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Some thoughts on value, utility, and high-dollar guitars


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If you can’t hear the difference between a 800 and 3000 dollar guitar, it’s simply don’t spend the extra 2200 dollars. Your wallet will thank you.

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I can disprove that hypothesis in five seconds or less 

Rich men.

Donno really.. I, as most of you know got a 336 not long ago..  That was 3k (second hand).. Why... Cos I wanted it and for once in my life could actually afford it.. Ever since I first tried

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9 minutes ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

Your gonna get some guy who has been playing for 40 years angry with words like that.

Like who for instance, and which words would get him angry, and why?  [confused]

Whitefang

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4 minutes ago, Whitefang said:

Like who for instance, and which words would get him angry, and why?  [confused]

Whitefang

Anything not Gibson. I have been reminded by him what forum I’m on and been told can leave any time.

Edited by Sgt. Pepper
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Also, it had an issue or two, but sounds unbelievable. I figured if I can let go there, that's cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD at its best. 

Also, with the pandemic, you never know. And as everyone knows, you get better seats in the afterlife if you can show a receipt for a Les Paul Standard. 

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My car is a 21-year old Skoda.  I can't afford a nice expensive car now - never really could, every car I've owned has been at least 2nd/3rd hand - but my car is reliable, comfortable enough and gets me from A to B.   If I had a better car I wouldn't drive it faster than 60mph these days anyway, though owning something like a black Corvette would be fantastic.....and very expensive.  I did once have a Mercedes which was the best-engineered, safest and most comfortable car I ever owned.  These things are wonderful luxuries, which everyone who can should experience in their life, but they come at a cost.

I have a Gibson Les Paul Custom and also a Vintage V100 PG LP which cost less than a fifth of the Gibson price.   The Vintage does everything I want on a gig and is a great guitar; the Gibson is just much better to play.   Comfier and easier on my left hand for a start.  I've played that a lot more during lockdown. 

On one of the last gigs I played, a guitar aficionado came up to the other guitarist at the end and was very complimentary about his ES-335 and Fender amp....he completely ignored me with my Vintage and old Vox amp in a home-made box!   

Last time I visited a guitar shop I was shown the 2019 LP reissues and played one. These were £5k guitars!  The guy showing me was very Gibson-enthusiastic and one of the things he said was that when he goes to see a band whose guitarist has an expensive Gibson Les Paul, he is always impressed and confident that the guitarist in question knows what he is doing.

So the look and what you play on is as important to some people as the sound or what you play.

There's no correct answer to this, except - you only live once!

[wink]

 

Edited by jdgm
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2 minutes ago, jdgm said:

one of the things he said was that when he goes to see a band whose guitarist has an expensive Gibson Les Paul, he is always impressed and confident that the guitarist in question knows what he is doing.

 

I can disprove that hypothesis in five seconds or less 

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That’s kind of an interesting thought. I can think of one instance where an opening band came out and one of the guys had one of the most beautiful Rickenbackers I had ever seen. I couldn’t help but think “this is gonna be good”

 

I didn’t know who the openers were going to be at that show but the band turned out to be Crystal Skulls who I was already a fan of. I actually found a webpage talking about the guys Ric which can be seen here 

 

https://www.studio-california.com/wargo-381v69

 

Always liked this band since I heard their song “beat me to it”. Really cool guitar playing

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2 hours ago, Sgt. Pepper said:

Your gonna get some guy who has been playing for 40 years angry with words like that.

When all you have is a hammer ...  thanks for proving my point.  Again.   

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9 minutes ago, fortyearspickn said:

When all you have is a hammer ...  thanks for proving my point.  Again.   

I got nails too. And what is your point ? You'll talk s-hit to me but, when a moderator on a Gibson Forum says the classic sound of an acoustic comes from a Martin you puss out and wont tell him what's up. 

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I don’t think people get gear crazy about pianos and such - like having multiples - generally speaking, but mine cost a lot more money than a super high end Gibson guitar. But again I’ve been playing for the better part of 30 years and it is worth it. Yes could have bought some junker sitting in someone’s basement for the better part of the 1950s but I wanted something better than a novice instrument. There are some pianos that cost more than your and my house combined, but I choose to get a new piano which has literally no resale value. We are talking about an instrument that weighs A TON! Usually you’re calling in movers to get that thing where it will live in your home. Point is that we all spend our money on BS and instruments are again my crutch. I enjoy playing in bands and just a music lover as big as they come. So I look at these as a different sort of investment in myself rather than monetary. And FYI I own an upright Boston because I don’t have a big enough house for a grand haha! It sure beats your grandmas spinnet haha!

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We need it to work, from the get-go, and be dependable.
We need it to sound great.
We need it to stay in tune.
We want it to be pretty.
We want it to feel good.
We want it to be cool.
We would like for it to attract chicks, and turn the heads of fans in the audience.
We would like for it to hold its resale value some day.

 

Some of my guitars don’t check all of these boxes Sparkie. Not all my guitars are pretty, or cool. None of them attract chicks. One of them attract guys, so now the LP doesn’t get out as much.

