Monoprice has long been synonymous with, to put it bluntly, cheap cables. The company sells HDMI cables by the yard, USB cables that won’t break the bank, and, apparently, perfectly serviceable Les Paul-style electric guitars that cost a little more than a Blues Driver pedal. In other words, this guitar is simultaneously weird and good.

First, the bad. The guitar is clearly a Les Paul copy from the same factories that produce Ivy, LyxPro, and other inexpensive Amazon brands. For example, this honey-colored LP costs $219 on Amazon, about $30 less than the $249 Indio. That said, I’ve never held any of those Amazon guitars and I did hold this one. I came away impressed.

Further, when it arrived the pickup covers were very misaligned, requiring some messing with a screwdriver. A minor thing, but it was definitely a bit disconcerting at first. Other than that this I didn’t see much wrong with the guitar. Monoprice claims that “every Indio DLX Plus guitar is domestically QC’d and set up by our Master Luthier in Southern California.” While this could mean that a wizened luthier passes their gnarled yet masterful hand over each guitar as it arrives from the factory or, more likely, somebody looks at each one for a few seconds to make sure the neck isn’t cracked off. I’m suspecting that the truth is somewhere in the middle and that these guitars are examined before shipping in the US to ensure they weren’t damaged and are playable.

How does it sound? First, I’ll note that this guitar was acceptably set up. You’ll notice I hit a few clams in the high strings which I suspect could be due to a misaligned neck. That can be easily remedied by tightening or loosening the truss rod. I also got some buzzing on the low strings, which is to be expected. In all, you’re not getting a perfect guitar but if it’s your first guitar then you’re golden.

The guitar has a solo/treble switch along with controls for the two PAF-style pickups. The guitar has a heavy mahogany body with maple top – I’m not sure if the mahogany is completely solid but it feels heavy enough – and it has a bound body and neck with trapezoidal inlays on a rosewood neck.

In terms of value for money the DX fits right between Epiphone and the aforementioned Amazon brands. That said, I’d much rather have Monoprice’s customer service than an anonymous Amazon seller’s and, to be fair, the Epiphone Les Paul clones are on par with this one in many ways.

In all, this a great beginner’s guitar that sounds fine right out of the box. You can easily beat this guitar into submission and, with a little time, you can add some Grover tuners and a few new pickups to clean up the sound. As it is, however, the sound is very clean without much distortion, even when overdriven, and I loved the treble twang of the strings when I flipped the switch.

Modern guitars are cheap. There are definitely some super expensive ones and a classic Gibson will set you back anywhere between $1,500 and $12,000 (or more). Therefore, picking up something like this as your first guitar is definitely within the realm of sanity.

It’s a beautiful piece, it’s nicely made, and it sounds fine. For $249, you could do a lot worse. You can check it out here on Monoprice’s website.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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