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Old 11-23-2012, 05:13 PM   #1
kharn_tb
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Are companies trying to change cheap guitars?

I've been noticing while out and about that it seems like companies are trying to change the perception of their lower end instruments.

Epiphone is adding little touches to make the lower end models look more like the higher ends with the 2 screw truss rod cover (even though its still a special II). Ibanez has expanded the Gio line into the $300 plus level, Schecter and ESP make fairly respectable lower end models (they at least play well even if the electronics might be a little murky), and I will admit I had an Affinity tele that felt as good as an Am standard (once again murky quality pups).

Are companies trying to make their product lines at the lower end better to try to get people to buy them and make them last when starting out, as well as gaining more market share by creating a lifetime customer. Or are they just trying to make the worst products look better so they sell a bit better to those with 100% disposable incomes and cash strapped parents with budding guitarists?
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:21 PM   #2
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It's a competitive market. If Yamaha makes better cheap guitars than Ibanez, then Yamaha will dominate that market. The consumer benefits from it the most.

As far whether or not they are actually getting better, I'm not sure. Cheap guitars usually feel like cheap guitars to me. Some feel better than others, but a Gio still doesn't compete with the better Ibanez lines.
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:31 PM   #3
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The economy is bad. People don't have 1,000+ to spend on a guitar. A lot of people can only spend 300-400 dollars. I think a lot of people are also becoming more aware of the quality issues with cheaper instruments, and they want a cheap guitar with quality features. One need only look at the used market for Agile (where they cost just as much as the new ones) to see that people are willing to pay for a lesser brand if it has the specs they want.
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:36 PM   #4
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Cheap guitars these days feel a lot better than cheap guitars did when I started playing in the 80s, so I'd say things are improving.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:36 PM   #5
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Id say so, if you had a budget of around £400, you could buy a squier, maybe change the pickups and a few bits of hardware, and youd have a guitar that plays amazingly for a very cheap price. Chapman guitars are giving out alot for a low price too, theyve really got some nice guitars and are growing quickly
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:39 PM   #6
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With the expansion of these companies I think they they are able to afford to produce better guitars for cheaper which is why they are adding the extra features and can still keep them at a resonable price.
whether they are doing this for the good of the customers or just because of market demand/competition I don't mind because cheaper guitars are getting better.
I think one of the things that will haver to halt this progression of cheaper instrument will be the fact that manufacturers will want a defining line between their cheap stock and their high end stock eg ESP vs LTD. But that line seems to be getting thinner and thinner with the improvement on cheaper guitars without the same step forward being done on high end guitars.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:44 PM   #7
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Agreed on the interaction of the economy and competitive market.

ESPECIALLY since the younger brands out of Asia are pressing hard to make a name for themselves. I've seen brands like Radix and Swing put out some guitars that are quite reasonably priced using some fairly decent hardware & electronics, for instance. I haven't bought one, but I have to admit to being tempted.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leigh596
Id say so, if you had a budget of around £400, you could buy a squier, maybe change the pickups and a few bits of hardware, and youd have a guitar that plays amazingly for a very cheap price. Chapman guitars are giving out alot for a low price too, theyve really got some nice guitars and are growing quickly


Just... no...
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:56 PM   #9
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Stay away from squier guitars.
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:00 PM   #10
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Sorry to get a bit off topic, but guitar companies are not as competitive as most would perceive. I visited Martin Guitar Factory and the tour guide said that whenever a guitar company have a new idea they usually share it with other guitar companies.

Back to the original topic, my thoughts are that if you make cheaper guitars better then beginning guitarists won't start on crappy cheap guitars but rather decent cheap guitars and if your beginning playing on a better guitar that's built good then you may want to play the guitar more than if you had a crap guitar that makes you in turn sound like crap.

So, guitar companies are probably making better cheap guitars so there are more guitarists that will eventually get good enough to buy a more expensive guitar. Just my two cents.

Edit: to the post above Squier Guitars are actually pretty good especially the vintage modified series, which some say are better than Fender MIM guitars.
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:25 PM   #11
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The Squier VM line is quite good for the price. I see epiphone stepping up a bit more these days as well. They aren't trying to compete with Gibson, being of the same parent company, but I'm guessing they realize how easy it is to make quality instruments on the cheaper side of things to compete with smaller brands who are turning out decent guitars.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:21 PM   #12
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my ibby gio GRG170DX was my first guitar and it still plays lovely!

great 'budget' end guitars the ibanez gio series
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:32 PM   #13
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My first guitar was a Squier Standard Tele and I still love it, I prefer it to the Affinity ones and i enjoy playing it as much as my MIM Jaguar. Could do with some new pickups though. If you look as the materials used, its a solid alder guitar with a mpale neck and it feels comfortable to play, so theres no reason that with good electronics it cant sound similar to other alder bodied guitars
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:56 PM   #14
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I had a nice solid affinity for 3 years and I loved that thing and before that I had an Epi LP Special II. When I had went out to shop for cheap guitars I had looked at another Special II (more then SG then the LP) and was amazed at how much the quality had improved in the 4 years since I bought the LP version.

