5 Best Grote Guitars (2023) Pay For Your Guitar, Not the Name on the Headstock

If you watch a lot of guitar content on YouTube or you regularly shop for gear on Amazon, there’s a good chance you’ve come across Grote guitars. Grote is a Chinese brand that gained popularity thanks to their well-built guitars and seemingly too good to be true pricing.

With features like stainless steel fretwork and flamed tops on even their cheapest models, it’s easy to see why Grote stands out amongst the plethora of cheaply built import guitars. They do sell direct to consumer, but another part of their appeal is their heavy presence on Amazon, which gives buyers a degree of confidence that returns will be easy in the event they aren’t satisfied.

In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be taking a look at the 5 Best Grote Guitars on sale today. We picked models to suit all budgets and musical tastes, and we think you’ll really like this selection.

If you’re in the market for a well-built and extremely affordable guitar, be sure to keep reading.

Editor's Choice
Grote LPS-003

Grote LPS-003

Features: Highly figured finish, Stainless steel frets, Alnico humbuckers

Benefits: Fantastic playability, Super thick tones, Great build quality

Best Value
Grote GT335-009

Grote GT335-009

Features: Solid center block, Mahogany body, Bone nut

Benefits: Great resonance, Huge tonal versatility, Exellent touch response

Best Budget
Grote GTL-101

Grote GTL-101

Features: Flamed maple top, Basswood body, Semi hollow construction

Benefits: Super affordable, Great looks, Authentic Telecaster tones

Our Top 3

The Grote GT335-009 was our Top Pick thanks to its excellent performance and affordable price. It looks great and offers a really versatile range of tones that suit everything from country to hard rock.

If you’re looking for something even more affordable, check out the Grote GTL-101, our Best Budget option. It’s absurdly cheap, but it doesn’t look or feel it. It delivers great tones and some of the best aesthetics you’ll find for anywhere near this price.

Finally, if budget isn’t an issue, our Editor’s Choice the Grote LPS–003 is going to be the best bet for you. This Les Paul style guitar is absolutely comparable with Epiphones of the same price range, but comes with a far nicer finish than you’d find on those officially licensed copies.


Individual Reviews

Top Pick
Grote GT335-009

Grote GT335-009

A superb semi hollow with tons of mojo.

With this ES style guitar you’re getting great fit and finish and the kind of playability you’d usually expect from a big name brand. The overall quality is excellent, from the wood selection through to the electronics, and this results in fantastic tone.

The Grote GT335-009 is one of those guitars that frequently gets picked up on by YouTubers as a great low-cost alternative to the likes of the Epiphone ES-335, which explains how a guitar from a non-mainstream brand has become so popular.

It had an all mahogany body with a maple veneer. This is a departure from the usual maple laminate construction of a typical 335-style guitar, but it definitely didn’t detract from the look or tone. The finish was very well applied and it came with a matte topcoat.

The neck was also made with mahogany and had a rounded C profile. It was medium in thickness and felt good in the hand. Topping the neck was a laurel fretboard with 22 very nicely-finished frets. The frets were actually one of the most impressive things about this guitar. They were made from stainless steel, which is rare at this price point, and were beautifully polished.

It was equipped with a pair of good quality humbuckers that delivered the classic 335 tone. It had great warmth and good balance across the frequency range. Pickups on cheaper guitars often tend to be super microphonic, but that wasn’t the case with this Grote. The pots were also good quality and gave us a decent sweep, without the binary on/off effect that’s often associated with cheap electronics.

As for hardware, it was again, very well equipped. The tuners were chrome-plated Grover-style units. They held strong, delivering great tuning stability, and actually made fine-tuning really easy. We also really liked the truss rod cover – it had a really cool chess piece design and gave the guitar a really classy look.

Verdict: The Grote GT335-009 really performed like a much more expensive guitar. It was definitely comparable to more expensive 335 clones in terms of feel, tone, and playability. As far as fretwork goes, we’re not sure we’ve found another guitar at this price point that even comes close.

