When you dream about buying your first guitar, you probably think of getting your hands on a Fender Strat, or maybe even a Gibson Les Paul! However, the harsh reality is that it is much more sensible to learn the guitar on a budget alternative, as it’s a great way to learn the basics and get familiar before really dedicating some cash to an upgraded instrument.
There are tons of budget guitars out there so it can be difficult to figure out which ones are of the best value for money, and I have a passion for trying out new guitars, regardless of the price range. One day when browsing my options on Amazon, I came across the Monoprice Series 6 String Indio, and couldn’t believe it when I saw the price tag. It’s a seriously low price and I simply had to give it a look.
I recently received the electric guitar in the mail and to my surprise, it came with all sorts of goodies. Read on to find out more about this Indio guitar, how my experience with the instrument was, and more!
Bottom Line Up Front
The Monoprice Series 6 String Indio is a perfect guitar for any
There is no denying that the price tag is reflected in the cheap materials and design of the instrument, but I’ve had tons of fun playing the instrument as a highly experienced guitarist, so I think it’s perfectly fine for beginners.
Right, let’s get stuck into this review of the Monoprice Series 6 String Indio electric guitar. I’ll be getting to my personal experience with the instrument shortly, but let’s start things off by going through the key features of this budget electric guitar.
Fender Telecasters are quite popular as
There are also Squier Telecasters which are cheaper, but they are still going to cost at least a couple hundred bucks. However, Teles are incredibly popular guitars thanks to their sleek cutoff design and ease of use, so Monoprice has done wonders to implement it into this Indio guitar.
I actually own a real Fender Telecaster, and I have to say that they do look pretty similar. The sunburst finish of the Indio even matches my Sunburst Fender! However, there’s no denying that the emulation is not perfect.
The Indio guitar has a more rectangular design than the classic strat, and the bridge and tonal controls do not match the Tele either. However, it still looks pretty cool, especially as a budget guitar, and I think the finish and overall aesthetic are far better than any other ~$100 guitar that I have seen.
If you’ve read up to this point, you’re probably not expecting this guitar to have any fancy tonewoods, and you’d be right to suspect this. Tonewoods are one of the most valuable parts of premium guitars and are cut from rare trees that are prized for their excellent resonance and application as a musical instrument. Therefore, they cost a lot of money, and when your guitar is costing around $100, there’s no chance the wood is going to be of high quality.
The Indio guitar’s body is made out of Linden, a guitar tonewood that comes from the Tilia genus of trees and is highly affordable due to its abundance. You might think that this sounds like a bad thing, but I actually love this about the Indio guitar – some budget guitars come fitted with awful synthetic plastic bodies or even necks, so the fact that Monoprice created a guitar at this price that still uses a legitimate tonewood is excellent.
There’s no denying that linden, otherwise known as “basswood”, is not the ideal tonewood for a guitar body. It simply doesn’t sound as good as more expensive tonewoods, and it also makes the instrument pretty heavy. However, it still sounds perfectly fine for a
When I bought this Monoprice Indio guitar, I must admit that I made the purchase quite spontaneously after seeing how cheap it was. So, you can imagine my surprise when the item arrived and it had a couple of goodies bundled in with it. At the price, I’d have been happy if it had turned up without any strings, yet it was fully strung and included a soft case and a cable!
The soft case is simple and black with the Indio logo on it and would fit most standard-sized electric guitars. It features an easy-to-use zip that helps for quick accessibility, and it also includes a small pouch on the front of the case.
It was in this case that I discovered the second goody – a guitar cable! This was actually incredibly useful as I left some equipment at my friend’s house and I couldn’t find a single ¼” cable in my studio! I looked everywhere and in a moment of desperation, I checked inside this small compartment of the case, I suppose subconsciously for the small chance that there might be a cable inside, and there was! It’s a short cable at just 2 meters but works exactly as you would expect it to.
My Experience With the Monoprice Indio Electric Guitar
Now that we’ve covered the key features of the instrument, let’s get stuck into what you really want to hear – my experience with the Monoprice Indio electric guitar! I received the guitar about a month ago and have played it almost every day since, so I’m now very familiar with the ins and outs of this guitar.
There are some good things and there are some bad things about the Indio, but spoiler alert: if I played the instrument every day for a month, it’s got to be pretty good, right?!
Before we dive a bit deeper into the feelings of playing this guitar, let’s focus on something that I think this guitar excels in – the sound. As soon as I plugged this guitar into my amp simulator on Ableton, the tones of the guitar came to life immediately in the form of feedback, and when I struck that first barre chord it sounded powerful and crisp.
I messed around with my favorite amp settings for a while and everything was sounding great, but then I bypassed the amp to hear the pure tones of the guitar. I won’t lie, it was a little underwhelming, and the limitations of the basswood used to make the guitar were clear. However, this was mostly eradicated when I plugged the guitar into a physical amp too, and let’s be honest, who plays the guitar directly into a DAW without using an amp?
