SX Callisto Jr.

Okay, I confess: I do a daily search for SX guitars on eBay. Why? Because I’ve owned SX axes before and know they’re built solid and they’re cheap.

Okay, I confess: I do a daily search for SX guitars on eBay. Why? Because I’ve owned SX axes before and know they’re built solid and they’re cheap. I was first turned on to SX guitars by my neighbor Martin, who started buying them four years ago. Whenever I played one of his SX electrics, I was always surprised at their quality relative to their price. So I bought my first SX a few years ago just to test the waters and was quietly blown away. I currently own four SX guitars . . . and counting.


This SX model really captured my attention when I saw it floating around on the ’Bay. Obviously inspired by a Les Paul Special, this baby has a set neck (no bolt-on here!), two P-90-style pickups, a rosewood fretboard, jumbo frets, and a “TV yellow” finish. An outfit in California called Rondo Music sold these guitars brand-spanking-new for $135, plus $20 shipping. Say what? How can anyone make a profit on that? Sorry, man—not my problem. I’m a bottom feeder. So I pulled the trigger on one.

The guitar arrived a week later, well boxed. When I unpacked it, I’m sure my face showed some disappointment. The classic “TV yellow” color was actually closer to “crime-scene-tape yellow”—a much brighter yellow than I remembered in the photos. I sighed and chalked it up to the unpredictable ways digital cameras and computer monitors display color.

When I started playing this SX, things got better fast. It seemed to have a comfortable neck very similar to my 1990s Gibson LP Special. The jumbo frets were smooth and rounded, the 12" fretboard radius felt nice to bend strings on, and the pickups sounded very good, with that pronounced midrange P-90 honk I so like. Some players buy these guitars and replace the pickups with authentic Gibson P-90s, but I say, “Why bother?” These sound close enough.

Bottom Feeder Tip # 2387: If the original pickups sound decent, leave well enough alone. Whenever you upgrade pickups on a cheap guitar, you never get your money back when you sell it later. Never.

So what’s the verdict—is it a keeper? Hmm. Not really sure yet. It plays and sounds great, but I still have trouble with the color. I’m hoping the bright yellow will fade over time. For now, this guitar is in my “maybe” pile.


Will Ray is a founding member of the Hellecasters guitar-twang trio. He also does guitar clinics promoting his namesake G&L signature model 6-string, and produces artists and bands at his studio in Asheville, North Carolina. You can contact Will on Facebook and at willray.biz.
How to Reamp Your Guitar | Recording Dojo

This well-established, simple technique opens up a new world of sonic possibilities.

[Originally published February 14, 2022]
Welcome to another Dojo! This time I’m going to show you how to reamp your guitar and explore some creative ways you can re-amps other tracks as well (soft synths, vocals, drums, etc.). In my earlier column “Why Guitarists Shouldn’t Diss DIs,” I mentioned the benefits of using a DI for creative recording. If you have a DI box, dust it off! You’ll need it when I show you how to get more out of your DI-recorded guitar and bass tracks by reamping them into your pedals and amps to capture new perspectives and even add some new reverberant spaces. Tighten up your belts, the Dojo is now open.

Read More Show less

A lightweight, portable amp series developed after months of forensic examination of vintage valve amps.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less
x