Optimal Price For Guitar

Inanimate100

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I guess what I was trying to get at with the original question is whether there was any sweet spot between price and quality. I own some cheap guitars, mid range and expensive guitars. There is definitely a slight difference between the mid and high end guitars, but I’m not really sure it’s worth the extra £1500. I mean it is nice to have and feel, but is it necessary ?
 

bostjan

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I guess what I was trying to get at with the original question is whether there was any sweet spot between price and quality. I own some cheap guitars, mid range and expensive guitars. There is definitely a slight difference between the mid and high end guitars, but I’m not really sure it’s worth the extra £1500. I mean it is nice to have and feel, but is it necessary ?
Yes there is a sweet spot, but where the sweet spot is located depends on which options you value over others.

If all you want is a guitar that has six strings and you can play cowboy chords on it, then your sweet spot is probably right around $150. If you are in a touring band playing prog/techdeath or whatever, then, oviously, your needs are going to require you to spend more money.

It's like asking a bunch of car people how much is the perfect amount to spend on a car, and not saying what you need the car for, or asking people on a board about movies how much is the most appropriate for a movie budget without saying what sort of movie you are making.

But if you want, like, the Honda Civic of guitars, I guess, I'd still say around $400 or less should do.
 

MaxOfMetal

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I guess what I was trying to get at with the original question is whether there was any sweet spot between price and quality. I own some cheap guitars, mid range and expensive guitars. There is definitely a slight difference between the mid and high end guitars, but I’m not really sure it’s worth the extra £1500. I mean it is nice to have and feel, but is it necessary ?

It's one of those questions that's pretty much rhetorical as there is no real answer because there are so many variables, real and imaginary, that everyone will have a different enough answer based on their own experiences and interpretation of what any of that means.
 

alex_x

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I think it's not worthy to pay more than 2k$ for this peace of pratical wood and hardware at all, these 4-5k and more are like worthless hi-end marketing audio shit for me.
And on the most practical level you can get lucky and even get decent Chinese noname for about 100$, change some hardware for another 100-200 more and get somewhat close to awesome working horse, i.e. decent budget things for me are in 100-500$ range, and above average are in 500-1000(1200 mb), everything higher is like satisfying inner issues, kinda.
 

ErockRPh

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I think the sweet spot moves based on your budget, skill, and desired features are. There are plenty of good guitars as low as $200, and I think you still get good bang for your buck up to the $1200 range. For me, I'm more likely to get a custom or semi-custom build unless the rare instance occurs where I find an off-the-shelf model with the features I'm looking for and with none of the features that I don't want, and it happens to be cheaper than a Kiesel with similar features.
 

marke

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Cheap guitars are bad. Source: I have a cheap guitar, and have had many. Ppl may think expensive guitars are stupid, but I say supporting mass-produced garbage is stupid. It is something I have to do as well, but doing something doesn't make it smart.

You can certainly play and practice with cheapies.. even record with a good sound, but they are not serious, well thought out instruments.

I can't afford to keep a good guitar, but I have seen and tried a few good ones. A real well built and set up guitar is something else. Stuff like Suhr, Tyler, Anderson, Vigier..
 

alex_x

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Many Suhrs are not that well built yknow, so it makes them rather overpriced imo.
 

Jonathan20022

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You can grab a perfectly good instrument for 700 - 1k today and have easily tenfold as many highlight features as you would have had for the same price a decade ago.

Guitar has never been better for the beginner / intermediate musician than it is now. As a student with 1k saved over a summer I would have preferred to exist in today's market than what we had before.

If money is no object, the optimal price is the one that gets you your functional needs. Then drives the aesthetics that you prefer the most, followed by a peak price not far from your budget.

I'd argue no one needs to spend 4 - 5k on a Tom Anderson, but if your budget is in that range it obviously will deliver on the other requirements. But an Ibanez Prestige delivers functionally the same exact needs the Tom Anderson would on paper.
 

Neon_Knight_

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A company like Ibanez doesn't own their manufacturing operations, most brands don't, and I don't think any own all manufacturing short of fairly small boutique operations.

So they're sort of at the mercy of what the OEM wants to charge and what sort of sourcing, training, and tooling costs they pass on.

But the biggest reason you don't see everything with stainless is because it's used to pad spec sheets and create a price ladder in the market to help steer upwards.