As long as you have a guitar amp, whether it’s physical or digital, I think you’re going to enjoy the sound of this Indio guitar. It’s nothing special, but it’s overall nicely balanced, and whilst some of the pickup options feel a little too mid-heavy, it’s easy to manipulate the tone through amp settings.
My one major criticism of the sound of the guitar is that I find the tonal and volume controls are not very sensitive. They do not affect the sound nearly as much as if I turned the same dials on my Fender Strat. This is actually pretty annoying for me as I use a lot of dynamics and tone switching within my compositions, but I can accept the fact that most guitarists always have the tone and volume dials on full. If that sounds like you, I wouldn’t worry about this little nuisance.
The sound of an electric guitar is incredibly important, but don’t let it overshadow the importance of the feeling of holding that instrument. You could have the most glorious bespoke Flying V Electric Guitar complete with ebony fittings and an exotic tonewood, but if it feels awful to hold then you’re not going to be shredding on it for long! Thankfully, that is not the case with the Monoprice Indio guitar, which I have overall found to be comfortable to use.
When I first took the guitar out of its case, I must admit that I was shocked at how heavy it was. I sat down at the chair where I usually play the guitar, sat the guitar on my lap, and something just didn’t feel right. The heaviness of the guitar was obvious and initially, it did not feel comfortable to use.
However, this was barely noticeable by the second day of use – I quickly became accustomed to the weight, and the discomfort was solely from the fact that I am used to using lighter guitars. It is worth considering the weight though, especially if you are a smaller person or child who may struggle with the heaviness of the guitar.
The feel of holding the guitar on your lap is important to consider, but perhaps not as important as the feel of holding the guitar’s neck. After all, this is where your fingers will be spending most of the time, navigating the fretboard. Now, it doesn’t matter what type of guitar you purchase, learning it is going to be painful for your fingers.
Pushing down on metal strings is going to make the tips hurt, and your hand might struggle to be warped into the shapes essential for that dreaded F chord. However, once you’ve been playing the guitar for years, this is no longer a problem – you build calluses on your fingers and develop more flexibility.
Despite this, I must remark that I was getting cramps in my left thumb when playing this guitar for extensive periods of time, and I am a guitarist with over 15 years of experience! Shredding for the first hour or so was no problem, but I noticed that I began getting cramps in the muscle on the palm of my thumb.
Now, this was not an unfamiliar feeling – I’ve experienced it many times before during long sessions, but maybe after three or four hours… not one! I believe that the reason for this is due to the neck being thicker and less easy to access than other guitars that I own.
I must emphasize that whilst this thumb cramp problem is an issue, this guitar was not made to be shredded for hours upon hours. It is a budget guitar and it will be perfect if you are looking to practice on it for an hour a day. Heck, I’m sure you could still fit in hours of practice on this guitar as long as you took long breaks. However, I tried to use it how I would use my Strat or Les Paul, and it simply wasn’t up to this task.
Overall, I am certainly satisfied that the Monoprice Indio guitar will feel comfortable to use as a
Attention to Detail
We’ve covered some of the core areas of my experience with this Monoprice Indio electric guitar, focussing first on how it sounds and secondly how it feels to play the instrument. I would argue that these are the two core things to focus on when reviewing a guitar, but there are so many more elements to consider. Guitars include many different components, some of which are optional, and I like to review these under the umbrella of “attention to detail”.
Firstly, let’s consider the components. The guitar includes everything that you would generally expect from a guitar, such as a neck, body, strings, bridge, tonal controls, and tuning pegs. However, it does include a couple of bonus features that you will not always find on a budget guitar.
Firstly, it comes installed with a bolt for your guitar strap, allowing you to stand up and rock out whilst learning the guitar. It also includes an adjustable truss rod which is ideal for adjusting string action and intonation, something that is often replaced in favor of cheaper bolt-on necks.
However, there is a feature that this guitar is missing, and that is a whammy bar slot on the bridge. Whammy bars, also knowns as tremolos or vibrato bars, are of pretty uniform size and fit into a small circular slot found on most electric guitar bridges. However, not every bridge includes a tremolo mechanism, and this guitar is sadly an example of that.
Next, let’s consider the quality of the assembly. At under $100, I was certainly not expecting this guitar to be put together by hand, and it was clear upon arrival that it had been mass-produced in a factory. However, the build quality is generally pretty good and I have had no problems in terms of electronics.
The strings are a bit scratchy on the skin although they feel much better with a bit of string oil. The only major problem that I faced with the build quality of this instrument was on the bridge. The bolts that secure each string in were not screwed in as well as they could be, and this meant that they scratched my palm, especially when palm muting.
I managed to fix this with a small screwdriver, but another problem remained – the intonation of this guitar is not perfect and i frequently find myself getting fret buzz on the high E and B strings.