Pros
  • Stainless steel frets
  • Good build quality
  • Great tuning machines
Cons
  • Matte top coat 
  • Only 2 available finishes

Best Budget
Grote GTL-101

Grote GTL-101

An original spin on the classic Tele design.

This Telecaster inspired Grote offers incredible value for money with its flamed finish and semi hollow body. It offers great playability, and a range of tones you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else for twice the money.

The Grote GTL-101 was the cheapest guitar on test by a significant margin, but it definitely held its own across the board. The aesthetics were fantastic – far better than anything else we’ve seen at this price. The flamed finish was obviously a veneer, but it showed that Grote isn’t just trying to put out the cheapest possible guitar here.

The body itself was made entirely from basswood, and had a semi-hollow construction with a single F hole. Basswood is a great choice for a budget electric guitar thanks to its neutral tones and low cost, and we think it was used effectively here.

It had a maple neck, with a thin C-shape profile. The ergonomics were surprisingly good and the satin finish really helped make it feel fast. Beginners in particular will find it to be really forgiving. The fretboard was maple, too, and the fretwork was exceptional considering this is a $110 guitar.

Interestingly, the treble side cutaway had a PRS-style carve, which really added to the comfort and gave great access to the upper frets.

Tonally, it had the usual Telecaster twang. Despite not being a straight clone, it was set up just like one as far as the electronics went. The neck pickup was warm, but never felt muddy, and the bridge was nice and bright. The semi-hollow body added some extra warmth to the mix, and really made it a great jazz and blues player.

The hardware was standard, but all of decent quality. The bridge had individually adjustable saddles and it came well intonated right from the factory. The action was nice and low, and the tuners did a good job with stability.

Verdict: The Grote GTL-101 was truly impressive considering how little it costs. It would make a great first guitar for a new player and it definitely stands out in a sea of Squiers and Epiphones. It was well made, it sounded great, and for the money, we don’t think there’s a prettier guitar on the market.

Pros
  • Gorgeous looks
  • Great semi hollow tone
  • Excellent price
Cons
  • Prone to feedback
  • No real sweep on the pots

Editor's Choice
Grote LPS-003

Grote LPS-003

Big Les Paul tone and superb aesthetics.

With this fantastic Les Paul style guitar, you’re getting superb build quality and authentic tone. It boasts excellent fit and finish, with top quality hardware, and the kind of playability you’d expect from a much more expensive guitar.

Like the GT335-009, the Grote LPS-003 has something of a cult following online, so we were very keen to get our hands on one for this test. Upon unboxing, we found it to be an extremely handsome guitar, with a fantastic flamed finish in green. It was reminiscent of the Anaconda Burst Slash signature models and really looked great. 

As with all good Les Paul style guitars, it had a solid mahogany body topped with a maple cap. The top was carved, which really gave it the authentic LP feel, and the proportions were all close to spot on when compared to a Gibson model.

This is a set-neck model and featured a maple neck, although the wood grain couldn’t be seen through the solid glossy finish on the back. The neck profile was on the thicker side and closer to the vintage ‘50s style than to a slim-taper, although not quite as chunky.

Once again, this was a Grote guitar with stainless-steel fretwork. It’s always worth highlighting how impressive it is to find this on a budget guitar. The fret edges were perfect and the crowns were too, everything was well-leveled, and if you told us it had been PLEK’d, we’d be hard pressed to call your bluff.

For the electronics, it was very well-equipped. It came with Alnico humbucking pickups, which were comparable to those found in similarly priced Epiphone Les Pauls. The neck position gave us a nice, fat blues tone and in the bridge, we got some amazing high gain sounds, with a tight midrange and great focus.

The pickups had another party piece in that they were coil-splitting, which let us get some single-coil tones. There’s no doubt they were very useable in this mode, but we think nothing quite compares to a LP or LP-style guitar with screaming humbuckers!

It had great hardware, with the same Grover-style tuning machines as the ES-style guitar. They performed very well, with easy fine-tuning and great stability. It had a Tune-o-Matic style bridge, which was very well set up out of the box, resulting in accurate intonation up and down the neck.

