With Far East manufacturing fine-tuned to a sophisticated degree these days, we’ve all come to expect high standards at ever- more affordable prices. Pleasing to report then, that if £500 is your ceiling for a folksome cutaway electro, these four guitars acquit themselves extremely well for overall quality and value, and all are worthy of serious consideration: indeed in general terms it’s quite hard to select one which is head and shoulders above the rest.
As is often the case, it boils down to horses for courses. If fingerpicking is your favoured thing, the Crafter and Recording King are the prime candidates, though you’ll need to be a latter because the broad neck doesn’t really take prisoners. Hats off to them, though, because aside from other Recording King 000s there are no other budget folks around so unequivocally catering for this playing style.
That said, the Crafter does offer a much gentler introduction to the wider format, with a neck that remains comfortable for general playing. In theory it loses marks for not using all-solid woods, but that’s offset by its lower price and it is also one of the nicest-sounding guitars on test. And it’s a good looker too.
One minor practical point where both the Crafter and Recording King could be improved is having a strap button at the heel, as the Faith and obligatory on cutaway electros and would add mere pence to the manufacturing cost.
Strummers will head for the Faith or Freshman, whose price tags generously include a case. By a short head we’d favour the Faith, not just for its supple, open-toned voicing but the fact that its neck, while slim, has string spacing that is still viable for comfortable, occasional fingerstyle forays.
Sad to say the Freshman, with that even tighter spacing at the bridge, is really a strummer only, and the company should seriously consider widening the span because in all other respects it’s a fine guitar with a strong, bass-rich acoustic sound and a very versatile new preamp.
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