What the difference between a $2k and $4k Fender?

hdvades

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However, when I streamlining my "collection" it was a difficult decision about whether I would keep the 63 CS Tele or my AV64 (pure vintage) Tele. I chose to keep the CS because it had a 9.5' radius and 6105 frets that I preferred, and the overall finish was nicer. Plus I had an emotional connection to it in some way. I still wonder if I let the wrong one go.
I'd say you made the right decision. I have a last year of production '17 AV52 Tele. I went through five total Tele's before finding the one I liked. I prefer 9.5 to 7.25. I'd rather have 6105 frets also. Those two details were not dealbreakers. But my one and only gripe is the "over-rolled edges" imho. I was tempted to get an AO52 because of the 9.5" radius, but they had rolled edges so I never tried one. All things considered, I'm very happy with it. If I could swing a CS Telecaster right now, it would be spec'ed like the AV52 but with those features. And it would be a white like the Jimmy Page Tele...not BSB haha.
 

BigJayRillah

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For the level at which I play, I can't justify the extra 2K for a Custom Shop guitar even though I can now afford it. I'm not sure that I could tell the difference if I took a blindfold test. Having said that, the CS guitar will always be worth more. I'm actually very happy with my recently purchased MII Squier CV Jaguar...
You can get used custom shop guitars for under 3k probably around 2.6k it’s definitely worth it but I feel you anything above 3k is a commitment and everything is so much more expensive than it was 3 years ago especially in music gear land
 

BigJayRillah

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As someone who owned a production '56 RI Strat from the original American Vintage run and still owns a Custom Shop (team build) '56 RI from 2000, I can tell you there is a difference. I'd say it's a 15% overall upgrade in some combination of looks, tone, play-ability, feel, and mojo.

Is it worth $2K to get that 15% upgrade over a production model? If you can make it work financially I'd say yes, but that is a question every player has to answer for themselves.
If you are serious then yes the neck wreck wood and feel is just superior to any of the guitars 2k and below. I’m sure there are exceptions to what I am saying but you would have to do some traveling to find that. I do think G+L is the deal for under 2k where everything plays feels and sounds great especially for the money, but the quality is still not on par with the custom shop, although watch the relic’ing because fender sometimes over relics the guitars and their customer service leaves much to be desired
 

BigJayRillah

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I'm not into cars (i don't even own one in 30 years.Heyoh!), don't have power tools, spray paint guns etc._
For me, strait neck, balance, set-up, decent tuners, Pyramid strings, boutique pickups_ it's all I need, it's all i can afford. But I also have tons of electric guitars. And i mean tons.

One $4000 axe?... means 5 or so guitars in my world. None of 'em repeat themselves... all have different format, pickup mfg and/or configs.

Their re-sale value is not good. Then again I've never sold a guitar in 40+ years... two i traded for work in the 80's & I still think about them! (a Teisco & Dan Armstrong sitar/guitar respectively).

From my experience the pickups and strings are pretty much it regarding the sound of an electric guitar, unless its a hollow-body. Distant 2nd: the bridge/saddle/... tailpiece (aluminum vs. zinc) if its a Gibson style.

As often as not the bridge/tailpieces are changed out for the guitars look, or it's so insanely bad junk that it makes noises, breaks strings, or i could injure myself on it. I also use an Empress ParaEQ, which, guess what? Makes all the tonalities swapping out hardware can do... times a million.

Beyond this it's just play play play. my job is to make people think it's a $4000 axe.
I agree with what you are saying for you, but from really having the time to play some nice guitars and then bond with a custom shop strat it definitely allows me to be more accurate than my other American made strats. But if you are the kind of guitarist that wants to play an strat a tele and then les Paul then yes it would probably make sense to do that. But if you are trying to have that guitar and just bond with it and become familiar with its tendencies then I really can see the value in have a expertly crafted instrument. When I play on my custom shop it feels like a perfectly worn in baseball glove, and I jsut get better more accurate results from it while playing it. Not that I couldn’t rock out on any of the other but it’s imo exceptional. If I had 2k and were going to buy a guitar today I would save up another 800$’s and just get a used custom shop and not have to look back. That said I have played on guitars for $1000 that I would be happy with if it were my only guitar so
 

HandCarver

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The law of diminishing returns (a guitar forums' classic) is worth questioning.
If I'm buying a CS Fender in France, I'll have to pay for shipping + tax, that's about 1k. Then the shop adds another k to the price of the guitar. So when the guitar leaves the Fender factory, it's around 2k, and by the time I can buy it, it's gone to 4k. It is still the same guitar! What makes it expensive is not Fender, it's the whole business chain.

