I once took a chance and bought a new guitar from eBay UK, nothing wrong with that, but it was less than £80- brand new from the eBay shop, ok I know what you are thinking, you only get what you pay for right...? Well that is what I thought too and what I was expecting to have.
The guitar arrived with inside four days, with free postage and packaging from a London company called Swift Guitars, I was half eager to open up the packaging and half dreading what I was going to find for this sort of price, a bit like your first kiss, you know should I or should I not, what have I done... Well I opened it all up a bit nervous of what I might find and eventually extracted the guitar from the packaging, in fact it was pack up very well and with a lot of care to how it was going to be through shipping, well that was a good start. This particular guitar was a Les Paul copy in Gloss black, the reason I went for the black was so as it would not show to bad until I got to do something with it if the finish was not to good. Well I need not of worried, the finish was just excellent and the gloss black was really gloss black, it just looked stunning, to say I was pleasantly surprised was and understatement, I think it was at this point I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, it was just as if I had bought a standard Les Paul to look at, apart from the Swift name on the head and different tuners.
Well I had to get this thing plugged into the amp and try it out, at this point I will admit I was now eager and this guitar had certainly caught my interest in an intense way, so I plugged it in to my amp, which was a Realistic 50 watt combo, not the best by any means, but sufficient for using at home. Ok, plugged in ready to go, would you believe this guiar was actually still in tune perfectly, I could not believe it, anyway onto playing it, well this was an experience I was not expecting, this guitar played beautifully with a great low action and perfect tonation and the sound was really very good, ok you tell that they were not expensive pickups and the electric components were a lower grade, but it was just amazing, this is really were I felt it would let me down, but to be honest, I could of took this guitar straight out of the box and done a small gig with it no problem at all. I think it is worth mentioning at this point, well done to Swift guitars for producing such an amazing product for such a low price and I now know that I was not the only one and just lucky as I have since talked to other owners who have said exactly the same, so thank you so much Swift, amazing.
I kept and played this guitar just as it was for quite a while and you know how it is, you look and think to yourself, yep this could do with a bit of freshening and soul put it into it, so what do I do with this one, well that was the very thing in itself, I did not want to change things to much as it was so good anyway. The main thing with out doubt was an upgrade to the electrics, the tone would drop off very quick when used and the pickup selector switch was a bit suspect, so a brand new matched pair of Epiphone gold plated covered pickups were ordered, these were just standard Humbuckers and chosen as I wanted to use this for cleaner sounds and warm tones, the capacitors were thrown out as these were just the usual budget disc ones, luckily I had an old valve radio lying around from the sixties, so I was able to extract two nice oil type capacitors and fitted them in to the electrics, I made a couple of tone bleed taps, one for each tone pot, I changed all the tone and volume pots for better quality products and put it all back together... I changed all the other hard ware, bridge, tuners etc for good quality gold plated items and finished off with a set of 10 gauge strings as I personally like the warmth of tens.
Well that was it, all finished and ready to go, the sound was just awesome and really good for blues and jazz playing, which is what I was looking for from this guitar in the begging, the tone controls were much more usable and should I say realistic to use, in that it altered the tone as you would expect a tone control to work and not just go dull after a slight movement of the knob. I was able to lower the action even further with the new bridge, which is great for me as I have rheumatics in my hands and fingers anyway, I could of played this guitar all the time, well in fact I did for quite a while. This was the best £80- I have ever spent on any guitar, then about another £80- for the parts purchased, so now I had an awesome guitar for £160-, even I was a bit taken back a bit by it all, but I sure weren't moaning about it... It really looked superb, it felt superb and it sounded superb, now that is what I call a win win situation... so folks, never be afraid to take a chance on the unknown, you could end up with a really nice surprise.