So I was looking for the impossible. A beater 7 string jazz box I could take on vacation, on planes, leave at my music school Do I ask for the impossible?

I presently own 2 arch top guitars. Both are Ibanez and 1 is in fact a 7 string. Let me assure you the 7 string version of most types of guitar is not something you just go to your local (or even big box) music store and get. Ibanez is one of the largest guitar manufacturers in the world and they make exactly one 7 string arch top and one acoustic. Now if I was looking for a 7 string (or 8 or 9 or 10) in a solid body I would be on easy street. The metal word and the sub genre of Djent are the main users of Extended Range Guitars (ERG’s) but so many of them look, sound and play like the metal they are marketed to. When first on the 7 string quest, my biggest challenge was finding one that was neutral in appearance (I.E not looking like I worshiped Satan)Now I had 2 options. I could upgrade my AFG 957 (list price $1,500 USD)

I’d be looking at something like a Benedetto Bravo 7 string for around $5,600 USD as a bottom line (but I could always go up)
Or I could look for something less expensive.
Enter Ebay!
If you search for guitars on ebay you will get an infinite amount but if you narrow it down to new 7 string arch tops you get very few.
Anyways I won’t keep you on the hook longer. I found a store selling Grote Guitars and they had 3 guitars that fit the bill of a 7 string jazz box!
I choose the LP style semi hollow body in a blonde finish
The options on the other 2 where a red thin line with modern “F” holes and a not great looking sunburst hollow body (a 4th option was a sunburst ES335 style.
Over all review.
For the $200 USD I paid for it it is way more quality that I could want. Visually stunning if you are a few feet away. There are definitely some cosmetic and functional issues but nothing that can’t be over come. Add to it it is a 7 string thin line semi hollow body guitar.
Basically I could not go to any music store in my area and get a guitar worth my time of day for $200 let alone a 7 string, let alone a jazz box and let alone a 7 string jazz box.
I will point out that this guitar smelled fresh (lacquer) and I suspect it some settling to do.
Now everyone wants the negative low down so here it is in my personal order of importance
  • pick ups are microphonic not ‘hipster yelling into the pick ups’ level but more like excessive body noise type. Perhaps potting them will fix it cheap. Most likely the real fix is decent pick ups
  • some bad notes/fret buzz. I can deal with any fret buzz that does not transfer through the amp but I did spend some time tamping down the uneven frets
  • the bridge is not the best but it intonates fine
  • the tone pots are more like treble on and off pots. I can turn them 90% or the way with no effect then bam! treble is rolled off
  • the nut is cheap. Having said this I am not sure why people obsess about the nut it has no effect on 90% of the notes on the guitar (just 7). Having said this the nut is cut well and there is no choking
  • position markers not uniform on binding
  • A few cosmetic issues that one only notices when examining it closely except where the neck joins the body on the upper side it was real noticeable but easily fixed with marker.
Over all the negatives are: cosmetic, things you can fix yourself like frets/action and the sub par electronics. Basically stuff you would expect from a $200 Chinese guitar.

The Upside?

  • the price $200 USD shipped to my front door for free
  • well packed
  • Locking tuners!
  • very playable
  • excellent heel joint for smooth as silk upper fret access
  • arrived ahead of schedule
  • 3 ply pick guard
  • Light weight
  • over all good looking classic appearance
  • $200 USD shipped to my front door for free
I got exactly what I needed, a guitar that I can gate check on plane rides, that I won’t cry if it gets dinged or even totaled, is easily replaceable, along with looking good, sounding good and being very playable.
I may even get a tech to replace the frets, upgrade the electronics and do a cracker setup. The only thing is all that will cost more than the guitar so we shall see.

For you? if you are looking for a guitar of a life time this is not it, but if you were looking for a beater, getting into ERGs or your 1st electric, 1st jazz box, back-up guitar, etc. maybe these Chinese guitars are an option for you.

The following are pictures and a video so you can see and hear for yourself.
Slight ding
Locking Tuners!
Uneven Position Markers
Cheap but well cut nut
And the Video: