What? Why the hell is there a guitar review on Niche Gamer? Well, our friends at Monoprice wanted to send us a unique Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar controller to check out, so here we are. As I often enjoy dabbling in sessions of Rocksmith 2014, I thought why not try my hand at something a little bit different? Without any further delay, here’s my review of the Indio Flamed Maple Semi-Hollow body Electric Guitar:
Indio by Monoprice Flamed Maple Semi-Hollow body Electric Guitar (Charcoal Grey)
MSRP: $249.99 USD
I’m not going to pretend like I’m some sort of a shred lord or even tell you that I’m even remarkably “decent” at playing guitar, but I enjoy dabbling when I can and I’ve spent a lot of extra time trying to learn.
Right out of the box, I noticed that this Indio guitar is considerably higher quality than I expected it to be. I figured for $250 it was going to be shoddily put together, feel cheap, or just be all around janky – but the Indio brand seems to be surprisingly decent quality.
Taking the Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar out of the box, everything looked good but I noticed a pretty rough little ding on the backside of the guitar where it looked like something banged into it and the wood was slightly dented and there was a chip in the paint with a bit of cracking in the glossy coat around it.
Monoprice’s PR firm quickly offered to RMA it and ship me a replacement, but since this was only a loaner for a review, I didn’t really see the need. Sometimes things happen in shipping and it’s good to see that they were understanding.
The Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar comes in a thin zippered bag which feels pretty nice – it certainly isn’t weather proof nor would it be able to absorb a lot of damage, but it’s a step above simply being a dust cover, and it’s got backpack straps to make transporting your Indio guitar around easier.
The Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar came pre-strung with D’Addario strings and was supposedly pre-set up in house by their master luthier, which was a nice touch since it didn’t mean I had to immediately take it to a local guitar shop to have it set up before I could even check it out.
The guitar has a nice weight to it, and the fretboard feels pretty great given the budget pricing of this guitar. I played it for a few hours, testing out different tunings and it never struggled to hold tone or stay in tune.
This is far better than I can say about the Epiphone Les Paul Junior that came with my OG copy of Rocksmith years ago that still requires retuning if you put it down for more than 30 minutes.
Ultimately, I found that the Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar feels quite nice in comparison to other entry level guitars between the $150-$350 price range, but its flaws immediately show once it’s put next to a more expensive guitar.
It holds its own pretty well compared to the LP Jr, but it feels cheap and unrefined compared to my Schecter Omen Extreme 6. The in-house tech obviously likes the action on their guitars much higher than I do, because my fingers were quite sore from having to press down so hard to properly hit clean notes on the Indio, despite how decent it felt in hand.
I never noticed any sort of intonation issues or anything like that while checking the Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar out, but my personal preferences make this one a little bit tricky to recommend without a few caveats.
The action was considerably higher than I’d prefer, as I’ve got small stubby fingers so I prefer my strings much closer to the neck. I also found that the metal on the ends of the frets were a bit sharp. During seemingly normal bends, I actually caught the bottom E string on the fret edges a few times, which resulted in the whole string being pulled underneath the fret board.
I’m also not a fan of having the strap peg underneath the face instead of up on the outside above the neck, which meant I always felt like my strap was twisted and it bugged me. These are mostly minor complaints, but I’d argue in order to get this Indio guitar into the state you’d want it in, you’d likely need to take it into a local shop for adjustments and a little bit of extra cleanup.
The Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar case is decent, but at $250 you’re almost better off buying a guitar starter kit to get the strap, case, and a practice amp/picks if you’re looking at this for a beginner. For $329 you can get a Squier knockoff strat and full kit and they’d do the professional setup for you in the store if you buy it from a place like Guitar Center.
You’d probably be looking at $325-$350 if you’re like me and prefer it modified from how it’s likely to arrive from the factory. All and all, this is a really nice Semi-Hollow body option for the cost, especially if you know a little bit about guitars can make your own adjustments out of the box. Hell, you can even pick up a used one if you want one for a little cheaper to bang around on, but for the cost, you might as well pay the extra $20 to get the gig bag.
For an experienced player who doesn’t want to drag their $600+ guitar to local gigs or wants to use a cheaper guitar to bang around in practice on, the Indio Flamed Maple electric guitar is a surprisingly decent instrument for the price – and one of the lowest costs you’ll find on a semi-hollow body across any brand.
And yes, before you ask, we’ll be doing a review for Rocksmith+ once we’ve had some time to play with it.