Expensive vs Cheap guitar? What makes it better?

August 2019 is the first KVR Guitar Month so here's a new forum for discussion of all things guitar!
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ZargonTheMagnificent
KVRist
104 posts since 17 Feb, 2018

Post Sun Jul 11, 2021 4:13 am

I've owned guitars from £50 to £2000.

Once you get past the idea that guitar A must sound like Slash and guitar B must sound like Knopfler (or whatever) and start accepting guitars as just an individual thing that sounds like it sounds and plays like it plays, I think you're at a very liberating point.

My cheap tele gets used as much as anything else I've ever owned. It sounds like itself and has a place on virtually all recordings I do.

Or to think another way; the cheapo guitars from the 60 are now highly desirable and expensive. They are the same guitars, but now aren't cheap. They are now expensive guitars. Same guitars.

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Hink
Rad Grandad
35703 posts since 6 Sep, 2003 from Downeast Maine

Post Sun Jul 11, 2021 7:52 am

if I am to buy cheap I might just as well start another project guitar like my strat and baritone...the wood I want, the neck I want, the electronics I want. But a couple of xmas's ago Ash bought me a 200 dollar Ibanez strat type (h-s-h)...I had a duncan jb set in my drawer and I bought a duncan 1/4 pounder for the middle...damn knarley sounding guitar and plays quite well. I played it the most the following year. When it comes to electrics you can surely go cheaper and mod up.
Words are a barrier to help-seeking and a motivator for making discrimination acceptable.
Mad Pride
If there is a direction to mankind, it ought to be a coming together Brian May

Bombadil
KVRAF
7337 posts since 31 Aug, 2013 from Down the Withywindle

Post Sun Jul 11, 2021 2:45 pm

If the neck and fretboard are ok, yeah.
“Always after a defeat and a respite," says Gandalf, "the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Rad Grandad
35703 posts since 6 Sep, 2003 from Downeast Maine

Post Sun Jul 11, 2021 6:11 pm

even then (except with Ibanez) decent necks can be had not too expensive but myself I am partial to a warmoth. One can step up over time as it were. That's what I did with the baritone, I bought a Squire tele custom and the baritone conversion neck from warmoth. Then I experimented with that but the thing weighed a friggan ton. One day I had some found money, sprung for a nice body and paint job, some cool pups (p-rails)...from cheap to pretty really cool (for me anyhow) over quite a few years... :shrug:

Oh and yes I do have a pretty decent tele custom body (black of course) doing nothing...for now
Words are a barrier to help-seeking and a motivator for making discrimination acceptable.
Mad Pride
If there is a direction to mankind, it ought to be a coming together Brian May

tapper mike
KVRAF
6210 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Post Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:33 am

How mush of a cheap guitar do you want
What are you willing to do as far as upgrades go?
What will it be worth in the end?

I'm a huge fan of tone woods. There have been quite a number of videos which discount the value of tone woods. Many of them actually are a scam or the person doesn't know about the mix and match of tonewoods.

On solid body guitars The majority of the tone wood is the wood material that supports the pups and the bridge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k_A8GhN0L8

The above is using all quality woods. Cheaper woods like. African Mahogany (which I'm told isn't real mahogany) Basswood (Linwood) Poplar and are considerably duller with less overtones. You may improve the tone of a cheap guitar by different wiring, pots, and pups. You might even get a slightly better but those electronic upgrades will not change the character of the tonewood. Granted the neck tonewood has less to do with the overall initial tone.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPC6qAnrPR8

I've upgraded pups, pots, capacitors on guitars and heard the difference. Despite all the tall talk for salesmen about increasing the upsale value of said instrument It's never been a full recoup on investment. It's not going to change an epi LP into a gibby LP, nor any other lp knock off. Not tone wise not resell wise. Yes I do think there are many companies like Schecter who make better LP's than Gibson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmfgTpb5kM

They are more expensive than bargain basement and less expensive then Brand Identity fanboi stuff. They also (If you take care of them) retain resell value better.

I've nothing against inexpensive well made guitars currently on the market that are far superior to those made 20 to 30 years ago. That being said I think people should aim higher invest a bit more and get even more bang for their buck with a mid grade guitar. Start with better tone woods
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Burillo
KVRAF
4336 posts since 15 Nov, 2006 from Hell

Post Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:52 am

the Warmoth video is better than others, but it too doesn't address the most important issue: how much of the difference is due to the guitar just being a different piece of wood. in other words, would we observe the same "differences" by simply having two different mahogany/whatever pieces.
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fairlyclose
KVRAF
1955 posts since 4 Jul, 2019

Post Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:00 pm

I think the biggest difference one finds as one goes up the quality scale of guitars is in the range of tones one can get. My experience is that better guitars can produce a greater range of great sounds. That applies even more so with classical guitars than electric For electrics there's an upper bound on that so that by the time you get to something like a good 335 then that's about it as far as great sound goes. After that a super expensive guitar is more about how great it makes the guitarist feel when they see it and own it, or some very specific property that the guitarist wants.
But, as always, the biggest difference between instruments is the performer.

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donkey tugger
Boss Lovin' DR
9744 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Post Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:06 pm

fairlyclose wrote:
Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:00 pm

But, as always, the biggest difference between instruments is the performer.
That's why I never spend a lot of money :cry: ...that and living in Yorkshire of course.

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Hink
Rad Grandad
35703 posts since 6 Sep, 2003 from Downeast Maine

Post Mon Jul 12, 2021 1:47 pm

Burillo wrote:
Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:52 am
the Warmoth video is better than others, but it too doesn't address the most important issue: how much of the difference is due to the guitar just being a different piece of wood. in other words, would we observe the same "differences" by simply having two different mahogany/whatever pieces.
a lot of people think nitro paint makes a guitar sound better...some people are gonna not buy a guitar because of the wood and it could easily all just be a placebo effect...some people...many people are gonna buy the name (I made good money off them, unless it was Shure).

