Not to be confused with the worst guitars I’ve reviewed, instead the ones that didn’t inspire me regardless of quality.
This list is a reflection of instruments I just never connected with, even if they are objectively good, well made, popular, or a great value deal. They may have flaws, they may be flawless, it doesn’t matter, they just didn’t inspire much creativity once I plugged them in.
I know some may see this is as a hit piece, but it is not. Instead, I want to add context to my reviews, and move away from simply giving things a number that represents quality. I like almost every piece of gear I touch, and most of it objectively deserves a good score. It does what it advertised, or it comes in excellent shape, it stays in tune, so how can I give it a bad score?
So instead, here are the guitars that just didn’t make a lasting impression on me after weeks, months, or years. They’re not bad, but if you like my opinions, preferences, and approaches with gear, you might want to avoid them.
Gibson Les Paul Studio 2020
I know people will call this Gibson slander, but the truth is that their “baseline” guitar offerings are just very bland. The Studio is supposed to be the most affordable USA-made Gibson, and it just feels like a hollow shell of a Les Paul. Costing nearly the same as the superb Eastman I reviewed, it just didn’t have the premium feel, rich pickups, or attention to detail of the SB59. When Gibson is good, they are so, so good. When they try to keep prices down, it’s a firm “meh” from me.
Silvertone Model 1478 Reissue
I wanted to like this guitar so so much more. On paper, any quirky old pawnshop guitar is exactly up my alley. I do think I probably just got a lemon, and I want to clarify the guitar was NOT a disaster. It was surely average, not overpriced, and had some amazing features. I just didn’t fall in love as quickly as I should have. I suspect it was the action and fret buzz, which was a surprise to me (and the distributor who challenged/denied my claims after the fact). I bet any one of these is a fantastic guitar, just not the one that ended up in my hands, and for all I know, it could have been because of weather/climate control when shipping. Suffice to say, I’d love to give this guitar another go and see if it can re-spark my interest!
Vintage Icon Series V65
Vintage is a guitar brand I so badly want to get behind, but just couldn’t connect with. Both of the guitars I reviewed, especially the V65, just felt almost toy-ish compared to other guitars in their price range. I felt more at home on Squier, Harley Benton, or other brands. I think it is partially because of the thin, heavily lacquered necks, which is just a personal preference of mine to avoid. Again, this is not a bad guitar, it just didn’t really click for me as a true JM-alternative despite stunning good looks and a great price tag. A pickup swap would probably go a long way on improving this guitar as well with any money you saved from purchasing it.