I think it is that they are trying to improve things especially with the lower end stuff as some had stated just better access to materials and crafting materials that lowers the prices to allow for the betterment of the lower end guitars. I just didn't know if it was a business ploy to make them look better or trying to cater to a customer by getting them to love their product then when its time to upgrade you have a good customer.

Yes I will admit the Gio is a very good guitar for the price, and preforms well, even better then a higher end Ibanez that I've had before. I was just wondering if this was looks or a genuine upgrade as time has went on.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:27 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryBillington
Cheap guitars these days feel a lot better than cheap guitars did when I started playing in the 80s, so I'd say things are improving.


totally agree. i started in the late 70s with total shit japanese made guitar from the 60s which was total garbage. a wahl-mart 1st act was custom shop compared to that guitar. as production methods have improved so has the quality of what can be produced cheaply. the market also has way more brands and models available than it did 20 or 30 years ago.
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:27 PM   #16
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Ill compare my newest guitar to the more expensive guitars I have owned which was an American Strat about 10 years ago at about $1000. My new cheap guitar is a Jay Turser JT300 that cost me $120.

Yes the Strat was better, but not 9 times better.

Cheap guitars have come a long ways since I started picking in the early 60s.
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:52 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Hou-Tex
Ill compare my newest guitar to the more expensive guitars I have owned which was an American Strat about 10 years ago at about $1000. My new cheap guitar is a Jay Turser JT300 that cost me $120.

Yes the Strat was better, but not 9 times better.

Cheap guitars have come a long ways since I started picking in the early 60s.

The prices aren't like that. I mean a $1000 guitar isn't "twice as good as" $500 guitar. (I don't know how you would even measure that.) You need to pay for the slight improvements more and more when you are looking at the highest end guitars. Because people are willing to pay for them. If you find a guitar that you love and it fits you perfectly and it costs $2000 but you could get a guitar that you aren't completely happy with for $1500, which one would you buy? The $2000 guitar isn't 1,3 times better than the $1500 guitar but you might still buy it because you are completely happy with it. A good musician will pay for the smallest differences.

But I don't think the high end guitars have got any better. It's just easier to make cheaper guitars nowadays. Cheaper models have got better but high end has stayed the same because guitars are only guitars, they still use the same technology as 40 years ago (unless it's a Firebird X or something). It's just easier to make cheap models because of automation.
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:44 PM   #18
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The guitars coming out of China and Indonesia are getting better as those factories do more business and brands entrust them with better materials and put more money into them. The factories in Korea and Mexico have been pumping out high-quality stuff for years now, only the sub-par materials really hold them back; given that it's cheaper for a manufacturer to suport the Chinse factories rather than Korea or Mexico, I expect in a few years time the Korean and Mexican plants will be dead or dying and China and Inodnesia will have completely taken over everything other than the true "high-end".

I wouldn't say that companies are trying to change cheap guitars, in the sense that they want to give something back to players and want to put out the best product possible at the cheapest price. Large companies can't think and act like that, they have shareholders to answer to. What you're seeing is simply the natural evolution and improvement of the cheaper factories as they are relied on more.

Remember, there was a time when the cheap, low-end beginner stuff was all coming out of Japan. Now Japanese guitars are considered professional-quality and some people even favour them over the instruments that come out of North America and western Europe. They didn't get there because brands like Jackson, ESP and Kramer wanted their cheap Japanese instruments to be better, they got there because over time more people outsourced to Japan, those factories were able to grow in size, the workers became more experienced and better trained, they bought in better machinery and materials, etc.

So, it's not really the companies that are trying to make cheap guitars better, it's the factories that the big manufacturers employ.


edit:
I think it's worth pointing out too that quality over time is relative. Up to the 70s, American and European guitars were still being built very well with only the very best parts and with very strict quality control (almost too strict, a few companies ran themselves out of business by wasting so much time and materials rejecting perfectly acceptable instruments), whilst the Asian factories had just started up and were only capable of making the absolute worst junk. These days not only has the low-end improved but the high-end isn't as grand as it once was either. What we now call a "high-end" American Fender or Gibson standard model was, at one point, considered very average; the true modern "high-end", Custom Shop guitars and the like, are about the same quality that a barely-above-average guitar was pre-1972. So not only are the low-end guitars better in their own right, but compared to the high-end of each time they're much closer too. The falling quality of expensive guitars makes cheap guitars seem much better than they really, objectively are.
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Old 11-24-2012, 07:13 PM   #19
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I don't think it's so much they are trying to make them better it's just the advances in technology allows them to make better guitars (and also reduces manufacturing cost).
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:18 PM   #20
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Good topic. My first guitar ever was a Lyon by Washburn I got in the early 90's. It was made of plywood, and the trem eventually warped. The fingerboard had a knot on it and the frets were all sticking out.

I have a newer Lyon made in the mid 00's and it's made of better material--solid wood body (not sure what kind) and it's not painful to play. It's still a cheap-o but it's better than it's predecessor.

I'm not even sure if Washburn still makes the Lyon line...I haven't seen a new one for sale in a long time.
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