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Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by MikeyisB999, Jun 10, 2021 at 7:25 AM.
Yes. Today a cheap guitar can be a good guitar.
Once you reach a tipping point - a level of quality where the guitar has decent tuners, fretwork, and bridge - there is very little difference between "cheap" guitars and "expensive" guitars today. "Cheap" guitars will usually have a thicker poly finish, cheaper ceramic pickups, etc. but the bones of the guitar will be comparable or equal to "expensive" guitars. That tipping point has dropped dramatically over the years. I have a $300 G&L Tribute Fallout that is a great guitar. In the 80s, something comparable in quality would have easily cost $800 (in 80's money, which equals about $2k today). A $300 guitar in the 80s would have been untunable and unplayable.
I'm not saying that there isn't a difference between "cheap" guitars and "expensive" guitars. There is, and I own a couple of "expensive" guitars. I am saying that most of that difference is marketing and corksniffery
Guitars that are cheap and good is old news.
My standards went up after a year or so when I learned the difference between good and great.
McDonalds burgers are good like the massive cheap guitar market.
I no longer have any interest in McDonalds grade food.
Unless I'm on the road in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar state and need to eat.
When the Indonesian Squier Affinity hit the shops circa 2002 or so I played dozens of them.
Really good for the $100!
But I had better guitars and just have no reason to clog up my home with multiple fast food grade cheap guitars.
Wonderful for kids today!
And anyone who is on a super low budget too.
My car is 15 years old, so I'm on a pretty durn low budget myself!
No $100 guitar at home though, except for an old Squier Stagemaster 7 string I bought to see if I really need that extra string.
Nice enough guitar though, for a hundred bucks.
If it's any good, then the more appropriate description is probably 'inexpensive'.
And compared to 30 years ago, the answer to the OP's question is a resounding "hell yeah!".
Thank you PRC, I'm sure you're thanking us even more.
Yeah, you're probably right.
I'v sold some of my cheap(er) guitars that I bought mostly for "modding experiments" where I could test different pick-ups, nuts, tuners, pots etc.
I also bought them to improve my knowledge of repairs.
It worked out very well.
When I sold these guitars, I put most of the stock parts, even nuts and tuners, back on them.
I still have the good parts for use or to sell.
I have an Ibanez AS53 art core. Absolutely love it tore out the pick ups that came with that friend of mine had some used SD 59‘s put those in it and no I wouldn’t trade it for nothing semi hollow body 12 inch radius neck maybe the next thing might be better tuners but other than that it’s fantastic. I wish thunder would do it tell you like this did I say It’s left handed
A fret level and setup are all that separate the playability of cheap guitars and top Custom Shop models...Get either Plek'd and they are easy to play.
Players will whine about the woods, the toan glue, and scratches in the finish, but it's that fretwork playability that is important. $100 can get a competent guitar tech's time to give a great fret level. Most $50 beaters with $100 fret level will play a whole lot better than any guitar below the $1,000 price level, perhaps slightly higher.
Where the big $$$ falls down is in the conspicuous consumption category. That's where the fist fights happen.
Some people desperately need to be a brand billboard as that is how they define themselves. Jeans, car, shoes, guitar.
You just need to know your needs and if either side of the marketing plan will impact your buying decisions.
Some youtube channels make their money selling both ends of the price spectrum.
A cheap guitar can be a great guitar. Particularly when played by a great player. /me didn't watch the video.
I think the real question is, " Can a cheap guitar sufficient gratify one's ego and insecurities?"
So which top custom shop models have you personally tried to compare with a “cheap” guitar to arrive to this consensus?
Definitions and the internet?
I consider "good" to be a very low grade, like the lowest grade above broken/ defective/ doesn't work.
Buying used guitars or camera equipment etc, stuff we don't throw away, good is generally the lowest grade that works properly.
Some people use good to mean something they like and reach for.
Sorta like the folks whose guitars stay in tune for months.
When pressed, they add that it's "pretty close to in tune"!
"Pretty close" is out of tune.
"Good" is just barely adequate.
As far as the new "good" meaning "good modding platform", that's better for hobby modders who maybe like guitars more than they like playing music.
Nothing wrong with that and it's far better than collectors of stuff they puton a shelf and never really get to play with.
If a collector can bang out a tune on the stuff they collect, that's a big improvement over IDK figurines or cabbage patch kids!
For the most part, performing musicians need pro tools to do the job reliably with no need to upgrade or mod before using.
The market that seeks the cheapest good looking gear is a different bunch as far as I can tell.
In between there are performers who use stuff like $450 Squiers, which are NOT cheap guitars.
I don't mean any offense to those who enjoy a nice $100 guitar any more than I mean offense to those who prefer and can afford to spend $3000 on a Telecatser.
Similarly, we can buy very serviceable mechanics tools at a big box store, and fix our cars just fine.
But if we're a fleet mechanic or mill wright keeping equipment working that runs 24 hours a day, we may choose more expensive tools than the home hobby mechanic.
Also a professional might not need the same cheap Tele copy in every color, or the same cheap tool set in bright chrome, brushed chrome and black.