 

I had just a couple of guitars for 45 years. It wasn’t until my partner died it all changed. So in 2015 I bought a bunch of them. I knew it was crazy but couldn’t help myself.

 

Most of them were working guitars. Some USA builds (Gibson, Rickenbacker, PRS) and some Asian  (Hofner, Squire, PRS SE). I immediately had the Hofner and Squire rewired complete to make them reliable. After that they were all equal in my eyes. They all sounded great and were dependable.

Yes, I get a buzz from making a cheap guitar punch above its weight.

Yes, if it comes to a photo shoot, I’ll reach for a USA guitar.

Yes I use a cheap guitar if I’m playing a pub in a run down area.

 

But when I play them, only the music is happening. It could be any of them. They really are equal.

 

So why the USA guitars at all? Simple, I like them. They are worth what I paid anyway (none over £ 2k).

They amazing thing is not how expensive a guitar can be. Anyone can build an expensive guitar. The really clever trick is how cheap you can make it, yet still make it good. Koreans are great at building fine guitars down to a price. 

Edited by merciful-evans
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My current collection of guitars are Asian built, the majority are Epiphones. Living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I do a lot of online purchases and since I have always had a sweet spot for Epiphones going back to the early 60's, it has been a natural fit. Since I started playing in 62 I have owned quite a few guitars, may different brands including many USA brands. I grew up in a home with an upright piano that I was taught to play by my sister, starting in the 50's, so when I got my first guitar I already knew how to read music. However my ability developed to play by ear evolved to a point where it became very easy for me and led me into improv. Anyway I was having a great time searching the Epiphone ranks for my perfect guitar. They finally started building the Coronet/Crestwood/Wilshire models of my era, that were very simple guitars and I think they got it right. I can't stop playing my Wilshire. It seems it is what I have been modding my Epiphone collection to be after all this time. 🙂

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It is referred to as a 59 style, but in reality it is more like a 62.. Funny that this model currently sells for over 3X's what the original Epiphone design sold for as a US model and is still considered inexpensive.

Edited by mihcmac
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The cheapest guitars are not always the worst.  I have two limited-edition Keith Urban guitars made in China (one with humbuckers and one w/ P90s).  They have nice fretwork, (surprisingly) great pups that don't need to be changed out, very satisfactory hardware, neck/headstock binding, real-wood pickguards, set necks, rosewood fretboards, and lots of inlay (on headstock & body incl a body inlay of Keith Urban signature).  Oh ... AND these guitars came with real-wood guitar stands, nice gig bags, Keith-Urban-signed (not real sig, of course) COAs ... AND each came with an AMP!!!  All for less than $250 ... These were the best guitar values ever, seriously.   And with proper setup, they are wonderfully playing and sounding instruments.  

 

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I appreciate all the insight and wisdom, guys and gals.

Some things have become clear to me, after posting this grist for the mill sort of thread;

* Everyone's perceptions and opinions on utility, functionality, performance, value, and luxury are all uniquely different. And that's to be expected, and even celebrated.

* We all work hard for our money, and if we want something (and have even coveted it for a very long time), then by golly we should have it.
And to hell with what anybody else thinks about how much we spent on it.

and,

* Most internet conversations, whether they need to or not, will always turn into an argument.

On that note, please know that I didn't start this thread to assert that cheap guitars are better than expensive guitars. Far from it.
(I am, this very week, about to drop quite a bit of money on a mint-condition, 30 year old Fender Strat.)

I just wanted to hear from people who are willing to spend the top dollar on guitars about why they are willing to spend the top dollar.

Years ago, in another life, I had a friend ask me,
"Why do you buy your wife Cadillacs? Johnny, you know that the Chevy or Oldsmobile is just as good. And they cost less than half the price of that Sedan DeVille!"

I answered, "Because she likes the Cadillacs. And I want her to have what she wants."

Years later she got everything she wanted, in the divorce.
Which was everything I had, and everything I had ever owned.
And my ego, my pride, and my dignity.
And half my military retirement.

Q: Why is a divorce so expensive?

A: Because it's worth it.


Okay, I'm gonna shut up now.

😬

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6 hours ago, wind_stopper said:

Guitars are one of these irrational things that defy logic and common sense. It is often an emotional purchase, not a practical one. 
 

Dat's it......[thumbup]

 

Edited by jdgm
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Everything is relative depending on the era, I got my first Gibson ES-330 in 67 for $300, which I thought at the time was a lot o money. Gibsons prices seemed to go up exponentially after that. When I cam to the Island in 2005 I went through a few Gibson SG's LP's and a Blues Hawk, while I had these I also acquired a few Epiphones. Over a course of time I noticed my Gibsons were not holding up  due to humidity where my Epiphones seemed to be unaffected. So I sold off my Gibsons before they disintegrated or the hardware turned green. I have had many high end guitars during the 58 years I have been playing, most of which the price seemed to be appropriate for the time.

