Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

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Great Yawn
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Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Great Yawn » Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:26 pm

My girlfriend got me a second hand Squier acoustic for my birthday almost a year ago, and from the first time I grabbed it I just loved playing it. I can tell from the neck that it isn't a high end guitar, but for some reason it just sounds amazing. The strings feel just right and sound exactly what I need an acoustic song writing tool to sound like.

Do you have any cheap gear that ended up punching way above its weight?

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Filipe » Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:56 pm

My gear is a mix of expensive and cheap. I always try to judge stuff on what it does and not on how much it costs. I'm just looking for stuff that does what I want it to do, regardless of the price.

I have an Ibanez RC320M that I bought for 220 euro. It's a great guitar that punches way above it's weight and I've used it on tour when we had to check in the guitars on the plane and I didn't want to risk a more expensive guitar.

The Line6 Echo Park is great and can be found relatively cheap for what it does. The DOD Gunslinger is my go to high gain distortion. The Boss Blues Driver is great too. Most Mooer pedals I tried have pleasantly surprised me: I kept the Yellow Comp, Tender Octaver, Trelicopter and Black Secret, which are all great. The Zoom CDR-70 is an awesome ambient machine and most effects sound way better than you would expect from a multieffect in its pricerange. I also like the Joyo American Sound for cheap demo recording without needing an amp. The Digitech Jamman Stereo is a great looper/sampler and is cheap for what it does.

I have JBL 305p monitors that are great. I've had Behringer Truth B2031A monitors which were pretty good for the money too.
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by HarlowTheFish » Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:53 am

My Elektron Analog Drive.

Got it for like $99 at Sweetwater when it was getting blown out though, so it's only technically cheap gear (the best kind). It's this wacky all-analog overdrive (for the signal path anyway) that uses digital control to save presets, work with expression pedals for volume, gain, any of the EQ (BMT, plus mid frequency), and has MIDI functionality both for loading presets with MIDI PC changing settings with MIDI CC. Clean boost, a TS-type overdrive, a RAT kinda thing, a Marshall-in-a-box setting, a Klon (though waaaaaay more gained up than any Klon I've ever seen, and honestly one of my favorite distortion sounds ever to the point where I'm thinking of pulling the pedal apart, modding some of the OD circuits, and making an SS amp out of it), an octave fuzz that sounds pretty good (but I'm no fuzz connoisseur), a Mesa-in-a-box, and an Orange/Engl-in-a-box (depending on how you setup the EQ). The thing is crazy versatile, sounds really good, and has a ton of volume and gain push to it -- I play an H&K Grandmeister, which has plenty of gain, but the Analog Drive can honestly get me more gain than the amp depending on the setting -- and if I ever go the pedalboard-AC30 route like I keep saying I will, this is guaranteed to go on the board. The only weak spots are that it uses a non-standard connector for power (12V-2A center-positive, but there's adapters and power supplies that can work with this) and that it's kinda noisy if you push the gain (but I only go over noon even on the supposedly-a-Klon setting for shits & giggles, so like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). NS-2, Bogner Harlow, this, and an HX Effects and I'm basically set. The thing is so good I kinda wanna pick up an Analog Heat, which is basically the same unit (a couple of the settings are different, like the fuzz and the super high-gain circuits) but meant for synths, so no footswitches -- fine if I'm going MIDI for presets anyway -- and a bunch of cool EQ/filter features that would be really nice for really tuning the dirt I get out of it.

If y'all find one for a decent price I'd really recommend it, because it's so versatile you can use it for basically anything. Just make sure you get the original power brick unless you have some other way to get the right kind of power to it.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Thu Oct 01, 2020 2:27 am

It's probably more mental than any tangible thing, but I'm always more pleasantly surprised by cheap gear than expensive gear. I've had some expensive stuff that just didn't sound very good, or was ok but not good enough to justify the money. But most of the time, the cheap guitars or pedals have been great. I had a MIM Tele years ago that was amazing, and my new-ish Squier CV JM is outstanding. I can/could tell that both aren't super high end instruments, but good enough for a hobbyist musician who likes making music in his basement and has no intentions of trying to be a gigging musician. One of the more expensive instruments I had (which really wasn't that expensive in the grand scheme of things), a Eastwood Classic 6 (based on a Gretsch?) was terrible. Sounded cool, but felt extremely cheap to me. It was only $600 new, but I never bonded with it. In comparison, the Tele was like $350, and the JM was about $400.
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by jthomas » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:13 am

Behringer TO800 overdrive. Very cheap and good.

Plus my Squire Deluxe strat.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by jorri » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:34 am

Have a Squier VI. It simultaneously surprised in both ways with great general sound quality but whoever assembled it put pickups around wrong way.

A Tanglewood acoustic i got recently is the real gem. 12 string. £120 and a massive loud, folky warm sound. Series 'Winterleaf' in olive wood. Just by far better tonality than some dud brands four times that at least.