I have way way way too many mechanics tools and woodworking tools, because Ilove good tools, and i have multiple workshop areas plus tools that stay in my vehicle.
The tools that go everywhere in my old Volvo wagon are in many cases big box store mid grade stuff.
All grades have their place, but they are NOT the same.
I think you’re right. I’m an engineer for a large millworks company, so I have an idea of what’s possible. The differences are found in the finishing and setup IMO.
I own/have owned many high end boutique guitars. I don’t regret purchasing any of them, but a friend has an Aria Pro Strat copy that he paid less than $300 for and it’s 90% as good as any guitar I’ve ever tried. I’m always amazed by how good it is every time I play it. If you can afford to pay exponentially for that extra 10% then go for it, but a cheap guitar can be great, no doubt about it.
I don't think tools and guitars are at all the same sort of things. Cheap guitars and expensive guitars by in large are made from the same materials, Wood, Magnets, fretwire.
You can, and possibly with justification, go down the PRS wood drying rabbit hole perhaps, and you can say, my guitar is a tool, but I don't think the same things that differentiate cheap and expensive tools are generally applicable to, and particularly not to Fender style, guitars.
I would further say, if one can't setup and play a typical cheap guitar, assuming it's not defective, that the problem is probably not with the guitar.
I thought Jeff's Squier was an '80s MIJ?
New Squiers in the $450 range have nicer looking chrome and better pickups.
The MIJ Squiers were spec'd with budget metal but built by a work force who had immense pride both as a society of workers, and also as makers of cool guitars they lusted after. Plus they had worker protection and a decent standard of living.
Chinese (and other low labor cost countries) workers are not generally full of pride in their jobs, and are not generally protected or paid well.
What I dislike about the cheaper or the cheap is the wood that is poorly selected and seasoned.
The neck needs to start and stay dead straight for me to want it, and cheap wood that's poorly seasoned then rushed through milling tends to make necks that need fret work and frequent adjustments.
Even that old guy who keeps coming up as an example of a performer who uses the truly cheap Squiers, says he hunts through racks and racks to find a few "good ones" to buy, then uses the best of those picks.
Then we disagree!
What I find is that some guitars stay in great setup for years, while others need adjusting at least twice a year if not more often.
PRS didn't originate wood drying ideals, violin makers preferred 400 years seasoning before use, and those standards keep going down, not up.
Even Leo started with a wood industry ethic that was higher than today, and he would have discarded many neck blanks that are now used in cheaper guitars.
As a user of all sortsof tools, and as one who views a guitar as a tool for making music, not a decorative object or an icon that promotes my brand affiliation, I find metal and wood tools including guitars to be the same category and function.
More challenging with acoustic instruments, yet factories produce fine acoustic instruments simply by maintaining a standard, with no luthiers tapping required.
Calibrating critical tools is no different from setting up guitars.
I used to do machine setup in a furniture shop and it's all the same basic stuff, physics, and sometimes electronics.
What makes a guitar cheap today is more or less the hardware and pickups.
I have to disagree with you, in part, on this.
I'm an American mechanical engineer who deals with Chinese fabricators and manufacturers every day. I've no doubt that they're not compensated nearly as well as the average American worker, but their work ethic, and pride in what they do, is second to none. On any given project we typically rely on Chinese fabricators to produce 50%-80% of the work. They consistently turn things around faster and more accurately than any of our domestic vendors.
Chinese labor is cheap, so cheap crap typically comes from China. But, they are perfectly capable of producing high quality products if that's what you ask them to do.
"fast food grade cheap guitars", man, I like that!
I sold off all but one of my cheapo guitars over the past year and haven't missed them a bit. Only one I kept is the $169 Grote Jazz Hollow Body, because it's pretty damn nice.
There's always the temptation to buy another cheap guitar, because, well, it's cheap and you get that rush of having a new guitar to play with. Usually, though, the thrill is gone pretty quickly. I'm through with Mcnugget guitars. I only want quality stuff now.
Oh yeah I’m well aware of the fact that top quality stuff CAN be made by Chinese workers. That doesn’t reverse engineer into a broader living standard or overall worker pride.
My post that you quoted was specifically about Japanese worker and cultural pride, added to also at that time, Japanese love of old time Fender guitars.
US brands spec a quality grade, then inspect to confirm it was met.
Chinese metal parts that fail will damage the Chinese contractor, so they build to spec.
Amazon typically sells price spec products, and workers don’t care if cheap stuff fails when we buy it.
What happened with MIJ Squier was that those workers built to above spec in the aspects they could control.
Bear n mind that in the culture, pride vs shame leads to socially acceptable suicide in response to bringing shame on your family.
Fender saw the quality of the woodwork from Japan was TOO HIGH AND MADE THE US PRODUCT LOOK BAD!
So they changed the Squier logo to Fender on the same guitars coming off the same production lines.
If FMIC orders 100,000 $450 Squiers and 100,000 $250 Squiers from China, they will not get 200,000 $450 Squiers.
When Fender ordered the equivalent cheap Squier branded guitars from Japan, the extreme worker pride resulted in effectively Fender quality guitars with Squier logos.
The bottom tier Chinese worker told to make their cheapest line, is not taking it upon themselves to build above spec.