I guess it's a matter of perspective. I find a night and day difference between a 2k Fender and a CS. A massive difference! So even though the price tag hurts, and considering the business chain that makes it what it is, I understand it. But if the way you consider guitars is totally different than mine, CS work will appear as minor tweaks.
By the way I often wonder how people assess the "bang for the buck" criteria... how can you tell that a guitar is 20% better, or 45% better, or 80% better? How do you break it down? I can do that when 2 guitars share a very close price tag and a difference I can identify: let's say 2 guitars are identical, only difference is the tuning machines. If there's a $200 difference, I can decide I'm not getting more guitar with the extra$$. But when there's a big gap in price, and the guitar feels so much better?

Bottom line remains the same: you can make music with any guitar. But if we talk about fine craft, great builds, etc... there are objective things about it. A finer piece of wood is a finer piece of wood, there's no denying it. If you think basswood is good enough, fine, but that's another discussion. A fine piece of alder that has been stored for 40 years will be more expensive and will make a finer instrument.
All good points. I doubt Fender ages anything 40 years, and I'd dare say after 5 years of aging, no maker worth his salt would snub that piece of wood - all other things being equal. There's a ton of misunderstandings of tone wood and guitars in general. Some of the finest players I've met haven't a clue about their instruments. In the 1990s, I visited Taylor Guitars and trained for a certified repair relationship with that company. It was around all the MTV unplugged series and acoustics were flying off shelves. It was also at a time when CITES had made it nearly impossible to get Brazilian Rosewood tone sets (backs/sides presawn). The prices hovered around $1000.00 a set if I recall correctly. A few years prior, the same set was less than half that. In the 1970s the same set (but better quality) ran about $35.00. Still with all the restrictions, I was in the warehouse to work in an adjunct spray booth with the repair tech I trained with. It was next to an inside plywood kiln -heated and vented drying booth all homemade. And what do you think got wheeled off a delivery van on a pallet? Yup - several hundred freshly resawn Brazilian Rosewood sets. You could touch them and feel the cold resin. They were carted into the drying kiln and would be pulled about a month later for production. The point is that there is an unashamed amount of marketing with manufacturers. The CS repsresents nothing more than a collectors market for me. Even the American lines are overpriced at this point. No innovation since the 60s, same widget at 10 times the cost. But to each his own.

What really matters to me in a guitar (after how the instrument feels) is mass and grain orientation of the wood, depending on species, grade of wood, number of pieces in the body buildup etc, as well as the obvious hardware and wiring config. Most of what tickles the ears of players is accomplished thru hardware (pickups/pots/bleed circuits/cap values and phasing switches if any). Most of the inherent vibration qualities (resonance) of a guitar's body and neck are lost on the player, in many cases. And, it's a matter of A/B comparison for some people to perceive any difference at all. Some can't even then.

If I lived across the pond, I'd seek out a vintage piece from London and I'd bet I would feel better about the overall instrument.
 

ETMusic777

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Answer: They don't disclose the weight of the former (and I think this needs to change).

Very interested in the new American Vintage II series but I don't want an 8lb Strat. I was a bit disappointed that weight specifications are only available for "higher end" models with most retailers. I guess I'm bringing my scale to Guitar Center...

Jokes aside, Wildwood Guitars Discloses the weight of their AVII series guitars.

There are so many overvalued guitars being sold today, its ridiculous. I am a very experienced player with a nice collection of guitars, and I rarely pay over $1000 for a guitar. Last year, I bought a 2018 American made Fender Strat Special from Guitar Center used online, for only $700. Its literally brand new and had the stickers on it when I got it.

This is a fantastic guitar. Its Alpine white with a maple neck. The neck is absolutely amazing and flawless. The guitar sets up very easily, holds its tune even with the vibrato arm. The finish is flawless and the pickups are Texas Specials which are hotter than a typical Strat pickup, however it has the "greasebucket" circuit which allows you to dial back some of the hotness if you want to without losing high end.

The only thing that I will change on this guitar is to upgrade the vibrato bridge which is good, but not Fender's highest level quality. The guitar is light, resonant, very balanced, sounds amazing and it excellent. I always buy used, and get great values. There is no need to pay $4k for a guitar these days unless investing. I have a 1990 Tele Plus Deluxe which I bought new for $850 in 1993, which is worth over $2500 today due to its rarity and association with Jonny Greenwood. I love it and its a keeper, but I wont pay $2500 for any guitar today, unless it was a collector and an "investment".
 

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HandCarver

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There are so many overvalued guitars being sold today, its ridiculous. I am a very experienced player with a nice collection of guitars, and I rarely pay over $1000 for a guitar. Last year, I bought a 2018 American made Fender Strat Special from Guitar Center used online, for only $700. Its literally brand new and had the stickers on it when I got it.

