Harmony continues its year of strong releases with a classic reissue of the 8418 combo tube amp. Check Reverb.com to find your own before they are gone, as these are exclusively available in the US.
The 8418 has a hand-wired construction with a 6″ Jensen speaker, all original circuitry, and a vacuum tubes built to ’50s specifications. This 5 watt combo amp will be an ideal practice or studio amp for players who crave vintage tone. Retailing for $399 (plus shipping charges), it’s a surprisingly affordable reissue!
Check out more on the 8418 from Harmony’s website and keep an eye out for more exciting amps from Harmony, coming soon!
I have written a few articles before that try to outline the best rig for metal, punk, or live shows below a certain budget. While it is a good exercise in bargain hunting, it always feels pretty useless because each player needs something different no matter what the budget is. So instead I thought I’d provide some guidelines for shopping on a budget that will help inform where/when to save or spend money. Plus, I’ll throw in a few of my favorite budget friendly pieces of gear!
Finding A Guitar
When you’re looking for a cheap guitar there a few major things you need to consider.
Does it stay in tune?
Is it comfortable to play?
Does it inspire you?
I think players often prioritize the wrong features, especially on budget friendly guitars. New players either just get the cheapest guitar they can find, or they just find something (like a Strat or LP) that their idols used. Furthermore, the brand name shouldn’t matter that much. Don’t spend more to get a Fender that may be marginally better than a high end Squier just because it’s a Fender.
Prioritize function and comfort over anything else. If you can find a $300 guitar that feels great and stays in tune, that’s perfectly fine for live or even studio use if it inspires you! Especially if you can’t spend a lot of money on gear, make sure you get something versatile too. Realistically you need a guitar that can get you a lot of sounds and do what 2-3 guitars can do.
One of my favorite guitars that fits this bill is the G&L ASAT Bluesboy. It’s not necessarily a huge brand name like the Fender Telecaster that inspired it. However, it’s engineered to be a phenomenal guitar and the neck humbucker adds great versatility. All of this comes on one of the most versatile guitar models of all time, the Telecaster. It’s about $450 new, and can be even cheaper used, and is incredibly reliable. I highly recommend buying this guitar here!
Filling Out A Pedalboard
Pedal boards are often a tricky thing to make recommendations for. The biggest issue for budget minded players is that just getting a board and power supply can set you back hundreds of dollars, and those are things you really need to have for live gigs. Take a quick look on Reverb, you’ll find many great options up and down the price range, but choosing can be difficult.
Once again, go with the function over form here. Modeling amps are affordable, but are often unreliable for live use. Unless it comes with multiple foot switches (which makes less affordable) how are you gonna bend over mid-song to turn on or off the chorus? Stick to the basics here. Get pedals and effects you need, things like a boost if you’re a lead guitar player, or an overdrive so you can have clean and dirty sounds live.
I would spend the least amount of money on pedals, instead recommending you stick to trusted and affordable essentials like the Boss DS-1 or Ammoon Nano Chorus. You can build your board up over time, accumulating pedals and upgrades as you can afford it, but for now, get a reliable power supply and stick to the basics.
Invest In A Loud, Reliable Amp
I recently wrote about this for Ultimate-Guitar.com, but you really should spend more money on your amp than your guitar. I go into more detail in that article so definitely give it a read! But essentially, you need a few things out of the amp that are non-negotiable. It has to be at least 15 watts, and really should be more like 25+ watts if you are playing anything bigger than a dive bar.
Some players may be tempted to think they need a tube amp to get professional sound. Personally, I do prefer tube amps and I think there are some moderately priced ones that will do a great job. Options like the Vox AC15 might tempt those with bigger wallets, but I’d recommend the Orange Micro Terror 20 watt head paired with some affordable cabinets like the PPC112 60-watt option from Orange. For just over $300-400 depending if you buy new or used, you get quite a large amount of volume and a name-brand, dependable amp head.
Balancing The Budget
If you read this and felt like it’s hard to put together a solid rig for under $1000, you’re not wrong. It’s gotten a bit easier with options like the Boss Katana modeling amps but you still have to pony up for an expensive foot controller. A lot of this stuff just isn’t one size fits all and you really need to take the time to try out and research gear before you buy. I try to make a huge portion of my reviews affordable gear so that players can find answers to their questions here at Guitars For Idiots. Ultimately, all the gear I recommended here really is reliable and high quality enough to get you playing your best on stage. Think there are other guitars or amps that can get you to the next level? Let me know in the comments!
When I’m not reviewing guitars here or ranting about some opinion I have, I’m often trying to fix up cheap guitars by swapping parts, re-wiring, or mixing and matching my favorite guitar designs. I thought it might be a cool read to go over all the projects I’m working on that may or may not end up as future articles. Plus, if you have any ideas for builds or mods you want to see me do, let me know! Also, if anyone wants a partscaster built to their specs or is looking for build ideas, reach out!
Turning A Squier Stratocaster Into My Dream Stratocaster
I love Strats, actually, I just love Fender guitars. My first guitar ever was a Sunburst, Mexican-made HSS Stratocaster and it is still my number 1 to this day. When I saw this beat up Squier at my local music store, I was instantly inspired to make it great, and luckily my good friend and trusted tech gave it to me for next to nothing. I am still in the planning phase but I’m going to put some premium single coils in there, swap out the bridge, and add locking tuners. Hopefully, this will get me really close to the SSS Strat I’ve always wanted! I love the feeling of the neck on this thing, and even though it’s cheap Maple wood, it’s just so comfortable to my hands. Plus the guitar is naturally relic’d from years of abuse and just looks great.
