Off-brand, Inexpensive Guitars You Love To Play

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by Oldguitarguy, Nov 12, 2021.

  1. Caddy

    Caddy Dr. Squier

    Nov 29, 2010
    Amen to that!
    dbrian66 likes this.
  2. notme

    notme Squier-Meister

    Feb 26, 2014
    Kamloops BC Canada
    1 firefly so For me it would have to be my Douglas Gravity P90
  3. Archtops

    Archtops Squier-Meister

    Jun 6, 2021
    Here’s my under $200 Firefly. It really needs only to be played. Excellent guitar.
    51FB677A-6085-4E98-990C-7E2EF19EF47B.jpeg CA5C4F48-ECEA-456F-A704-00A1E48C0998.jpeg
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  4. miket1117

    miket1117 Squier-holic Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2018
    Kansas City
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  5. Archtops

    Archtops Squier-Meister

    Jun 6, 2021
    The real deal. Thanks Mike!
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  6. marklk

    marklk Squier-Meister

    May 10, 2018
    I picked one of these up early in the month. I agree very underrated. Maybe because there's not a lot of them out there? Excellent guitar. The tuners on mine have been changed (downgraded?) and the bridge pickup changed. Great quality and fun guitar. IMG_20211105_102508.jpg IMG_20211105_102541.jpg

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  7. Michael7

    Michael7 Dr. Squier

    Jan 12, 2010
    Virginia Beach, VA USA
    Seeing the nice Austin guitars above reminded me of my Austin AU792 PRS copy. Found for $100, a very high quality guitar for that money. Set neck, of course and nice body binding. Made in Indonesia, I believe.

  8. Exhead

    Exhead Squier-Nut

    Jul 15, 2015
    Ibanez, Harley Benton & Agiles
  9. Oldguitarguy

    Oldguitarguy Squier-holic

    Mar 2, 2019
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  10. BoognishJr

    BoognishJr Squier Talker

    Jul 14, 2021
    Norman, OK USA
    Lately I’ve been in search of 80s Strat copies. I found this one, a “Stage” CS-327.
    Says Arlington, TX on the headstock, but best I can tell, it’s Probably Korean and imported to a music store called Center Stage which has since closed.
    The guitar doesn’t seem impressive really, cheap electronics, tuners and crappy one-ply pickguard which doesn’t match Fender. Two-point bridge has a post that won’t sit properly, so it needs some work to really get in shape.
    But the neck is pretty awesome. It’s quarter sawn maple and feels really nice with some vintage style frets.

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  11. mkgearhead

    mkgearhead Dr. Squier

    Dec 18, 2009
    Fort Morgan, CO
    Archer Thinline with P90s. :cool:
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  12. Lanaka

    Lanaka Squier-holic

    Feb 11, 2020
    Honolulu, HI
    Yup, more than a few. However I'll limit myself to those I paid under 150$ at time of purchase, not including whatever I spent on upgrades. And limited to playable instruments. Otherwise I'd be listing more than a dozen guitars that are future projects, all of which were had for less than 100$.

    1984 Yamaha Beach Banana SC-300T.
    I'm squeaking this in as I actually paid 165$ for it but it is one of my 2 very first electric guitars!

    My top Affordable Traditional Strats.
    2000±5 Austin AU-731 Strat (left)
    c.1980s Stage CS-327 Strat (right)
    The Austin is my very first Strat-type guitar, and even after acquiring 16 more Strats and SuperStrats, it still is one of my top favorite Traditional Strat. Tieing with the Austin is my Stage which is my other #1 Trad Strats. I paid 120$ for the Austin and 60$ for the Stage. I'm happy with the Austin as is, so haven't modified it ...yet. The Stage is currently being modified, the picture is of it pre-modded.

    My first 2 Les Paul types.
    2012 Agile AL-3010SE (left)
    2000±5 Austin AU-766 (right)
    While the Agile isnt exactly affordable at 250$ it IS my #1 LP, so I couldnt resist mentioning it. However, I bought the Austin as my away-from-home sub for the Agile, and it does qualify as I paid only 125$ for it. Unfortunately it didn't at all sound like my Agile, but I liked it well enough for itself that I went on to mod it heavily. Pic of the Austin is Pre-modded because it's now currently on the bench for gold hardwares and a set of gold JB/Jazz.

    Here are two affordables that are excellent comparisons in extremes.
    2005 Epiphone Les Paul Pee Wee (left)
    2011 Ibanez XH300 Halberd (right)
    The Epi is my main travel/practice guitar and was 70$. At 19.25" scale length the Pee Wee dwarfed by my 25.5" scale length Halberd that required a bass gig bag to tote around. The Halberd set me back by 150$.