This is a fantastic guitar. Its Alpine white with a maple neck. The neck is absolutely amazing and flawless. The guitar sets up very easily, holds its tune even with the vibrato arm. The finish is flawless and the pickups are Texas Specials which are hotter than a typical Strat pickup, however it has the "greasebucket" circuit which allows you to dial back some of the hotness if you want to without losing high end.

The only thing that I will change on this guitar is to upgrade the vibrato bridge which is good, but not Fender's highest level quality. The guitar is light, resonant, very balanced, sounds amazing and it excellent. I always buy used, and get great values. There is no need to pay $4k for a guitar these days unless investing. I have a 1990 Tele Plus Deluxe which I bought new for $850 in 1993, which is worth over $2500 today due to its rarity and association with Jonny Greenwood. I love it and its a keeper, but I wont pay $2500 for any guitar today, unless it was a collector and an "investment".
Sounds like a great find. If I were to buy another Strat today, the first thing I would replace is the bridge. I'd put in a Super-Vee Blade Runner. They seem to brighten the sound a bit but that can be remedied. The issue I had with prior Strats is that the low E string would become rather "thudish" long before the strings even broke in. Almost dead/half-muted. Never could get around it with action/intonation changes.
 

howlback

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There are so many overvalued guitars being sold today, its ridiculous. I am a very experienced player with a nice collection of guitars, and I rarely pay over $1000 for a guitar. Last year, I bought a 2018 American made Fender Strat Special from Guitar Center used online, for only $700. Its literally brand new and had the stickers on it when I got it.

This is a fantastic guitar. Its Alpine white with a maple neck. The neck is absolutely amazing and flawless. The guitar sets up very easily, holds its tune even with the vibrato arm. The finish is flawless and the pickups are Texas Specials which are hotter than a typical Strat pickup, however it has the "greasebucket" circuit which allows you to dial back some of the hotness if you want to without losing high end.

The only thing that I will change on this guitar is to upgrade the vibrato bridge which is good, but not Fender's highest level quality. The guitar is light, resonant, very balanced, sounds amazing and it excellent. I always buy used, and get great values. There is no need to pay $4k for a guitar these days unless investing. I have a 1990 Tele Plus Deluxe which I bought new for $850 in 1993, which is worth over $2500 today due to its rarity and association with Jonny Greenwood. I love it and its a keeper, but I wont pay $2500 for any guitar today, unless it was a collector and an "investment".
I love the thought of a ridiculous player guitar w/ maybe upgraded pickups? I got lucky with a great Custom Shop but I get nervous playing gigs at the club level. Thinking real hard about a Vintera 60s.
 

ETMusic777

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This is my 1993 Strat Plus Deluxe, American made which I got from guitar center used online for $999 + tax and $30 shipping last year. It has no fret wear, and barely a scratch on it which for a 30 year old guitar is amazing. It has the original Fender Lace Sensors, Blue, Silver, Red in it. Locking tuners. Roller nut. Special locking Fender bridge. D. Chavez neck. The Lace Sensors are really unique. If you have not tried them, they may not be "traditional" but can get you a lot of different tones. I don't see any point buying a new Fender for $2000+ even a custom shop, or a Suhr as long as great used deals like this can be found. GC often has deals like this but you have to look at their used section daily to grab them. Call the store, ask the kid to describe the guitar to you and have it shipped. If you dont like it, just return it to any GC store and get a full refund minus shipping. I know many people hate GC but their used section is pretty good.
 

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ETMusic777

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I love the thought of a ridiculous player guitar w/ maybe upgraded pickups? I got lucky with a great Custom Shop but I get nervous playing gigs at the club level. Thinking real hard about a Vintera 60s.
There is so much value in the sub $1000 market with a few upgrades to get you a sweet playing and sounding instrument. When you sell it someday, you will get back bout what you put in to it too.
 

GearGeek01

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My top for pricing on any guitar is around $1,000. Mostly due to financial inability. I am permanently disabled and I live on $841/mo. So $2,000 for one guitar is out of my price range completely. $4,000 and I'd think only doctors or lawyers could afford it... Besides, I can have EIGHT different $500 guitars for that one $4,000 guitar.

My current favorites are the new "Inspired By Gibson" (IBG) series of Epiphones. I have several of these and each are stellar.

