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Thread: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

  1. #1
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    Got a few deals on cheap-O guitars in the past week, and both arrived over the past two days. I thought I'd post my initial thoughts on them, as I had no prior experience owning either of these brands, and I don't ever hear about them in gear forums. I haven't bit much on cheap-Os in the past several years, but these two happened to both draw me in at the same time.

    Cheap-O number one: Eastwood Black Widow Bass. Very cool looking medium scale (32") bass that is based on old Acoustic brand basses from the '70s. I had been eyeing these for quite some time. Normally retails at $550, but a Reverb seller accepted my offer of $420. I had never played a medium scale bass before, and I love the way these look.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Cheap-O number two: D'Angelico Premier DC, stop tailpiece model without F holes. This was a complete impulse buy based on a targeted online ad on Facebook. I had never even considered a low-end D'Angelico before, or even looked at their lineup. It's a 335-style guitar, without F holes, in a hot looking black, with a tolerable non-Gibson headstock and tolerable non-Gibson 335-ish body shape, priced at $300 (original retail price $750). I had to bite. But I love 335s without F holes, and I have another one that has only one pickup.

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    Simply put, the Eastwood is craptastic, and overpriced even at the $420 price, while the D'Angelico is very nice...and a total steal at 300 bucks.

    The Eastwood has a crappy finish. Not smooth/level at all. Has some runs. Binding is not cleanly scraped. The frets are poorly dressed, and tarnished. The fretboard edges are super sharp. The strings are crap. The tuners are crap. The three-ply binding is sloppy as hell. The screws, bushings (doesn't use a neck plate), and other hardware is cheaply made and cheaply plated. None of the holes/routs are cleanly cut. The pickup is nowhere near being aligned with the strings. It plays like garbage. Haven't played it through an amp yet, but I know I can make any bass sound good with electronics and amp tweaks.

    The D'Angelico is very impressive. Finish is not entirely smooth/level, but it's good, and it doesn't have any runs. They did a totally clean job on the binding scraping. The frets are quite nice (though not perfect). The nut is tolerable for now, but could be improved by a hand-made replacement (this is true even on many expensive guitars IME). The inlays don't look horribly cheap and cheesy, as I imagined they would. The tuners look nice (though they aren't high quality). They are Imperials, but not Grovers. The fretboard is dark, smooth, and good looking. The neck is true (though it came out of the box with excessive relief). The strings are decent quality (D'Addarios). The hardware isn't the best, but it's not horrible. Haven't played it through an amp yet, but I know I can make it sound fine, even if it doesn't when stock. It plays fairly nicely, even without a setup.

    They both could benefit from upgrades, but the D'Angelico is a much more solid instrument right out of the box. It's at or above the level of your typical Epi Dot archtop. And I realized after the fact, once I saw the original retail price, that this makes sense. Most D'Angelico Premiers are in the $700 to $800 range, while most Eastwoods are in the $400 to $600 range. I also think that Eastwoods are probably a bit overpriced compared to their quality level, just because the company offers cool and quirky designs.

    I might keep the bass, just because the design is so attractive, and there's no other way to get it without spending a lot on a vintage one. Most of the problems are not fatal flaws, but the workmanship and materials really are crap. And in the end, I didn't spend a ton on it.

    Bottom line, I will have my eyes on the D'Angelico Premier line in the future, but I will probably never buy another Eastwood.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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    Bacteriaolgoist GuitarDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    Good buy on the 335ish model. Interested to know how it sounds and plays through an amp. Give us another report later.
    Originally Posted by IanBallard
    Rule of thumb... the more pot you have, the better your tone.

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    High Voltologist Wattage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    Eastwoods are so hit or miss but I haven’t had one yet that didn’t need at least a level. They exist strictly for the cool, offbeat and funky things they do.

    Can’t get with a D’A, maybe it’s a legacy thing. D’Angelico’s name doesn’t belong on these guitars.

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    Super Toneologist VinceT's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    We have a couple of D’Angelico models in the store (one belongs to Earl Slick’s - part of a collection we’re selling on his behalf)and they play and sound really great at the price.


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    Tone Member The_Junior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    no f-holes huh? how do they put the electronics together? cavity cover? through the pickup cavities?

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    Slutbucker Pimpologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    Too bad about the Eastwood. It does look cool. Nice that the 335 worked out.

  7. #7
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    Update: After noticing several areas of finish damage and a finish crack, I have asked the seller of the Eastwood to swap it out for another copy. No response yet, and it has been a few days. I don’t expect him to NOT give me a hard time about it, so in the end, I expect it will end up going back for a refund.

    As for the D’Angelico, I still love it for 300 bucks. Thinking about a set of WLHs for it, or maybe a homemade set of Custom/PGn hybrids.

    Like my other no-F-hole 335, it has a back door for getting to the pots. Yet another great benefit of closed-top archtops.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

  8. #8
    Mojo's Minions eclecticsynergy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    I always wanted a 6-string Black Widow like the one Hendrix had. You just never associate the amp maker Acoustic Control with guitars. There were three versions I think: the first had the tailpiece right up next to the bridge, the second had tailpiece further away, and the third replaced the singlecoils with narrow humbuckers. They were made in different factories too - some here in the States, some in Japan by Matsumoto, others by Mosrite. And more were made later with the Hohner logo on the headstock.

    Jimi with his left-handed Version1:


    EDIT - for some reason I can't get this image of Jimi showing the close-tailpiece to show in the thread; here's the link instead:
    https://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/i...ar-500x425.jpg

    V2 with tailpiece lower on the body:


    V3 with narrow humbuckers:


    Too bad the Eastwood version isn't up to snuff - I notice they went with a standard tuneomatic bridge rather than the original type, which had a very wide throw for intonation adjustment.

    I have two Eastwood builds which, while they obviously aren't high-budget guitars, nevertheless have good necks & level frets. Mine are both Backlund designs. I think John was fairly specific when he gave them guidelines for producing his designs, so the Backlunds may be a cut above average for Eastwood guitars. They cost a bit more also.
    Last edited by eclecticsynergy; 03-01-2020 at 04:54 PM.
    .
    "Believe me when I say that some of the most amazing music in history was made on equipment that's not as good as what you own right now."-Jol Dantzig

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  9. #9
    Mojo's Minions ItsaBass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Back to Back NGDs – Both Cheap-Os, One Good, One Bad

    Update:

    No response from seller regarding exchanging the bass. Finally got Reverb to prod him. He said all his others were just as bad, and offered me a full return/refund with pre-paid shipping, or $200 back. I can accept the problems with this bass for $288, so I took the $200 back. I also would rather not take the time to re-pack it and drive it to FedEx.

    So, there you have it. I am about $600 in on both of these instruments. I’ll consider it $600 well spent on the D’Angelico, with a free Eastwood thrown in.

    This bass really is a dog, though. Normally I look forward to spiffing up a cheap axe. Not this one, though!
    Quote Originally Posted by LesStrat View Post
    Yogi Berra was correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by JOLLY View Post
    I do a few chord things, some crappy lead stuff, and then some rhythm stuff.

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