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Began thinking about expensive guitars...

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Anonymous
 Anonymous
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After posting about the $80,000 Martin acoustic, I began thinking about expensive guitars. If you can get a great sound out of a $800 or less guitar why would you purchase a more expensive guitar. My only conclusion is that you buy it for bragging rights. I know many of you will disagree but I honestly feel that it's all about ego. Samething with cars...Why buy a $60,000 Hummer when you can get an Envoy for about half that? They're almost the same size, about the same fuel economy, and built about the same. The advantages for the more expensive is minimal at best.

I do understand that higher-end acoustics are made from much better wood which is key for a great acoustic sound. But even so, to pay $8000 for a guitar when you can get a great sound from a $1500 guitar makes no sense to me. With electrics even though the wood makes some difference with some inexpensive upgrades you can have a great sounding guitar for HUNDREDS less.

Plus, with a more expensive guitar I'd be so worried about dinging or scratching it that I'd be afraid to play it!

I don't know? Maybe it's because I grew up poor and had to make due with inexpensive products and my taste is developed for such.


   
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Ignar Hillström
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First: I'm a poor student with two racks of mid/lower-quality guitars and not a single top-quality guitar.

That being said, more expensive guitars do offer better quality. Ofcourse there is a diminishing increase in quality as the price goes up but usually there is more then the 'ego' reason for why they are more expensive. So should you get an 8000 or 1500 guitar? That depends on your situation. If you have a big label supporting you, if you make music for a living, if you intend to play the next twenty years on one excellent guitar, then go ahead and get the best you can get.

Now most of us aren't like that. We like to play guitar, we have developped skills of some sort but we are totally not the people the Fender Custom Shop is aiming for. Also remember that the type of production matters a lot: a handmade guitar build by a proper luthier will probably outclass a Squier if it is made with the same materials. The price of manual labor is much higher. Now when you also consider then handmade guitars usually demand high-quality materials to make it worth it you see that the 8000 guitar is probably made with better materials in a more expensive manner.

Whether or not it is worth it is totally up to the individual. Do note though that guitars are ultimately very cheap. A high quality Bentley or topclass grand piano can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Us lucky guitarist are blessed with a passion that will only cost a few thousand dollars to be pretty near the top. Still a lot of money but it could have been a whole lot worse for us...


   
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Anonymous
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It's weird, I know price doesn't always mean quality but I still want the expensive stuff anyways. I don't think it's for bragging rights though. Some people can see a good deal or something cheap(in price) and jump on it. I'm not one to do that. Unless it's something I wanted I normally don't bother with it.

I did call a store once to get prices on Epiphone and Gibson Explorers and was told $700 and $1,195. Bit of a difference there but not the $1000-$1500 difference most people say. I did check into how much it would cost to buy that Epiphone then change it over to Gibson pickups and Gibson hardware. With the guitar + case + pickups + tuners I found I stood to save at the most: $65. That is assuming I do the work myself, but I'd probably pay a tech to do it.

So, basically, I've gone through all that work and I'm up $65 on a guitar I didn't even want in the first place. For me, that doesn't seem like a deal. But, I could be saving $300-$400 on it and still feel I'm not ahead if it's not something I wanted. It's not right or wrong but it's how I think and shop.


   
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biker_jim_uk
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Also Mike, if you could afford 80K or so for a guitar, I'm guessing you wouldn't be as worried about dinging it ;)


   
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Misanthrope
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My favourite guitar is also my first guitar - it cost me £35 about 15 years ago. There is, completely literally, only one guitar I've played since then that I preferred to my old beater, and that was a proper '59 Les Paul. (Bit of luck really, I only bought it because it was cheap and I wanted to dip my toes :))

So while I agree about diminishing returns in extra quality as the price goes up as a general principle, there's always going to be exceptions. Hence the reason when I want to buy a guitar I'll set a budget, go to my local shop, play every single last guitar in there that's in my price range and take home the one I like best. Make, age, reputation etc don't make the slightest bit of difference to me, it's all about the axe in my hands at the time. There's no other way to buy :mrgreen:

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greybeard
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I know that I can go to a luthier, who's not more than 10 minutes walk from home, put €20,000 on the counter and, in about 4 or 5 months, collect a hand-made guitar, built of the best tone-woods, to my exact specification.
So why would I fork out another 60 thousand for a Martin?

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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Mike
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Well said, Arjen.

Better wood, materials, craftsmanship (not always true though :? ) and such........ all to make said instrument sound better and last longer.

It also comes down to your ear. What I think sounds great to me might not sound great to you and visa versa. I tried some Martin's before I bought my Taylor. The guitar I bought was the best sounding guitar in the store hands down (trust me I've played almost all of them :lol: ).

With some I'm sure it comes down to an ego thing, but for most, I think it comes down to a life long investment. People that have the money to buy $80,000 guitars hopefully gave some money to charities before doing so (most of them do, do to the fact that they get tax breaks).

I also have an Envoy. I bought it because it's one of the highest rated vehicles in Safety. A big plus seeing as I do most of the transporting with the children.

I think with most things, people aren't looking at it as, "I got the best, so in YOUR face!" type of thing. I think they are looking at the big picture and that includes the long windy road called life.


   
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Anonymous
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It also comes down to your ear. What I think sounds great to me might not sound great to you and visa versa. I tried some Martin's before I bought my Taylor. The guitar I bought was the best sounding guitar in the store hands down (trust me I've played almost all of them :lol: ).

I should of added this part to my poll. It DOES come down to your ear. Again, maybe my ear isn't as refined as all of yours but I truely cannot always tell the difference between the expensive models and inexpensive models. I have noticed SOME difference in playability (another thing I should have added) on some for the expensive brands. When I was at GC a few weeks ago I picked up a $2000+ Taylor to try and it played nice and smooth. I then picked up a $400 Ibanez and it played the same...slightly different tone but just as smooth to play. Where is the "extras" for the $1600 difference.