- IBG ES-339
- IBG Les Paul Modern Figured
- IBG SG Modern Figured
- IBG Firebird
- IBG '59 Les Paul Standard

Pretty sure those all together were less or near to $4,000. But I can buy them on a layaway, stretch out the payments, and have several flavors to choose from. To me that is a better spend of my personal funds. (I am also a big favorite of the G&L Tribute series)

Each of the IBG models comes with CTS pots, Switchcraft jack and toggle, and Mallory orange drop capacitors. The IBG '59 Les Paul comes with Gibson USA Burstbucker pups... and it's $800 versus Gibson's new price of $2,999.99 on a Les Paul Standard. IMHO, the "Gibson" logo on the headstock is NOT worthy of the $2,200 price jump.


I think it was Paul Reed Smith that first instigated the stupid pricing we see on some of these guitars these days. I've had a couple PRS-SE models, but I have no interest in one of their over-priced (IMHO) $3,000-$4,000 USA units.

I busted my "oh boy an expensive guitar" cherry when I was 17 yo (60 now)... I still have my 1980 Gibson Les Paul Artisan (bought new in 1980), and it will go in my coffin when my body on Earth is done. In 1980, it was the fanciest Gibson they made (basically a Les Paul Custom, w/ hearts and flowers inlay, and a TP-6 tailpiece), and out the door was $925.60. Now the world poo-poo's your buying if you pay less than $2,000... and as far as Gibson... you play Russian Roulette with the quality these days. For the same $2,000-4,000 Gibson, you might get a star or you might get a lemon.

I am going to go out on a limb and say Gibson's Epiphone quality control is better than the Gibson USA quality control. They can squeeze a juicy fart out of the USA factory and people will rush to smell it... If it has "Gibson" on the headstock, flaws and smelly farts seem to get looked the other way. But OH MY GOD... one Epiphone with a teeny weeny fleck of something... OH MY GOD, JUST LIKE ALL THE FORUMS SAY, EPIPHONE SUCKS...

NOT...

I really believe, if you could average out the quality issues in some type of statistical way, per unit of production, and per dollar of item... The Epiphone plants are putting out better overall quality than Gibson USA does these days... And when Henry J ran Gibson, the Les Paul Customs had Richlite fingerboards (a super compressed paper composite... yuck)... at the same time, he was putting real ebony on Epiphones, LOL...

I have a satirical comparison (after working as a production employee for 15 years)... between USA workers and Asian workers... goes something like this... (I am making a joke, but my observations hold a lot of truth)

Typical American worker >> comes in late, leaves early, makes excuses for not coming to work, hates his job, is over-paid with more benefits than any other worker on the planet, doesn't give a flying f__k if he/she makes a good quality piece or not, if it just barely passes quality control, it goes out the door... if it doesn't pass quality control, gets sent back to his/her work bench, he/she gets pissed off, f__ks it together and then it gets sent out with all that hate hanging over it. Calls in "sick" every third Monday.
- Guitars cost $5,000

Typical Asian worker >> lives at the factory, honors his family by having this job, makes 1/3 (or less) than the American worker does, has no benefits, would rather commit hari kari (ritual suicide by self-disembowelment on a sword) if quality isn't absolutely perfect. Works 7 days a week, and 14 hours a day without complaint.
- Guitars cost $500


Who would you rather buy a guitar from...
 
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Love For Teles

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Now, I personally never player or even held a CS guitar but I do have some experience with MIM and MIA guitars. I own a player series, pro II and currently a vintage II to test it out.

What they say is true. A 500 euro/dollar Mexican player series is an insanely good guitar. I´ve had 2 and both were great but my current one (which is a keeper) is an insanely good guitar and better than the 10 or so pro II´s I tried out, to me atleast. Only my current pro II is a better guitar to me (and it suprisingly came with a gorgeous flamed neck).

But I also paid literally 3 times the price. And it absolutely isn´t 3x better. More like 5% better at best. I cannot tell a upgrade in fit or finish. I can tell it has rounded edges for example, but my neck on the player is so good.. Infact, when I play and don´t consciously remind myself of it I simply forget the lack of rolled edges. Or sculpted heel. Or 4th position.

What I´m getting to is that in a certain series one IS better than the others. I held some ´meh´ players and played some players I easily preferred over some pro II models. Ultra´s are great guitars too but I just don´t like them for the neck alone and therefor I´d much prefer a 600 euro player over a 2.2k ultra.

And it´s the same with CS vs MIA. The price differences come from somewhere. Little bits here and there that add up to a difference that most likely doesn´t justify the price difference. If you like a guitar because of feel or sound... It´s just as good a guitar as can be to you. That´s when I tell myself "I odn´t need to spend CS prices". I´ll never say a player could be as good as a CS but it surely could be so good you don´t crave ´better´.

Lastly: a comment i´ve seen on alot of places such as comments on vids, people talking in vids, written reviews and forums like this, ... is that the american original series are closing the gap between production and CS. Nearing CS levels for half the price. The AVII is then most likely more of the same.
 
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