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You should surround yourself in guitar luxury


Yes, you should do this, but not for the reasons you would think.

At this point in my life, I have been around many millions of dollars worth of guitars. I've seen the best of the best both vintage and new and even played some of them.

However, bear in mind there is a huge difference between luxury and quality.

What is a luxury guitar? Expensive, fragile and ornate.

What is a quality guitar? Reasonably priced, built tough to last long, subtle appearance.

A problem presents itself in that both luxury and quality guitars sometimes fall within the same price range. This being true, how do you differentiate between the two?

Go to an upscale guitar shop

Where I currently reside, oh yes, it is easy to find shops where every guitar starts at $1,500 and goes up from there. And for other guitar shops in this state, several have that special little room where the $5,000-and-up guitars are, and the ones priced over $10,000 are inside a glass case.

This is an easy way of surrounding yourself in guitar luxury without actually having to buy anything.

How to tell the difference between the luxury and quality guitars is easy here. Sit down and play them, and look for problems. For the ones that have even the smallest problem, put the guitar back. Any nick, scratch, creak, squeak, electronics issue or other imperfection you find means the guitar absolutely isn't worth the price on the tag. Chances are fairly good you will find at least three things wrong on all of the high priced guitars you try.

Go to a guitar festival

I was around a few million dollar's worth of vintage guitars (when all put together) at the Dallas International Guitar Festival earlier this year.

Something I didn't mention before about that but will now is that it's comical seeing vintage guitars valued that high on cheap fold-out tables like you'd see in a high school cafeteria. Yes, they put fancy looking black tablecloths over them to hide the cheap-ass tables, but they're still all on cheap-ass tables.

What really drives home how ridiculous the prices are is when you compare one vintage example to another, in the same condition, with basically the same specifications, yet one is priced 75% more than the other. Does that mean the more expensive guitar is 75% better? No. It just means the higher priced example has some sort of perceived value to it based on brand, history, prestige or all three.

You should go to one of these festivals to surround yourself in this form of guitar luxury. While there, note the wild price differences, even for same-brand guitars (sometimes even ones made in the same year.) Some of the differences you spot will be understandable, while others will make no sense at all.

Recognize marketing b.s. for what it is

"Hand crafted" means nothing, because there is no such thing as a 100% machine-built guitar. Even the cheapest $99 guitar at some point has human hands touch it to install something.

"Sustain" means nothing, because nobody needs a 13-second note decay. Also, nobody wants to hear any single note for 13 seconds either.

"Limited Edition" means little other than "we slapped a different color on this but it's just like the regular model otherwise" in most instances.

The more you hang around luxury guitars...

...the more you will be able to distinguish the luxury garbage from the actual quality instruments.

A few examples:

Suhr guitars look plain for the most part, but they're built to be played hard and last a very long time.

Tom Anderson guitars, also somewhat on the plain side for appearance, really deliver a rock solid player's guitar.

Bacchus guitars out of Japan makes some seriously good stuff for their upper end models. They have some with fancy looks, but also many that are plain in appearance with high end craftsmanship and hardware.

And note: None of these (except for Bacchus entry models) are cheap.

Visit some upscale guitar shops and festivals and you should find a few examples of these to try out for yourself - and possibly go home with one.

On a final note, a question answered: Is there such a thing as an electric guitar that's both luxurious and has the highest of quality? Yes. There are a a few guitar makers like this, but the one I'll mention is Knaggs. You're going to drop at least $5,000 to get one of these, but if you want the "has everything" guitar where both the luxury and quality bases are covered, there you go.

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