Cost: $56.99 new from Glarrymusic.com
Thanks to Glarry Music for sending this beautiful, affordable instrument over for review!
Overview and Final Score: 3.9
Glarry Music’s GST3 is an affordable, Strat-style guitar meant to be an alternative to the thousands of Squier and Yamaha copies sold every year. While the guitar has an unbeatable price, there are several features that require major improvement or work to match the quality of a Fender-backed Squier. However, thanks to this low price, there is also a lot of value you can extract from this model, especially with the nice, unique finish options.
The guitar comes with three Strat-style single coil pickups, a huge maple neck with a 22 fret fingerboard they refer to as maple (but it seems to be Indian Laurel or something cheaper). Even better, with each guitar you get a strap, cord, pick, thin gig bag, whammy bar, and Allen wrench. While it is a very basic guitar, it does have some surprisingly decent features for the price.
The pickups actually sounded better than I expected, though each was essentially one dimensional. The bridge pickup and nearby out of phase mode was all treble, and was very tinny and thin. The neck and nearby out of phase mode was all bass, and really was mostly unplayable except for a few lead lines. The middle pickup was kind of a mix of the two and actually was okay, as it had the best EQ mix between mids, highs, and lows.
Something that really struck me though was how the guitar took drive or distortion pedals. When I played this back to back with Affinity Tele I reviewed earlier, I realized how thin the Glarry truly sounds. Even with an Ibanez TS9 or Boss DS-1, the guitar simply couldn’t produce a rich, full sound at any of the 5-way positions. Some reasons for hope though include the fact that the pickups were surprisingly quiet and didn’t buzz much through either the Orange Crush 20 or my Vox AC15. Furthermore, for $60, I don’t think you’ll find a better sounding guitar that works and is playable.
Right off the bat, the fret work was much better than I anticipated and the neck came with a thin finish, even though I was told the necks came raw. Aside from these two pleasant surprises, one thing that shocked me was how thick the neck was. I mean in all honesty, this was the largest guitar neck I have ever played. It was necessarily uncomfortable for me, and my bass playing roommate loved it for a guitar, but I feel beginners would really struggle with learning on this instrument.
Tuning stability was not bad, after arriving completely out of tune in all directions, it took a few minutes to get it to stay in tune. It lasted about 30ish minutes of playing before any more adjustments needed to be made, but it seemed like the bridge, tuners, and nut all could use an upgrade to improve tuning stability. The neck was not bowed and the action out of the box was actually fantastic! Unfortunately the whammy bar is almost useless as it threw the guitar out of tune every time.
Finish & Construction: 3.5
The blue finish on the GST3 was actually gorgeous, especially when paired with the sunset pearl pick-guard. The finish seems a little more on the thing, Polyurethane side, but shows no signs of chips, scratches, or dents during travel delivery so I will be keen to keep my eye on how it holds up through more and more tests in my very humid home climate.
The overall construction is a mixed bag, the wiring seems to be done very well, and the pots had great spread and no noticeable buzz came from the pickups. On the other hand, the nut is poorly cut, the tuners are hard to turn, the guitar has subpar tuning stability, but the frets are very level and smooth. At the end of the day, I would say I’m more impressed than disappointed because of how truly cheap the guitar is.
This is where the guitar really shines, it is easily the best $60 guitar I have ever played or ever expect to play. And that fact is really important to understanding how to grade this guitar. Is it a good beginner guitar? Not at all, beginners are better off spending double for a decent Squier, Epiphone, or whatever and actually getting an instrument that stays in tune or sounds like a classic guitar. But should you, as an experienced player, buy it? Absolutely, it’s an excellent guitar for you to practice guitar tech work on, such as re-wiring pickups, setting up a neck, intonating a guitar, changing tuners, etc. And while doing that, you can build a great throw around guitar or backup instrument, by just changing a few small things. Even throwing a Squier neck on this bad boy would greatly improve things. I really don’t think anyone would regret purchasing this instrument at the end of the day.