#1
I realize the answer to my question is opinion based and cant really be factual but I will ask anyone.

Assuming you care nothing about brand name prestige, and are willing to pay for upgrades is it worth selling a guitar you already own and like to get a high end version of virtually the same guitar. For example, I own an Epiphone Goth Explorer and a Schecter Damien Elite Solo. I enjoy both guitars but like many I find myself looking at the Gibson Explorers and Schecter Hellraise Extreme, wondering if I would like the "better version" better.

So my guestion is outside of better pups or tuners, is there really a huge difference? I here people talking about better woods but Im not really convinced woods make a huge difference on electrics(unless it total crap) and using the Explorer as example both the Gibson and Epiphone used mahogany neck and body. So long story long, haha, is there usually much difference in the guitar itself that would be a reason to think upgrading a "lesser" guitar is a waste of money? (FYI: dont care about resale value)
#2
Honestly? No. Your focus should be on that one guitar that FEELS best to you and has the features that tickle all the right spots.

If you want to put money into a cheaper guitar you enjoy playing. Do it. Put locking tuners on it. Put your favorite set of Bareknuckles in it. Don't let anyone tell you it is dumb. If they do, ignore them. It's your guitar.
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#3
Quote by lemurflames
Honestly? No. Your focus should be on that one guitar that FEELS best to you and has the features that tickle all the right spots.

If you want to put money into a cheaper guitar you enjoy playing. Do it. Put locking tuners on it. Put your favorite set of Bareknuckles in it. Don't let anyone tell you it is dumb. If they do, ignore them. It's your guitar.


thanks for the reply. Thats about where my decision was but since I am still relatively new to the scene I wanted to make sure I wasnt missing something. Considering I only play for myself, and seriously doubt I will ever try to gig, I was basically under the impression that I didnt want a cheapy piece of crap but a solid $300-500 could do me just fine. And so far they have. I also own a Billy Corgan signature strat and even though it is really nice I cant say that I think its worth double the MSRP of the other guitars I have.
#4
Trust your hands and your ears... they will know. A $3500 signature Les Paul is nicer than a $700 Les Paul Studio. Nicer finish, better fret dressing and polishing, excellent binding. It might only be 15% nicer and not 500% nicer though. And would you really take that $3.5k signed LP out to a rowdy bar gig on Saturday night and trust the patrons not to spill beer on it, knock it over, or run off with it?

I am fortunate to own a couple of historically significant guitars from the 50s and 60s but they will no longer be seen at a rowdy gig with drunks. I take the second-hand workhorses that I don't have to worry about. If they get scratched or dinged it's no biggie and they make music just fine.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#5
It depends!

In my case, an ESP/LTD DV8-R vs an ESP DV8 (Dave Mustaine signature models). The LTD is $1,200ish and the ESP is $3,300ish with the only spec difference being that the fretboard is ebony instead of rosewood on the ESP. Is the ebony fretboard worth $2,100? Of course not

The good old Gibson vs Epiphone arguments can go on forever, but for the most part:

Is Gibson better than Epiphone?
Yes

Is Gibson significantly better than Epiphone?
No

Is Gibson worth the extra money you spend?
Not really unless you have money to throw around
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#6
The big difference between mid range and high end guitars isn't usually materials (though that is a factor). It's more about attention to small details - masking the binding correctly during finishing, fretwork, and wiring. Stuff like that is what separates high end from low end more than anything else. The fretwork is probably the biggest difference between say an Ibanez Prestige and J-Custom that I've noticed. Both have great fretwork, but the J-Custom is on a whole different level.
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You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#7
There truly is no answer to this. A couple of years ago I was shopping with a £2k budget for a Les Paul. I tried dozens of Standards & Customs etc but none of them caught my attention. Then a guy in one of the shops told me to try a Satin Studio, probably the cheapest of the Studio range. I fell in love instantly and bought it there & then.

You can find a great cheap guitar just as easily as you can find a shitty expensive guitar. The only way to know if you would like those more expensive versions better than what you have is to spend as much time as possible playing them.
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#8
I personally own electrics ranging between @$550-3500, and I'm going through a similar decision making process.

For the past 5 or so years, one of my cheapest guitars (a Dean EVO Special Select, one of my first electrics) has been on my list for getting upgraded pickups. That was all it really needed- it holds tune like crazy and feels great in my hands.

But as my ear developed, I began to realize that its pickups are muddy.

However, more recent purchases have proven to be more flexible guitars. So, even though I think the pickups swap would absolutely be worth it overall, it may not be worth it to me.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

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Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#9
The most important thing for any electric guitar is how it feels to play - tone can be improved with pickups, potentiometers, etc.
You can't upgrade how the guitar feels to hold, though - if the neck is uncomfortable, that guitar will never be a good guitar for you.

That is to say, yes, a midrange guitar can be worth keeping/upgrading and may even be as good for your purposes as a top-of-the-range guitar.
However, a top-of-the-range will have more care and attention paid to its manufacture, which often results in feeling better to hold. There are exceptions though - any guitar, no matter the price range, can end up a dud if it has just the wrong flaw for you. Inversely, even a $100 guitar can feel absolutely gorgeous to hold, and be worth the $400 you spend on new hardware.
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#10
High end itch is a real thing. A lot of people will always yearn for the Gibby to replace their Epi, or the ESP to replace their LTD. I am one of those people. Even if the difference is intangible, knowing you have the real thing is a legitimate factor that is, IMO, justification in itself.

