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Best budget axe you ever layed hands on

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  • Best budget axe you ever layed hands on

    OK, I've been known to swear by the old MIM Fender Squier Series Strats - great little mod platforms. I've got two that after a few improvements (pickups, trem block, shield the pickguard) play and sound as good as my MIA (actually prefer the vintage frets). What I've always liked about these is the quality resonant solid wood bodies, the impeccable fretwork and necks that play like butter. But you still have to do a few mods to bring out the best in them. Then there's the Aria Pro II RS Bobcat (83 Matsumuko, Japan) that is another guitar I own that is astounding for it's quality to price ratio, used of course but even new these things went for hundreds less than the American Fenders. Not as much modding required on these to bring them up to snuff, full size pots, steel trem block, again excellent fretwork and resonant Ash body. Still, I had to change out the neck pickup (alnico) to get rid of an irritating static pop I'd get on the pickups (left the middle because the pickups are quite remarkable otherwise).

    My vote for best budget axe I've ever layed hands on though would have to go to a Korean built Carlo Robelli ES 335 copy I recently acquired. I've surmised that these were available through Sam Ash about ten years ago or so and went for somewhere around $400. I have no way of knowing the age of mine as there is no serial # anywhere. The remarkable thing about these is that they stand on their own as professional players, no mods necessary. The pots are full sweep, the pickups are great (good enough for this guy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzW3_qDs_QE),the frets are impeccable (feels like it was plecked), the tuners are top-notch and the bridge and stop tail are the finest quality metal. Prior to this guitar, the best budget set-neck I had was a Washburn P290. But compared to the Robelli, the Washburn has one fret that was a little high, the bridge seems flimsy and the saddles aren't as nice. Bending strings on the Robelli feels like an expensive axe, not so on the Washburn. Only mod I did to mine to make it even more Gibsonesque was to intall a tusq nut.

    PS For anyone looking for a really nice 335 copy, there is currently one on Ebay with case at a nice price. And Hells no it sho the frick ain't mine.
    "Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening. Playing the piano ['guitar'] allows you to do both at the same time." -Kelsey Grammer

  • #2
    Sterling Silo 3

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    • #3
      If we're talking sub $1000, then it's my Epiphone MIK Custom. Sub $500, Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus (which I gave to my dad, and would have back if he didn't live so far away). Sub $200, my Lag Imperator, which is probably better than the Tele Plus in build quality.

      Of course, I think my Epi Custom trumps my Rickenbacker in tone and versatility, but not in build quality. It does out play the two Gibsons I previously owned and any other $2000 range Gibson I've played.
      .

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      • #4
        ^Interesting. Though I'm pretty much set guitar-wise, once you've imbibed at the spring of eternally good deals, you start wondering what else is out there. You just wonder how it is even possible sometimes from a manufacturing standpoint. Have to admit that the Sterling and Lag Imperator are two that completely flew under my radar. Enjoyed hearing the personal experience stuff Buck.
        "Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening. Playing the piano ['guitar'] allows you to do both at the same time." -Kelsey Grammer

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        • #5
          The lowest end model of Ibanez's SZ series, in particular, the SZ320 (the more expensive models just had more bling, looked worse, IMO). The bridge pickup is not my cup of tea but otherwise, sold new for around $400 and can be had used for $150. If you've played one you'll know what I'm talking about. Probably one of the most comfortable, best playing and versatile guitars I have ever played. I highly recommend grabbing a used one. They changed the sclae and place of manufacture with the newer SZR series and they're not the same. I really don't know why they discontinued the SZ series, they sold well, played well and were popular.
          One MIA Fender Strat, one Gibson Les Paul, one Martin Acoustic, what more do you need?

          http://i1099.photobucket.com/albums/...ps92b32f13.gif

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          • #6
            For me it is the RG350. A pickup swap to a used set of V1 and V2 pickups and ¬°pow! you've got a 1987 RG550 clone that feels and plays great, and sounds amazing.
            Ibanez Rules.











            Last edited by Floyd Rosenbomb; 07-20-2014, 09:38 AM.
            Besides being a guitar player,
            I'm a big fan of the guitar.
            I love that damn instrument.
            -Steve Vai

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            • #7
              I believe the Robellis of that era that were MIK were made by Samick, so the quality is there in spades. The Ibanez Artstars were made in the same factory as well. I currently have a Samick Artist series 650 335 copy from that era that is killer that I will be putting on the block soon.
              This used to be a great place. Thanks, GCI, for killing it.See y'all at Wein's.

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              • #8
                Hands down winner ... Michael Kelly Patriot Classic. Just a fabulous rendition f a modernized Les Paul Custom. Ebony Fretboard, silky smooth frets, Rockfield SWC pickups with push pull coil taps, Tone Pros bridge and tailpiece and Graphtech nut. It is a flawlessly-finished, Korean-built set neck guitar for around $350 street price.

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                • #9
                  Oooh, now that's what I'm talking about........Pictures

                  Diggin the looks of that Ibby and the MK Patriot Classic, even looks top-shelf.

                  PS Don't do it CBH, you know you'll regret it.
                  "Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you're listening. Playing the piano ['guitar'] allows you to do both at the same time." -Kelsey Grammer

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                  • #10
                    I'd have to vote for my friends early 80s Washburn T Bird. 200 bucks w tweed HS case new. Still an awesome guitar to this day. A close second is my 83 Carvin DC 100. Only because it was not quite so low budget. I paid $320 w HS case new. As for newer guitars, I had a Mex Strat that was very nice. I only got rid of it because I decided Strats we're not for me. I have a 2010 Epi Korina Explorer that I really love I picked up used w case for $300. It's really well made and has the best humbuckers I've ever experienced in an Epiphone.

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                    • #11
                      my SX Liquid from Rondo Music. You can get them new for about $140. Insane deal.
                      http://www.rondomusic.com/cgi-rondom...1421a8d614cc26
                      Last edited by peskypesky; 07-20-2014, 03:04 PM.
                      The most important part of my religion is to play guitar.
                      Lou Reed

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                      • #12
                        The PRS SE line is pretty tough to beat for coin.
                        www.telenator.com

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                        • Ralph 123
                          Ralph 123 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          My vote is for a Squier I got used at a local music store for $60.
                          I liked it as well as a mim Fender.
                          I've had several Epis 335s and now a 339, all cost well under $500.

                      • #13
                        My series one Peavey Falcon cost about $200 when it was 4 years old. It has been a stalwart. I don't know what it cost new but definitely in the budget category.
                        I've posted this vid before on here, but it's a good demo because the amp is set "flat" with no reverb so you get to hear the guitar clean
                        If you see a mark one up on ebay i't's worth a go.
                        Last edited by Chordite; 07-20-2014, 03:34 PM.
                        .

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                        • #14
                          Paid $180 for a 1971 Gibson LP Custom. $75 for a 94 MIM Strat.

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                          • #15
                            I bought a used Jay Turser Les Paul goldtop-copy for $80 to use as a back-up/beater guitar. The more I played it I was surprised at how much I liked it and how well it played. I eventually upgraded it with some parts I had laying around including Gibson 500T/bridge, Duncan Jazz/neck, Sperzel locking tuners, and new pots and wiring. Now it sounds fantastic and I play it more than I ever expected to.

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