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Cheap Electric Guitars Prices – A Guide to Discount Bargain Priced Guitar Deals

by Mac Laton on March 3, 2009

cheap electric guitar from rondo musicThe Cheap Electric Guitars Prices Guide – Where to Buy A Cheap Electric Guitar at a Discounted Price and Find Musical Instruments That Aren’t Cheaply Made

This is a  guide to buying cheap electric guitars that are quality made and not total junk.  Let’s face it, I am a sucker for any bargain basement musical instrument, whether it is a closeout special from one of the online music instruments dealers, or some no name guitar brand that I just happen across on one of the many online auction sites.

Disclosure: This is a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review. Prices, descriptions, and availability are current on publication date. For current pricing, specs and availability visit RondoMusic.com

I have bought quite a few discounted axes that played and sounded really good, but I have also got some that had major issues with either the construction, sound, or playability.  For example, I bought a six string that had a great neck, decent sounding pickups, and looked really good.  After a couple of months of steady playing, I noticed that the neck was coming away from the body.

When I took off the neck, I noticed that the bolts holding the guitar’s neck to the instrument’s body were stripped. Upon closer inspection, I could see that the body was made out of pressed wood (which is basically sawdust and glue which is molded into a shape… :( )

I have also had others that had serious hardware and playability issues, such as frets placed so poorly on the fretboard that the edge of the neck felt like it could cut me, a bridge that was made out of plastic painted to look like metal, tuning pegs that had gaps in the teeth (these were inside sealed tuning pegs) and electronics that just quit on me or started giving me weird sounds when electrical current was turned on…

All in all, none of these were any big deal, as most of these axes did not cost me very much, and I was able to use some of the parts off of all of them.

My goal in this cheap electric guitar is to show you some things to look for when you want to purchase an affordable six string so that you can avoid some of the absolute junk that is out there… :)

-Mac

Guide To Buying A Cheap Electric Guitar – A Quick Look

What to Look Out For in The Guitar Body

Like I mentioned above, I have had a guitar made out of fiberboard that the bolts holding on the neck stripped out of. Some cheaply made electrical guitars make the bodies out of this type of material then hide it with thick paint. Some even go as far as laminating the body with a wood grain pattern so that it appears to be made of solid wood. This is especially true of some finished with a sunburst finish. Just make sure that it is made of solid wood.

But here is the thing… some of these guitar manufacturers that make cheap axes advertise that their instruments are made of solid wood, and actually they are, but made with several pieces glue together. Any guitar should have no more that three pieces of wood on the main part of the body, consisting of a center block and two wings, and most have just two blocks. (A carved, or quilted maple top is additional on top of the main body.)

I have seen cheap Explorer and Flying V shaped guitars that had 5 pieces of wood… :(

What to Look For In a Good Guitar Neck

The most important thing to make sure that your electric guitar neck has, no matter how cheap the price, is a truss rod.  Without one, the neck will surely warp.

Even though guitars with truss rods bow due to climate conditions or how it is stored, it can easily be set straight with an adjustable truss rod.  It can also be used to eliminate fret buzz and can be used to adjust the action on the neck.

One other thing about necks on some inexpensive guitars is that the frets are either not set properly, or not flush with the edges of the neck, which makes it uncomfortable to play. (I bought one like that the other day, and it was from a well know name brand, maybe that was why it was on clearance for 5o bucks… :)  )

Getting Quality Electric Guitar Hardware: Bridge, Nuts, Frets, Tuners, etc.

The most important thing to look at on the hardware is the bridge and tuners. Although these may be painted black or have a gold or chrome look, they should be made of steel.  I have had some that were made out of cheap metal alloys (known as pot metal) and even had one that was made of plastic which broke when I tried to adjust it.

The tuners should have a decent tuning ratio of at least 12 to 1, preferably 18 to 1 for easy tuning.  The best nuts are made of graphite or bone, but on an el-cheapo you will most likely be looking at plastic, and that is ok.

