guitar, electric guitar, les paul

What Makes A Guitar Expensive?

Many people who begin to take guitar lessons are often in the market for a new guitar and may find themselves astonished at the variety and range of prices of guitars that seem so similar. What is possibly so different about these guitars that one costs $100 and another costs $1000? There are many factors in regards to the price of the guitar but let’s just focus on the basics – the quality of materials, level of craftsmanship, and age.

The quality of materials for a guitar is a broad subject. There is always debate on what really makes a difference to the sound of a guitar. This could be tone woods, types of metal used in tuners and frets are all things that are considered when making these guitars. Obviously, some of the cheaper options for things such as tone woods may create big sacrifices to the overall sound. This could look something like a composite wood for the body of an acoustic guitar instead of a solid spruce. Composite means basically the wood was created from pressing cheap would together to create a synthetic board, which doesn’t resonate as well as a solid alternative. Another example of cheaper materials could be using a plastic nut instead of one made from bone or metal, resulting in poorer tuning stability and longevity of the instrument.

In today’s day and age, technology has enabled the rapid production of instruments off assembly lines. Unfortunately, if this technology is of poor quality itself or maintained with less affection and attention than it requires, the instruments it produces will be of likewise poor quality. A guitar is an extremely precise instrument, very small flaws can make a big difference in playability and quality of sound. Getting these small details requires time and attention, which in turn requires a significantly higher amount of time and makes the price of the instrument go up. While, generally speaking, there are fabulous guitars that are made outside of North America, many do not receive the care or time that American made guitars receive, resulting in lower quality and prices.

Lastly, age can be an important factor when considering price. Often times, a new guitar can be more expensive than a four or five year old version of the same model. This might be because the guitar is really only gently used, but nothing is that special about its age. It is when the guitar approaches the twenty year old and up aging that the prices of the guitars can surpass the new prices of the same build. The reason these guitars are more expensive for even heavily worn and weathered guitars is for the originality of their components. A guitar that is fifty years old has history as well as tone woods that may no longer be accessible to that company or pickups that are no longer wound that way. These prices can become pretty steep very fast.

Consult your guitar teacher or local shop owner about what price range is the right one for you, find out where they think you would get the most quality for your money’s worth. Don’t forget to enjoy the process of buying YOUR guitar!

Ken K is a professional guitar teacher who lives in Denver, Colorado where he helps students have fun learning how to play the guitar. If you are looking for guitar lessons in Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Lone Tree or other southwest suburbs of Denver, CO make sure to contact Ken.
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