Gear | August 15, 2014

Review: Gear4Music 12 String Electro-Acoustic

One of the things about being a multi-instrumentalist is you end up with an awful lot of instruments and equipment. Leaving aside the question of where you store all of this stuff, the next obvious problem is the cost. While a professional musician might expect to buy an expensive instrument or two if it was the tool of his trade, it gets more difficult to justify and afford when you surround yourself with quite so many tools. As such, I spend quite a lot of time trying to find usable instruments at the budget end of the scale.

Having used Nashville stringing to fake the twelve string sound for many years, the temptation of trying Gear4Music’s 12 String Electro Acoustic at a ridiculous £84.99 finally got to me and I treated myself to one for my birthday this year. The reviews have been surprisingly positive, and while you have to be realistic about exactly what you’ll get for a price like that, I was hopeful that it would be a playable instrument.

First impressions were briefly positive until I saw the state of the strings. While it’s inevitable that they won’t be at their best after shipping and storing, these were quite corroded and sure enough the high G string didn’t get much beyond a B before it snapped. Gear4Music’s customer service was, however, excellent and they immediately shipped me a set of replacement strings. When those got lost in the post, they shipped me two sets by courier just to make absolutely sure.

The next niggle is that the bridge pins appear to have been hammered in by someone determined to ensure they will never ever come back out. I couldn’t even pop them out from the other side and in the end had to resort to the big no-no of gently taking pliers and a screwdriver to them to slowly lever them out.

These issues are the sort of thing you might expect from a budget instrument, but having now managed to restring and tune it, the sound that I get out of it is not. It’s a lovely, rich sounding instrument which so far seems to hold its tuning as well as any guitar with new strings ever does, and an initial play with the preamp suggests its versatile enough to be useful as an alternative to miking it up.

Cheap gear is about compromises. If I was playing this instrument day in, day out and touring it, I might well look for something higher end to address some of the niggles. As it is, for a sub-hundred pound guitar it seems more than worth the money, and the compromise is in the time it’s taken me to set it up rather than in the sound it will make on my recordings. For me, that counts as a win.




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