Indio Boardwalk by Monoprice review (Is it the BEST cheap semi-hollowbody guitar?)

This is the most comprehensive Indio Boardwalk (Gibson ES-335 style) semi-hollowbody electric guitar review you will find online. Unlike most other reviewers we spend 5-10 hours with a guitar before filming our video review and sound demo. We need to make sure we’ve put a guitar through its paces and we’ve done just that with this Gibson ES-335 style guitar.

Semi-hollowbody guitars are a unique beast. Although you sometimes see them in rock bands (e.g. Dave Grohl and his Gibson ES-335 Trini Lopez) you’ll more often see them in blues or jazz bands. Blues legend BB King’s signature guitar, for example, is a Gibson ES-335 semi-hollowbody called Lucille.

Note: After I reviewed the Indio Retro Classic telecaster style guitar I reached out to Indio and asked if they’d send me a different guitar for review. They obliged! But as always, this review is unbiased and I required full editorial control of my content. They did not get a sneak peak of my video review of the Boardwalk before I posted it and they did not get a sneak peak at this written review either. Watch this unlisted video for my feelings about sponsored reviews. The following email was from their community manager after I initially reached out:

If you don’t know Indio guitars you’ll be forgiven. They’re the Monoprice store brand. As such, they are budget guitars and often on sale. I have seen this Indio Boardwalk semi-hollow guitar in Natural finish for as little as $65.62 (including shipping!) although it’s more often on sale for closer to $180. For this review I’m going to assume it costs around $200 to help you determine if it’s worth it for you.

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Why You Should Trust Us

Hey, I’m Karol (like Karl not Carol). I’ve been playing guitar for 20+ years, but I’m still an amateur and learning every day. In my younger years I played in a band, but nowadays it’s for fun. I’m not a guitar snob, and I think everybody should just have fun with it.

Why should you listen to this Indio Boardwalk semi-hollowbody guitar review? Because I don’t care about selling you anything and I want to help you make an informed choice about this and every other guitar I review. I started Art Of Shred because I was unimpressed with the obviously biased paid for guitar and musical equipment reviews online. I only get paid if you use one of my referral links to buy a guitar (and not every product has a referral link anyway). Everything I write here is unbiased. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I don’t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.

Indio Boardwalk by Monoprice

8.6 out of 10
$229.99$179
Karol's Indio by Monoprice Boardwalk semi-hollowbody guitar

Indio Boardwalk by Monoprice in red finish

Weight: 7.9 lbs

Made in: China

Looks
8 out of 10
For a budget guitar this looks great. We can nitpick with some binding/finish flaws but that’s not reasonable.
Setup (out of box)
9.5 out of 10
No fret buzz or sharp frets, only needed a slight string height adjustment
Feel
9 out of 10
It feels nice, but if you’ve never played a semi-hollow they are big bodied beasts
Sound
7 out of 10
It sounds good.
Price
9.5 out of 10
Difficult to beat this price for a semi-hollowbody guitar

Pros

Cool looking budget guitar!

Indio's quality control was spot on

Sounds good and plays well

Cons

Cheap tuners

Ceramic pickups are fine, but cheap

Sale prices vary drastically

Indio Boardwalk Video Review

Don’t want to read? This 9 minute video review of the Indio Boardwalk semi-hollow electric guitar on ArtOfShred’s YouTube channel covers most of what you need to know, including an extensive sound demo. As always, the sound demo includes a semi-produced track with drums as well as guitar-only segments with clean and dirty sounds using the various pickup options. Yes, I put this guitar through distorted and clean tones! It’s not just for clean jazz and blues, baby!

The Basics of the Affordable ES-335 style Indio Boardwalk

The Gibson ES-335 is the guitar people think of then they think of semi-hollowbody guitars. And for good reason. First introduced by Gibson in 1958 it has developed legend status at this point and has been in production continuously since its debut. So many well known and unknown guitarists use the ES-335 that I don’t think I need to convince you of its legendary status.

But what about this ES-335 style Indio Boardwalk? One thing is for sure, it’s not going to compete with a Gibson! Does it compete with an Epiphone ES-335, though? This might get me dragged online, but the answer is … almost! For less than half the price, it’s difficult to compete with the Boardwalk. (Firefly guitars also makes a sub-$200 ES-335 copy that I will review at some point.)

That’s not to say this guitar is perfect or that you need to buy it instead of a more expensive Epiphone, but I also don’t think you’d be making a bad decision if that’s what you decided to do.