Otherwise, i have gravitated to cheap solid states. HH bassamp and Carlsboro Stingray are solid and warm (tranformer based?). Less so HH ic100 and the Yamaha i have is solid but kind of bright and boring like fender SS. Looking for a Peavey stereo chorus now for its JC style.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by mbe » Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:07 am

I got a Peavey Blazer 15 watt practice amp, sounds amazing clean. The tiny reverb pan was hanging loose so I scrapped that and replaced it with a larger one screwed to the bottom of the cab. This thing really drips now and it takes pedals brilliantly. Definitely exceeded my expectations.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Steadyriot. » Thu Oct 01, 2020 4:35 am

Squier Classic Vibe Tele's always get my vote, changed the neck a few years back because I wore out the frets but other than that it's just a solid, great sounding guitar. Neck change didn't change anything about that either, as it was great before.
I had a Okko compressor on my board for a long while, for a sub 20 dollar pedal it sounded great and did its job.
Hotone noise gate, tiny footprint and great sounding gate for not too much.
Harley Benton CST-24HB, a great PRS copy from the guys at Thomann. It's clearly a cheaper guitar when you look at the fit and finish (small scratches, binding is not perfect) but it looks great, plays great and sounds great too. A 250 Euro guitar has no right to be this much fun.
Garage Band, I mean, it's baby Logic, worth my 5 bucks back in the day. Use it a few times a week. Has everything you need in a DAW (maybe not everything you want).

Not really bonding with my Bullet Mustang though. Always seems out of tune.
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by R_T_Hermit » Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:13 am

Fender Ultimate Chorus. Store demo amp that was still wearing the hang tags. Half price. Not vintage but my Jazzys love it.

Squier 5 string Jazz Bass. Have never been ashamed to gig with it, and sounds just like a ‘real’ bass.

12 string Fender acoustic. Actually sounds great and plays surprisingly well.
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by Larsongs » Thu Oct 01, 2020 6:50 am

I bought a cheap Reissue Epiphone Inspired by Paul Mc Cartney Texan Acoustic Electric Guitar.. About $300.00.. Turns out it's a great Guitar. I play it almost as much as my Gibson J-160E & my Vintage Martin D-35....

A few years ago the had blowouts on new Gibson Les Paul Specials with P90's for $500.. Great Guitar! Also, blowout on Gibson Firebird V for $1000.00.. Also a great Guitar...

All 3 were great out of the box.. New Strings & needed very minimal Set up & all 3 are xlnt Players.....

Tried several cheap Squiers & can't say they impressed me.. Maybe the JMJM even though it was long long road to setting it up to be a good playable Guitar.. Love my USA Fenders though...

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by marqueemoon » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:01 am

Behringer ECM8000. These mics were like $40 back in the day and I had low expectations. They are a bit noisy with quiet sources, but I use em’ all the time and often pick them over my “nice” mics for certain things.

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by HNB » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:25 am

Budget level Ibanez and Jackson guitars are actually pretty nice. Squier Affinity stuff is pretty nice in my experience. The made in Indonesia stuff with the tuners you can change to Gotoh ones are pretty awesome. I use to buy those necks for builds because you could easily remove the screen printed logo and make your own decal and the tuners could be easily upgraded with no drilling. Nowadays I buy unfinished allparts necks and finish them myself. You can score those necks often for $50-100 loaded with nut, tuners, and string tree. Great for someone who wants to do a build but doesn't feel good about finish work.

I love Peavey stuff. Guitars (bass and guitars) and amps (for bass or guitar) are awesome stuff if you get any of their American made stuff. Others here (especially with the old solid state amps) agree on this. Plenty of respected pro's used or use old Peavey stuff. If you want tubes, they do that also. My Classic 30 is one of my favorite amps.
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by blunderbuss » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:46 am

Seconded on the Squire Affinity. Grabbed a Telecaster earlier sometime in March 2020 to mess around with learning harder tech tasks and IMO it plays really nicely no complaints. Came as a better player out of the box of any guitar I’ve ever had.

So you know a disappointment from the perspective of wanting something that needs work. 😹 Otherwise very nice.
Ryan

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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by s_mcsleazy » Thu Oct 01, 2020 8:58 am

guitar wise: squier jagmasters. never played a bad one and i've played some mutts of jagmasters.

amp wise: epiphone valve jr.

pedal wise: behringer vintage time machine...... back before people were asking £100 for them on reverb
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Re: Cheap gear that ended up pleasantly surprising you?

Post by MrJagsquire » Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:24 am

I bought a 'B' Stock Fame JTA05 Sweet Baby combo amp for £130 last year. I knew it was a copy of a Fender Champ, so I did have higher hopes than I would normally have expected for such a reasonably priced amp, but it has exceeded them. I've used it a number of times for open mic gigs where it's small enough to crank a bit to get some grit and not get complaints to 'turn it down'. It's my go to amp for playing at home in the kitchen (natural reverb) too. :) My Jaguar sounds great through it as well of course.

This is the original advert link, but it's discontinued now: https://www.dv247.com/en_GB/GBP/Fame-JT ... 032351-000

However, I have completely blown the budget now by having a Tweed cab made for it that cost more than the amp did. :whistle: To be fair it's still a lot less than any Champ kit would have been, let alone a Fender Custom Shop '57 Champ amp at £1100+ new.

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