Mitchell MD200 review (Why is this phenomenal beginners guitar so cheap?!)

This is definitely the most complete and unbiased review of the Mitchell MD200 electric guitar you will find. I spent months with this guitar before filming and writing the review and I also, of course, purchased the guitar with my own money.

As you can tell by the title the Mitchell MD200 is a budget guitar powerhouse. It really has no business being as good as it is for the price. Seriously, watch this quick video I made about the MD200’s ultra smooth and fast neck then come back to read the rest of the review:

So yeah, as is our specialty here at Art Of Shred, no burying the lede. This is a good guitar for under $150. Maybe the best guitar you can buy for under $150. But that doesn’t mean it was perfect and we’ll cover what’s wrong with the MD200 and whether you should buy it anyway.

First, although it’s listed at $219.99 it’s usually on sale for around $150. That’s a good price for it, but I got it even cheaper. They must have had too many of these guitars in black because they briefly dropped the new price for a black MD200 to $99.99 so I had to buy it. I sent out an email in Riff City #17 alerting you to this deal.

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Why You Should Trust Us

Hey, Iโ€™m Karol (like Karl not Carol). Iโ€™ve been playing guitar for 20+ years, but Iโ€™m still an amateur and learning every day. In my younger years I played in a band, but nowadays itโ€™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 Mitchell MD200 electric guitar review? Because I donโ€™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 piece of gear. Everything I write here is unbiased. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I donโ€™t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.

Mitchell MD200

8.6 out of 10
$219.99$99.99

Mitchell MD200 electric guitar in black finish

Weight: 7.0 lbs

Made in: China

Looks
8 out of 10
At first glance it doesn’t look like a budget guitar.
Setup (out of box)
9.5 out of 10
I only had to adjust the string height and intonation
Feel
9.5 out of 10
It feels incredible.
Sound
6 out of 10
Its pickups are its biggest weakness
Price
10 out of 10
A rare 10/10 for price to value ratio.

Pros

Looks and feels great

Mitchell's quality control has impressed me

Great first guitar, great mod guitar

Cons

Cheap tuners

Pickups are "scratchy" (noisy)

Push pull coil tap doesn't sound all that good

Mitchell MD200 Video Review

Don’t want to read? This 13 minute video review of the MD200 guitar 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, including extensive testing of the push pull coil tap

The Basics of the Affordable Mitchell MD200 guitar

This guitar is 2 things: it’s targeted towards beginners and it’s targeting towards heavy styles of music. Based on the 24 frets and the thin fast neck, it’s also targeted towards shred styles so I guess that’s 3 things.

But what if you don’t fall into any of those categories? It doesn’t matter. You can play nearly any style on any guitar and the MD200 is no exception. This is music! There are no rules! (Except when there are, but this isn’t a music theory lesson.)

Sometimes people get mad at my in the comments (both on this website and the ArtOfShred YouTube channel) when I state that an affordable guitar is targeted towards beginners. But the fact remains: budget guitars are targeted towards beginners. They’re meant as first guitars! That doesn’t mean you can’t buy one or use one if you’re a seasoned professional (lots of pros use cheap-ish guitars).

Would a pro use a Mitchell MD200 without any mods? Absolutely not. Should a beginner guitar player worry about that? Absolutely not.

The MD200 spec breakdown:

  • 25.5โ€ scale length
  • Basswood body
  • Rock maple neck
  • Indian laurel fretboard (they call it rosewood)
  • 24 narrow tall medium jumbo frets
  • 2 ceramic rail humbuckers (mini rail and full humbucker) with a coil tap
  • Tune-o-matic bridge
  • String thru body
  • 3 way pickup switch
  • Two individual volume controls
  • One master tone control that also functions as the push pull coil tap
  • Weighs 7.0 pounds
  • Made in China

Mitchell MD200 First Impressions

As you might know, I’m one of the few guitar players that publicly proclaim my love for not just cheap guitars (when they’re good!), but specifically the Guitar Center / Musician’s Friend store brand, Mitchell Guitars. My goal will always and forever be to get more people interested in playing guitar and I don’t believe in guitar snobbery.

But even with that said, my expectations with a $100 guitar are not high. Sometimes a sub-$100 guitar surprises me, like the Indio Retro Classic. But sometimes they are duds, like the Glarry GTL.

The MD200, though? Welp, my first impressions were good!

There was one tiny flaw on the back of the neck behind the nut, a small chip that doesn’t affect anything. And the pickups, as we’ll get to shortly, are not my favorite. But this is a good guitar and the out of box experience was nice. No sharp frets, no fret sprout, no high frets. I had to make minimal adjustments.

