This is the most complete unbiased review of the MS450 you will find, and includes an accompanying 12 minute video guitar review.
I won’t keep you waiting. For the price, this is the best guitar you can buy. For beginners. For intermediate players. For seasoned vets who want a decent 2nd or 14th guitar.
The Mitchell MS450 is the guitar all other cheap electric guitars should aspire to.
I know what you might be thinking. How is it possible that a cheap guitar — a Guitar Center / Musician’s Friend store brand, no less! — could be good? Well, it surprised me too! So let’s get into that.
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 $199.99 + tax.
You might be wondering how I got this guitar so cheap when the regular price is $399.99. 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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Table of Contents
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 Mitchell MS450 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. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I don’t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.
Mitchell MS450 in Sunset Burst
Made in: Vietnam
Playable out of the box
Expensive features (TUSQ nut, locking tuners, coil taps)
Only available at Guitar Center / Musician's Friend
Not everybody likes Les Paul style guitars (I'm really nitpicking here)
Mitchell MS450 Video Review
Don’t want to read this review? No worries. This 12 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 Les Paul style guitar
The MS450’s body style is not exactly unique, but it’s tried, true, and tested. As you can tell it looks very similar to a Gibson / Epiphone Les Paul. That said, it’s not quite like a Les Paul. It has a thinner body, and therefore, a lighter weight. I’d say that’s better for beginners who can get more quickly fatigued with a heavy guitar.
The spec breakdown:
- Locking tuners (nice!)
- Graphtech TUSQ XL nut (nice!)
- 2 humbucker pickups
- 2 volume pots with push/pull coil taps for the pickups
- 1 tone pot
- Mahogany single-cutaway body with flame maple top
- Mahogany set neck
- Pau ferro fretboard
- Shallow-C neck profile with slim-taper neck
- 22 Jumbo frets
- Sword slice fret inlays
- Tune-o-matic (TOM) style bridge
- String-thru body
- 24.75″ scale length (like most Les Paul style guitars)
- 6.9lbs (yours might differ slightly)
- Made in Vietnam
I’m going to be honest with you, I did not have very high hopes for the Guitar Center store brand guitar. While I had played a few Mitchell guitars in store over the years I never gave them much thought.
“Oh, GC store brand. Cool. Not bad.” And then I’d move on to a name brand.
So if that’s anything like you, don’t worry. You’re in good company. Good company? Well, you’re in company. 🙂
The guitar arrived nicely double boxed, but my very first thought was, “why is there nothing else in this box?” No tags, no manual, no promotional materials, no allen wrenches. These are things you find with basically every other guitar brand.
I actually called Guitar Center customer service to find out if anything was missing!
But nope. My guess is they do away with every little extra to save money and bring you a great guitar at a low price. I’ve mentioned this before, but I wish more low cost guitar brands would do away with the extras and make their guitars a little better. Mitchell is that brand.
Once I put the guitar in my hands it felt really nice. Time to tune up and test …
Cons (what cons?)
This is tough to write. I pride myself on unbiased reviews and being open and honest about flaws is a good indicator that a review is honest.
But you know what? This guitar at this price has no cons.
Except, yes, I would like an allen wrench included in the box to be able to adjust the truss rod. (Well, I have a dozen truss allen keys, but if this is your first guitar you might not have one and might some day need it.)
That’s about the only real negative I can say about this guitar — it’s not that it’s a perfect guitar, of course — so let’s move on.
The most important pro for a beginning guitar player: this guitar was set up really well right out of the box.
Here is what I mean: the neck was straight, the string height at the 12th fret was just below 2mm (let’s just say it was 2mm), there was no fret buzz, and no sharp frets.
The only thing I eventually adjusted to my own personal liking is I dropped the string height to between 1.5mm and 1.75mm.
I’ve never had a cheap guitar — and I’ve reviewed a lot — come so well set up. Ever.
- Sounds good both clean and dirty
- The neck feels nice and is easy to play
- The flame top finish looks really cool
- The sword slice fret inlays are unique instead of the standard dots or blocks
- LOCKING TUNERS!
- A real Graphtech TUSQ XL nut!
It’s also a light guitar (mine weighed in at 6.9lbs / 3.1kg) with a fairly slim neck. This is great for people with small bodies and/or small hands. I am 6’5″ with big hands (and a bad back!), and it’s great for me too.
What Kind Of Setup Did I Do?
Again, out of the box this guitar did not need a setup. But every guitarist has their personal preferences. If you’re a beginner you won’t have any personal preferences yet so you don’t need to worry about this. Anyway …
I removed the strings, oiled the fretboard with lemon oil, restrung it, lowered the action (string height to 1.5 – 1.75mm) and set the intonation.
A word on intonation: although I said the guitar was set up well out of the box technically that is not true. Nearly any time you get a guitar shipped to you you’re going to need to set the intonation.
But fear not!
Setting intonation is easy. All you need is a guitar tuner.
Here’s a little secret: I didn’t know how to set my intonation for years! I used to take my guitars to a guitar tech every so often (not very often, haha) and spend money I didn’t need to spend for a setup.
So don’t worry if you don’t know how to set your guitar up. Take it slow. One thing at a time. Remember: you won’t break anyway, even if you feel like you might.
How Does The MS450 Sound?
If you haven’t watched the MS450 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.
I will say this: this guitar sounds really good. The pickups aren’t the best but they are the best in this price range.
I didn’t have any issues coaxing whatever sounds I wanted out of this beast. If you play rock, metal, or indie I think you’ll get the sounds you want out of it too.
What Would I Upgrade?
Listen, this thing already comes with a great TUSQ nut and decent no-name locking tuners.
And I like how it sounds.
So the only thing I would upgrade is replacing the strap buttons with strap locks:
If I was getting really nitpicky I’d replace all the pots and electronics. But you know what? I’m not nitpicky. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re not top of the line. (Which you’ll rarely find on sub-$1000 guitars anyway.)
So, the answer is: nothing. This guitar does not need any upgrades.
Mitchell MS450 photo gallery
Final Thoughts on the Mitchell MS450
This is, by far, the best guitar you can buy in this price range.
If you insist on a Strat style body with a tremolo then okay, get my 2nd favorite the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112V. But barring that? The MS450 is the best cheap guitar under $300. This might even be the best guitar under $500 (although don’t hold me to that just yet).
Overall: 9.2/10. You won’t regret buying this guitar.
Do you own a Mitchell MS450? Let me know what you think about it via email or the comments below.