NGD Toys 'R Us bargain guitar

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by Shaytan, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-Meister

    Age:
    21
    287
    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Yesterday I've picked up something very fun - a guitar starter pack that used to be sold at Toys 'R Us (which, btw, the Iberic branch is not only still around but it's also going strong, even so that recently a Portuguese businessman joined the Spanish directorship and made a big investment, which will result in new stores and different approaches and policies around here - great given the child in me is still going strong and I can't visit the mall without dragging my girlfriend in to go check the LEGO and Hot Wheels sections...).

    The guitar isn't bad at all, I'd say hardware wise it's on par with a Bullet Squier, plus this particular example has seen little to no use. It also came with a strap, extra strings, a gig bag and a crappy 10 Watts amp that brings up flashbacks of my first amp, the infamous Squier SP-10... Well, all of this for the grand price of 25 euros! Apart from the plywood texture that passes through the body paint (maybe that's sortable with polish and some elbow grease?), the guitar is perfectly sortable. In fact, short story - when I pondered to begin learning how to play the guitar I initially considered to buy one of these, but everyone suggested me against it and the course of events led me to the Squier SE I eventually bought; this may as well be a good opportunity to finally find out what I would've gotten.

    I'll take my time over the upcoming few weeks to round over the edges of the frets (which seem to be all leveled apart from 2 or 3), try to roll the fretboard edges for the first time and set it all up. I really have no reasons to keep it, but not only I thought it would be a fun learning experience, also after setting it all up it can be a solid first guitar for a beginner and I'll easily get to cash in the difference which would come in handy for future mods and upgrades for my main guitars. And, well, if this goes along well, I may eventually try again my luck and get another bargain to fix and set up. Updates coming soon!

    IMG_20181009_130405.jpg
     
    Robb, so1om, fadetoz and 3 others like this.
  2. Robb

    Robb Squier-holic

    Jan 13, 2011
    Chertsey Canada.
    Happy New Guitar Day
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  3. daan

    daan Squier-holic

    Oct 21, 2013
    Twin Cities
    Nice! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but the cheap starter guitars of today are SO much better than the unplayable junk lots of us started with back in the day. And adjusting for inflation and such, I think they’re a lot cheaper than when I was a kid, too...
     
    Robb, Acidhouse and Kenneth Mountain like this.
  4. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Squier-holic

    Jan 7, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    25€ is a very good price for a laboratory guitar to develop your skills.
     
    Kenneth Mountain likes this.
  5. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-Meister

    Age:
    21
    287
    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Totally agree. The one problem of cheap beginner guitars has only to be poor setup, that's the one fault of this model - sharp fret ends, super high action, intonation completely off and nut slots catching the strings. Though, all sortable by someone who knows what's doing (and I believe I'm up to the task...), other than that it's a really nice guitar, I should even say it's miles better than the poor reputation they have on Portuguese and Spanish forums leads to think. The neck feels particularly nice, it has a sort of frost finish that makes it fast to play, and electronics are very decent sounding, I believe one would only call it junk sounding due to the amp it comes with (I'll plug in my guitars to it and record some tracks just for fun) - in fact, I'd say it's not the guitars but rather cheap practice amps are something that never really got any better (either new stuff with the same crap inside or models stuck in time, see for instance the Affinity starter packs that still come with a Frontman 15G, an amp that's been around for well over 10 years!)

    Indeed! The original idea was to find a neck in need of a refret so that I could practice that given my Squier would thank such service, but this one won't need that at all. Still, and given not only it was so cheap that in a worst case scenario even selling the hardware for parts would easily cover the expenses, since it's mine I don't fear to experiment with it unlike when I fixed my buddy's guitars. Not only I'll try for the first time to roll over the fretboard edges but also to file the nut slots (possibly even replacing it altogether) and try the scotch brite neck finish that seems quite popular and easy, all things that I may feel more comfortable to do on my others later on.
     
    daan likes this.
  6. Acidhouse

    Acidhouse Squier-holic

    Age:
    49
    Sep 16, 2010
    Birmingham . . . Alabama
    I love cheap guitars. Congrats!
     