As far as pickups, you will probably be looking at stock pickups, but if you can score one with Dimarzio, EMG, or Seymor Duncans, that is always a plus… :)

How the Finish of Your Guitar Affects the Price

One of the biggest factors determining the electric guitars price is the finish.  You can find stripped down plain models of guitars that can cost much less that its dressed up version.

A pretty good example of how basically the same style guitar can differ in price after dressing it up with trapezoid fretboard inlays, 3 ply body and headstock binding, a flamed maple carved top, and covered pickups with antiqued pickup rings.

The plain one probably plays and sounds just as good, made by the same company.

The price difference is pretty hefty.

When looking to save a lot of money on buying an electric guitar, you can make your money go a lot further by getting one of these plain jane models and get the same sound and playability…

Just something to keep in mind when looking for a bargain… :)

How to Save a Lot By Buying Your Axe Direct From a Distributor

One way you can save a lot of money on a cheap electric guitar is to purchase one directly from a distributor. They save you a lot on the cost because they do not have  large  expenses that traditional retailers have. They ship directly from their warehouses so they do not have to pay rent on a lot of stores or have to hire a lot of staff like music store owners have to.

They have their electric guitars and bass guitars specially made for them by skilled luthiers in factories in China and South Korea. They market them under their own brand names, Agile Guitars, SX Guitars, and Douglas Guitars. (These are the exact same factories that make many of the name brand instruments.)

They save you a lot of money because they do not have to do a lot of advertising or pay for product placement in shops. The quality is really outstanding. ( I know because I personally own a few and love them… :) )

Here are a few of my favorite Cheap Electric Guitars From Rondo:

Douglas Shadow CSB from Rondo Music

SX Hawk RN QMD RDS Electric Guitar from Rondo Music

Douglas WF-150 TA from Rondo Music

SX Hawk MN FT 3TS from Rondo Music

Douglas Spad Natural from Rondo Music

SX Liquid RN P90 Stop 3TS from Rondo Music

Douglas Octanis Black from Rondo Music

Where to Buy Clearance, Closeout, and Discontinued Music Instruments

There are many online musical instrument and guitars sellers to choose from, including auction sites. I save a lot of money by looking for closeouts, discontinued models, and clearance. You can also find some great used guitars and b stock guitars that just have some slight imperfections on the finish for really cheap.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

LadyinRed July 13, 2010 at 6:48 am

You might also want to take a look on the easy saver website. It is not specialized with discounts for electric guitars, but you might find such offers and it would be a pity to miss on a very good offer.

Miriam Dittrich April 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

How about guitar parts and electronics – do you think there’s a chance that you can get them on discounts? Like those spare parts used in making DIY effects – resistors, semiconductors, pre-made pick-up electronics system and the likes. There’s always little or no cheap stock for those parts.

Jim January 17, 2012 at 2:00 am

For parts and more affordable guitars check out “GFS pickups” or just “GFS.com”. Great deals on all kinds of guitar parts, guitar kits (build one yourself), electronics, pickups of all types, beautiful already built guitars (Xaviere Brand), effects pedals, amps-just about anything that you can think of and at great prices !!!

Steve March 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm

In the section titled “How the finish of your guitar affects the price”, you show two photos of guitars, and state that they are the same model, differing only in price. In fact, this is incorrect. The first, “plain” one is the SX Callisto Jr., a Les Paul Jr. variant with a flat top and P-90 pickups. The second one is an Agile AL series, with humbuckers, a carved maple top (as in a Les Paul Standard) and a matchbooked veneer with creme binding around the edge of the body. Yes, the finish is a nice sunburst, which is more complex and will therefore fetch a few more bucks, but the point is that these guitars cannot be compared in terms of finish alone. The price variance is probably more attributable to the quality of the wood, relative cost of construction of the pickups, pickup rings, and binding, as well as the relative desirability of the Les Paul Standard over the LP Jr.

Mac March 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I think most everything is mentioned right here:

“This is a pretty good example of how basically the same style guitar can differ in price after dressing it up with trapezoid fretboard inlays, 3 ply body and headstock binding, a flamed maple carved top, and covered pickups with antiqued pickup rings.”

Thanks for providing more detail about model specifics.

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