Gear to Skip: 2000s J. Reynolds 3/4 Guitar

For whatever reason, there has been a plague of this-model cheap 3/4 Chinese student guitar this year in for "quick setups." Every one of them has had high action, truss rods that fail to adjust, and some sort of twist or warp to the neck that wasn't removable without major surgery (which isn't an option). At the same time, people come in and expect me to drop the action to what they might be used to on their Martins, Gibsons, or Taylors and not have fret buzz or other undesirable traits. It's trouble!

Fortunately, cranking the rod to the end on this one got the warp down to 1/32" overall but the neck's fretting is sour and there's a subtle twist, so the action had to remain 3/32" across the board at the 12th fret with buzzing here and there instead of spot-on a little lower and buzz-free. Fighting all the inconsistencies (knocking frets back down, spot-leveling them, having to radius saddles a little "off" to suit the neck issues) always adds time to what should be a 20-minute setup job on a same-era "good" instrument and so, again, this is the sort of box that bedevils me.

I don't care if you can pick one of these up at a flea market for $20 -- skip it. Buy a beat-up 3/4 Yamaha for a little more on Craigslist. You'll be happier.