Let me start by saying I go back and forth between being a tremendous gear snob and loving cheap n' trashy stuff. Right now, though, I'm really impressed with some less-expensive instruments. I just got an MTD Beast 5-string in trade (not a CHEAP bass new, but a great used value), and also own a Dean Jeff Berlin Standard. These are both mid-priced Czech imports, and I think they KILL, not just for their price range, but for ANY price range. In fact, I bought the Beast to be a "knock-around" replacement bass for jams and such, where I don't want to worry about damaging my Pulcinella Level 5. It turns out that, while the Level 5 is comfier ergonomically, the Beast sounds much better through my rig! BTW, I just bought a _Jay Turser_(!) electric/acoustic resonator guitar that also rules, for under $300 new. The alternative would be a $1,750 National Reso-lectric, and the Turser sounds great and plays very well. Anyone else want to praise the inexpensive stuff?