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  • Guitar expectations vs. price

    Is anyone interested in plotting the curve of guitar expectations vs. price? Cheap cheap cheap to eye-watering expensive.
    It’s all about the eyebrows.

  • #2
    Personally, I think almost any guitar $2K and over doesn't really have a significant increase in quality. At that point, you're either paying for name-brand or want something very specific and specialized. Of course, exceptions apply for actual quality though.
    Last edited by GreatOz; 01-15-2021, 12:18 PM.

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    • #3
      I think there are regions where expectations are more rigid or less rigid, especially compared to price. It’s not linear. It’s probably a mess.
      It’s all about the eyebrows.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by GreatOz View Post
        Personally, I think almost any guitar guitar $2K and over doesn't really have a significant increase in quality.
        I am with you and I would be careful to say in "most" cases. I will add once you get past a certain watermark the increases are less substantial and more personal. What value those increases add is up to the purchaser. We all hold certain features to be critical. Some may hold an ebony neck to be a must-have feature whereas others are happy with rosewood, richlite, or maple. For others, the top might be the most important feature. So, yes it is hard for me to tell the difference in value between most $2,000 - $10,000 Les Pauls. However, others must see the value or there would not be a market.

        But there are guitars over $2,000 that bring a new level of tone, playability, and quality above others.





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        • #5
          Bruce, do you think expectations balloon at $2,000 and up?
          It’s all about the eyebrows.

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          • #6
            I certainly think that at around $2k, you start to get diminishing returns. I mean, you might get prettier wood, or a flashier paint job but you top out at getting a great playing guitar.
            Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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            • #7
              The best built guitar - though NOT the best sounding* - I've ever owned was made by Ernie Ball, so I use their prices as my standard. When it was new, it retailed for, I think $1,899. Now, it's like $2,200, I think? I bought mine used for $1400.

              But basically, anything that costs markedly more than what I could get a brand new EBMM for needs to be bringing something EXTRAORDINARILY special to the table.


              *-That's a tie between two other guitars, both of which happen to have Gibson pickups in them- one with P-90s and one with humbuckers. Mere coincidence? Probably. Or I just like Gibson pups? I don't know.
              ---------------------------
              The most popular thread I've ever made was 1) a joke and 2) based around literally the most inane/mundane question I could think of. That says something about me, or all of you, or both.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TMD View Post
                Bruce, do you think expectations balloon at $2,000 and up?
                I do but I think it is emotional more than functional. Does the mother of pearl logo on a Gibson make the guitar sound different than a screen-printed logo? I was looking at a $4300 Custom online today. The differences are subtle when compared to my $2,500 Traditional and at the end of the day, they both are going to sound like Les Pauls. What a $10,000 Gibson Les Paul brings to the table beyond a $2,000 Les Paul is a mystery to me. Maybe the relicing is adding something sonically I don't hear.

                I think there are some guitars where expectations should balloon above $2,000. Alembic, USA Parker, Falbo, and others all bring value beyond that $2,000, and expectations should be high.


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                • #9
                  I expect less defects, tighter tolerances and better materials with higher price.
                  Originally posted by Demanic
                  Incompetence is widespread in a world that rewards mediocrity while punishing excellence.
                  Originally posted by GuitarFanatic
                  I am currently using Skullcandy headphones I found in the garbage.
                  I did find the DS-1 in the garbage.
                  I once found a guitar amp in the garbage, a Peavey Studio 110. It caught fire at the first gig I played it at.. But it was at the end of it, thank god.

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                  • #10
                    This is a tricky, but important question.

                    I have a $300 chinese basswood guitar that sounds great/resonant and which isn't exactly ugly when you look at it in the right light. However it came with a number of manufacturing defects, which I have since repaired. If I was going into a recording studio, I would probably grab that guitar. Its a lesson that price is not equal value.



                    Skipping the middle range... Looking at the higher end....

                    The more expensive guitars, around $2000-2500, (which frankly, at that price we are talking about Japanese high end production guitars) I expect to be flawless in manufacturing, and HOPE that they sound great. I suspect some USA production models fall in this bracket, but they are using tried/true old designs with limited hardware and features (strat, LP). So IOW, great fret work, no defects, and at least a 7/10 in tonefulness.

                    The Kiesels also fall into this price bracket. I have heard mixed reports on QC, CS, and tonefulness of their guitars. My impression is that they are focused mostly on aesthetics, there are sometimes quality problems, and no thought is given into how they sound. (Without having any direct experience with them, I would say they have their own price/expectation curve. You can't just drop it at a local GC if you don't bond with it.)

                    The next price bracket up $2500- $4000 is high end production built USA guitars. Thinks like Shur, Music Man. At this price level, I would expect perfect quality and 9/10 tonefulness. Best woods, best designs.

                    (Edit: So I guess to summarize, I think spending 2500+ is the only time there is an expectation that guitar is perfect, looks amazing, and sounds great. But its still a production guitar so you are stuck with whathever they build and you can find at stores.)

                    $4000-5000+ is custom built. And it better be perfect in every way, although we know it never is.


                    The middle range is all over the map. Higher end chinese, Indonesian, Korean, mexican guitars. There is no way to predict how they will sound, I think a 5/10 in tone is a realistic expectation, so it better be a great looking/feeling guitar that you like playing and hanging on your wall. <-- I think this is the biggest grey area. For instance if you spend $1500 on a korean guitar and it is 6/10 tone, and you spend $300 on a Chinese guitar that is 8/10. is the korean guitar worth 1500??? Idk.
                    Last edited by Top-L; 01-14-2021, 12:03 PM.

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                    • #11
                      I expect a measure of magic.
                      It’s all about the eyebrows.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mincer View Post
                        I certainly think that at around $2k, you start to get diminishing returns. I mean, you might get prettier wood
                        For some that prettier top is pivotal in the guitar producing the proper tone and worth the added cost. For others it is unimportant.

                        DO NOT DERAIL THIS THREAD INTO A TONEWOOD THREAD I WAS GIVING AN EXAMPLE OF A FEATURE


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                        • #13
                          I don't think there's any correlation at all - because expensive guitars aren't necessarily any better.

                          I've played a 5000$ guitar that looked really nice, but didn't sound all that special. I've played a few guitars in the 2-3k range that were really nice. But my favourite playing/sounding guitar cost me 800$ to buy used.

                          : P
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by GuitarStv View Post
                            I don't think there's any correlation at all - because expensive guitars aren't necessarily any better.
                            I think it is a personal decision to determine the value of any object. Right now there is a guy in a Honda Fit driving down the highway smiling ear to ear because he is loving getting great gas millage. Next to him is a guy in a Lexus SUV, grinning ear to ear because he loves his leather seats. Neither would find value in the other's purchase but both are happy with their own decision.

                            TL;DR Stay in your own lane


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                            • #15
                              As far as magic goes, I’ve gotten it from a Parker Fly, a Les Paul Classic, a Jackson Soloist, a $199 used Kramer Focus, a $299 Fender on clearance, a JEM, a $2k Telecaster. Magic is all in your head, and it’s real.

                              As expectations go, I think the cheapest guitars are expected to match or better the quality of guitars costing significantly more. I think guitars $500 to $1,000 get it easy. People struggle to put together the combination of features, specs, cosmetics, and price that they want. Once they find it, they get married.
                              Last edited by TMD; 01-14-2021, 02:07 PM.
                              It’s all about the eyebrows.

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