if you're getting one of the newer ones. I had a V1 back in the day that sounded okay but was a bit boxy, but with one of the 50-watt GTs and a Katana 50 you have a seriously good stereo rig for like $600 - the GT is a bit darker, the Kat is a bit brighter, and together they actually complement each other very well.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by vistavision » Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:11 pm

Breedlove Passport Plus OM FS. Working at a music shop meant I had the luxury of recognizing, then grabbing, the above-average economy guitars. It streeted for $399. Solid sitka top Korean-built. OM size, with a standard headstock (not the ugly Breedlove one!) with butterbean tuners It was the third or fourth one that rolled through the shop in '07. Compared it to some smaller-bodied Martin Road Series models and it more than held it's own. Still have it. You'd think working in a shop with high-end stuff I'd have a nicer one but I have a "diminishing returns" alarm in my head. It fingerpicks really well and is a great all-around recording guitar. Very balanced. Loud, too.
I'm sure some Fender dealer in '64 looked at the new Duo-Sonic II and thought, "That's not a Duo-Sonic. That's a Mustang".

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by preservation » Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:35 pm

i really like a lot of those cheap Gretsch parlor/cowboy guitars.
a lot of fun and you don't have to baby them.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by carron » Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:03 pm

Sterling AX4 (based on the Music Man Axis Van Halen signature) guitar I got used at Guitar center for 120$. It is a very resonant guitar in spite of its Floyd Rose style tremolo. Even after installing new DiMarzio Transitions pickups (Steve Lukather signature pickups, i bought for about 150), I am still under 300$ in on the guitar and it sounds, resonates and plays amazingly well.

I don't really play the style of music that the guitar was intended for, rather have been on a shoegaze bend lately, but really the only issue with the guitar is that it does not have a forearm contour, and even the expensive Music Man version does not have one. The asymmetric neck is awesome, with rolled edges and really well dressed and polished frets. Although I do not know if the previous owner did a fret polishing job on the guitar that made the neck this good.

I am really impressed with the quality of Sterling guitars. My ax4 is the best 120$ music expense I have ever made.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Trout » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:14 pm

My CV Duo Sonic! Very twangy clean pick ups and a very nice neck,
#sitdownrock found at https://soundcloud.com/oldguywithaview

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by mackerelmint » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:19 pm

carron wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:03 pm
Sterling AX4 (based on the Music Man Axis Van Halen signature) guitar I got used at Guitar center for 120$. It is a very resonant guitar in spite of its Floyd Rose style tremolo. Even after installing new DiMarzio Transitions pickups (Steve Lukather signature pickups, i bought for about 150), I am still under 300$ in on the guitar and it sounds, resonates and plays amazingly well.

I don't really play the style of music that the guitar was intended for, rather have been on a shoegaze bend lately, but really the only issue with the guitar is that it does not have a forearm contour, and even the expensive Music Man version does not have one. The asymmetric neck is awesome, with rolled edges and really well dressed and polished frets. Although I do not know if the previous owner did a fret polishing job on the guitar that made the neck this good.

I am really impressed with the quality of Sterling guitars. My ax4 is the best 120$ music expense I have ever made.
Nice score! sounds like a sleeper to me, I'm gonna go check those out.
This is an excellent rectangle

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Surfysonic » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:21 pm

When they were first released for about $350, I bought a Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster and I've had vintage and higher end Jazzmasters come and go out of my life but the Squier JM JM is and always will be a sleeper hit of a guitar. As stock, it's a great rocker of a guitar. I'm a surf guy, so I ended up putting in some Fender Pure Vintage '65 pickups for a few years. I've now replaced those with some Joe Barden Two-Tone Jazzmaster pickups that are outstanding. Also put in a Mastery FSR purple bridge and tremolo system, but prior to that, I had a StayTrem and the stock tremolo was fine. The purple works great with the shell pink refin my guitar tech did for me some years back.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how awesome my Fender Player Telecaster HH plays and sounds. Very versatile guitar and it's a keeper. You can find some good deals on Reverb on second-hand ones. I got mine for $488 in August 2019. They go for a bit more now, though.