Edited by mihcmac
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17 minutes ago, mihcmac said:

Everything is relative depending on the era, I got my first Gibson ES-330 in 67 for $300, which I thought at the time was a lot o money. Gibsons prices seemed to go up exponentially after that. When I cam to the Island in 2005 I went through a few Gibson SG's LP's and a Blues Hawk, while I had these I also closet a few Epiphones. Over a course of time I noticed my Gibsons were not holding up  due to humidity where my Epiphones seemed to be unaffected. So I sold off my Gibsons before they disintegrated or the hardware turned green. I have had many high end guitars during the 58 years I have been playing, most of which the price seemed to be appropriate for the time.

I lived on the North Shore for a few years with my 1996 Gibson Les Paul Studio. 

It had gold hardware, and that soon turned to tarnish going rapidly green. 

I kept it for a few years later here in northern Alabama, and finally sold it to a lovely gentleman from Owens Crossroad who loved the 'reliced look' of it. 

Score. 

😜

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At 13, my cousin taught me to play. He had the coolest Gibson I ever did see and from then on I always desired to get a Gibson but I could never afford one. Other than a $900.00 Ovation 12 string I bought then, the rest of the guitars I had were very cheap and some I couldn't play as the strings were about an inch above the fret by the pickups. I mean cheap guitars. I played about 3 guitars out of about 13. The Gibson guitar never happened till after I retired and by chance I went to G.C. looking and found my childhood dream. A used Gibson on sale for $1,400.00 so checking it out, it looked brand new never played, no surface scratches, no chips and it didn't say what model it was nor did G.C. know. It looked like a Standard to me and it was a Gold Top so at that price I bought it. By the car, ready to put it in the back I was chased down and an employee that wanted to buy it back, so I went home and contacted Gibson Customer Service. It was a 2007 Gibson Standard that sold brand new for $3,049.00  The story was, it came from another guitar shop that couldn't sell it and sold it to G.C. which a new employee placed it in the used section. I walked in shortly after. Anyway, all the rest of my guitars I have were bought for $350.00 to $500.00. I had a Fender acoustic which was the very first guitar I bought when I retired to practice on and it was $100.00. I played it for 4 years playing up to 6 hrs per day and it had a few chips and scratches. Lol. I sold it for $100.00 and bought the Celebrity Acoustic guitar I now have with a Koa top for $400.00. 

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I used to have an unofficial rule where I wouldn’t pay more than 3500 or so for a guitar.  I think all of my Gibsons (except my recent J200) were under that, due to the prices when I bought them new or else they were “used” like my J45TV, Dove, and Southern Jumbo.  I payed well over 3500 for the J200, I guess because I wanted it and could afford it.    I don’t pay much attention to people who say a cheap guitar is as good as a Martin, Gibson, Taylor for making music.  Sure, you can make music with a $75 instrument, but I still prefer a better (and even though it is likely much more expensive) instrument.  I like the quality, the sound, the look, and the vibe/connection I  can get from it.  It’s a personal thing.  I think it helps me be as good as I can be..  Doesn’t make me better than someone else, but it helps make me “me.”

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There’s something Phil McKnight spoke of a while ago. He said we all have our comfort zone when it comes to how much we are prepared to spend. If you spend above it, you will get anxious. Such as obsess about every little detail you find less than perfect.

We see that all the time right? Someone will post 20 photos of some blemish that I cant find in any of them.

Phil admits he has his own price comfort zone & as a former music store owner he knew he should never encourage a buyer to pay more than they were happy with. Too much trouble.

 

 

I was never entirely happy with my USA PRS. It was fine and very good looking. I used it but then stopped. What bugged me was related to comfort zone but more this comparison:

1/ It would not set up as nicely as my SE PRS.

2/ It didn’t sound as good as the SE either. Despite having the USA 85/15 pickups (The SE had the cheaper 85/15-S versions).

I tried hard to EQ the USA guitar perfectly. I even has PRS build and fit a new neck for it. It didn’t make enough difference either way. So it had to go. The buyer is very happy, so all is well. 

ELPP0JF.jpg

The price comfort zone thing is not about how much money you have. You can be poor and prepared to spend a lot. You can be rich and prepared to spend little. Its all in the head.

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NighthawkChris wrote exactly what I would offer.

We're only here occupying our "seats" for a short time,  some are here longer than others, but we've all just go so much time.

If buying a boat for 50k is your thing, great!

If owning a few high end guitars is your thing, (like it is for some of us) then also GREAT! 

I don't spend money I don't have and I never really miss the money I've spent on guitars.  It's been a part of who I am for 50+ years.   

One of my best friends can't bring himself to spend more than 300 or 400 dollars on a guitar,  he has more ebay transactions than I can count.  He's happy buying, fixing up, relisting, repeat.

It keeps him busy and interested.  He's become a very capable setup/repair guy because of it.

I don't laugh at his $250 rescues, and he doesn't shake his head in disbelief when I pull out a $4k Taylor to jam with him on.

its your life, live it as you wish.

/Zen

Edited by kidblast
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