#1
Hey, so I've been playing for less than a year and currently have a Ibanez GRG170 and a cheap Chinese Fender clone. Just based I would most be interested in adding is an Ibanez, Jackson, ESP, Schechter, or Dean. I pretty much only play metal, with the except of some classical stuff. Right now, I just play at home, but I would like to join a band later this year if I get good enough.

My question is this, what is the sweet spot for guitars? Where you get 90+% of 100%

At what price point are the returns greatly diminishing?
#2
Wow, I can see why there are no answers to this, as soon as I start typing something, I immediately find some exceptions to whatever i was writing... well anyway, the sweet spot...

it really depends on what you want from a guitar. And that changes a lot with experience. When you're beginner, you don't know what you want and pretty much anything will do, when you've been playing for a couple years, you'll be happy to spend $5k, because it will get you exactly what you want. So essentially, i'd say there is no sweet spot at all. Go to a store, try as many guitars as you like and decide upon which guitars you liked and how much you're willing to spend. It is individual.

I'm sorry for quite a shitty answer, but that's just how i feel about this. Also, before you buy a cheap-ish guitar, read some reviews ^^

I personally have a (amongs others) couple of LTD's (heavily modded M-50 and MH-317) and epi LP standard and I'm really happy with all of them.
#3
completely subjective. i would say a sweet spot is around the 750-1000 range. imo.

i would say that the lower you go the narrower the threshold becomes and the higher you go the bigger the threshold becomes (meaning, 200 dolalr guitars, another 50 bucks may get you a lot more. 5000 dollar guitars, another 500 may do absolutely nothing).

although, my carvin pretty much hit the nail on that sweet spot. there simply is nothing but a carvin that offerers the quality of wood and build, and customization that price range. nothing.
Carvin CT624
Walden G630ce Acoustic
Carvin V3M, Avatar 2x12 WGS Reaper, vet 30
(crybaby, Fairfield circuitry Comp, GFS tuner, Vick Audio 73 Ram's Head, Xotic AC booster, lovepedal trem, TC Flashback, PGS Trinity Reverb, Walrus Audio Aetos power)
#4
I'd say probably just at the point where the "pro quality" guitars start- ibanez prestige, Fender USA, Gibson USA (the standard models, not the cheaper faded ones), the good japanese copies etc. Normally around the ~£700 mark or so at UK pricing. That's not to say that more expensive guitars can't be better than that, but there's nothing really holding you back, either- as you said, it gives you the 90% of the 100%.

But as KorYi said there are tons of exceptions, and also that's ignoring the fact that you can often get a good deal in a sale or similar if you're lucky.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#5
Talking about percentages and sweet spots for value vs performance really doesn't work on things that are as subjective as this.

Yes, the more you spend the smaller the increments of improvements in quality, but that tends to be the case with anything.

Of course there are exceptions, but this is my view on what I would expect from a guitar based on it's price:

£0-£100: Quite literally a pile of crap, no one could make this sound good.
£100-£400: Starter guitar. These are by no means bad instruments but will lack considerably in certain areas.
£400-£800: Solid instrument. Many people have guitars in this price range as their primary instrument, including some professional musicians.
£800-£1500: Professional quality instrument. These will excel at what they were built for.
£1500+: Custom guitars, exceptionally high quality.

This varies from company to company and this is my own personal, and very general, view on the topic.

Chances are a beginner such as yourself may not be able to tell the difference between a £400 guitar and a £4000 guitar, as the improvements in quality will be lots of very small nuances. I assume you can tell that your GRG is of higher quality than the Fender clone, however someone who has never played a guitar before of course would have no idea.

Anyway, I guess my advice would be don't spend too much on things you don't need. You don't need bells and whistles unless you want them and have the money, in which case by all means go for it. Go for something that is a reasonable upgrade from your GRG, but I personally wouldn't set my sights higher than £500-£600.
#6
i could agree with $700-$1000 being the sweet spot. If you like to play live shows and record your songs, that price range will do you just fine.

I have 2 Jacksons in that range (soloist/dinky) and they have preformed well in dozen of venues and in the studio proved absolutely fine ($600 jackson dkmgt)

For touring musicians/serious hobbiests that record their music professionally and demand absolute tonal perfect will easily spend 1000s.

I have an ibanez rgd prestige i spent around $1500 on and cant see myself needed anything "better" for my style. It is my current "end all guitars" guitar.
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#7
I think you can get a quality guitar for $250 that once setup it'll stay in tune and play more than good enough to gig with. I'd say the value to the dollar starts diminishing significantly after around $500. You can't get more value for your dollar than a MIM Fender, Epiphone, LTD, Schecter, etc in this price range. You would still have to physically play a bunch to find one that suits you... but goes for any guitar no matter what price.

