Buying a Low Cost Guitar- How to Make the Right Decision

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

About Glenn Sutton

As a professional guitar teacher with 25 years of experience (see guitarlessonspoway.com).

Buying a Low Cost Guitar

Epiphone electric guitars

Epiphone electric guitars

Many people believe that the price of a guitar is a reflection of the care with which is was manufactured. Add this to the fact that most low-cost guitars are made outside of the US and you get a consumer wary of spending any money on a poorly manufactured item.

However, recently guitar companies have recognized that there is a large demand for inexpensive guitars. Not many people are able to drop $1000 dollars on a Fender or a Gibson guitar and mass-producing a cheaper alternative is big business. These companies that produce guitars in China and Korea have a sizable interest in producing quality, low-cost guitars to feed to the guitar-loving masses.

This point is supported by the fact that brands owned by major names in the guitar manufacturing industry like Gibson are operated in Korea. For example, most of the Epiphone brand models, many of which you can find for around $400, are made in Korea. In addition, Fender recently purchased the Jackson guitar company and continues to produce guitars sold under the brand in India and Korea. Even cheaper models by BC Rich and Ibanez are produced in Korea as well.

Of course, there are a number of reasons that companies outsource manufacturing work to places like Korea and India. In fact, in almost all sectors of business the trend is toward outsourced, international manufacturing. Lower manufacturing costs due to lower working wages and tax rates have an impact, but they are not the only factors. So, what makes up for the difference between cheap and expensive guitars? Why are some insanely expensive and others dirt cheap?

There are many reasons that can be cited for this difference. The actual production process is often the major cause of the difference. For example, the difference between a hand-made guitar and an assembly-ling produced guitar is incredible. Computerized manufacturing processes require few paid employees and little time per product as opposed to the massive amount of time that it takes to craft a guitar by hand.

In addition to how the guitar was manufactured, the materials that it was manufactured with can make a big difference in price. This includes the woods used in the making of the neck and the body, as well as the quality of any metal parts, of paints and finishes. For example, less expensive guitars often use plywood for the neck and body of the guitar while more expensive ones tend to use higher quality woods like mahogany, rosewood or alder.

The quality of other parts on the guitar also has a great impact on price as well. This includes hardware, strings and other parts like bridges and pickups. More expensive guitars often feature top of the line electronics manufactured with the best metals. For example, even just one Seymour-Duncan pickup can cost more than one of the cheaper guitars produced in Korea.

Is it worth getting an inexpensive guitar?

Of course, if you make your living with your guitar, you’re not going to have an inexpensive ones. Despite the fact that many inexpensive guitars are well manufactured and use parts that perform reasonably well, professional musicians desire something that is more distinctive. This includes hand made guitars that feature hardware that the average player might not appreciate.

For those who are on a budget, there has never been a better time to buy an inexpensive guitar. Many are manufactured incredibly well for the price and even by name brands like B.C. Rich, Fernandes, Epiphone, Jackson, Ibanez, and many other popular brands. You can even find such guitars for around $200.

Personally, I was able to acquire a guitar made by Fernandes for only $150 from China. The guitar even includes a license from Floyd Rose tremolo and a great quality neck that combines with the body to produce a great sound for the price. In fact, I assume that my cheap guitar is probably worth more than $150.

In the end, the decision is yours to make. Do you get a cheap Gibson for $550, the most inferior in the Gibson line? Or do you buy a Japanese no-name brand with an incredibly fast neck and Floyd Rose Tremolo pickups for $350 dollars? Choose wisely.

 

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