    Robb likes this.
  7. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-Meister

    Age:
    21
    287
    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    I've just remembered that I haven't shared the end result and (hopefully!) the happy home it went to. I've worked on and finished this guitar in a week during spare time, a bit every day. Cleaned it (though it was pretty clean already, it still even had the protective film on the pickguard), checked the electronics to see if they had any cold solder joints or other cheap hackjobs, though everything was put together just fine (although that also allowed me to see the atrocious routing!), and looked for any potential problem.

    The majority of my time was spent working on the neck. I rounded over the edges of the frets for better comfort (and also to fix the fret sprouting issue) and also took the opportunity to roll over the fretboard, which was a great success and I surely could feel the difference. I used a nail metal file for both jobs, and also a sharp razor blade moving with the grain, to clean the fretboard of any tool marks. One thing I really liked about this guitar was the neck satin finish, it felt so smooth and fast, though it was thick and cheap-looking; I improved it by giving it a few light passes with a Scotch Brite (that I've also used to polish the fret ends a bit), I was curious about this for a good while and it definitely made it feel even smoother.

    It suffered from the notorious "high action no matter what", so I put a very thin shim under the neck which allowed the strings to be lowered for comfortable playing - unfortunately, as I also figured, this brought to light the non-existing fret leveling work, some notes would simply hit the next fret. I didn't had the proper tools to do such job, but from the past experience of my friend's Aria, I tried to hit them with a hammer with rubber heads and sure enough, they just weren't properly laid down. They still weren't perfectly leveled, so the action was still a tad higher than I'd wish - the saddles still allowed to have them higher or lower no prob, though.

    Finally, I set it up for spot on intonation, the bridge decked but working downwards using only two pivot points, to Fender-recommended spec, filed the nut and adjusted the truss rod, which was completely loose and made me think I had just broken the guitar since it made an awful cracking noise the first time I've turned it - my guess was that it had never been adjusted and could still have glue residue in its cavity!

    The guitar turned out to be a decent, well-playing instrument. The amp it came with was awful as expected but through mine it did sound decent clean, but it was way too bland overdriven, I just couldn't dial in a good distorted tone with it. It looks and feels cheap though, you can clearly see the plywood lines through the paint, the neck was thick and the hardware didn't line up with the different parts or even with the guitar contours. The QC was terrible given all the work it required, but with some love it became something that felt decent when playing.

    IMG_20181016_130418.jpg

    IMG_20181016_131100.jpg

    IMG_20181016_130718.jpg

    You can see even simple things such as oiling the dry fretboard or lining up the knobs made it look so much better. Now, the best part, not only I got a good margin of profit for new gear, the buyer was a gentleman in his 40s that was beginning to learn the instrument; well, he seemed happy with it and I'm sure he'll find this comfortable and good to learn with after all the servicing! I've continued to seek for more of these great opportunities and eventually get once more to gain experience with guitar tech jobs and also to give some love to underappreciated axes. :)
     
    Mister Noonan likes this.
  8. bigdogdaddy

    bigdogdaddy Squier Talker

    Age:
    60
    74
    Oct 17, 2018
    Kansas
    I'm an old man so forgive me for repeating this story.

    My dad (I think I was about 10 at the time) played guitar. He bought me (probably second hand) Sears Silvertone guitar for Christmas. He said, "When you learn to play it, I'll buy you and amp". He wasn't kidding one bit. I think my stupid cousin was horsing around one day and it was leaned up against the chest of drawers in my room and he somehow knocked it over on my guitar and crushed it. I never did get that amp, but I never lost the determination to play....badly, but it was still there.
     
    Shaytan likes this.
  9. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Squier-Meister

    Age:
    57
    109
    Nov 24, 2018
    Idaho
  10. Shaytan

    Shaytan Squier-Meister

    Age:
    21
    287
    Apr 10, 2018
    Lisbon, Portugal
    I hope it was for its new owner! ;)

    Well, after about a month since I've sold it and neither the guy reported me any problems nor I've seen it back for sale, that should be a good sign, I think!