There are plenty of gigging pros that have a "cheap" squire, epiphone, or ltd in their arsenal.

Id say to get 90+% of 100% I'd agree with the guys above. the 750 range should do you well. Usually come with nice pickups/electronics/tuners/hardware in general straight from the factory.
Last edited by cheesefries at Feb 15, 2014,
#8
Everyone has their own perspective, mine is that the more you spend you less work you have to do yourself. When you can take a guitar out of the box and have to do absolutely no work that's the "sweet spot" (No work includes everything except a setup to your own preference)

Of course this isn't the case as people always say "Try it first", even a £1600 Les Paul Standard can have a low fret and that could completely throw off a guitar.

You can go on YouTube and you'll find people absolutely letting rip on stuff like Gios and Squiers that cost £100.
Last edited by MegadethFan18 at Feb 15, 2014,
#9
Quote by Random3
Talking about percentages and sweet spots for value vs performance really doesn't work on things that are as subjective as this.

Yes, the more you spend the smaller the increments of improvements in quality, but that tends to be the case with anything.

Of course there are exceptions, but this is my view on what I would expect from a guitar based on it's price:

£0-£100: Quite literally a pile of crap, no one could make this sound good.
£100-£400: Starter guitar. These are by no means bad instruments but will lack considerably in certain areas.
£400-£800: Solid instrument. Many people have guitars in this price range as their primary instrument, including some professional musicians.
£800-£1500: Professional quality instrument. These will excel at what they were built for.
£1500+: Custom guitars, exceptionally high quality.

This varies from company to company and this is my own personal, and very general, view on the topic.

Chances are a beginner such as yourself may not be able to tell the difference between a £400 guitar and a £4000 guitar, as the improvements in quality will be lots of very small nuances. I assume you can tell that your GRG is of higher quality than the Fender clone, however someone who has never played a guitar before of course would have no idea.

Anyway, I guess my advice would be don't spend too much on things you don't need. You don't need bells and whistles unless you want them and have the money, in which case by all means go for it. Go for something that is a reasonable upgrade from your GRG, but I personally wouldn't set my sights higher than £500-£600.


That's pretty much what i wanted to say, except, I can't express myself properly.

Anyway, it's just add to this (and to what i've said before): upgrading can get you a long way. When I buy a guitar, I personally don't care about the sound at all, the most important factors are the wood and the 'feel' of the guitar, with BIG emphasis on the feel.

Essentially, when I buy a guitar, i decide almost exclusively on the neck. Most of the other things you can change (maybe except for the bridge, but to me, bridge makesvery little difference)
#10
As others have said, it varies - particularly by company. Some of the established giants will give you a very high quality instrument for your money, but you will still pay a substantial premium for the brand name. Some smaller companies are trying to build a reputation for quality and performance, so they build guitars that, if the same instrument were made and sold by one of the industry giants, would cost considerably more. Gibson and C.F. Martin are examples of the former; Carvin and Godin are examples of the latter.

At what point do you hit the ever-diminishing returns threshold? That is also hard to say. Sometimes it depends on the company; other times it depends on the particular model of guitar. Is Gibson's Citation (their top-of-the-line archtop) worth its US$25,000.00 list price? I seriously doubt it. Is Martin's D-45 built to 1942 specifications worth its US$48,000.00 selling price? (I would hate to see the MSRP on that one!). Not a chance. But you could easily spend US$5,000.00 on a guitar that is indeed worth every penny. Is a US$3,900.00 Gibson Les Paul Custom worth $2,700.00 more than a $1,200.00 Les Paul Studio? It is if you want a Custom a lot more than you want a Studio, but it is an increase in price based on some very subjective factors.
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#11
^ good post, agreed (except I know nothing about acoustics and jazzboxes )
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#12
I have a Cort signature matthias Jabs. It costs 700€ (I got it for 400€, thank you thomann ).

Its not an objective point of view but i really love this guitar, more than a LP faded or a Fender Strat MIJ. It's just perfect for what i want to do. Price means nothing ^^
#13
Quote by FatalGear41
As others have said, it varies - particularly by company. Some of the established giants will give you a very high quality instrument for your money, but you will still pay a substantial premium for the brand name. Some smaller companies are trying to build a reputation for quality and performance, so they build guitars that, if the same instrument were made and sold by one of the industry giants, would cost considerably more. Gibson and C.F. Martin are examples of the former; Carvin and Godin are examples of the latter.

At what point do you hit the ever-diminishing returns threshold? That is also hard to say. Sometimes it depends on the company; other times it depends on the particular model of guitar. Is Gibson's Citation (their top-of-the-line archtop) worth its US$25,000.00 list price? I seriously doubt it. Is Martin's D-45 built to 1942 specifications worth its US$48,000.00 selling price? (I would hate to see the MSRP on that one!). Not a chance. But you could easily spend US$5,000.00 on a guitar that is indeed worth every penny. Is a US$3,900.00 Gibson Les Paul Custom worth $2,700.00 more than a $1,200.00 Les Paul Studio? It is if you want a Custom a lot more than you want a Studio, but it is an increase in price based on some very subjective factors.