Verdict: The Grote LPS-003 was definitely one of the best Les Paul style guitars we’ve played at this price point. For what would be the price of a pretty basic Epiphone, this guitar gave us a premium finish and a wide range of tones thanks to the coil-splitting humbuckers. It was very nicely made, very reliable, and we think it would be pretty much gig-ready right out of the box.

Pros
  • Coil splitting pickups
  • Excellent build quality
  • Includes gig bag
Cons
  • Not everyone will like the thick neck
  • HPL fretboard

Also Consider
Grote Jazz Electric Guitar GRWB-ZTVS

Grote Jazz Electric Guitar GRWB-ZTVS

An affordable jazzbox style guitar.

This is a handsome jazzbox electric with tons of character, and build quality that far surpasses its price point. It offers great playability, and unique tones thanks to its P90 pickup.

The Grote Jazz Electric Guitar GRWB-ZTVS is a pretty unique looking guitar and a real asset in the Grote lineup. From the front, it has the jazzbox look, which we think they really nailed. But get a view from the side profile and you’ll see it’s about as thick as an ES-style model.

The body is all layered maple, which made it surprisingly heavy for a hollow body. Despite the weight, the maple ensured a really snappy response. It had a fully bound body with classic F holes, although the F holes themselves weren’t bound.

Like the body, the neck was also made with maple, and had a very similar profile to the Les Paul style model (our Editor’s Choice). In short, it had a medium to thick feel, which worked well on this model. The fretboard was listed as black wood, which we think is a bit of a misnomer. It was actually the same HPL used on the LP. Like the other models on test, the fretwork was excellent, with well-rounded edges and good leveling.

We did like the tones, but we found a lack of versatility. If you’re buying it just to play jazz, you’ll probably love it. But having just one P90, and having it mounted in the bridge position, did mean it got a bit muddy with any kind of gain applied. When kept clean, though, it was warm and great for jazz, and early blues.

Once again, it really nailed the aesthetics with the trapeze tailpiece, and intonation was good and accurate thanks to the Tune-o-Matic bridge. Tuning stability wasn’t a concern and the Grover-style machines performed pretty well. The action was set a little higher than we’d have liked, but this can be adjusted, and it wasn’t offensively high, anyway.

Verdict: In all, we thought the Grote Jazz Electric Guitar GRWB-ZTVS  delivered a lot for the money. To get something in this style from a more mainstream brand, you’d be looking at paying at least double the money. So picking this up for under $250 actually feels like a real bargain.

Pros
  • Great warmth
  • Fantastic styling
  • Excellent fretwork
Cons
  • Not much tonal diversity
  • Factory setup not ideal

Also Consider
Grote Headless GHRL-2

Grote Headless GHRL-2

A Strandberg style headless shredder with bags of attitude.

This is a bold effort from Grote, and serves up great metal tone and fantastic aesthetics. It has a spalted finish, superb ergonomics, and hot pickups for screaming high gain performance.

While we often see smaller brands like Grote taking on Strats, Teles, and Les Pauls, it’s quite unusual to not only see them attempt copies of boutique brands like Strandberg, but actually do a half decent job at it! The Grote Headless GHRL-2 was a real surprise, but we really enjoyed our time with it.

This particular guitar had a mahogany body and was topped with what looked like a spalted maple veneer. It really looked the part, and the quality of the finish was very good.

It had a Canadian maple neck, which was much thinner than the necks on the rest of the Grote models we tested. This kept it fast-playing and very comfortable. The fretboard was made with HPL, which while not exactly luxurious, is still a reliable (and sustainable) material for this purpose. We really liked the fretwork, which again was stainless steel and extremely well-polished. Disappointingly, it was a 22 fret model – for this style of guitar, we’d have liked to have seen 24 frets, but this is a minor drawback.

The electronics were great, too, with 2 humbuckers delivering some searing high gain tones. It performed well both clean and distorted, and had a good balance across the mids. Cutting through a mix was no problem and sitting back and blending into it during rhythm sections came easy, too.