Re-Building Joe Strummer’s Telecaster
To my complete and total surprise, I found a Fender Joe Strummer signature model Telecaster on Reverb for around $300 or so bucks. The complete guitar usually goes for anywhere from $800 to $1400 used, and was always out of my price range. I jumped on that deal quick, even though the guitar was missing a few original parts. While it still has the original pickups, bridge, and wiring, it needs a white pickguard to replace this black one that the original owner put on. Plus, I had to re-install the input jack. I couldn’t get any neck to fit on it right, so luckily my local music store helped me sort out the installation and intonation. All it needs now is a proper Rosewood Fender Tele neck, instead of the Squier Strat neck I put on as a place holder.
More Telecasters Than I Know What To Do With
Both of these Tele bodies are wired up, with the natural finish Tele coming from a kit I assembled myself. The black one is a Squier Affinity Telecaster I outfitted for an Ultimate-Guitar.com article. The guitar sounds great and is loaded with used Fender Standard MIM Tele pickups. I temporarily put the neck on it that I am using for the Can We Build A Better Guitar Than Fender? article, just to test it out, but now it needs a proper neck of its own. I’m wondering if I should rout out cavities for the humbuckers I have left over from the 920D Custom wiring harness, or if I should add a P90 I took from my Les Paul Special? I also have a GFS Retrotron humbucker lying around, so many options…
While we’ve been fairly conservative with the body and hardware choices for our take on Fender’s ’72 Thinline Telecaster, it’s time to add a premium neck! With our budget of $600 in mind, I felt the neck is one of the most important items to splurge on, because feeling comfortable can make or break the guitar playing experience. Almost all the guitars that I own have Rosewood necks, which made me want to go with a nice Maple neck here, to change it up.
Thanks to Reverb.com, I was able to find an awesome Fender Tele neck and Fender tuners for just over $200 combined. This Fender Standard Telecaster neck came with 21 medium jumbo frets, a modern C shape, and smooth Satin finish on the back of the neck. The neck in total was $169.99 from an independent seller, while the tuners were $34.99 from a great shop called The STRATosphere.
So far, we’ve spent $190.00 on the body and $204.98 on the neck, with just the loaded pickguard to go. That’s at total of $394.98, leaving us just over $200 to add some premium pickups and wiring. Think we’ll end up with a comparable or even better guitar than Fender’s $1000+ Vintera model? I’m pretty confident we will and I’m already in love with how this neck feels. Stay tuned for the final installment, before we compare the two guitars side by side!
Seemingly out of nowhere, it looks like Rage Against The Machine will be making a comeback in 2020 with a handful of live shows. While no comment has come yet from the members, a close associate has confirmed the news. All of this comes after an Instagram account for the band popped up and announced the following shows:
Hopefully the band members confirm soon because this is huge news for music fans in the USA!
Some of these we’ll review, some I will beg the companies to let me review!
Ernie Ball Music Man Mariposa
Another off kilter design from Music Man, the Mariposa is a signature model for Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta. Ernie Ball Music Man is slowly becoming one of the best signature model designers on the guitar market, as well as one of the most forward thinking builders out there. The Mariposa comes loaded with two humbuckers that are designed to retain clarity, even at the highest gain settings, and can be outfitted with gold or chrome hardware. Schaller locking tunings, a one of a kind body shape, and a tethered tone circuit wrap up this beauty into one ultra-playable beast.
PRS SE One
Sadly re-released only in Europe for the time being, the PRS SE One is their ultra playable take on the Les Paul Junior design. The LP Junior has always been one of my top 2 guitar designs of all time, mostly because of Mick Jones, but also because of how simple it is. It’s hard to mess up a resonant piece of wood, six strings, and a noisy pickup. Sure, maybe I’m cheating because this isn’t new, but it’s out new right now, and I want one!
Reverend Sensei RT LE
I just posted about these sparkling double cuts the other day, but they are no doubt one of the most eye catching guitars on the market right now. I’ve wanted a Sensei since I first saw one of the LP Junior-style models pop up on YouTube. Now that they’ve added their take on Filtertron pickups and a bigsby to the mix, I had to talk myself out of buying one several times. This is a must try guitar from one of the most underrated companies out there!
Xaviere Pro 845 Series
Another repeat, I’m actually very excited to say I’ll have a review of these up on Guitars For Idiots and Ultimate-Guitar very soon! For those of you who are more budget minded, this guitar has uncompromising quality for a sub-$300 price. With four finish options, and your choice of a Rosewood or Maple neck on each, you will find no shortage of inspiring designs. Plus, those GFS Golf Foil Humbucking pickups are an almost perfect marriage of single coil brightness and humbucking output and quietness.
Island Instruments Galo
Based on the Danelectro Dano Pro and the Fender Jaguar, this short scale monster can come with 3 single coils, 2 humbuckers, or 2 Jazzmaster-style pickups. With a Hipshot bridge and Descendant vibrato, this ultra playable guitar should provide a myriad of retro sounds. Not only does the guitar look unique, but it is one of the few, really high quality re-makes of a classic Dano design. Engineered for ultra-playability and versatility, you won’t find a more retro looking guitar than this.
Just this morning, Reverend Guitars shared the release of probably the most beautiful guitar’s I’ve ever seen. Their latest limited edition Fall release is their popular Sensei RT model but with an intriguing palette of sparkle colors. Shown above is the stunning lime finish, but you can also get this rocker in purple, black, orange, and aqua!
The Sensei RT comes loaded with Reverend’s Revtron Mini humbuckers, their take on that classic Gretsch/Toaster Top jangle. These sparkling Sensei’s also feature a Bigsby paired to their signature Soft Touch Spring system, providing the ultimate tremolo experience. Other features to know about include the locking tuners, set-in neck, and ultra-light Korina body! Check out some more of the finish options below! Head over to their website to find your own Reverend today and learn more about their many great models!