Also something no one ever considers is how many people "buy" the guitar before the consumer does.

Take an American Standard Strat for example, it would cost me £1100 to buy new. Fender didn't sell it to the wholesaler/distributor for £1100 and they didn't sell it to your local shop for £1100 who then sell it to you for £1100. It's marked up every time it changes hands so that everyone can make money.

Carvin seem to sell direct which removes the costs of the middle men. And as you said it's not got as much of a premium on the name.

I have no idea how much an American Standard costs to make but for someone like Fender who is buying their wood by the forest and then using multi piece bodies (Bush league move), I'd guess nowhere near close to what we pay.
#14
I think price is irrelevant. Fender are making Chinese guitars that cost £100 more than the Squier-branded Chinese guitars. ESP and Epiphone put out Chinese and Indonesian guitars which cost as much as the baseline MIA Fenders and Gibsons and they put out Korean made guitars which barely cost any less than the Japanese ones. I've picked up a few cheap Ibanez guitars which have felt as good as any Japanese model and I've picked up some which were the worst guitars I've ever seen.

Gibson's new Melody Maker guitar costs £499, it's made in America and I've tried three and they were all superb with really nice wood and not a flaw in sight. The LTD EC-401 costs £550 or £600 for certain finishes and is made in Indonesia and each one I've seen in the last couple of years has had a gloopy thick plastic finish and either dodgy frets or scratch electronics or a dodgy cheap plastic nut or whatever else.

You just gotta take each guitar one at a time and judge them on their own merits. You can't start comparing brands and price brackets because what's cheap for one brand can be expensive in another for the same thing and things one company might do well another may not. To get a basic MIA Fender costs £750. A basic MIA Gibson is £499. A basic MIA PRS is £1000. Sometimes you get series of guitars where 9 out of 10 are great but 1 is gonna have flaws and that happens no matter the price.

Don't stretch beyond what you can actually realistically afford and play the guitar before you buy it, that's all you can do.
#15
Quote by MegadethFan18

I have no idea how much an American Standard costs to make but for someone like Fender who is buying their wood by the forest and then using multi piece bodies (Bush league move), I'd guess nowhere near close to what we pay.
I've heard numbers like 15% of the MSRP or 20% of the MSRP is what most guitars cost to make. Which sounds right to me when I think about how cheap materials are to buy in bulk. But I wouldn't be surprised if actually it cost much more than that. Especially the last five years where the costs of some metals and woods has gone up tons what with the economy diving.
#16
It varies from brand to brand.

For example, (acoustic) Taylors are split into 2 categories.

200 series down - 200, 100 series, GS Mini, Baby Taylors - all Mexican made. All have laminate back and sides
300 series up - All US made - all Solid top, back and sides.

To break it down though, all Taylor guitars shares the same NT necks, these necks takes the actual problems out of the equation for most of the problem guitars have so even the Mexican guitars plays very well because of this.

In terms of 300 series and up, they are ALL made of solid wood, the only difference between a 300 to a 800 (flagship) series is bling and the types of hardwood used, some bracing difference and perhaps tuners, or and the case.

They all share ebony fretboard, they all use Elixir strings, they all have the same NT necks. The People actually say the 400 series is a 800 series without the bling and save yourself $1000 because of it.

So for Taylor guitars, 300 series up is where the best bang for buck. However, their Mexican guitars are still quality guitars, in fact I have a GS Mini which if you google, everyone loves them. It's a relatively cheap guitar but it has all the attributes of the 800 series at 10x the price. It even has ebony fretboard and bridge, it has a solid mahogany top, it has scalloped X bracing with the patented relief rout, it has chrome tuners too and it share the same NT neck as the 800 series.
#17
Quote by grohl1987
I've heard numbers like 15% of the MSRP or 20% of the MSRP is what most guitars cost to make. Which sounds right to me when I think about how cheap materials are to buy in bulk. But I wouldn't be surprised if actually it cost much more than that. Especially the last five years where the costs of some metals and woods has gone up tons what with the economy diving.


I remember reading on another forum a member who was somewhere in the chain saying he bought Les Pauls for 40 or 50% of what they were sold to the consumer for. I'd have kept a few for myself!

I was on eBay earlier and there was someone selling Ash one piece Strat bodies for £82 delivered. So they must be costing a whole lot less for Fender to make considering they use Alder and multiple pieces and they easily have much more wholesale muscle than some guy on eBay.

