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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Great cheap guitars vs. a transcendent guitar

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by matrix, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. matrix

    matrix Tele-Meister

    Apr 13, 2016
    Vancouver, BC
    As others have commented, we seem to be living in a golden age of amazing, relatively inexpensive guitars. It seems like every time I pop into a new guitar store, I will find at least one axe that will blow me away, and leave me amazed that such quality can be had for under $700....or under $500...or even less.

    Some of these have followed me home. I have a G&L Tribute series ASAT Bluesboy that I love to play. A PRS Zach Myers that has one of the nicest necks on any guitar I have ever played. Actually, every SE series PRS I have picked up in recent years has knocked me out. PRS now makes (arguably) the best cheap guitars out there.

    Others are calling to me.... I recently played a Epiphone ES-339 and could not believe how versatile and fun to play it is. Or an Ibanez semi-hollowbody that left me shocked with its quality. And mentioning the quality for dollar of CVS and MIM teles is pretty much preaching to the choir in these parts.


    There is another kind of guitar out there. They don't correlate perfectly with price, but you know 'em when you play 'em. They make you a better player. They ask for more, and they let you do more. The pickups dont just pickup...they sing. They breath. It is a tool for a real musician, not just a reasonable approximation.

    Where are those guitars? Where do you find them?

    And, uh, do you know what I am talking about? Or given $2500 (for example) would you buy 5 different flavours at $500 a pop?
    studio1087, LiteAsh, 2much and 2 others like this.

  2. midnight340

    midnight340 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Dec 27, 2012
    Lawrence, KS
    Nice post, looking forward to comments!!
    TeleTown and matrix like this.

  3. roger@pennyflic

    roger@pennyflic TDPRI Member

    Aug 5, 2013
    Well, I just brought home a Modern Player Thinline Deluxe. Made (Crafted) in China for AUD$849. The pickups are P90's and the sound is just awesome. No, really, just awesome. I sold a PRS SE Paul Allender which sported active EMG's and was initially gonna replace the pickups on the tele with the emg's but not anymore. The thing growls. And it feels so close to my MIA Tele for about a third of the price. The action isn't quite as low but I haven't visited a tech yet.

    For the price, or even regardless of the price, it's a brilliant guitar, As I have learnt, judge the guitar not the country of manufacture. Did I mention the P90's are just awesome..thick,sweet and tight.

    Damned clever those chinese !
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
    dr_tom, tbb007 and Piggy Stu like this.

  4. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    $500-800 is mid-range.

  5. Lobomov

    Lobomov Friend of Leo's

    Jul 15, 2013
    We are all different and some of us find more joy in having several midrange guitars than one expensive. Depends on your ear and your hands.

    Personally I'd rather have the highend one. Feels better, sounds better and inspires more.

    My cheapest guitar is a ritchie kotzen strat.

    My other 4 are high end with my number one being a Fano RB6.

    I do recommed buying used, so you don't take a huge hit on the value.
    matrix, Ricky D. and RLee77 like this.

  6. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    I have no idea what you are talking about. o_O Can't wait to hear which guitars are transcendent...
    SolidSteak and Dr Improbable like this.

  7. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

    May 15, 2016
    Silicon Valley
    You'll need the Pick of Destiny to actually play one of those, obviously.

  8. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Aug 17, 2017
    Essex, UK
    I'd have thought it'd be the combination of guitarist and guitar that makes for "transcendent"? Frankly, I could make ANY guitar sound pretty awful - whereas someone who can really play, could make ANY guitar sound fantastic.

    Just a thought.....
    mnutz, kdsmith and Vespa_One like this.

  9. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Dang, I think it fell out of my pants pocket at the laundromat! :oops:
    brbadg, SheldonP and RLee77 like this.

  10. Darkness

    Darkness Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 7, 2016
    Stygian Gulf
    If you have a flux capacitor on hand, I’ve got an idea...

  11. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    I have played some really expensive guitars but it turned out they contain nothing for me

    Maybe I don't play well enough. Maybe I play wrong for those guitars

    Either way: I know when I am playing the RIGHT guitar that I should buy.

  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    .... A single $2,500 guitar when, after a little work, there are surprising player guitars out there for under $50... That's where I have difficulty. The expensive guitars in my fleet seem to sit while the resurrected or inexpensive ones get played the most.

    One Strat-like-object I have at the moment was $35, chunky neck not seen on Squiers, great pickups, and came with a free bass guitar! It needed a fret level and full setup plus I modded it with the Dan Armstrong Blender Mod.

    I have found that every guitar inspires something different in playing.

    JayFreddy, brbadg, drlucky and 2 others like this.

