DOES $5000 GUITAR PLAY 10 TIMES BETTER THAN $500 GUITAR? WHICH GUITAR TO BUY
One of the strongest emotions for a guitarist is precisely the one we experience when entering a store to buy a new guitar. Almost always, we start from home with a set budget in mind but despite this, once inside the store we find ourselves faced with a varied choice of models with very different prices. And the questions that arise are always the same: what is the right amount to spend on this instrument? But is this guitar really worth what it costs?
What I have learned over the years is that an absolute answer does not exist. Everyone has a different budget and is looking for a product that can meet certain needs. Of crucial importance is its use, for example: will it be a collector’s piece or perhaps an instrument to be used in the studio, or even “on the road”!
It is easy to see how personal the choice is and consequently how impossible it is to decree whether a purchase is more or less right. What we can and should know are the reasons why a guitar costs a certain amount, or why it is so much more expensive than one of its “sisters”? What are the differences between one model and another, and if especially how much they will affect my “playing.”
The first cause that goes to affect the price is undoubtedly the country where the instrument is made. A prime example is the famous and glorious Fender. American company based in California, which only in the early 1980s began the production made in Japan and later in China. With overseas production came a line of guitars with a decidedly similar or even “equal” look branded Fender made in Japan or Squier by Fender depending on whether it came from Japan or China. These guitars are sold at unbelievably lower prices than their American “sisters” going up to one-tenth the American ones. The question that arises is: Does the guitar really sound 10 times better when they are made in California instead of China?
Without a shadow of a doubt, the quality of the instrument is inferior both in terms of materials and build quality. Let’s take the Fender Stratocaster as an example. For a stock model produced in the factory in Corona, California, two or three pieces of wood are usually used in the construction of the body while Chinese models use more pieces. Even more easily perceived is the quality of construction when it comes to the neck. Taking a look at the end of the frets, it is easy to see how much more carefully they were crafted when produced in America rather than China, and obviously how much more time went into the workmanship.
Another variable that determines the price of an instrument is the method of construction: is it a stock product built on an assembly line or is it handmade and thus we are talking about one-of-a-kind pieces?
Obviously, any instrument built entirely (or almost entirely) by hand allows for its customization and choice of materials in the making of the product. More attention and attention to detail is usually devoted on these instruments requiring many more hours of labor.
Finally, of no less importance is the quality of the materials used. On the market is possible to find varied qualities of woods with different sounds and characteristics as varied parts: bridges made of stainless steel rather than alloys, not to mention the choice of pickups. Just think that a set of pickups can range from tens of dollars to hundreds depending on the material used and the method of construction.
I think it is clear and well-established that some guitars are objectively superior to others, and it is equally justifiable that unique handmade pieces reach high figures given and considering the time spent in their making and the maniacal attention to detail.
Returning to our question: Does a $5,000 guitar sound 10 times better than a $500 one? In my opinion absolutely not, but that does not justify or not justify buying one or the other. I think it is crucial to know what you are buying and why one instrument costs more or less than the other even though it looks “the same,” just as it is crucial to have an idea of the use we are going to put it to.
Once we have gained awareness, all we have to do is focus on the sensations we feel from the first moment the guitar is picked up until the last note we play.
After all, the guitar is nothing more than a tool for turning our emotions into sound.
If you and she really get along, you will be able to create that feeling that will allow you to reach any audience.
Only then can that sound become a form of communication, and it will really have been worth spending that money because you will have made it a universal language, music.