Will Glarry’s newest addition to their ultra-affordable line impress me more than past products?
Cost: $119.99 from Glarrymusic.com
Overview & Final Score: 5.4
Glarry has quickly become a well known name in the guitar world thanks to their unbelievably affordable guitars. Having previously reviewed their $60 Strat copy and their $75 P Bass, this $120 Tele is one of their top of the line options. A Basswood body is paired to a Maple neck with Rosewood fingerboard. In traditional style, it’s a 25.5″ scale length guitar with 22 white copper frets, and brass bridge saddles. The humbucker in the neck provides a Keith Richards’ “Micawber” feel that helps separate it from being just another cheap Tele copy. A more traditional Tele pickup in the chrome bridge with brass saddles provides a familiar feel. Pickups are controlled by a 3-way switch along with a master volume and tone. The white pearl pickguard over the blue-green finish also gave the guitar a bit of a classy look, giving me all sorts of guitar modification aspirations.
I was fairly surprised at how much better this Glarry sounded than the GST-3 Strat I had, but it still isn’t necessarily impressive. For about double the price of that guitar, this was more of an average sounding guitar, not too far off from a Squier Affinity Tele. The neck humbucker added some fun versatility and high output for smooth lead lines but was really muddy sounding. You absolutely can’t roll any tone off without it being completely un-usable. The middle configuration was a nice mix between the muddy neck and ice pick piercing bridge pickup. With some overdrive and distortion, it opened up quite nicely and would be very useable. Bright is one way to describe the bridge, but I would say it was too bright and a little thin. There are some fun sounds, especially for the price, but new pickups would go a long way in improving this guitar.
Much like past Glarry guitars I have played, this GTL Semi-hollow has an absolute tree trunk for a neck. It really makes it unattractive for beginners even though the price may suggest otherwise. It is simply too big for many players to learn on, unless you have monster hands. Fretwork wasn’t horrible, but for twice the price of their other guitars I don’t feel it really improved on much in the playability department. The tuning stability is poor, the strings that come are incredibly cheap, and there was quite a bit of fret buzz. I’m usually not this harsh or picky with guitars, but I feel like if you spent an extra $50 on a Squier or Epiphone you would have to deal with so many of these issues. The bridge actually seemed pretty nice however, with easily adjustable string height, which makes me think that some locking tuners would easily fix the tuning issues. Again, this is looking like a phenomenal DIY mod project in the making. A huge neck, buzzing frets, and below average tuning stability make this the worst feature of the Glarry GTL Semi-hollow.
Finish & Construction: 6
Props to Glarry for upping the build quality a bit with this guitar. The finish was generally really well done, with this interesting peacock-like color. The f-hole showed significant tooling marks but the visible finish on the front and back was smooth. One annoying flaw was fibers of some kind sticking out from the fret ends. It almost looked like someone had ripped the fibers off a rag when polishing the neck or frets or something. That should have been an easy catch at QA/QC to make sure the guitar is clean. Otherwise though, the construction was pretty solid with well installed pickups and hardware. The GTL Semi-hollow was also fairly quiet, with no buzz at 2 of the 3 pickup settings. Glarry also made a crazy lightweight guitar, that should be comfortable to play live sitting down or standing up for hours on end. Just above average, but impressive build quality for a bottom barrel guitar option.
Had this guitar cost the $60 that their Strat copy cost, I would have given it a far higher value rating. I feel it is overall a big upgrade from everything I’ve played in the past, but it comes at a cost. Glarry’s big appeal is that their guitars are so unbelievably cheap, so as the costs climb my enthusiasm sinks. This guitar is far more beginner ready than anything else they’ve made, but I still think this should be a guitar mod project. Experienced players who are cash strapped, want to practice guitar tech skills, or need a backup instrument should take notice and give this Glarry a real shot. However, there is real value in having guitars available at this price that are fully functional. It isn’t a luxurious guitar by any means, but if you absolutely can’t afford anything else, it is a fine option. I want guitars to be more accessible to more people and if a company can make a $100-$120 guitar that gets the people playing, I’m really happy.
Good for: DIY Mod Projects, Telecaster Players, Budget Players