Gear4Music Deluxe Single Cutaway Electro-Acoustic Guitar
We've reviewed a few of Gear4music's budget electro-acoustic guitars and so far they've all been commendable instruments, competitively priced and impressively spec'd. So how does the SC-200SP Deluxe Single Cutaway Electro compare to its stablemates? We're keen to find out.
Like other Gear4music electros, this model falls into the budget guitar market. With a retail price of £99.99, the SC-200SP is aimed squarely at beginners and those on a tight budget who need an acoustic that can be plugged into an amp or a PA system for live use.
Out of the box, the SC-200SP is a nice looking guitar. The attractive curvy rosewood bridge is shared with Gear4Music's SCG-1E-NT and DN-10E-NT electros and it looks great on all three instruments.
The binding and dot inlays are nicely done, the installation of the electronics is very tidy and the gloss finish gives the sapele grain a decent lustre. It is reassuring to see this level of attention to detail on a budget model and suggests that the guitar is built to last.
Tone-wise, the SC-200SP is a touch light on the bass side and this seems to exaggerate the mid-range. This isn't a criticism, though; there's none of the 'boxy' sound you get with less well-made budget guitars of this size and shape. But while fingerpicking sounds delicate and detailed and seems to be the main strength of the SC-200SP, solid strumming lacks energy.
What really impresses us is the quality of the intonation. Whether you're playing high or low on the neck you can be sure you'll be in tune. It's a joy to play right across the fretboard on this guitar.
Of course, that cutaway encourages lead playing up at the dusty end of the neck, but your first widdly lick will reveal what seems to be the achilles heel of Gear4music's budget electro acoustic range: scratchy frets, which cause vibrato and string bends to have a coarse, unpleasant feel.
It's a small job for a guitar builder to put right, but if Gear4music had got this right we'd be recommending all three electros as mega-bargains. As is, the price of getting the work done puts the SC-200SP in the firing line of budget models from better known brands such as Washburn and Crafter. It's still a great guitar, and very much worthy of your cash, but do factor in a visit to a local luthier.
A listen to the SC-200SP's plugged in sound will ensure this electro stays firmly near the top of your shopping shortlist. The impressively spec'd battery-powered preamp is a mic/pickup blend system (with an onboard tuner, too). The mic sounds natural and reasonably warm, easing the inevitable harshness associated with piezo pickups.
Couple this with a four-band EQ (three-band EQ plus presence) and you have plenty of tonal options at your disposal, and a tweak of the bass remedies the light bottom end that was noticeable when playing acoustically. The upshot of this is that high quality tones are available at a shoestring price here, making the SC-200SP an absolute steal.
Good intonation. Great tone from the preamp system. Competitive price, even including a visit to a luthier.
Frets need attention.
While the poor fret dressing disappoints, the blend system in the preamp places high quality sounds in the hands of beginners. If you're planning to plug in, this is a great budget guitar.