Wednesday, June 30, 2021

ARE GUITARS BY MONOPRICE ANY GOOD? INDIO, IN THE STYLE OF FENDER TELECASTER

INDIO GUITAR IN THE STYLE OF FENDER TELECASTER BY MONOPRICE

I’m just going to assume you already know what a Fender Telecaster guitar is. The guitar on review here is clearly intended to touch that spot in your heart that wants a Telecaster for an insane low price. 

WHO IS MONOPRICE?

Monoprice is an internet retailer which sells through Amazon and directly through their own web site. I’ve bought extension cords and guitar cables from them in the past. This was the first time I purchased one of their musical instruments. I read some favorable comments about Indio guitars on Gearspace (formerly Gearslutz). 

The ridiculous low price made it easy for me to acquire one for a High on Technology review.

Indio is an in-house brand Monoprice uses on their imported Chinese guitars. 

A label on the rear of the headstock says “Made in China”. The setup, fit and finish on this guitar is so good, you could easily replace the Indio brand name with Yamaha and it could easily sell for $599-$699.

IS IT ANY GOOD?

I want to cut to the chase and say that this guitar far exceeded my expectations. I expected sharp fret edges and dull unexciting pickups, maybe a warped neck and scratchy pots. I expected cheesy and low quality but what I received is surprisingly good. The fret edges are not sharp. The neck is straight with proper relief. The pots are a little difficult to turn but they might loosen up with use and they are not scratchy or faulty in any way. The six saddle bridge is a welcome departure from the three adjustable saddles the vintage Telecaster offered. The tuning machines on the Indio are nice high ratio parts which allow easy tuning. The nut appears to be plastic but it’s cut well and the action on the guitar is comparable to a new Gibson SG Tribute or Les Paul Special. Overall the maple neck feels surprisingly good and the rosewood fingerboard is a beautiful perk in a guitar priced under $500.

The finish on the guitar body is an excellent high gloss. It’s not a perfect match to the vintage Fender original color but it’s close for a $99 guitar. The edges of the Indio body are a bit more rounded than on the Fender Telecaster models. Before I looked up the specifications I might have guessed the body material is composite or pressed board. Monoprice lists the body material as basswood. According to our super accurate digital postal scale my Indio guitar weighs seven-pounds and 13 ounces.

The maple neck is mounted in a nice tightly cut body pocket. The combination of the maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and heavy basswood body reward the owner with an amazing bargain guitar that has excellent sustain and tone.

PLAYING THE INDIO ELECTRIC GUITAR THROUGH AN AMP

My first test performance on the Indio was through a 20-watt Marshall Origin combo. This is a nice tight sounding little 20-watt guitar amplifier. I was really shocked by how good the Indio guitar pickups sounded. I own two Fender Telecasters which are both modded with Seymour Duncan pickups so I am familiar with the tonal range of this guitar model. I’m not saying that the Indio sounds as good as a $1500 Fender product but the high quality tonal output of the stock $99 Indio is very impressive, I could easily gig with this guitar. I will definitely be doing some recording with it.

I have smaller hands and have always loved the way a Telecaster neck feels. The Indio has a very similar shape and size. The frets are not giant but they are tall enough to do big blues bends. The action as delivered from Monoprice was adjusted to be low and fast but there were no notes fretting out. It’s easy to play barre chords that ring clear. The higher pitched strings play cleanly all the way up through the 22nd fret. The bridge has six individually adjustable saddles which makes adjusting intonation more than a dream. The guitar came with two wrenches for adjusting the neck truss rod and the bridge saddle heights. 

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?

If there was anything to complain about on this bargain axe it would be that the intonation was not quite right. I spent a few minutes with a screw driver and a strobe tuner tweaking the string lengths for greatly improved tuning. After five-minutes of tweaking the tuning performance was a lot better.

GIG BAG INCLUDED

The Indio guitar came packed in a gig bag comparable to the $20 models sold on Amazon.  While not the greatest case I found it an impressive addition to an already bargain priced package. It is certainly adequate to store the guitar safely away from dust. 

EPILOGUE

I wish my first electric guitar purchase in 1968 was as good as this one. For $99 Monoprice is delivering a shockingly good instrument for an insane low price. The free shipping made this such an easy purchase decision. If it was a typical budget instrument then poor quality would be expected. The fact that the instrument looks great, plays well and actually sounds good is unheard of in this price range.

I went to the Monoprice web site today to get the specifications and found this same guitar on sale for $85 with free shipping. 

I can find nothing of significance to complain about on the Monoprice Retro Classic Electric Guitar. It’s a rock bottom price for a nice new electric guitar.

Indio by Monoprice Retro Classic Electric Guitar with Gig Bag, Blonde

MONOPRICE RETRO CLASSIC ELECTRIC GUITAR SPECIFICATIONS

Model 610261

Color Blonde

Number of Strings 6 

Body Style Single‑cutaway solid body

Right-handed playing configuration

Body Material: Basswood

Fretboard Material: Rosewood

Neck: Maple

Nut 42x3 mm white

Neck Construction Bolt‑on

Neck Shape C

Scale 25.5” 

Number of Frets 22

Fret Size 2.3mm

Pickups SS ‑ Ceramic, 6.8K (B), 6.4K (N)

Thanks for reading High on Technology.

Good music to you1

©June 2021 by Mark King, it’s not ok to quote or copy without written permission