    I've heavily modded the Pee Wee (Pic is of it midway thru it's mods. In the pic I've accidentally put in the pup upside down from what I intended, and was wiring in a p/p pot that splits the humbucker to the bar coil side. I've since then have swapped the angled plastic pup ring for a flat metal ring.

    2010 ESP LTD F-10-BK (left)
    2003 Washburn Pro X12 QVS (right)
    These two I bought for 100$ each. The F-10 is currently unmodified and I swear the stock pups sounds like a JB & Hot Rail. Sounds great and am in no rush to mod it. The X12 is a heavily modded guitar: Distortion/59 wired to a master p/p volume that UNsplits the 59 and a master p/p tone that UNsplits the Distortion. I boobooed the wiring, but have discovered I actually liked the split sound better so elected to leave the wiring as is. The knobs, switch and output jack are all-new.

    I agree totally!

    That's a beauty! I'm slightly biased as it the exact same color scheme as my Agile AL-3010SE! Thanks, I was debating on whether I'll swap out the chrome hardwares for a gold set, yer pic solidified the decision to YES!
  13. Oldguitarguy

    Oldguitarguy Squier-holic

    Mar 2, 2019
    They are all awesome and great deals/projects. I am partial to Agile because, to me, they are the best LP’s I’ve played for comfort, sound, and workmanship. I just gravitate to them. I also have the same F-10 that I bought at a deal and I agree with you - it growls.
    Lanaka likes this.
  14. Lanaka

    Lanaka Squier-holic

    Feb 11, 2020
    Honolulu, HI
    Oh hell yeah, the Stage is a great guitar! I have white CS-327 that has aged over the decades to a lovely light cream color! I paid only 60$ for it, and replaced the missing rear cover with one from a parts 80s Epiphone S-Series (Epi's Strat copy). I also used its neck for an 80s Kramer Voyager HHH body, but I digress.


    Sorry to hear that ye had issues with the 2-point trem, as I had no issues with mine. My CS-327's neck is a lovely maple/maple piece with tiger striping in the back.

    Ye wouldn't believe how many times I had to retake photos until I got these three. Even so, they STILL fail to show what the eye can see!

    The pickups are all originals, except for the neck pup, which is a ceramic 52mm while the rest are sticker Alnico5 50mm pups. However the person who installed the bridge pup in the neck made an ugly mess of the wiring. It still works, it's just UGLY. What I'm going to do is pull the whole loaded pickguard out and store it.

    Then I'll get a champagne anodized aluminum pickguard and install a set of custom picked Seymour Duncan Stack Plus Strat pups. They will be a Custom Bridge (14.5κΩ A5) in bridge, Vintage Hot Bridge (11.9κΩ A5) in middle, Classic Bridge (8.5κΩ A5) in neck. This will be a non-RWRP set, which means no noise cancellation when split, BUT that's ok, as I dont plan on doing any coil splitting.

    Now the 11-bolt pickguard is not going to match up with the 10-bolt OE pickguard's holes in the body. I'm going to use the original pickguard as template and drill the correct holes into the aluminum guard before sending the original guard to Canada to be copied into a new brass pickguard. At same time I'll order a brass rear cover that has symmetrical center holes (altho I will also send the plastic rear cover that has proven to match the rear bolt holes to ensure the brass one will fit with no mods).

    The switch will also be upgraded to us-spec switch and the pots upgraded to full size B500k pots in VTT configuration. master volume with vtreb, N+M tone and B p/p tone (adds bridge when pulled). Both tones will have 0.015μF caps. I will use brass round top barrel knobs for the pot knob and switch tip. I will also use brass Pure Tone output jack and brass output ferrule.

    IF I can find one, I'll use a brass plated trem top, else send the original one to be brass plated. The parts Epi also donated its trem bar with cream tip to the CS-327 (not shown in first pic, it had another spare trem bar with a white tip). IF I cannot find one, I will have this one plated in brass too.

    The block will also be upgraded to a Bell Brass block and the trem claw swapped for a solid milled brass version. The nut and saddles will likewise be replaced with solid brass versions. The tuners will be replaced with brass-plated locking tuners. The frets I will leave alone for now but when they're due, I'll replace them with 6100 stainless jumbo frets.

    This guitar will be my version of the Gilmour #0001 Strat, but done MY way.
  15. Lanaka

    Lanaka Squier-holic

    Feb 11, 2020
    Honolulu, HI
    LOL, the funny thing is that it has a rather chunky neck, much like the 50s fat necks on the real ones. I didn't think I'd like it but surprisingly, I DO like them! Before this point of enlightenment, I was (and still am) partial to the thin necks like the Ibanez Wizard necks. While I may not be able to shred n run all over the fretboard at blistering speeds, I can still do arpeggios well enough.

    The stock pups sounded so similar to the Pearly Gates that I chose to install the real Pearlys I've ordered for the Agile into another guitar (my Austin AU-766, before I changed mind and replaced them with the classical JB/Jazz).

