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Cheaper Is Better

Cheaper is better? Really? OK, right off the bat, let’s backtrack just a little. We love high-end guitars and keyboards, and we know that the best gear is rarely the least expensive. Many times, you can’t find decent gear without dropping some real dollars. And true craftsmen, building pro-level instruments, amps and processing gear need to charge for their attention to detail. We get it.

 

But with that said, we’re seeing more and more low-cost equipment that’s well worth the price. Many of these pieces mix and match U.S and offshore parts and assembly, and then go through a final inspection/set-up at the company’s American facility prior to distribution. The days when “imported” meant “crapola” are slowing down.

 

While we’re big proponents of classic brands made in the USA, we see this as a very positive trend.

 

— There will always be a market for well-made, name-brand pieces from iconic American companies. But their costs continue to rise, making them inaccessible to many players—so alternatives are a good thing.

 

— Parents shouldn’t have to fork over hundreds of dollars for an entry-level guitar or keyboard. And younger players shouldn’t have to choose between spending thousands of dollars or playing a junk instrument.

 

— Many of our pro clients are constantly on the lookout for new sounds for the studio, and for inexpensive instruments to take on the road. And many of these lower-cost lines fill the bill admirably—and look great, too.

 

So before you drop a huge wad of cash on a new piece of gear—or give up the search altogether out of financial frustration—check out some of these affordable instruments that have pleasantly surprised us, and turned our heads (and ears) over the past few months.

 

Acoustic Instruments

  • Flat-top guitars from Recording King offer a look and style reminiscent of vintage Gibson guitars from the 1930s-‘50s, with antique sunburst finishes. 
  • Arch-top guitars from The Loar pay homage to mid-century Gibson arch-tops at a fraction of the cost.
  • Traditional, natural-finish flat-tops from Breedlove—a company that offers both imports and first-quality U.S.-made instruments—deliver clean, contemporary looks and sounds.
  • Compact parlor guitars from Arts & Lutherie, are made in Canada from 95% Canadian tonewoods, including triple-ply Wild Cherry backs and sides.
  • Banjos and mandolins from Gold Tone and Recording King offer good tone and great value in a variety of traditional, vintage and contemporary styles.

 

Electric Guitars

  • Cost-effective Gretsch guitars from their Electromatic line—same great Gretsch look with excellent pickups and center-block bracing.
  • Timeless Danelectro guitars with retro styling, ‘lipstick’ pickups, lightweight Masonite construction and colorful finishes.
  • Traditionally-styled AXL solidbodies, built in the USA with premium pickups and parts (our staff’s current ‘crush’ among new guitar lines).
  • Silvertone guitars offering new—and surprisingly good—remakes of everyone’s favorite catalog guitars of the ‘50s and ’60s.

 

Keyboards

 

Corner carries a wide range of pro-model keys, including digital pianos, organs, workstations (DAWs), controllers, and both analog and digital synthesizers. Here are a couple of new low-cost, high-value keyboards.

  • Roland JD-Xi is a compact do-everything monster, with 128-voice digital engine, mono analog synth engine, Vocorder and mic, and step sequencer.
  • Yamaha P-45 is one of the most affordable, multi-feature, 88-key digital pianos.

 

Some of these instruments are so new to the store that they haven’t even made it onto our website yet. Please call the store for details or stop by for a firsthand test drive.

 

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