  13. Lonn

    Lonn Friend of Leo's

    Dec 13, 2007
    Recently I was in a room full of different guitars. I've owned 800+ guitars over the years. Were some more inspirational than others? Did some call me to pick them up when I walked by? Definitely. I sounded like me on all of them no matter the price and "quality" because the only common denominator was me.

  14. Peregrino69

    Peregrino69 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Dec 12, 2016
    Right on! If a guitar is a good fit, it'll give me a new tune basically every time I pick it up. That's the deciding point, not the price or label.

  15. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Dec 2, 2006
    I think your price point is a little low.
    From what I see going over $700 gets a big step up, in both PRS SE and Fender.

    The Korean PRS are great guitars, but so are a lot of other brands coming out of the same World Music factory in Korea at about the same prices.

  16. ronzhd

    ronzhd Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Nov 16, 2008
    Spring, Texas
    Right here, what does that mean?
    brbadg likes this.

  17. raysachs

    raysachs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2017
    Near Philly
    Some guitars just feel completely RIGHT to a given player and those are the transcendent ones. For that player. I've played a bunch, I've owned a few. And I don't find any correlation to price. I've played some crazy expensive gear I've loved but couldn't afford and some mid-range gear I've loved every bit as much and sometimes taken home.

    I had a 1968 Martin D28 like that. I only paid around $400 for it used back in about 1979 but I think it would qualify as an expensive guitar, as I'm sure it cost a good deal more new (it had a couple of pretty good dings in it that had been repaired when I got it and I later had to have the neck reset) and when I sold about 12-13 years ago, I got a couple thousand for it and would no doubt get more today. If felt perfect from the minute I picked it up. It could be a challenge to play but it was totally worth the effort. I only sold it because I wasn't playing it at all and there was just too much value tied up in it for something that wasn't getting used.

    But I also had a cheap Ibanez LP knockoff with triple buckers and an ebony fretboard I also bought back then and it weighed about two tons, but it just always felt perfect to me and I played it better than a lot of stuff I've played. I don't have any memory of what I paid for it, but in 1980ish dollars I doubt it was more than a couple hundred. I got rid of it when I found a used strat because I always seemed to know I was a strat player, and I was and I bonded with that mid-70s strat and had it for many years, but that cheap Ibanez was a better guitar and I was mostly better with it. It's probably the only guitar I've gotten rid of that I wish I'd kept (not instead of the stuff that came later, but in addition to).

    And now I have another strat and another Martin (this one an 000-15M) and I played about a million electrics and acoustics before I bought these and I bought them because they were the ones out of a million that just felt and played absolutely perfect to me. I played a lot of much more expensive guitars and similarly priced guitars and cheaper guitars but in both cases I knew I'd found MY guitar within a couple minutes of picking each of them up. They're both what I'd consider mid-level - the strat is an $800 MIM CP50 and the Martin was about a $1400 model (they dropped the price a few months after I bought it to $1300). But they're the nicest playing and sounding instruments I've ever owned. I'd say the Martin is only tied with the D28 I had years ago, but the strat is waaay nicer than my old '70s model. To me, they're transcendent guitars. I know there are plenty more of them out there, but I played a lot of them to find these and I knew 'em when I played 'em. I wouldn't say they demand more from me, but they sound right when I can make 'em sound right. But the main thing is they feel so damn right it's like they're part of me when I'm playing them - I never feel like I'm fighting with them when I'm playing and I've played plenty of fine guitars that DID feel like more of a fight.

    And, BTW, I'm not worthy of any of these great instruments, but they make playing, even at my level, so much more enjoyable and rewarding that there's no way I'm sending them back just because I'm not worthy...
    t guitar floyd likes this.

  18. ricardo1912

    ricardo1912 Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 26, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Sadly my budget doesn't run to $2500 guitars and for me, $500-800 is a serious amount of cash.
    My idea of a cheap guitar is something like the Squier Custom II that I just got. Paid £150 and, after a comprehensive set up, it's a very nice player with an addictive neck and definitely a keeper.
    Or my 1996 Squier Strat that, with a bone nut, new pickups and some TLC is a decent gig-worthy guitar that cost me £76 to buy and totals about £120 with the new bits.
    Dr Improbable likes this.

  19. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA
    There isn't a "transcendent" guitar. Seeking one is a mistake, like seeking perfect transcendent love in a marriage. People change, circumstances change, life throws things at you: playing the guitar is an act of loving work, like being married. Transcendence comes from the work, not from the a magic object

  20. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

    Feb 26, 2017
    Allow us to be human - allow us to dream

    Permit us to pretend a bit of wood with some metal and plastic on it breaks free the bonds of earth and touches divinity


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