    Funny thing is that even tho the Agile is easily among the heaviest guitar I have (@ 9.31 pounds) I don't mind it because it sounded great! Just don't ask me to stand and play for any lengthy period of time, LOL!

    Yup, the F-10 snarls and growls as good as my other guitars that has upgraded pups to do same thing, and tis unmodified! Yet, by backing the volume a bit, it can mellow out to sing a ballad nicely. Very versatile!
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  16. Dana Rudd

    Dana Rudd Squier-Nut

    Mar 9, 2020
    Greybull, WY
    The only off-brand I have is this Firefly FF338. Cheap but appears well made and plays great.

  17. Lanaka

    Lanaka Squier-holic

    Feb 11, 2020
    Honolulu, HI
    I beg to differ @gcvsa, and agree with @Brn2run in that I think Ibanez is a top tier guitar manufacturer. Ye have to remember you're talking about a 36 year old guitar that was made early in Ibanez's history of making electric guitars which started < 20 years before. I suspect the crappiness is more an aging electronics than anything else. I have an '86 RG450-BK Roadstar II Deluxe and it's in near mint condition, sounded awesome and plays/feels great! Of course, I also paid 350$ for it. This particular guitar is one of the first guitar to have the Original Edge trem, which is Ibanez's version of the Floyd Rose. IMO, tis one of the best version of the FR.

    To this day, years later, I still have no regrets buying it. Altho I play on it VERY gently since I do not want to put much wear/tear on the HSH guitar that has built-in coil splitting. To avoid excessive wear n tear, I bought another black Ibanez, a 2012/13 S420-BK, for 305$. This one came with Seymour Duncan humbuckers already installed, I dunno which ones they are because I bought it at the local guitar shop and they offered installing new strings at same time for free, so I opted for NYXL flatwound 10s on it. These strings gonna last a long time before I'm due for a string change. At that point I'll take a peek under the pups to find out what these 8.4/8.7κΩ pups are. If anything, this guitar is my #1 SuperStrat. And as a 400-series, that's considered to be Ibanez's mid-range guitar. Despite this, it has the the newer Edge ZR trem, which I believe is the best floating double locker trem EVER.

    1986 Ibanez RG450-BK Roadstar II Deluxe (left)
    2012/13 Ibanez S420-BK (right)


    And yes Ibanez has made literally many hundreds of models over the years. Ranging from the cheaper Gio models (Ibanez's Squier) to the über expensive Prestige models. Yer looking at < 100$ to 3-4 thousand$. And every year they're constantly innovating new models and features. A thing I like to say is that there's a perfect Ibanez model out there for ye, if you haven't found it yet, ye haven't looked long and/or hard enuff.

    I had considered listing my Firefly 338 in this thread but may be bending my rule of < 150$, because I bought both the Firefly 338 and a set of 2009 Gibson Les Paul Traditional Professional Burstbucker 3 and 57 Classic humbuckers in cream zebra from the same guy and told him that I intended to install the pups into the 338. He offered to put them in for me free. Which I took him up on that offer. So the next day I met up with him and paid 350$ (150$ for the 338 plus 200 for the pups). I also have the original pups too.


    The combination sounded great! I'm well satisfied enuff with the guitar and pups that I am in no rush to get another semi-hollow!
  18. wraub

    wraub Squier-Meister

    Feb 27, 2012
    Firefly FFLP. Surprisingly good. Mine was $180, plus an aluminum Gotoh tailpiece, so basically $200. I upgraded the pickups, but they were no cost to me, so I think of it as a cheap guitar. It gets played quite a lot.
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  19. Lanaka

    Lanaka Squier-holic

    Feb 11, 2020
    Honolulu, HI
    A FFLP! That's one new LP I'd like to get, specifically the goldtop...if they bring that back. I missed the boat and hope it comes back into the pier!

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  20. Hadronic Spin

    Hadronic Spin J Squier, Esquier Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2021
    Los Angeles
    Looking into getting a Glary GST II, strictly for testing.

    I got the same model earlier this year, but it had too many issues to have as a player even with work on my part. I sent it back the next day. What I am interested in is the fat neck it had, almost an inch at the first fret. It was a beefy neck, and that's why I'm interested in getting it now...only as a testing vehicle. I want to see if my left hand will be less fatigued while playing, and all of my necks now are on the thin side. The carpal tunnel can make playing challenging, so I'd like to try a fatter neck without shelling out bank for a quality instrument that has some beef in the neck.

    I can get one brand new for $70 USD shipped, most likely a factory second or third, but as long as it's straight and without dire issues, $70 shipped is not bad for testing. And actually, the upgrade Wilkinson pickups in my first Glary actually sounded good.


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