Three entry-level axes and the DIY projects that turn them into secret weapons for the stage and studio.
Sometimes you don’t want to throw down a couple thousand dollars on a guitar. Hell, for the large majority of players, that never has been nor ever will be an option. Once upon a time, that was a pretty big conundrum for hardcore guitarists—an existential crisis, really. Thankfully, well-dialed CNC machines and a whole host of production and OEM-parts refinements over the past few years have been obliterating those old worries about not being able to sound and look good (or play comfortably) without decimating your savings account or making credit-card bandits giggle with glee.
PG has long celebrated this fortunate new reality. For years now we’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and money in cooking up DIY mod projects that show you how to get more out of your existing guitars. And May 2018 marked our first foray into an annual feature that ups the ante considerably by helping you suss out inexpensive new guitars that are hiding in plain sight, just waiting for anyone who can wield a soldering iron without burning down the house to turn them into killer gigging and recording machines.
For many players—whether relative newcomers or mod-savvy mad scientists prowling for the victim of their next tonal heresy—the realm of worthwhile entry-level instruments rarely extends beyond brands such as Squier, Epiphone, and perhaps lower-priced Gretsch or Ibanez guitars. And with good reason: These companies have a long, laudable track record of serving up instruments that look like what our heroes play, and sound and play fairly close, too. All for just a couple hundred bucks and some change.