Indio by Monoprice Retro Classic Review (this cheap electric guitar doesn’t suck!)

This is an unbiased review of the Indio Retro Classic and the most complete review you will find. It also includes an accompanying 14 minute video guitar review.

Let me be clear up front, this is a ultra-low budget guitar and you can’t expect miracles. But it does lead the pack amongst ultra-low budget guitars and it’s better than the Glarry GTL which is a similar price and similar Telecaster-style. I’d say it’s actually pretty good!

You might be thinking how is it possible that a $60 guitar could be good? I’ll tell ya, it surprised me too! So let’s get into it.

But first, as always on ArtOfShred, this review is unbiased. I paid for this guitar with my own money and nobody sponsored it. I paid $59.49 + tax for a grand total of $63.80.

You might be wondering how I got this guitar so cheap when the regular price is $109.99. Well, I have a knack for finding guitar deals, like this $150 LTD EC-10 or this $201 Yamaha PAC112V, and I’d be happy to let you know whenever I find good deals.

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Note: The reason this particular model was on sale at such a low price is because they discontinued this style of Retro Classic. Not much has changed with the new one except it is no longer string through and has a different bridge. For details check out the review video.

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.

Why should you listen to this Indio Retro Classic review? Because I don’t care about selling you anything and I want to help you make an informed choice about the guitar. I started Art Of Shred because I was unimpressed with the obviously biased paid for guitar and musical equipment reviews online. If you use one of the affiliate links on this page to make a purchase I might earn a commission, but that doesn’t change your price. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I don’t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.

Indio by Monoprice Retro Classic

6 out of 10

Indio Retro Classic in Red

Weight: 7.6 lbs

Made in: China

7 out of 10
Setup (out of box)
2 out of 10
7 out of 10
6 out of 10
Price / Value
8 out of 10


Phenomenal price

Smooth satin neck feels better than a lot of cheap guitars

Comes with a real protective gig bag


Had some sharp frets out of the box

Not a lot of resale value

Cheap hardware (obviously)

Indio Retro Classic Video Review

Don’t want to read this review? No worries. This 14 minute review on ArtOfShred’s YouTube channel covers most of what you need to know, including an extensive sound demo. 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.

The Basics of this Telecaster style guitar

The Retro Classic’s body style isn’t unique. It’s based on, you guessed it, a classic, some might even say retro, Fender Telecaster guitar.

The spec breakdown:

  • 25.5″ scale length and 9.5″ fretboard radius (like a regular Telecaster)
  • 22 medium frets
  • Dot fret inlays
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Maple bolt-on C-shaped neck
  • Basswood body
  • Cheap tuners (does stay in tune fairly well though)
  • 2 single coil ceramic pickups
  • 1 volume pot
  • 1 tone pot
  • 3 way pickup switch
  • 6 saddle bridge
  • String-thru body
  • 7.6 lbs (yours might differ slightly)
  • Made in China

First Impressions

After my experience with the Glarry GTL I did not have high hopes for this similarly priced guitar. Why would I? But as a guitar reviewer I need to keep an open mind and keep testing everything I can so when this deal came before me I had to take it.

Low expectations may be good in situations like this, but if I’m spending my own money on a piece of gear I still want it to be useful, you know?

The guitar arrived inside a padded gig bag and in one box. Many companies double box for protection, but most ultra-low budget brands do not. It saves on shipping and in the case of Monoprice the gig bag isn’t a piece of junk so it does provide a little extra protection.

I was surprised to find it came with a decent gig bag at this price!

I’d say a gig bag like what Monoprice includes with their Indio guitars is worth at least $20. For comparison the Glarry GTL gig bag is more like a dust cloth and isn’t worth more than a few dollars.

Watch this 34 second unboxing video for a look at the gig bag and how this guitar was packaged for shipping:

When I put the guitar in my hands it felt okay, except …


Sharp frets!

Lots and lots of sharp frets. About a dozen of them.

It’s really too bad because if this guitar came with a decent fret job I’d probably give it closer to a 8/10 rating considering its value for the price.

Other cons: adjusting the saddles was a little difficult because all of the hardware is cheap. I got the guitar intonated and the string height adjusted so it’s not impossible, but it wasn’t a buttery smooth process.


Let’s start with this: it feels good! The neck on the Retro Classic is satiny smooth and the guitar has a nice weight to it. Although you know it’s cheap I would easily put it on par with Squier Bullet series guitars that cost nearly twice as much.

The neck was also straight and had no fret buzz. This is a huge plus for beginner’s guitars.