I have my own approach, I go by character, a term I use when I try a guitar is "this guitar has a lot of good songs in it"...that is strictly for me and I know within a minute or two of playing the guitar if we will gel.

From there, it doesnt matter...if I want to mod something the sky's the limit for me...as long as it has that character :tu:
Words are a barrier to help-seeking and a motivator for making discrimination acceptable.
Mad Pride
If there is a direction to mankind, it ought to be a coming together Brian May

Daimonicon
KVRAF
2607 posts since 30 Aug, 2012 from Sweden

Post Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:07 pm

tapper mike wrote:
Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:33 am
How mush of a cheap guitar do you want
What are you willing to do as far as upgrades go?
What will it be worth in the end?

I'm a huge fan of tone woods. There have been quite a number of videos which discount the value of tone woods. Many of them actually are a scam or the person doesn't know about the mix and match of tonewoods.

On solid body guitars The majority of the tone wood is the wood material that supports the pups and the bridge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k_A8GhN0L8

The above is using all quality woods. Cheaper woods like. African Mahogany (which I'm told isn't real mahogany) Basswood (Linwood) Poplar and are considerably duller with less overtones. You may improve the tone of a cheap guitar by different wiring, pots, and pups. You might even get a slightly better but those electronic upgrades will not change the character of the tonewood. Granted the neck tonewood has less to do with the overall initial tone.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPC6qAnrPR8

I've upgraded pups, pots, capacitors on guitars and heard the difference. Despite all the tall talk for salesmen about increasing the upsale value of said instrument It's never been a full recoup on investment. It's not going to change an epi LP into a gibby LP, nor any other lp knock off. Not tone wise not resell wise. Yes I do think there are many companies like Schecter who make better LP's than Gibson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXmfgTpb5kM

They are more expensive than bargain basement and less expensive then Brand Identity fanboi stuff. They also (If you take care of them) retain resell value better.

I've nothing against inexpensive well made guitars currently on the market that are far superior to those made 20 to 30 years ago. That being said I think people should aim higher invest a bit more and get even more bang for their buck with a mid grade guitar. Start with better tone woods
Tonewood is bs. On electric guitars. If I made a video without an pic and told you this is alder, that one is mahogany you would believe the lies. This is a myth created by all guitar co as a sell argument why you should buy their over priced guitars. Pickups don't get effected by the wood at all.

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zerocrossing
KVRAF
11543 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Post Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:44 pm

Bombadil wrote:
Sun Jul 11, 2021 2:45 pm
If the neck and fretboard are ok, yeah.
But usually they aren’t. My wife knew I liked Indian music. She saw an add for the Rogue reissue of the famous electric sitar and got it for me. It’s pretty terrible. Low output. Uneven neck. Sound’s not great. I keep it because it’s got sentimental value, but as an instrument? Well… at least it was cheap. Someday I might take it to someone who can bump it up with new pickups and a new neck. It’ll probably cost more than the instrument itself.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~

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kcearl
KVRist
207 posts since 25 May, 2012 from Sunny Philly

Post Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:53 pm

Im a sucker for cheap guitars…theyre great, I can leave them lying around the house, the kids play them…drop things on them. They dont sound that bad. The ones that dont leave the studio are a gretsch, charvel, fender tele and a guild dearmonde…all around the $600-700 mark. I wouldn’t pay more as I dont think Im of a level to pay more. Ill buy more expensive synths, but I can play them a little better.

Guitar fetish have some decent budget axes, I have two of the xaviere brand, a offset body tele and a p90 hollowbody, sound great and are both playable out the box almost

jens
KVRAF
21414 posts since 12 Jul, 2003 from West Caprazumia

Post Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:53 am

It's long been proven that on electric guitars, the wood has virtually no effect on the tone of the guitars (that goes even more so for the fretboard btw.). The PUs are what matters. The rest is just a myth.

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The Noodlist
KVRAF
4563 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from UK

Post Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:16 am

jens wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:53 am
It's long been proven that on electric guitars, the wood has virtually no effect on the tone of the guitars (that goes even more so for the fretboard btw.). The PUs are what matters. The rest is just a myth.
The rest is just a myth?
What about maple caps to brighten mahogany bodies?
My maple bodied guitar is brighter than the others with the ash coming in second. The Tokai love rock comes in first for for sustain and warmth (fixed neck).
I can hear the differences in the Warmoth tone test videos, like the one below.
https://youtu.be/7k_A8GhN0L8
https://www.soundunlimited.co.uk/blogs/ ... 6759d399c1
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral: Is boutique the new old?

jens
KVRAF
21414 posts since 12 Jul, 2003 from West Caprazumia

Post Wed Jul 28, 2021 1:53 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol:

That "test" is so absurd! :-o

Is it really exactly the same pickups they switch between the different bodies or a copy of the same set? Is it exactly the same pickup height (less than one mm can already make a big difference)? The same strings they re-use? And even if that is the case: it would mean A LOT of time would have passed by then... and that would even significantly increase possible fluctuations in one variable that's already huge anyway: the player.
He's not even wearing the same clothes, for crying out loud.

And the dude claims to settle this "once and for all" without even just mentioning this factor. So you like this video, huh? valid proof for you, yes? :hihi:

(there's of course more variables like the room temperature, the amp, etc.)

Personally I am more a fan of smart videos which are done by intelligent people:

https://youtu.be/V76yWZ3-OuM

Just a myth, yes.

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