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Any of the Squier Vintage Modified line of guitars were/are pretty decent. I love the necks on them as they were then designated as "C" shape but could be described as "mid-'60s C" shape. Current "C" is basically the old "Modern C". I had a Squier VM Surf Stratocaster that was a fantastic guitar that easily stayed in tune, but foolishly, I sold it at some point. I currently have a Squier VM Mustang (upgraded with Lindy Fralin Split Rail Mustang pickups) and a Squier VM Jaguar that I'm refinishing in Sherwood Green and have a set of Fender Pure Vintage '65 Jaguar pickups to put in it.

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Finally, I picked up a Fender California Series Sonoran SCE electric-acoustic guitar for dirt cheap ($250 I think) from a local guitar shop. Sounds and plays great. It's the perfect acoustic for me - while I do take good care of it, I don't worry about damaging it as it's not a fragile, high end acoustic. It's my couch guitar.

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The doofus formerly known as Snorre...

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by carron » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:00 am

Yeah, I might post pictures and my thoughts on the guitar one of these days.
mackerelmint wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:19 pm
carron wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:03 pm
Sterling AX4 (based on the Music Man Axis Van Halen signature) guitar I got used at Guitar center for 120$. It is a very resonant guitar in spite of its Floyd Rose style tremolo. Even after installing new DiMarzio Transitions pickups (Steve Lukather signature pickups, i bought for about 150), I am still under 300$ in on the guitar and it sounds, resonates and plays amazingly well.

I don't really play the style of music that the guitar was intended for, rather have been on a shoegaze bend lately, but really the only issue with the guitar is that it does not have a forearm contour, and even the expensive Music Man version does not have one. The asymmetric neck is awesome, with rolled edges and really well dressed and polished frets. Although I do not know if the previous owner did a fret polishing job on the guitar that made the neck this good.

I am really impressed with the quality of Sterling guitars. My ax4 is the best 120$ music expense I have ever made.
Nice score! sounds like a sleeper to me, I'm gonna go check those out.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by jdr1014 » Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:00 pm

Well.....this actually just happened to me tonight (although not offset related :) ).

About a month ago I bought a new Fender 57 Custom Champ amp which I am absolutely delighted with. I seem to like Stats best though through this particular amp and have about a dozen - mostly American manufacture, including Custom Shop and AVRI's. Neither amp nor these Strats are cheap gear tho.......

However, tonight I dug out two cheap "Strats" I haven't laid eyes or hands on for at least 5 or 6 years. One is a Surf Green/Rosewood Squier Bullet Strat and the other is a Daphne Blue/Maple SX/Rondo Chinese Knockoff. .Each cost a little over $100 when I bought them 10 years or so ago, Both have a few upgrades like pickguards, saddles, nut, etc but retain original cheapo pickups and pots......and do play quite well. Tuned them up and plugged them into that new little tweed Champ and was absolutely astonished at how good and articulate they both sounded with that amp. I mean, really shocked :o ! I don't remember either ever sounding nearly that good - especially compared to their expensive Fender bretherin!!

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Igorilla » Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:36 am

There are two cheap pieces of gear that are constantly surprising me:

1. My old & trusty J. Mascis JM that I bought new almost 10 years ago for 370 €. I have swapped the PUs for traditional JM ones, got rid of the AoM bridge in favor of the traditional one and upgraded the whole electronics as the the PU selector switch crapped out. It is the last guitar I would consider selling (I have a thin skin JM and a nice CIJ JM as a refernece). The neck is just perfect for my hands.

2. Mooer Yellow Comp I got for 30 € . Just a fantastic optical compressor. I use it with very mild settings and it makes everything better sounding.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by astro » Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:47 pm

The original Roland Micro Cube.

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https://reverb.com/ca/p/roland-micro-c ... BMQAvD_BwE

Bought mine in 2007 for about 175$ Canadian dollars. There’s a more recent model, but I’ve never felt the need to upgrade.

Sounds fantastic, the perfect low volume practice amp. The amp models are quite fun, comes with some built in effects (I only ever use the reverb). Only negative for me is that the amp struggles with pedals unless using the JC Clean setting, but it’s far from a deal breaker.

I still use it regularly and will only upgrade once it breaks.

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