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★★★★☆

“Good, First Cheap Guitar”

Written on: 19/04/2012

I bought my Montana JAG-6100-RDB-M secondhand for £20 on a whim so that I could bash a few things out on it. It is worn from a lot of playing from the previous owner, but that was OK, as I gave it a wee bit of TLC to bring it round to a reasonable condition. Nothing out of the scope of the ordinary person who can look things up on the Internet to find out the right things to do, I hasten to add.

The previous owner had said he'd learned how to play on it and loved it, but had 10 guitars in his house, so at least one had to go. The action was high, so I lowered it by taking off a bit of the saddle, as it was non-adjustable [these are pence in a guitar shop so don't worry about making mistakes]. I also adjusted the truss rod so that the strings were within 2.5mm of the 12 fret top. Anyone will tell you that is close for an acoustic guitar, especially a cheap, worn one, yet the cheap Montana could do it without buzz. Then I cleaned it thoroughly and rubbed a tiny bit of olive oil into the fret-board. I then got a used set of Elixir 80/20 bronze strings off another guitar of mine, which had made that one sound dreadful, but made the Montana sound very good indeed. OK, we're not talking Guild here, but it is surprising how good the sound is, and how easy the Montana is to play. I think you get the impression that I like this guitar. It stays in tune, as the sealed tuners are of surprisingly good quality, and the strings were pre-stretched.

Minus points..? It's laminated, not solid wood. It sounds a little muddled and doesn't project that well. The frets are quite thin and high. It's very basic in its finish. Whoa..! Hang on though..! What does one expect for pennies..? Even new, these guitars are really cheap. Frankly, if you're buying one of these, either as a starter guitar, or simply because you can't afford a better one, there is almost nothing to moan about. Very importantly, get the action set up properly and it will surprise you how good and easy it is to play, and you won't cry if you bash it about, because it is cheap, and solidly made. Star ratings are relative to price. New, I believe these between £50 and £75 depending on kit. Thoroughly recommended for the starter player.