A cheap Telecaster clone with some surprisingly nice features from the finish to the locking tuners.
Overview & Final Score: 6.5
Grote has quietly built up a bit of a following in the Amazon marketplace thanks to their constant release of dirt cheap guitars that don’t just follow the basic Strat/Tele formula. Along with Firefly brand guitars, Grote has quickly become a company worth reviewing and trying. For the ridiculously low price of $149, meet the Grote Tele Set-in Guitar with locking tuners. No it’s not the most original model name, but you make some cuts to keep it below $150 right??
Sometime getting the full specs on these guitars from Amazon is a bit dicey but here is what I found. The Grote Tele has a Maple neck with a Rosewood fingerboard. This 25.5″ scale length guitar also features 22 frets, dot inlays, and binding along the body and neck of the guitar. The guitar also boasts two open coil humbuckers as well as a hard tail bridge for a simple, power chord ready set up. One of the most impressive features has to be the inclusion of locking tuners, though they don’t specify who the manufacturer is. Either way, it’s an impressive list of features for a guitar so affordable, even if the stunning black top is a Maple veneer as opposed to a cap.
The sounds produced by these no-name pickups actually kind of surprised me! The tones are full, powerful, and perfect for punk and garage rock. Generally, I stuck to the in-between and bridge humbucker tones, as the neck was far too muddy to play chords or anything other than fat sounding blues licks. On the other hand, I found all three pickup positions to have below average note to note clarity. Chords just kind of sound like one big amorphous blob of music, but, it does sound like a pretty powerful blob to be fair!
I definitely don’t think you’ll find the clarity for jazz progressions or the clean tones for pop, funk, or hip hop within Grote’s GT-150. What it does do good is heavily distorted, power chord-driven rock. It’s not the best HH Tele out there, but it certainly wouldn’t feel or sound out of place for a beginner. Especially one who is learning to rip through Ramones, Green Day, or Blink 182 covers at their local open mic night. For a comparison, I would say the humbucker tones are just a bit below an Epiphone Les Paul 100 but pretty dang close.
This is where the Grote GT-150 most disappointed me, though not everything on the neck was awful. The locking tuners are certainly nothing compared to Sperzels or Grovers, but they did keep the guitar in tune for a while after I gave it a beating. The guitar came horribly out of tune, and the machine heads were so overtightened it took me a long time to get it tuned up. But once it was in tune and locked into place, it wasn’t that bad! The GT-150 took hardcore bends, huge downstrokes, and over-exaggerated finger picking better than pretty much any other $150 guitar probably could.
The nut is for sure going to need to be lubricated or replaced, as it seems poorly cut and likely catching the strings and pulling them out of tune after some time, even with the locking tuners. The neck itself was fairly comfortable, with more of a LP shape to it than that of a Telecaster. But as you’ll read below, the rest of the neck left a lot to be desired….
Finish & Construction: 6
As I just said above, their were a lot of signs of poor construction on the neck that affected the playability and appearance in my eyes. The poorly cut nut was already addressed, but the fretboard was littered with scratches which you can some of in the pick below. That’s not the wood grain, it’s legit scratches, some pretty deep. Pair that with really poorly cut fret ends that were pretty sharp, not necessarily enough to cut you, but enough to be really annoying. On the other hand, the finish came out really nice, with the veneer giving off this shadowy black-grey color that certainly looks better than most beginner-level guitars. With a proper set up and new pickups, this guitar does look pretty enough to warrant being a fun partscaster or DIY mod project!
While Grote’s GT-150 Tele Set-in neck no doubt has some flaws, it’s a fine guitar for $150. Plus, shipping is either going to be really affordable or free from Amazon where these are sold, so you aren’t spending much more than $150 when all is said and done. The GT-150 is really not too offensive of a beginner guitar either, with the glossy, well done neck finish making it feel smoother than most almost-raw wood cheap guitar necks. It’s got two hot humbuckers, simple controls, and good looks, if you can handle a few annoyances, this is really quite an affordable and reliable guitar for new players! While I wouldn’t say I’m in love with it, I’m actually pleasantly surprised at high I wanted to rate it when all was said and done.
Good for: Punk Rock, Garage Rock, Beginners, DIY Modders
Probably not going to be posting a UG review of this one soon, I’m absolutely swamped with reviews and other demos at the moment, but you’ll definitely be seeing more of this guitar!