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Old 02-06-2016, 05:59 AM   #1
Seattle
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Default Cheap instruments can play better than expected...

I recently got a Charango (10 string with uke like body tuned like a uke basically). This is a souvenir store instrument. It was a gift to me but I'm guessing it was $20 or so (from Quito).

Upon inspection I could see that the neck is twisted, bowed, and the first fret is raised enough on the left to keep the left two strings (course) from moving when strumming open.

You wouldn't expect much from this other than to hang it on the wall as an interesting souvenir from Ecuador.

However, the twisted neck isn't enough to affect anything (although it probably caused the first fret problem). I filed down the first fret so that the strings don't buzz now. I put new (better) strings on, put some fret marker location dots on the side of the neck and it sounds pretty good.

The bowed neck means that the action is pretty high as you go up the neck toward the bridge. The bridge has no saddle so there is no adjustment and even ungluing the bridge to sand down the bottom wouldn't make much difference since the bowed neck is causing most of the problem.

However, with nylon strings high action is less of a problem than if it had steel strings and I don't have to play far from the neck to "make music". The action is quite low near the neck.

I wouldn't have thought to buy a piece of crap like this but it looks pretty good (it's an interesting instrument) and if you know how to play a ukulele (which I do) then it's easy to play this as the chords are almost the same.

Anyone else have any pieces of crap that actually play OK? I'm wondering about other gift shop instruments that you may have like ukuleles and maybe mandolins or any other instruments picked up in souvenir shops.
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Old 02-07-2016, 02:18 AM   #2
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Squire mini-strat.

I bought it for a "take to work" guitar since it is a 3/4 sized instrument. It was hideous when I got and there was no way to keep it in tune for more than 4 seconds. Once Installed a good set of tuning pegs, it actually plays pretty darn good.

Fun little toy that I keep in the car for something to do on long delays.
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Old 02-07-2016, 04:04 AM   #3
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There is a funny video on YouTube (I think I posted it once somewhere around here) called Walmart Stevie Ray Vaughn or something like that. Two guys are in Walmart and they pick up a Walmart plastic guitar and one guy puts on a pretty good Stevie Ray Vaughn concern just playing that plastic guitar.
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
There is a funny video on YouTube (I think I posted it once somewhere around here) called Walmart Stevie Ray Vaughn or something like that. Two guys are in Walmart and they pick up a Walmart plastic guitar and one guy puts on a pretty good Stevie Ray Vaughn concern just playing that plastic guitar.
Just dug it out...epic

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Old 02-09-2016, 07:36 PM   #5
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Haha...perfect!
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Old 02-09-2016, 09:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jase View Post
Just dug it out...epic

Excellent. A very good demo of "it's all in the fingers". It reminded me of the early acoustic blues players, who got an awful lot out of not very much.

My surprise buy was a Vietnamese Peavey Raptor Plus Exp from the local hock shop, for Oz$65 in mint condition; it would have cost about $40 in the US. I didn't even bother plugging it in to try it, as I was expecting to have to completely rework it. As it turned out, I like everything about it, especially the cheap pickups and the very light weight. All I had to do was set the intonation and action height, and it is now my favourite electric.

Seattle, I looked at charangos a few years back in the tourist shops in Bogotá. The local cheapo I liked had a decent sound, but lousy intonation, so I passed. Colombian luthery isn't good, my requinto has a six-piece front of some kind of white softwood, except for one small piece which is cedar. It was all hidden under a thick layer of orange lacquer when I bought it.

Last edited by Tony Done; 02-09-2016 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:04 PM   #7
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Tony, I hear that Bolivia is where the best charangos are made simply because they have a longer tradition of making them there. Mine was purchased in Ecuador. I have no idea where it was made .

It sounds OK and is fun to play but the action is way too high once you move up the neck.

You just don't hear tone like you get from those Walmart instruments anymore. I wonder what type of Dupont plastic that tone comes from?
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle View Post
Tony, I hear that Bolivia is where the best charangos are made simply because they have a longer tradition of making them there. Mine was purchased in Ecuador. I have no idea where it was made .

It sounds OK and is fun to play but the action is way too high once you move up the neck.

You just don't hear tone like you get from those Walmart instruments anymore. I wonder what type of Dupont plastic that tone comes from?
I was lucky enough to find a charango online a few years ago. Made from an armadillo. Sounds great
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