Columbus Crest 175/C guitar
Columbus have made the cheapest copies in the shop since I was a lad, and the latest Crest range confirms they're still at it - this £129 model is the top of a range that starts at £80 with a two pickup twin cutaway complete with tremolo.
How do they do it at the price? They buy them from Taiwan and Korea, countries where materials and labour are cheap.
Although this is a modern Telecaster shaped guitar, the headstock is a pointy, Charvel-style, single-sided job. The black machine heads are not the best fitted I've seen, but they work smoothly enough. The locking nut sits behind a fat, black plastic nut.
The 22 fret neck invites a few complaints. The action is highish, though comfortable, and plays smoothly. But that third fret is a tad too high, and makes the top E buzz a little; not bad but annoying. The red binding around the neck looks untidy - someone didn't put the tape on straight while they were doing the spray job. The rosewood used for the fingerboard is coarse-grained, and ours was beginning to crack in two or three places. And the cutaways around the neck joint are not a close fit.
But none of these complaints (with the exception of the high fret, though that's a fault I've seen on guitars three times the price) affects the playing at all, but they indicate where the Korean manufacturers have cut corners.
The finish of the contoured body is better, but soft and can scratch. While the gloss is smooth, the surface of the wood isn't totally flat - that only shows up in the slanting rays of the evening sun.
The matt black hardware looks good, and works well. The Floyd Rose copy tremolo willingly spills the strings all over the neck, then pulls them back, still in tune. One ominous point was that the neck creaked slightly when subjected to violent wang barrery. Harrummph.
It sounds great through a Rockman, and is still plenty loud through other amps, with a nice fat humbucking, full-bodied sound that belies its budget nature.
Reviewing lower priced guitars can be difficult; how much are you entitled to expect for your money? How much allowance should you make for faults?
On most counts, the Columbus passes without problems. The efficient locking tremolo is probably worth the extra £30 you pay, and it sounds as good as many a more expensive guitar. I wasn't personally fond of the overall chunky feel, but you might be more butch than I am.
Review by Jon Lewin
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