I've got a Mexican Strat and I was tempted to buy a blank to paint green and switch around.
#18
thanks everybody for the input.

I know it's mostly subjective, but I'm more interested in the point of diminishing returns, like a 25000$ guitar is not 5x the quality of a 5000$ guitar. but a 1500$ might be 2x as good as a 750$ guitar.

It might be worth it, but for me right now, it seems like an 800-1000$ budget would be good for my next one.
#19
Full price, $800-1500 seems to be full of great guitars...some of which I've found can be caught on clearance sales as low as $500.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#20
Lots of good info so far, the more experienced players will go on feel more than looks (but not always). The build quality might be high on some instruments but they might be let down by cheap fittings and pickups, if you can identify this then you know the route to improve a basically good guitar. Buying a used guitar means someone else took the hit for depreciation and can get you a better guitar for your price as well as flip it without a huge net cost.
You can burn a lot of cash upgrading in small increments over the years so set your budget high and then go try some guitars out. There is some old sayings 'Buy once, cry once'. 'The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price has been forgotten'.
Now go have some fun looking for your next guitar.
#21
Quote by anenokoji
thanks everybody for the input.

I know it's mostly subjective, but I'm more interested in the point of diminishing returns, like a 25000$ guitar is not 5x the quality of a 5000$ guitar. but a 1500$ might be 2x as good as a 750$ guitar.

It might be worth it, but for me right now, it seems like an 800-1000$ budget would be good for my next one.


diminishing returns is based on expectations vs actual performance. if you expect a guitar that costs $2000 to be twice as good as one that costs $1000 you need an objective way to measure this. doesn't really work that way with guitars (and many other things). my experience over the years says that if you can't find a decent guitar (new) for $500 these days then something is wrong. now of course there are going to be "better" out there for more but it's up to you to define that.

to show you what I mean. I have an 89 Fender Stratocaster Plus Deluxe which was the top of the line model for it's time. I also have a modified 95 MIM Strat. now in it's stock form most would say that the US strat is the "better" guitar. but since a LSR roller nut, Sperzel locking tuners and graphtech saddles have been added to the MIM (block replaced and it has non stock pups but I haven't taken it apart to see exactly what as I bought it used for $300 with the mods) now is the US guitar truly "better" or only perhaps marginally so. not as easy to tell.

I think you'll find that different brands have a different "sweet spot" as well. a $600 Gibson might very well not measure up to a $600 Ibanez. opinion of course
#22
I'm a guitar novice, but have done a ton of research by those more knowledgeable than myself

scott grove best guitars for the money video. Love, hate him, he's got a lot of good points. He hates his gibson KISS themed custom $10k guitars and shows convincing reasons why in other videos.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2-E_TpaSoU

Tone is subjective and there are lots of youtube video comparisons for deciding the tone you like.
So is ergo fit, especially neck fit, which is a huge factor

Other things are not so subjective.
Stays in Tone?
String binding in nut?
Bridge intonation capability. (some fenders have bridges that are impossible to intonate eg http://cdn.mos.musicradar.com/images/Guitarist/362/fender-american-vintage58-tele-bridge-630-80.jpg)
Good fretwork
Original German made floyde rose > Chinese one.

imho, the Korean made guitars always punch above their cost class. In the tone comparisons of various youtubers. they just sound better. Most of the comments agree.
Last edited by bob13bob at Feb 17, 2014,
#23
for the most part i agree with that video. i disagree partly about the "setup" portion unless the guitar is "right".

a lot of times, cheaper guitars have such a poor fit and finish that they can never play well. thats what he means about it being right. ive picked up a USA gibson SG where the TOM bridge is installed crooked. thats a USA guitar that isnt right its striaght up WRONG.

it cant be about finding the jem, or getting a great deal. but the reason i bought my carvin is because you pickup it up and are like "holy hell....theres nothing in guitar center for this price that is THIS RIGHT".
Carvin CT624
Walden G630ce Acoustic
Carvin V3M, Avatar 2x12 WGS Reaper, vet 30
(crybaby, Fairfield circuitry Comp, GFS tuner, Vick Audio 73 Ram's Head, Xotic AC booster, lovepedal trem, TC Flashback, PGS Trinity Reverb, Walrus Audio Aetos power)
#25
I have not spent more than $800 on a guitar. I have played many more expensive guitars. I loved the feeling of playing a Les paul or a clapton strat. But Im not Jimmy Page or Clapton. The guitar I would love to have back is a Jackson I payed $250 for at a pawn shop. It just sang to me. I can't exactly explain why, but that was it.
I actually took $1500 to get a good acoustic to the store and ended up coming home with a $500 guitar that I just couldn't beat.
I guess you have to find what you want. I really like the crappy Dinky I have now with the Jackson pickups but I did have to do some cleanup on the frets.