This Mitchell MD200 did come with an allen wrench to adjust the truss rod (unnecessary in my case). Interestingly, the Mitchell MS450 did not come with an allen wrench. Let’s move on to what I didn’t like about this guitar …

Cons

The biggest con to me is that I don’t love these pickups. They are wax potted, but they’re still “scratchier” / noisier than I prefer a heavy metal style guitar to be. That’s not say you can’t get any good tones out of them.

The second thing is the MD200 produces a lot of overtones behind the bridge. This is not completely unheard of, but this guitar produces more pronounced overtones than pretty much any guitar I can remember playing recently. That’s not the end of the world, though, because there’s a simple fix …

If you’re doing any live playing or recording you’re going to need to mute the strings behind the nut and behind the bridge. I use a GruvGear fretwrap behind the nut, and a bandana that I got with my Slow Crush Glow Fuzz guitar pedal behind the bridge.

You can use nearly anything you want to mute the strings, but I particularly like fretwraps because they’re quick and cheap.

And the third thing I didn’t love about the Mitchell MD200 is that my guitar’s string thru holes were not aligned with the bridge and neck.

Closeup of the misaligned strings on the Mitchell MD200
Closeup of the misaligned strings on the Mitchell MD200

Are any of these things egregious? No, not really. Not ideal but I still get a lot of enjoyment out of the guitar anyway.

Pros

If you can’t tell already I like this guitar.

  • It feels phenomenal. Seriously, the best neck on any guitar in this price range and many in the $400+ range. It’s crazy to me how good this neck feels.
  • Great for heavy metal, but fine for nearly any style of music
  • Sounds good enough even if the pickups ideally need an upgrade

Mitchell has shown me they’re really trying to punch above their price with their electric guitars and the MD200 is no exception. I think you’ll like it as much as me.

What Kind of Setup Did the Mitchell MD200 Need?

This was a really good out of the box experience but the MD200 did come with a much higher string height than I like. I dropped it down to my preference of around 1.75mm, but it was playable out of the box even though it was over 2mm. For the setup I removed the strings, polished the frets and fretboard, replaced the strings, lowered the string height, and set the intonation. Those are standard things for me on any guitar. (And if you’re a beginning guitar player I wouldn’t worry about any of them all that much.)

Guitar Setup Products I Use

๐Ÿช› FretGuru Ultimate Fret End File which I didn’t need on the MD200 (I also own the FretGuru sanding beam, fret crowning file, and string gauge)
๐Ÿ–๏ธ Micromesh fret sanding pads – For polishing the frets to a mirror shine
๐Ÿ’‚ Fret guards – Lots of different options here, any will be suitable; I personally use blue painter’s tape to tape off the fretboard
๐Ÿ”ช How to fix sharp frets video

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

There is some quirkiness with setting intonation on a wraparound bridge like what this SG Special I has, but that video will still help you.

How Does A Mitchell MD200 Sound?

For the full MD200 sound demo watch the review video, but here is the semi-produced track with drums:

What do you think? I think for an affordable guitar, especially one that costs under $150, it sounds good!

What Would I Upgrade?

This is a great budget guitar and if you’re a beginner you don’t need any upgrades. Learn to play, figure out what you like and dislike, and either mod this guitar or buy a new or used guitar that suits your needs better.

But if you want to keep this guitar for the long haul, particularly for live shows and/or recording? Yeah, you’re probably going to want to do some modifications.

  • Pickups
  • Tuners
  • Nut

The bridge pickup is a must upgrade especially if you’re playing metal since it’s going to get the most use. A great pickup is anywhere from $90 – $200, and I honestly don’t think you’ll go wrong with any of the known brands (Seymour Duncan, DiMarzio, EMG). There are also decent budget pickup options out there!

The cheap tuners on the Mitchell MD200, as mentioned in the review video, don’t hold tune particularly well. That is typical of most cheap tuners, but I definitely find myself tuning this guitar more often than most. That’s not the end all and be all, but upgrade to locking tuners for both tuning stability and quick string changes.

Lastly, might as well upgrade the nut if you’re upgrading the tuners. GraphTech nuts are only $15 and a worthwhile upgrade.

Mitchell MD200 Photo Gallery

Final Thoughts on the Mitchell MD200

If you haven’t figured it out already, I like this guitar. It’s cheap, it plays well, it sounds good enough, and it’s cheap. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I honestly think if this had a brand name that wasn’t Mitchell it would have a regular price of $299 or possibly even into the mid $300s. Yes, it’s that good.

Overall: 8.6 / 10. At $150 or less the MD200 is a solid choice for beginners, modders, and everything in between.

Do you own a Mitchell MD200? Please let me know below what you like and dislike about it.

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