Other positives:

  • Sounds good (clean or dirty and in all 3 pickup switch positions). For whatever reason, I really like these pickups!
  • The red finish didn’t have any flaws
  • It generally stays in tune even though the tuners are cheap

What Kind Of Setup Did I Do?

As I’ve already stated, this guitar needed some setup work, which is why it’s difficult for me to recommend to beginners unless you’re a beginner who wants to learn guitar setups. (I think you should learn, it’s fun! But I definitely understand not wanting to. I didn’t learn for years after I started playing.)

I removed the strings, fixed the sharp frets, polished the frets, oiled the fretboard with lemon oil, restrung it, lowered the action (string height to ~1.75mm) and set the intonation.

A word on intonation: it’s easy. Let me repeat that …

Setting intonation is easy. All you need is a guitar tuner.

Like a lot of people I used to take my guitars to a guitar tech every so often and spend money I didn’t need to spend for a setup. All that money could have gone to gear if I had just taken some time to learn to do setups.

If you don’t know how to set your guitar up don’t worry about it. You won’t break anything that can’t be fixed so just take it slow. Setting the intonation on your guitar is a great thing to learn because not only is it useful but it doesn’t require anything more than a guitar tuner and a screwdriver (or allen wrench which often comes with your guitar).

How Does The Retro Classic Sound?

If you haven’t watched the Retro Classic review video already I extracted just the intro demo track here:

That demo won’t give you the full picture of the sound, but it’ll give you an idea.

As I mentioned before I like how the guitar sounds. The pickups aren’t the best but at this price point they can’t be beat. You won’t hate it!

What Would I Upgrade?

If I’m going to do upgrades on a guitar like this I’m probably going to upgrade everything.

Even though I like how it sounds I would replace the pickups. What would I get? Well, I’m not sure, but probably a noiseless in the bridge and a more classic Tele pickup in the neck position. I’d also upgrade to locking tuners and I’d replace at least the bridge saddles if not the whole bridge. The rest of the electronics? Probably will swap out the pots and switch, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

And, of course, good ole strap locks, probably my favorite cheap (less than $20) upgrade:

Indio Retro Classic photo gallery

Final Thoughts on the Indio Retro Classic

This is one of the best guitars you can buy in this price range (under $200), but that doesn’t mean it’s the guitar you should buy. Personally, I’d prefer to spend a little more on something better. But maybe you’re on an ultra low budget? Or maybe you want to mod a Telecaster style guitar? In that case, I think you’ll be pleased with the Retro Classic.

Overall: 6/10. You won’t dislike this guitar, but since it needed work out of the box it’s tough to give it a high score.

Do you own a Indio by Monoprice Retro Classic? Let me know what you think about it via email or the comments below.

6 thoughts on “Indio by Monoprice Retro Classic Review (this cheap electric guitar doesn’t suck!)”

  1. Pingback: Indio Boardwalk by Monoprice review (Is it the BEST cheap semi-hollowbody guitar?) – Art Of Shred Guitar & Gear Reviews

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

  3. I purchased the Stage Right 40 Watt guitar amplifier first as it seemed to have a lot of features for the money. I had done business with Monoprice before and kept them in good regard. I had always liked a Telecaster style so I bought the blonde Retro Classic and was very pleased. I had it for about a year and only liked it more, so I bought the Cali Classic in blue. While it is a fine Indio, I just like the Retro in blonde more. I’m biased, so sue me. I bought some replacement tuners from Fender on Ebay, not a huge upgrade but after a few months I’m not sure if it was much of an upgrade at all. I had to touch the frets a bit at first, but after that I really couldn’t complain about. I just like it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, TR! I still haven’t reviewed a Cali Classic, but I will eventually. This Retro Classic is really nice. I still play it every once in a while, but I do think it’s time to pare down my guitars and this one might have to go so I can make room to review something else. 🙂

  4. I got the later retro classic (not string thru). I did have to do some fret adjusting, there was very noticeable buzz on some frets. As for tone I thought it was very good for the price. Good rhythm with the bridge and nice singing lead with the neck pickup. It worked great the first few times I played it. Unfortunately now I need to fix the wiring I’m thinking. The neck pickup sometimes cuts out and becomes very soft, almost inaudible. So it is a decent guitar for the price if you don’t mind having to do some work on it.

    1. Thanks for sharing! My guess is that’s a loose solder joint, which is unfortunate, but a straightforward fix. Hopefully you can get it back to working order soon!

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