Specs, in general, are about marketing.
Ibanez neck profiles & fretboard radii are another good example of this.
 

Neon_Knight_

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I guess what I was trying to get at with the original question is whether there was any sweet spot between price and quality. I own some cheap guitars, mid range and expensive guitars. There is definitely a slight difference between the mid and high end guitars, but I’m not really sure it’s worth the extra £1500. I mean it is nice to have and feel, but is it necessary ?
The sweet spot possibly varies a bit between brands.

Ibanez Prestige is my sweet spot, due to the specs / comfort / playability that they offer. J. Customs are superior, but it's definitely a case of diminishing returns for the extra money. Cheaper Ibanez lines offer plenty of "bang for buck", but I'd happily spend more for the thinner neck profile, flatter fretboard radius and silkier finish on the back of the neck that a Prestige offers.
The Genesis line is the sweet spot for plenty of Ibanez fans, but the neck joint (tilt joint instead of AANJ) is a deal-breaker for me. Change that one spec and then the only meaningful difference to Prestige (imo) is the lack of hardcase...which I don't really need one of per guitar.

If I decided to get an LP-style guitar (not gonna happen), I honestly don't think I would appreciate a Gibson enough (compared to cheaper brands) to justify the cost. Any will have a neck that feels overly chunky to me, so the sweet spot would probably be however much a mid-range Epiphone costs these days.

I'd be interested to know whether people notice a big difference between Jackson Dinky models at various price points, other than the easily replaceable hardware / electronics, as I believe the neck profiles etc are the same across the board.
 

DECEMBER

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I have 3 $500 guitars and 2 $500 basses. I've had to upgrade pickups in 4 of them. Swapped out most of the bridges and tuners. Some of the pots and capacitors. So at least 2 of them ended up costing almost $1000.
I've leveled the frets on 4 of them and no matter what I do I can't get rid of the incessant fret buzz. I like having the variety of tones: a LP, a PRS, and a 6 string baritone, buy I often wish I had just gotten one really nice guitar.
They all sound great now, but the fret buzz is terrible. The G strings sound like a sitar, and the action is almost 10/64" bass side and 6/64" treble side.
 

dspellman

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Maybe a slightly odd question, but I’m interested to know peoples opinions.

Generally what would you say is the optimal price for a guitar, where you can expect a good instrument without running into diminishing returns with extremely expensive guitars.

My opinion is that of about £1,500 is a happy medium between quality and cost. What are your opinions, I’m interested.
Ain't no such thing as an "optimal price" for a guitar.
£1,500 certainly doesn't qualify.

Amazon is now selling guitars with compound radius fretboards, roasted maple necks, stainless steel frets (on well-set-up guitars), forearm and tummy cuts, smoothed neck heels, reasonably good pickups, etc., for $258US (free shipping!). YouTubers are beside themselves fawning over these and similar guitars and gushing, "This cost HOW much?"

For at least the last decade, guitars from Korea and now China have been embarrassing the expensive-logo guitars.

I knew something was up ten years go when a friend handed me an LP clone with jumbo frets, an ebony fretboard, real MOP inlays, multi-layer binding on body and headstock, full-thickness maple caps, solid mahogany bodies and necks, good AlnicoV pickups, up-rated nut and bridges, very good tuners and a finish that made Gibson and Fender look a bit like finger-painting. And the thing was under $400.
 

dspellman

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@MaxOfMetal and @bostjan, you two seem to be quite knowledgeable when it comes to the economics of scale and manufacturing processes, but either of you have any idea, or ball park, of how much it would cost a company to completely swap from nickel frets to all stainless across the board? Or maybe even per guitar? Are we talking a few bucks per guitar in fretwire? Or are we talking cents? It just seems like a no brainer for me for companies to throw SS frets on their entire line, guitar players eat it up, doesnt seem to be much "harder" to install(maybe on tools, but not sure if this is a "myth" or not). So back to the question, and I know it depends on size so lets just use Ibanez and their scale/buying power/market share here, but are we talking cents or dollars or tens of dollars here, per guitar?
You're seriously behind the times if you haven't noticed that half the guitars on Amazon retailing for under $350 are sporting stainless frets. FWIW, Carvin was offering SS frets on anything it built at a $40 upcharge 25 years ago. You're correct -- the actual cost is a number expressed more in cents than in dollars these days.

