Knowing that the "shine wears off" of everything, are uber expensive guitars really worth it?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by _MementoMori_, May 10, 2021.

  1. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice try, Big Brother.
    This is human nature. We are all looking for that "ultimate" something, but for those of us fortunate enough to get it, whatever it is, we've learned that after the honeymoon period with it, it just becomes another thing cluttering our house. I mean, if owning pristine examples of vintage and iconic electric guitars was a cure-all for GAS, Joe Bonamassa wouldn't need 100+ of them and counting.

    So the question is, what do you do with this realization? Do you ignore it like a pesky fly and continue to flush money down the toilet anyway with full awareness of the eventual outcome? Or do you buy reasonably priced, readily available gear and actually focus on your playing rather than amassing possessions? Does the answer lie between these two extremes?

    I'm asking the question because I do not have the answer. Vintage guitars aren't my thing, but I experience this un-scratchable itch just like every other human being who has ever existed. This topic has been on my mind recently because my wife's grandparents died and we've all been trying to clear out their house to sell it. It is stacked to the rafters in every room with stuff that was clearly important to them but it all looks like junk to us. "You can't take it with you," as they say.
     
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  2. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Slow down, swap guitars to different hangars around room and play them.
    Amps are a little heavier to move around room...but same idea :)
     
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  3. Jimmy Dean

    Jimmy Dean Friend of Leo's

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    A $12000 Les Paul won't play or sound any better than $1200 Les Paul.
     
  4. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Loaded question.

    My nephew is a newer player. He has a Squier Strat and a solid state Champion amp. He recently bought a $30 used pedal. This is his spending limit. A Baja Tele and a DRRI are dreams that are very expensive to him.

    I have money in savings. I could go buy just about anything I want; I just can't justify the expense. I have an SRV Strat my wife gave me decades ago, and if I were to buy a new Tele, it would probably be an American Professional or something similar. To me, uber expensive is a $4k guitar or amp.

    So, with that baseline, for me, uber expensive is not worth it. I understand that a custom shop guitar is better than my Baja, and better than an American Professional or other non-custom lines. However, I have fairly good equipment already; I understand that twice as expensive is not twice as good; I have bought high enough quality instruments that the incremental gains you get when you double the price are not worth it to me; I am a home player who does not play out, however. Others who make a living from playing will disagree, and they are absolutely correct in their assumptions.

    My nephew would love to have the gear I have; since he is still 15, the dream of American or high level Mexican made instruments is still out of reach. He would think my gear is uber expensive. He may think the base line MIM is uber expensive. For him, however, it may be worth it if he came into some cash and could reach that far. He and some friends write music and are in a band. If they start to play out even occasionally, it might be worthwhile for him.

    Context is a funny thing.
     
  5. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Worth it to whom? In what sense?

    Guitars, cars, watches, jeans, refrigerators, homes, vacations. Pick your product or service.

    Tired and loaded topic.
     
  6. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice try, Big Brother.
    Then don't comment. Thanks.
     
  7. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Afflicted

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    Look at all the posts about the new guitar that arrived today and how wonderful it is, reviewed after 1 hour of ownership. Some gush about the guitar that hasn't arrived yet.

    I go to the classified section over at the Acoustic Guitar Forum and look at all the expensive, special build guitars for sale and think I don't want to go there. It's OK for a lot of guitar players, but not for me.

    How many reviews are there about the 5 year old guitar?

    I don't have GAS much & am on the "less equipment" side of things.
     
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  8. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Poster Extraordinaire

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    Knowing that the "shine wears off" of everything, are uber expensive guitars really worth it?

    NO. Not to me, anyway.

    Every culture since forever has had some type of moral/spiritual tradition to deal with this question. Sometimes several. My opinion is that some work better than others. But that also everyone needs to find their own path. My "answer" will neither be the exact same for someone else, nor assumes that I "follow" my own answers better than anyone else does theirs.

    I can only say that I truly believe it's good for humans to recognize this dilemma, and that many of them over eons of time have come up with some pretty useful ways for coping with it in an effective and/or healthy manner. I also believe there are plenty of traditions that are NOT healthy and effective ways of dealing with it, despite purporting to be so. I also recognize that this is my opinion only, and it means nada outside of my own head.
     
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  9. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice try, Big Brother.
    And I've done the very same thing. I had an early serial number US Reverend phenolic top Slingshot for a while. A "grail" guitar to many people. I played it for about three years and then sold it. Not even to fund another guitar. To catch up on bills.
     
  10. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    What’s expensive? Differs for everyone. I don’t find much to like about guitars in general until I get over the 1k mark. I find most of what I really like and enjoy playing starts at $1500-$2k. I try to like less expensive stuff. I always end up having issues with it. Whether some people choose to acknowledge it or not is non of my business, the fact remains that you get what you pay for.

    There are cutoffs, though. I’d love to own a PRS Custom 22 or DGT. I don’t want a used one. I have no interest in being a second owner. If I had one, I’d want to know every mark on it was put there by me. I don’t own one, and probably won’t. Because I just can’t justify it. My Les Paul is an amazing guitar, and about as much $$$ as I’m willing to drag to bars all the time. If push really came to shove and somebody stole it, I could figure out a way to replace it. If something happened to a guitar that cost twice that much, I couldn’t. It would be something I really loved, waited decades to get my hands on, and would be gone forever. I also know that there’s no way if I owned that guitar I’d ever leave it at home. I’d play it every gig, every day, from festival stages to dive bars and bad neighborhoods. I couldn’t own a guitar like that and not eventually wear it clean out. So it doesn’t make sense for me.

    I consider the PRS models at nearly $4k really expensive guitars. I consider my $2k Les Paul a workhorse. I consider my $2k Cole Clark acoustic a workhorse. There are people who make a whole lot more money than I do who would never spend that much on a guitar, or if they did, they’d never take it out of the house. I’m not them.