The hardware selection was potentially the only thing we weren’t overly impressed with. It all looked good and was of decent quality, but the bridge made it very difficult to make adjustments to the tuning. Tuning stability was actually pretty good, but whenever adjustments were necessary, there was more of an involved process and the machines didn’t turn too easily.

Verdict: The Grote Headless GHRL-2 would make a great choice for an intermediate metal fan on a tighter budget. It looked great and the ergonomics were solid, plus the tones really hit the spot. It’s a departure from what we expected, but we think Grote did a good job considering how complicated it is to make a guitar like this.

Pros
  • Roller saddles
  • High performance pickups
  • Superb ergonomics
Cons
  • Fine tuning can be difficult
  • Only 22 frets

How to Choose The Right Grote For You

Shopping for a Grote guitar is a bit more research heavy than going for an Epiphone or a Squier. Unfortunately, Grote guitars aren’t carried in stores, which means you’ll need to spend a bit of time comparing the features online.

Body Style

Electric guitars are available in 3 main body styles, and Grote just happens to produce all of them. Keep reading to learn more about solid, semi-hollow, and hollow-body guitars.

Solid-Body

Solid-body guitars are made from a slab of wood that’s either carved from a single piece or made by joining several pieces of solid wood together. They’re the most common electric guitars and have a design that makes them extremely resistant to unwanted feedback. They are great for pretty much any style of music, but they don’t have the same warmth or resonance as semi-hollow and hollow-bodied guitars.

Semi-Hollow Body

Semi-hollow body guitars are made with a solid center block running through the middle of the guitar and hollow chambers to either side. This design is extremely versatile and offers excellent resistance to feedback, while improving the warmth and resonance of the tone. Like solid-body guitars, they’re great all-rounders that work well for a lot of genres, but they do tend to struggle with anything high gain.

Hollow Body

The very first electric guitars were hollow bodied. And of course, the reason for the invention of the solid-body electric guitar was so players could play at higher volumes without feedback. Although, you do get superb resonance and exceptional warmth with hollow-bodied guitars, key reasons why they’re so popular with jazz players.

Pickup Type

The type of pickups installed in a Grote guitar also has a significant impact on tone and performance. Despite being a budget brand, Grote has models with each of the 3 main types of pickup.

Single-Coil Pickups

Single-coil pickups are made using a magnet with a single coil of wire wrapped around it. This is the earliest guitar pickup design and provides a bright, clear tone with great articulation, particularly in the midrange and top end. Unfortunately, this design is prone to picking up interference from nearby electrical equipment, which results in 60-cycle hum.

P90 Pickups

P90 Pickups are also single-coil by design, but they use a shorter, wider bobbin than traditional single-coils, which results in a totally different tone. These pickups were invented by Gibson and deliver a gritty, raspy tone that made them an instant hit in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. They aren’t impervious to the 60-cycle hum, but they do have better resistance than a standard single-coil.

Humbucking Pickups

Humbucking pickups, most commonly known as humbuckers, have a 2nd coil wired in reverse and connected to the first in series. This results in a pickup that cancels out the hum caused by electromagnetic interference, giving a much quieter output (in terms of unwanted noise). They have a thick, warm tone, and handle high gain better than single-coils or even P90s.


Final Thoughts

Despite not being a mainstream brand, we found that these Grote guitars were definitely comparable with similarly priced counterparts from the likes of Squier, and we found that them to be a step above the models we’ve played from Donner, another Chinese direct-to-consumer brand.

To recap, we thought that the Grote GT335-009 ES-style guitar offered incredible performance at a very reasonable price point, and for that reason we named it our Top Pick. Our Best Budget choice, the Grote GTL-101 was a Tele-inspired model that came with a gorgeous flamed top and a price tag you wouldn’t believe. Finally, our Editor’s Choice was the Grote LPS-003 – a stunning Les Paul style guitar with a proper maple cap, a lovely finish, and high-end touches like stainless-steel frets.

Author

  • Simon Morgan

    Simon is an Orlando based musician, but originally hails from Newcastle, England. He started playing bass and guitar in 1998, and played the local scene throughout his teen years before life got in the way. Favorite Genres: Blues, Classic Rock, and he’s not ashamed to admit - Emo