This is a post mostly for my Bakersfield buddies.
Backstory: For a few weeks, I’ve been thinking that I should buy a cheap-o guitar to knock around. A beater. Something that I don’t care if it only lasts a year or two. A disposable guitar. I’ve read that inexpensive guitars, thanks to modern computer technology, are not as badly made as they used to be, and that they’ve also come down even further in price. The last time I was in New York, I was looking at some strat knockoffs for $120.
Yesterday, while out running my errands, I drove down Chester and spotted a music store I’d never seen before. It’s called the Music Zone (2808 Chester Avenue). I walked in and immediately asked how long they had been there — since May was the answer. I’d never seen the store before.
I needed guitar strings, and that was all I intended to buy, but I can’t walk into a guitar store without looking at the guitars. I noticed a rack of cheap-o guitars, so I walked over … noticed the Strat knock-off was $140. That’s more than I wanted to spend. I was curious if the blond Tele hanging a little higher up was cheaper (I’m much more interested in a cheap-o Tele than a Strat … and we’re talking strictly imitation here, just to be clear), so I asked. It too was $140, but the shop owner said, “I can let you have it for $89.”
My first reaction was, let’s plug it in to a cheap amp and try it out.
Long story short, I bought the guitar — Way too good of a bargain to pass up. And Billy and his partner were exceptionally friendly and helpful. I was pretty amazed, frankly, that on an $89 guitar, they would take the time to do a quick set up for me (adjust the neck, check the intonation, etc.).
So, my Bako buddies, if you haven’t checked out Music Zone yet, I suggest you give it a try. It’s not just cheap-o guitars either … they also carry all of the top line stuff, including Gibson and Fender, as well as selling some pretty sweet looking used equipment.
As for the guitar, it’s made by Johnson. Some rave reviews from players over at Harmoney Central. I’m not ready to give eight or nine stars yet. The neck isn’t quite as smoothly playable as a real Tele, but it does sound very much like a real Tele (got it home and plugged it into a real amp and was very happy with the tone). The real test, though, is how well it stays in tune and maintains its intonation after it’s broken in. My past experience with cheap-o guitars is that’s the main point of failure … that and shorts in knobs and jacks … again, only time will tell. But for $89, if I can get a year’s life out of it, I’ll be happy.