Author Topic: Cheap Guitars  (Read 655 times)

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Offline Weisshaupt

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Cheap Guitars
« on: August 30, 2016, 07:57:10 PM »
So Daughter has been trying to learn guitar on my old, beat up, literally thrown from a horse learners guitar from the 90s. The setup was always bad - the strings were always  too far from the Frets-  I think my instructor at the time wanted them that way to strengthen my fingers. While there was some truth to that, it also just made it very difficult and frustrating to play .  After being thrown from the horse, the neck was never as stiff as it should have been and it developed some annoying buzzing habits..  so I set out to find a good cheap guitar for her..(and me. I never learned to play well, but I always enjoyed trying)

I settled on this  Guitar from Monoprice Yeah that's right-  the place that sells super sturdy LCD mounts and excellent cables  for 1/8 of what Best Buy asks.   I have some of the actual electronics gear from them too.  They  offer a 30 day money back for any reason guarantee and have always been a stand up company when I have dealt with them..  I saw this announcement for this line  back in January..  They have a cheaper - $100 range line that actually gets good reviews for what they are, and when they recently had a one day sale  I picked this up for $180.   

I am sure the real musicians out there won't be overly impressed ( But I would be interested to hear any advice or impressions)
Its a CNC based manufacturer from China, but Monoprice has them "setup" in LA - so in theory,  a more hardworking "American" has taken each one, polished the frets, made adjustments , etc to make sure its ready to play out of the box.  Mine was a full note out of tune, but given temperature, humidity and altitude differences, I am not at all surprised.  Tried out the built in chromatic tuner.. works okay.. but not sure I am not just as happy tuning it the old way. Daughter seemed more enthused with it. No buzzing, maybe a little bright.. they put  D'Addario EXP strings on it , so I expect it will mellow a bit as those get broken in..
The gig bag that comes with it is decent as well.  Not the protection a hard case would offer,  but not the cheap little throwaway thin a gauze sort of thing one might expect at this price point.

The Finish is really nicely done for what it is. No real noticeable blemishes. Didn't have any problem tuning it.. but its yet to been seen how well it holds its tune. Everything feels sturdy, but it does feel a little light in my hands.. I haven't had a chance yet to try out the pickups.. I don't have a guitar amp, so I would have to plug it into the theater to try it out..probably need to do that within my 30 day window to make sure  the electronics are good.  Not really what I bought it for anyhow - its for practice and plinking, not performing, but I guess its nice to have the option.

In all, I think  its a pretty good deal at the price point.. Certainly a much better instrument than my beginning  guitar I bought for $250? in the 90s..

Anyway, someting to keep in mind if you have an aspiring young one...
« Last Edit: August 30, 2016, 08:50:55 PM by Weisshaupt »

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2016, 09:36:21 PM »
Quote
... The setup was always bad - the strings were always  too far from the Frets-  I think my instructor at the time wanted them that way to strengthen my fingers.

Yeah, screw that noise.  I never went with the "make it more difficult now, so it'll be easier later" school of thought when it comes to teaching/learning.  If playing was made easier and more enjoyable (okay -- practicing), learners will do it more often and the strength will come naturally.

A much younger me wanted to learn to play the organ.  My folks, doing what they always did, second-guessed me and figured an accordion would be a good substitute.   ::saywhat::  I had lessons for a while, taught myself for a while, and then just took a pass.  Reading the music was very difficult without a teacher.

What the parents DID do right was to get me a "womens' model" -- the keyboard was more compact because the keys were skinnier, so it was a lot easier to make the necessary finger stretches.  I wish I had gotten better.  You know how it is said that practice makes perfect?  It doesn't; practice makes permanent.  To this day, I'm still making the same mistakes and hesitating in the same places I always did.  Yep, I kept it; it's a beautiful instrument.

Anybody laughing at the accordion playing, I will come to yer house.
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Offline Weisshaupt

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« Last Edit: August 30, 2016, 10:09:02 PM by Weisshaupt »

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2016, 10:18:15 PM »
You know how it is said that practice makes perfect?  It doesn't; practice makes permanent.  To this day, I'm still making the same mistakes and hesitating in the same places I always did...

