Cheap vs. Expensive Guitars Part 1: Consider This Before You Buy

September 25, 2018


Modern technology and manufacturing techniques, coupled with low-cost overseas manufacturing, have made it possible to buy a guitar that sounds good, looks good, and plays well—often with lots of extra features—for a relatively low price. This leads many people to question whether or not it’s worthwhile to buy a higher-priced guitar if one that is seemingly almost as good can be had for a fraction of the price. 


But, are these more budget-minded guitars any good?


YouTube is ripe with videos comparing some of these cheaper guitars to their more expensive counterparts. Most of them offer a player’s perspective on the issue, and these comparisons often focus on three main aspects: appearance, tone, and playability. The general consensus seems to be that while there are noticeable differences, if you do decide to go cheap you can still get a guitar that looks good, sounds good, and plays well. And generally speaking, I have to agree. But I think that these comparisons often miss one important aspect that everyone should consider when buying a new guitar: build quality. How well a guitar is made is just as important as how good it looks, plays, and sounds.


Before setting out on a career in writing, I spent 15 years professionally repairing guitars. It’s been my experience that build quality is something that many people don’t take into consideration when choosing a new guitar. This is likely because build quality is the most difficult aspect for many people to discern or appreciate—at least until the guitar is in need of maintenance or repair. 


The money you spend on a new guitar now can have a big impact on how you’re spending your money when your guitar needs a little repair. Here that old cliché still applies: you get what you pay for. In the course of normal wear and tear, it’s not uncommon for a budget guitar to need some relatively expensive repair work very early in its life when a more expensive instrument generally wouldn’t. 


That’s not to say that the inexpensive guitars aren’t worth buying. Quite frankly, many of them are quite good. But if you’re choosing between your dream guitar and something considerably less expensive that’s built overseas, there are some things you should be aware of. Because while all guitars need repair from time to time, those budget guitars are sometimes prone to certain issues that may just sway you to spend the extra money. 


Over the next few weeks I will be posting a series of short articles that I hope will help you make a more thoroughly informed decision about buying your next acoustic or electric guitar. I’ll cover some of the issues that you’re likely to face as the guitar begins to accumulate some wear and tear. I hope you’ll be better prepared to make a buying descision that keeps you satisfied well beyond the day you first take your new guitar home.  


Stay tuned. Next week I’ll cover acoustic guitars. 


In the mean time, check out this comparison video by Paul Davids. 






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