If you are a
Overall, I would say that the overall quality of this instrument is certainly good enough for any
However, you’re unlikely to notice these if you’re inexperienced with the instrument, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much!
Pros and Cons
Throughout this review so far, I’ve covered a lot of detail in regard to the Monoprice Indio guitar, and it might be a bit overwhelming for you who are reading it.
Sometimes you need a summary of information in the form of bite-sized and digestible procs and cons, and therefore that is exactly what I’ve done.
Whether you need a reminder of the pros and cons of this instrument if you simply want a TL;DR, I’ve got you covered – let’s take a look.
- A seriously low price for an electric guitar coming in at under $100.
- Designed to replicate the feel and appearance of a Fender Telecaster
- Maple neck and rosewood fretboard
- Comes bundled with a soft guitar case and a ¼” guitar cable
- Seems to have excellent tuning stability considering the low-quality bridge
- Fitted with an adjustable truss rod
- Includes a guitar strap bolt
- The body of the guitar is made from Linden or “basswood”, a cheap and low-end tonewood
- Experienced guitarists will find the body and neck uncomfortable and heavy to use during long sessions
- Pickups and tonal controls are not very sensitive, reducing the dynamic range of the instrument a lot
- The bridge does not include a tremolo mechanism, meaning it is impossible to use this guitar with a whammy bar
We’re nearly finished with this review of the Monoprice Indio guitar, but in my opinion, a review is never complete unless the reviewer mentions some alternative products. It’s important to be fair and unbiased when reviewing an instrument, offering alternatives that may perform better in certain ways.
Usually, I would provide the reader with a cheaper alternative to the product, but I don’t feel like I should do this with the Monoprice Indio guitar. Whilst this instrument is of good quality considering the price, I really wouldn’t recommend spending much less for a guitar.
Sure, if you just need a ‘fill-in’ guitar for a camping trip or something, you can probably find a guitar online for as low as $50. However, you gotta trust me when I say that under $100 for a guitar like this Indio is already a bargain. Instead, I have a slightly more expensive recommendation for you.
The recommendation I have in mind is the 3rd Avenue XF Full Size 4/4 Electric Guitar Ultimate Kit, primarily due to the bundled items it includes. Guitarists need all sorts of accessories to maximize the way they learn the instrument, and it can be frustrating to buy all this stuff separately after already purchasing a brand-new guitar.
This bundle includes literally everything you are going to need as a guitarist, so the extra cash might be worth getting rid of the hassle of buying accessories individually. You’ll be getting the guitar, an amp, a music book, picks, spare strings, tools, a tuner, and more!
Putting the accessories aside for a moment, the guitar is of similar quality to the Indio although using Poplar as a tonewood instead of basswood. However, my opinion is that this is actually a sleeker and more classic Fender Strat design, although that’s up for debate depending on your opinion.
What’s more, this guitar is available in a 3/4 size designed for smaller people, and the guitar is even available in 6 different colors! This might all sound wonderful, but this product is three times as expensive as the Monoprice Indio, and you’re only really paying for the bundled accessories.
I’d recommend considering it as an alternative if you are starting from scratch with no guitar tools, but otherwise, you might be wasting your money on kit that you already own!
I know we already summarised this article in the form of pros and a cons list, but I hate thinking that people may feel overwhelmed and overloaded with information when leaving this article, so let’s finish up with a quick FAQ. Hopefully, it should cover any pesky questions that you are still struggling with.
Question: Is the Monoprice Indio Electric Guitar a High-Quality Guitar?
Answer: Whilst the Monoprice Indio electric guitar is certainly good quality considering its price of it, there is no denying that cheap and lower-quality materials have been used to make it.
Question: Is the Monoprice Indio Electric Guitar Good Value for Money?
Answer: Absolutely! For just under $100, you’ll be getting yourself a decent electric guitar complete with a case and cable, and whilst it may not be a premium guitar, the tonewoods pack a punch and use legitimate woods instead of cheap synthetic plastics.
Question: Is the Monoprice Indio Electric Guitar Suitable for Beginners?
Answer: This is another big yes from me – the Monoprice Indio is an ideal starter guitar for beginners due to its low price and relatively decent quality. However, experienced guitarists will likely pick up on some of the lower-quality elements of the guitar if they play it for a while.
Well, that brings us to the end of this review of the Monoprice Indio electric guitar! It may not have the stunning tonewoods of a Les Paul or the lightness of more refined instruments, but I am very happy to have had the opportunity to try out this budget electric guitar.
Considering the price, I would highly recommend this product to anyone who is looking to purchase their first electric guitar, although it’s probably going to be too entry-level for an experienced guitarist.
Regardless of whether you choose the Indio, opt for the more expensive 3rd Avenue bundle, or ignore my advice and save up for a Gibson Les Paul as your first guitar, I wish you the best of luck on your electric guitar journey, and always remember that practice makes perfect.
Play that guitar daily even if it’s only for ten minutes, and you will be amazed at what you will be achieved in no time!