Check out this tele-alike with SS frets:
 

tedtan

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For at least the last decade, guitars from Korea and now China have been embarrassing the expensive-logo guitars.
I’ve played some nice guitars from China and South Korea, but none that would embarrass a “high end” guitar maker.

The guitars from China, South Korea, Indonesia, etc. can be made for significantly less there than they could be made here because the cost of living is FAR lower there than here. But that isn’t embarrassing, either; its just the difference in the cost of living between first world countries and second and third world countries.
 

Metaldestroyerdennis

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For at least the last decade, guitars from Korea and now China have been embarrassing the expensive-logo guitars.
nah
I’ve played some nice guitars from China and South Korea, but none that would embarrass a “high end” guitar maker.
Same experience here. Closest I've had was one of those Squier Contemporary Strats. My Anderson annihilates it on all fronts, though the Squier on its own was relatively fantastic. Like I said earlier in this thread, nice guitars are nice and anyone saying otherwise is selling you something. That doesn't mean cheap guitars are bad; I found my ex a nice Squier strat for $120 I had a ton of fun playing when I was over. But the nicer guitars are nicer and it's really not that close.

Everyone wants to think they hit the pinnacle at 1500 and believe that Suhr is just overhyped. The reality is that there's a reason high end guitars command the price they do and it's that anyone with the funds will shell out because they're honestly great.
 

nickgray

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Generally what would you say is the optimal price for a guitar
It really depends. A lot of is down to marketing.

I think the most meaningful difference is the floating trem vs fixed bridge. You get what you pay for for the floating trems, and it doesn't make a great deal of sense to cheap out.

Then you have personal preferences. Like if you want a 24.75" superstrat with a forearm cut, 24 frets, and a floating trem. Good luck finding that. Meanwhile, if you just want a Strat, you have tons of options to choose. In other words, if you want specific specs that are somewhat rare, you'll probably be paying extra for that alone.

As for everything else... you know, the guitar manufacturers never advertise the important stuff. They'll tell you all about the amazing sounding tonewood, but what I really want to know is how well they've dried the fingerboard and the neck woods. They'll advertise locking tuners, but they'll fail to mention they're OEM made to poor tolerances, so expect some play in the knobs. Every guitar is versatile, naturally, and what makes it versatile is the shrilly coil split. Meanwhile, the switches they use are something you'd expect to find on sketchy Made in China toys from the 90s. Why doesn't everyone make a wide belly cut on superstrats like on an RG? Because it makes too much sense, that's why.

Anyway, the guitar market is silly, is all I'm saying. They're selling you a cool looking picture with a fancy spec sheet. I think the biggest cure for it is to simply go to a store and play a bunch of guitars and look at the workmanship up close.
 

Inanimate100

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It really depends. A lot of is down to marketing.

I think the most meaningful difference is the floating trem vs fixed bridge. You get what you pay for for the floating trems, and it doesn't make a great deal of sense to cheap out.

Then you have personal preferences. Like if you want a 24.75" superstrat with a forearm cut, 24 frets, and a floating trem. Good luck finding that. Meanwhile, if you just want a Strat, you have tons of options to choose. In other words, if you want specific specs that are somewhat rare, you'll probably be paying extra for that alone.

As for everything else... you know, the guitar manufacturers never advertise the important stuff. They'll tell you all about the amazing sounding tonewood, but what I really want to know is how well they've dried the fingerboard and the neck woods. They'll advertise locking tuners, but they'll fail to mention they're OEM made to poor tolerances, so expect some play in the knobs. Every guitar is versatile, naturally, and what makes it versatile is the shrilly coil split. Meanwhile, the switches they use are something you'd expect to find on sketchy Made in China toys from the 90s. Why doesn't everyone make a wide belly cut on superstrats like on an RG? Because it makes too much sense, that's why.

Anyway, the guitar market is silly, is all I'm saying. They're selling you a cool looking picture with a fancy spec sheet. I think the biggest cure for it is to simply go to a store and play a bunch of guitars and look at the workmanship up close.
Interesting !!

And so what do people think of signature guitars ? And buying them for the sole reason that it is a particular guitar players sig outside of anything else ?
 

ClownShoes

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Upper limit on used guitars?

1500 USD
1400 EUR
200k JPY

I will only pay above that for rare/collector stuff.
 


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