    Doing this for a living, it makes sense to me to have the absolute best stuff I can get my hands on, that I might be able to replace if I need to. I get no joy out of owning a dozen mediocre guitars. I’d rather have two super sweet ones. Truthfully I’d rather have dozens of really sweet ones. But we can’t always have what we want.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
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  11. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice try, Big Brother.
    Yeah, for sure "expensive" is relative. I have a few pieces of gear that some people would consider expensive too. I guess I'm really getting more at the ultra high end vintage gear that people will drop five figures on just because it's an early example in good shape. Bragging rights gear, if you will. That price point where you've left functional improvements in the dust a few zeros ago.
     
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  12. VonBonfire

    VonBonfire Tele-Meister

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    What qualifies as uber expensive though? I want some ground rules.

    2k? 3k? 5k? 10k?
     
  13. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    I keep it limited to three, in as much as I'd like to get a top shelf ES335, another Telecaster, and who knows what else. I'm not worthy of more, and then there is space. I'm also not a working musician who can justify having more.

    It's my understanding that many of the top performers don't take their prized pieces out. If you're someone like Clapton, Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, John Scofield, Albert Collins, etc. buying a $7000-$10,000 guitar is nothing, and if it gets banged up, they can just buy another.

    Because of the care that I take of mine, "the shine" never wears off!
     
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  14. bcorig

    bcorig Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    To me Uber expensive is $2K for a guitar. My LP Studio ($900 in Y2K) Heritage 555 ($1500 in Y2K) and Am Std Strat ($600 in 1994) seemed just fine until I met you guys and got a Tele Elite in 2018 for $1800. The Tele is the best of the bunch, by far, and not that far away from my others in price, when inflation is taken into consideration. I suppose it comes down to “it depends on the guitar, the player etc...”

    The shine is still on each of my guitars.

    Thus, I GAS for nothing at this point, although sometimes I wonder how an Anderson Top T might sound and feel I’m not inclined to drop those bucks.

    I’m grateful for everything I have.
     
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  15. KelvinS1965

    KelvinS1965 Tele-Afflicted

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    My most expensive (at list price) guitar would be my Gibson SG, though I bought it used/ex-display. It plays really nicely though I couldn't help myself but to swap out the pickups with some I already had, only to put the originals back in again. I could have bought a Custom Shop model, but for me the price of a USA 'Standard' was my limit and I don't think I'm limited in any way by it, only by my own abilities.

    I do try to think in terms of whether the shine will wear off and I'll end up selling something on. It's happened a few times in recent years now I'm in my 50s and can afford to treat myself to things that would have seemed extravagant when I was younger. That's why I try to do reversible modifications and keep any original parts, plus I try to buy ex-display or used if I can to minimise loss should I change my mind later.

    I did treat myself to an 'uber expensive' (in my view) amp a few years ago: I'd wanted a Blackfaced Fender amp for years and decided to buy a Fender Deluxe, just as the handwired Custom Deluxe '64 model came out. I figured that I'd waited about 30 years for one (after playing through a 60s Twin), then the extra 50% wasn't going to stop me. Plus in the UK we can't so easily get good condition vintage amps, so a 'real' one was out of the question and being handwired at least I'd be able to repair it myself in years to come.

    Sure I'd lose a big chunk if I needed to sell it, but everytime I play through it I'm smiling and love just playing clean through it (I typically have some pedals or overdrive channel on my other amps). So in that case it was worth it.

    I understand the comment about clearing the relative's house full of stuff they thought was important: Did the same at my Dad's place after he went into a care home and had no idea what was worth keeping and what wasn't. No way it could all go with him to the home and no room at mine either, so stuff got thrown away. He's not able to tell me what I should have kept, but equally he isn't going to tell me off now either...
     
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  16. mindlobster

    mindlobster Tele-Afflicted

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    New things stop being new quite quickly. Maybe buying a guitar that's already a classic or vintage avoids that happening?
     
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  17. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Afflicted

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    Nice try, Big Brother.
    Let's say $5K and up for guitars. I made the thread really thinking about vintage guitars that go for five figures, but I think you could draw the line where cost no longer contributes to craftsmanship and materials.
     
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  18. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    First of all I disagree with your premise. I still enjoy and appreciate my vintage guitars and my rolex. I'm not looking to justify anything I buy if I enjoy it I buy it.
    When my mother died there was a lot of stuff I didn't care for some of it was expensive. But I realized those things gave her pleasure over the years and that was what was important. When we're dead we're dead, it maters what happens before not after.
     
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  19. OmegaWoods

    OmegaWoods Tele-Meister

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    Good points. I bought several inexpensive guitars (250-500 dollars) when I started playing again last year in addition to my Vintera Tele (1k). Then, a few months ago I bought a 2k S-Type PRS which is a big shift upward in quality.

    So, today I play my PRS about 75%, my Tele about 20% and my other guitars about 5%. This has nothing to do with how much they cost and everything to do with how they sound and feel.

    Going forward, I have three additional guitars on my planned purchase list but I am not in a hurry to buy them. I need to get a lot better before I can justify buying another guitar.

    My "wall-hangers" are on their way out the door. If I don't play them, I don't want to have them. I get GAS but it pretty quickly subsides. I killed a lot of desire to buy more guitars by going and actually playing a bunch of them. I don't want MORE anymore, I want BETTER. If it's not BETTER, I'll pass.
     
  20. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't even touch that stuff. I'd be scared to death to haul something like that to a gig

    Guitars are primarily tools (to me), and there's no need to spend that kind of money on something that inevitably gets banged around, scuffed and scratched up, just through normal use
     
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