The regular price of this guitar is $229.99, but I do often see it on sale for between $150 and $180. And sometimes far far less. Again, I’m basing this whole guitar review on a $200 price point.

The Indio Boardwalk spec breakdown:

  • Maple C shaped set neck
  • Maple block in the center
  • Maple body
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • 628mm scale length (24.72″)
  • 350mm fretboard radius (13.77″)
  • 43mm bone nut
  • 2 humbucking pickups
  • Tune-o-matic (TOM) bridge with stopbar tailpiece
  • 22 medium jumbo frets
  • 7.9 lbs
  • Comes with a good gig bag and includes truss rod allen wrench
  • Made in China

First Impressions

I’ll be honest with you, I am not what you might call a “semi-hollowbody” guitar guy. I’ve always appreciated them and they’re fun to play. But they’re not my first choice. So keep that in mind as I tell you, I really liked this guitar out of the box!

If you’ve read any Art Of Shred reviews before, you know the biggest thing for me with a budget electric guitar is that it is playable out of the box. The Indio Boardwalk had absolutely no issues out of the box and it comes with a good gig bag. So my first impressions were solid.

I’ve complained about the neck binding on cheap Epiphones before (and I like many of the cheap Epiphones!) so I usually expect neck and body bindings to be subpar at best. I’m happy to report that the binding on the Indio Boardwalk is totally respectable and is better than the cheap Epiphone guitars in its price range. It really is closer to the more expensive Epiphone ES-335 with its appointments.

Cons

Because this guitar was sent to me I really wanted to find every flaw imaginable. But unfortunately, or I guess fortunately, there just weren’t any flaws. Indio claims the Boardwalk is setup in California before shipping to customers and I don’t doubt it. Again, I can nitpick with some minor binding/finish flaws, but it really is nitpicking. You won’t notice anything unless you get up close.

Pros

A lot to like about this budget $200 semi-hollowbody guitar.

  • It’s a unique budget guitar! Not too many semi-hollowbody guitars for ~$200 out there. Much like the Epiphone Les Paul Special I P-90 that we’ve reviewed, a unique budget guitar is always nice to see.
  • It sounds good. Not great, but it’s rare for a budget guitar to sound great. But it sounds good enough that you’ll dig it.
  • It had a good setup and out of box experience. Gotta love that for an affordable guitar.

What Kind of Setup Did I Do?

This guitar didn’t need much setup. I slightly lowered the strings although it was setup with a totally respectable 2mm height at the 12th fret on both the high and low E strings. I also set the intonation, because that almost always needs a tweak no matter if you’re buying a budget guitar or a custom shop guitar. Shipping will do wonders to a guitar!

If you need a refresher on how to set intonation, it’s essentially the same with any guitar:

How Does An Indio Boardwalk Sound?

It sounds good! These pickups may lack a little clarity and a little bite, but they are completely respectable humbuckers. Watch the full Indio Boardwalk guitar review for the full sound demo or listen to this short semi-produced track:

What Would I Upgrade on the Indio Boardwalk?

Common amongst pretty much every budget guitar that we review here at Art Of Shred is that cheap electric guitar have cheap, let’s call them, electrics. Meaning, the pickups, pots, and switch are often very cheap. That doesn’t mean they won’t last you a long time. That doesn’t mean they’re not decent. It just means that they’re the first things I would upgrade, starting with the bridge pickup.

I’d also replace the cheap tuners with locking tuners, not just for ease of string changes but also because upgrading to any quality tuners from cheap ones will improve tuning stability.

The nut and the bridge on the Indio Boardwalk are both good enough that I probably wouldn’t upgrade either one unless I was having issues with them.

Indio Boardwalk by Monoprice Photo Gallery

Final Thoughts on the Indio Boardwalk

This is a good choice for a budget guitar. It’s not my first choice of budget guitar. But it’s my first choice for a budget semi-hollowbody guitar until further notice. If you buy one of these I think you’ll dig it!

Overall: 8.6 / 10. Nice for beginners or anybody interested in getting an affordable ES-335 copy.

Do you own a Indio Boardwalk semi-hollowbody guitar? Please let me know below what you like and dislike about it.

1 thought on “Indio Boardwalk by Monoprice review (Is it the BEST cheap semi-hollowbody guitar?)”

  1. Pingback: Are Indio by Monoprice Guitars Any Good? (I own 2 so I’ll tell you straight up) – Art Of Shred Guitar & Gear Reviews

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