Remember, just like I can't say that ALL expencive guitars aren't worth it...No one else can say expense equals BETTER.


   
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David Hodge
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Taking almost any topic and turning into an "either / or" choice usually diminishes the arguments for either side.

When it comes to most objects, whether they are guitars, cars, jewelry, or even food, clothing and such, you're going to find some quality products that are made and sold cheaply and some expensive products that aren't quality at all.

Arjen's thoughts pretty much sum up the way things are, I think. "More expensive guitars do offer better quality," and I would add a "usually" to that statement, and Mike's comment about it coming down to "your" ear is also key.

Two other things I'd add are, first, that the difference is usually much more noticeable with acoustic guitars than electrics. With electronics, it's getting easier and easier through production and effects to make a cheap guitar sound (to most people's ears - mine included) like a dream. But it's truly amazing the difference in tone between a $100 guitar, a $300-500 guitar, a $500-1,000 guitar and then higher. At some point you do run into the point where you can't tell the difference and that's where you sit down and make your choice.

I have owned guitars of various price ranges through my life and, while my $200 Seagull sounds much better than the Martins or Taylors or Breedloves or whatever I tried, it still pales in comparison to the Lowden I treated myself to for Christmas. The best way to decribe it is comparing the Seagull to the finest upright piano one can imagine and then comparing that to a Steinway grand that is in perfect condition. I was not prepared for the difference in tone and playability when I got this guitar and I still have a hard time believing the huge difference there is.

(and for the record - I love both guitars and wouldn't think of parting with either)

Second thing, and this is something that is again truly personal, how a guitar feels has to be taken into account. And everyone not only feels things differently, but how we feel about guitars is often influenced (whever we'll admit it or not) by things such as our own history and personalities and influences. If I'm a big fan of *** (insert your own guitarist here) and he (or she) plays a Les Paul, then I'm going to play one too, even if I think it's like playing with a railroad tie! :wink: Being left handed, I often had to simply take what was available and would think to myself "this guitar is great" simply because it was mine.

Another thing to keep in mind is that guitars are hot right now. This means you're going to see more extremes (high and low prices) than things in the middle. Manufacturers are riding a wave of popularity unlike ever before and will often play towards personalities (those who look for a bargain / those who look for a name) and it very often has little to do with the quality of an instrument. It has to do with making money. That's the way the world is.

But the bottom line is that if you're going to judge anything, be it a guitar or whatever, solely on the manufacturing label or the price tag, then you're only going to experience a small fraction of a percent of the story. That goes for whether you believe that costs make a guitar good as well as for thinking that getting a bargain makes a guitar good.

These decisions have to, ultimately, come down to you and the guitar. Not anyone or anything else. And certainly not by things you read from dubious sources such as myself! :wink: Or maybe not...

Peace


   
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Ignar Hillström
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*there was a smart post by me here but I don't have anything to say after David's words above*


   
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Tim_Madsen
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I couldn't bring myself to vote. My answer to the question and both choices is sometimes. :?

Tim Madsen
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until they know how much you care.

"What you keep to yourself you lose, what you give away you keep forever." -Axel Munthe


   
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PVTele
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I couldn't bring myself to vote. My answer to the question and both choices is sometimes. :?

Me too :? :D


   
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Dneck
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I invested in a martin D-16rgt b/c I was getting pretty serious and my old epiphone with a broken neck wasnt cutting it anymore. I looked around and decided on the d16 cause it was made entirely out of rosewood and seemed like a great deal. I actually got it for 800 virtually new on ebay even though it is a 1200 guitar. I couldn't imagine a better acoustic sound the only real problem is that its not electirifed. Its not decorated and to someone who doesnt know much about guitars it probably wouldnt look like much, but I bought the sound not a pretty thing to look at. Now is there a difference? absolutely. The action is scary low with no set up required (honestly it feels like an electric) It never buzzes and it makes (and sustains) sound better than any guitar ive played. Id say that as some point if your serious enough about guitar you should buy your dream guitar, but once you get above about 1500 your paying for inlay, not tone. But hey if you got the money no reason it shouldnt be a little shinier haha

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile


   
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margaret
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Interesting discussion. I couldn't vote, though, due to the either/or choice. I'd go for a third choice, something like:

I'd pay more for better quality, up to $________, beyond which I wouldn't go even if I could.

(I'm sure the $ amt would inflate as my ability to play and my ability to discern the difference in sound quality increased, and of course, if my income increased significantly.)

If I had $80,000 I'd pay off my house and cars, send the kids to college, put it away for retirement, stow it under the mattress, count it every night, become a miser. :D

[My acoustic is a solid mahogany Oscar Schmidt for $150, clearanced from $350. My electric is a Fender Hwy 1 Strat for $600.]

Margaret

When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue, the guitar's comin' through to soothe me ~


   
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kingpatzer
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Does name matter? No. Unless you're talking about things like hand-made guitars where the luthier does matter. Benedetto does a better job of carving a top that I do.

Does price matter? Yes, sort of.

It's been covered already, but it really comes down to this. Quality assurance, quality components, and quality workmanship all cost money. That cost will be reflected in the price.

Now, many "Name" guitars have far more markup on their nameplate than on their materials, craftsmanship and QA elements. This results in many "lesser name" guitars being of equal or higher quality than the big name guitars. It's also true that many of the lower end guitar makers sometimes will "hit a homerun" with one particular single guitar out of a batch of 1000s.

But even given those caveats, in general price is a good indicator of the quality you should expect.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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