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Junk guitars that sound and play really good

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  • Junk guitars that sound and play really good

    I have a plywood 'Tele' with a no-name humbucker roughly chopped into the neck position and a ceramic bar magnet bridge pickup. No through-body stringing and an old Japanese bridge. Mismatched pots and a strange 70s Japanese selector. Neck is off a cheap Strat copy (though is exceptional quality). Tuners as cheap as they come.

    It sustains. It sings. Acoustically it sounds like it has a spruce soundboard. It plays like butter. The pot tapers are perfect, the tone backs off perfectly and has a real sweet-spot where the mid humps with both pickups selected. The sound is shimmering and haunting. It's loud without being harsh and I love it. It's junk and practically of no economic value if it was ever sold on.

    In all respects, it's the very opposite of what a good guitar should be. Yet it's one of the best playing and sounding guitars I've ever laid hands on and its inspiring to play.

  • #2
    TTIUWP

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    • #3
      Here's a pic:
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        My son bought a Squier strat at a thrift store for $20. It is a basic Bullet model, thin and light body with a hardtail. It has the absolute best "strat" pickups I've found. The other day I played a friend's USA Strat to compare and I didn't have the heart to tell her I like the Squier's pickups better. It isn't quite as nice a feeling neck as the USA, but it plays as well as most.

        Also, surprisingly, a First Act guitar with single bridge humbucker that I got for essentially nothing with another guitar. Action and setup were perfect and the neck is very comfortable, the pots are smooth and just the right taper. The humbucker is quite versatile, it can do clean and round or get a nice punk bite.

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        • #5
          Well let us all keep in mind that the tele and even the strat as designs were just hack guitars of the day. Basically planks of wood with single piece necks BOLTED onto them and PAINTED in solid colors. That "s" was unheard of back in the day. Those things were considered toys by "real" guitar makers and many players before they became fashionable. That one plank of wood with a bolt on neck might be as good as another "more expensive" one doesn't surprise me at all. That said, selected planks and slabs might offer more consistent quality, but wood is wood. It's variable. I've known many cheap guitars that were just as good, better or even exceptional in some regard when compared to what might be a low end of average example of a more expensive brand/model. Just as surprising as the cheapies that are great would be the expensive ones that are totally uninspiring. I think we've all gone into a guitar store and played a guitar that's considered top of the line, and priced accordingly and thought "BLEH! What a let down."

          EDIT: I remember when Fender started having their standard Stratocaster manufactured in Japan. They were considered junk and you could buy one off the wall at Guitar Center on sale for US $199. Players are gaga for them now. And I bought one when they were cheap. I wish I still had it.

          EDIT 2: My first acoustic guitar was an Austin with a plywood top that was simply amazing. Piano string bottom end and punch with a very round and pronounced treble. Tone and playability every bit as good as the best. That guitar took a bad neck twist after two nights in a freezing car while travelling through multiple elevations, humidities and climates. I had it straightened once but it didn't take and since it wasn't an expensive guitar I used it as an excuse to get myself a higher end replacement. But that old Austin had tone for days and I miss it.
          Last edited by Chuck H; 01-11-2020, 03:10 PM.
          "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

          "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

          "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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          • #6
            My favorite Strat is my 1983 Japanese Squier. It even has a Gibson scale. I posted a video in another section of my cheap electric resonator guitar. This not a new phenomenon.. a lot is quality control. You can go into a shop even today, play 10 or 20 cheap guitars of the same brand/model hanging on the wall, and find a good one. Iíve never been a big fan for mail order/internet sales instruments for that reason.

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            • #7
              I remember going into Westwood Music in LA back in the early 00's and the owner Fred came up to us and asked "Have you played the $100 guitar?" At first I thought this was because he thought we couldn't afford any of the regular high $$ guitars they stock, but really he just blown away by how awesome this cheap acoustic sounded.

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              • #8
                A Tele with a Strat neck. Mine is the opposite.

                Click image for larger version

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dave H View Post
                  [ATTACH=CONFIG]56612[/ATTACH]
                  I always hated that look. The tele headstock on a strat. But I'd play the hell out of it if sounds and plays nice
                  "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                  "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                  "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                    I always hated that look. The tele headstock on a strat.
                    It was my (over)reaction to the big headstock strat I used to have that I hated the look of.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                      I always hated that look. The tele headstock on a strat. But I'd play the hell out of it if sounds and plays nice
                      FWIW I happen to like the reverse headstock Strat like Jeff Beck's been sporting for some years now. "Big advantage" you don't have to twist your arm to reach the tuners, saves valuable time if one needs a tweak mid-song. The Strat-like-object I use as a test guitar over the last 40 years came with this feature. Wouldn't mind getting one like Jeff's, if it has the "big-head" style, so much the better.

                      We have Mr. Bigsby to thank for that headstock style anyway. Legend has it he and Leo F. saw a traveling show of Balkan musicians. Bigsby soon after made headstocks that resembled the Serbian/Croatian/Herzogovinian/Montenegrin/Moldovan instruments for his guitars. Then they popped up on Fender's instruments, first the Broadcaster then in larger form the Strat. What a hoot, the Strat apes the Corvette at one end, and some Balkan balalaika at the other. Radical! Even more so with a reverse headstock.
                      Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
                        FWIW I happen to like the reverse headstock Strat like Jeff Beck's been sporting for some years now. "Big advantage" you don't have to twist your arm to reach the tuners, saves valuable time if one needs a tweak mid-song.
                        If you have a worn out rotator cuff lime me it also saves shoulders If the strat I play didn't have a sentimental aspect as it is I would change the neck out for a lefty.

                        Originally posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
                        We have Mr. Bigsby to thank for that headstock style anyway. Legend has it he and Leo F. saw a traveling show of Balkan musicians...Then they popped up on Fender's instruments,..
                        I didn't know the origins of the shape, but I knew it was Bigsby that originally used it. It's a wonder Bigsby didn't get all up in Fenders grill about it. But back then it wasn't an epic, iconic profile. It was just a weird shaped headstock.
                        "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                        "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                        "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                          It's a wonder Bigsby didn't get all up in Fenders grill about it. But back then it wasn't an epic, iconic profile. It was just a weird shaped headstock.
                          They were old friends. Who knows, maybe Mr. Bigsby encouraged Leo F. to use that design? We'll never know, but you can imagine the conversations they may have had.

                          "Hey Leo, that headstock on your prototype solid body looks like a snake. (Indeed it had a 3 tuners on each side of a roughly triangular headstock.) Remember those guys from Schmengelzovia we saw a couple years ago? You know I stole my design from them. Why don't you do something like that instead. It'll look unique. And radical. A real eye catcher! Try a skinny version of the design I borrowed from those Balkan hillbillies for my guitars."

                          "Well......... OK I'll give it a go. But if it flops, back to the snake head."

                          And so a star is born.
                          Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

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