Reminds me of a quote I heard many years ago. I think it was Brian Tracy. Paraphrased, he said that the old saying "practice makes perfect" isn't true. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

It was essentially a pep talk on the value of constantly assessing ones failures for the purpose of learning from them and learning how to avoid repeating them.

Tangent, I know. Carry on.
"A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means."

- Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2016, 11:20:43 PM »
Weisshaupt, that guitar looks exactly like the one I bought for Random. Even down to the electronics. It's sitting about a foot away from as I write. I play it almost every day and have performed with it onstage many times.

If yours is anything like mine it should work out well for your daughter.

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"Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer." - Mark Twain

"Let us assume for the moment everything you say about me is true. That just makes your problem bigger, doesn't it?"

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2016, 02:15:53 AM »
You know how it is said that practice makes perfect?  It doesn't; practice makes permanent.  To this day, I'm still making the same mistakes and hesitating in the same places I always did...

Reminds me of a quote I heard many years ago. I think it was Brian Tracy. Paraphrased, he said that the old saying "practice makes perfect" isn't true. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

It was essentially a pep talk on the value of constantly assessing ones failures for the purpose of learning from them and learning how to avoid repeating them.

Tangent, I know. Carry on.

No.  No tangent.  Quite to the point.  Thank you,
"Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer." - Mark Twain

"Let us assume for the moment everything you say about me is true. That just makes your problem bigger, doesn't it?"

Offline Libertas

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2016, 07:33:07 AM »
It's Polka Pan!   ;D

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Offline Weisshaupt

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2016, 08:44:19 AM »
Funny.  Not.  Thanks for trying.

Accordions are inherently funny. Its an intrinsic property of the instrument. The only instrument funnier is a bagpipe.
Don't tell me you didn't crack a smile at all during one of those.  Maybe its the association with Weird Al, but Accordions always make me smile.
But if you come to my house to play , you will need to do at least one Weird Al Polka medley.



Offline Weisshaupt

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2016, 12:25:15 PM »
So Daughter has discovered that the Low E string will buzz a bit if you don't have your finger close enough to the fret up near the top of the neck.. 
For those who know how to play guitar for reals.. .. Would that be considered a "set up" problem, or a " learning to play" problem?
Either way, if that is the only "setup" issue with the guitar, I still think I did pretty well for $180.  I  certainly like playing it.. I have stolen it from her room now a couple of times.. Way better than my old one.. Maybe I will start practicing on a regular basis again myself.

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2016, 01:24:18 PM »
I hope she enjoys it, W.  And you too.
"Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer." - Mark Twain

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Re: Cheap Guitars
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2016, 06:42:51 PM »
So Daughter has discovered that the Low E string will buzz a bit if you don't have your finger close enough to the fret up near the top of the neck.. 
For those who know how to play guitar for reals.. .. Would that be considered a "set up" problem, or a " learning to play" problem?
Either way, if that is the only "setup" issue with the guitar, I still think I did pretty well for $180.  I  certainly like playing it.. I have stolen it from her room now a couple of times.. Way better than my old one.. Maybe I will start practicing on a regular basis again myself.

Short answer long....it can be either. You should be able to fret every step on every string without having to pinch extraordinarily hard and create a note without buzz. Inexact finger placement or too light of pressure, a bridge or nut set too low, a neck mis-adjusted, or a fret that is too tall can cause buzz.

Two years ago I decided that I wanted to to learn slide guitar so I took a look at Dobros and Resonator guitars. A decent National Dobro will set you back 4k and that's just a bit rich for my pocket so I ended up buying a Republic Resonator.



These instruments are Korean made. Republic imports them and then tears them apart and reassembles after reworking all the parts. Even so, I took it to a guitar tech and had it set up for me. That setup includes setting intonation, setting bridge height, and adjusting the neck. I was impressed with the audible difference in tone after the setup.

Something to think about....