As long as you're not putting yourself out on the street to afford your guit, any and every reason is fair game.
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#11
Quit worrying about Epiphone and Gibson, buy a Burny or Greco, be happy.
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#12
All this talk of how it feels to play is mostly how it's set up (assuming you like the neck shape) A $5000 guitar should be set up well, but maybe not how you prefer. The $300 guitar in the corner may have the perfect setup for you.

If it's costs a lot and don't play too great for you, ask them to tell you what the setup has to do with that.
#13
I think the answer here is to just buy all the guitars.
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#14
To answer the question you asked - no. Definitely not.

If you care nothing about brand name prestige, then you obviously won't get that itch that makes some people (myself one of them) HAVE to have a certain name on the headstock.

If you're happy with a cheaper version of the same guitar, and are willing to pay for upgrades, there is absolutely no reason to buy the higher end version, it makes no sense at all.
#15
Quote by lemurflames
I think the answer here is to just buy all the guitars.


I'm trying, I'm trying. So is dannyalcatraz.

I have a sort of reverse experience; when I first started playing guitar, I'd been touring with bands, playing keyboards, and Gibsons, Fenders, Riks and Guilds (the first incarnation, not the current one) were what they were playing. My first guitar was a Gibson 335, and when I started working at a music store, I just stocked up, both new and used.

These days, a sort of reverse snobbery seems to have set in. I needed a Gibson LP for a project, so I ordered up an Axcess Custom. Since the thing was going to be heavily ($1500 worth) modified, I decided to order up a "stalking horse" guitar, a cheaper something to try out the modifications (which included wood chopping and moving things around) and make sure I liked them before committing them to a $4K guitar.

That cheaper guitar not only got the same $1500 worth of modifications, but it also had its frets superglued, had a run on the PLEK machine, and had a really good initial setup done by a really good tech. In the end it, and not the $4K Gibson, became the #1 guitar for that project.

In order to get an idea how far you could carry this, I picked up an under-$200 B-stock Korean LP and handed it to that same really good tech for the same fret superglue, PLEK and really good setup. I was stunned to find that it played and felt amazing. That guitar has become one of two "bar guitars" that get a very regular workout. I have NO idea what kind of wood (it's supposed to be a mahogany body and a maple neck) is really under the paint job, but as far as I'm concerned, it could be dried cheese and I'd be fine with it.

Having those first two guitars PLEK'd and set up completely eliminated any of the "go to a GC and play a whole bunch of guitars" routine. If the guitar has any kind of balance, and if my hands fall into the proper places when I'm seated or standing, and if the specs match my usual preferences, I'm probably good. The setup will take care of most of the rest.
#16
There is no right or wrong answer.

Although if the reason you bought an LTD or an Epiphone is because you cannot afford a Gibson or an ESP, then in my experience you'll never really be satisfied. Knowing that you have the real thing and not just a cheaper copy of the real thing is something that's very compelling to me.

I see nothing wrong with wanting a guitar for that reason. Especially if you're committed to earning the money to buy it. People who tell others that they've wasted their money because they could've bought an LTD or an Epiphone are arrogant.

People should let their true emotions decide what is right for them, not what is right for other people.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Apr 18, 2014,
#17
If you ask me many of the low end gibsons are done quite cheap your mostly paying for a name, I also think ESP Ltd are better than Epiphone but again depends what model your comparing , I Think ESP have a modern feel and there are enough differences to say its more original than a copy . I honestly think better quality parts and a better build will give you more of a chance to finding that amazing guitar but i don't think you always need to spend huge bucks to find a guitar that feels right .
#19
I'm trying, I'm trying. So is dannyalcatraz.


I think you're in the lead, right?
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Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Apr 18, 2014,
#20
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Knowing that you have the real thing and not just a cheaper copy of the real thing is something that's very compelling to me.

I see nothing wrong with wanting a guitar for that reason.


Me, neither. OTOH, it's good to be clear about both the intrinsic and the extrinsic value of what you're buying. Two companies who own title to "the real thing" have been making both cheaper and more expensive copies of "the real thing" for years. The real things have long since passed into history.

The intrinsic value would be what the guitar corresponds to on the open market in terms of spec, fit, finish. Extrinsic value would be what the guitar gets layered upon it by the value of the logo, the shape, the history, etc. These days it's become difficult to ascertain what the levels of "quality" are. They've become fogged in what amount to guitar fashion trends.
#21
IMO, an electric guitar is mostly a fancy lump of wood that you need to support the amplification chain, so just about anything will do in terms of practicalities. OTOH, we all like to own nice things. - So long as it isn't confused with being musically better in some way, or being musically better is used as an excuse for owning said nice stuff.
#22
Quote by Tony Done
IMO, an electric guitar is mostly a fancy lump of wood that you need to support the amplification chain, so just about anything will do in terms of practicalities. OTOH, we all like to own nice things. - So long as it isn't confused with being musically better in some way, or being musically better is used as an excuse for owning said nice stuff.

wat
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#23
Quote by Tony Done
IMO, an electric guitar is mostly a fancy lump of wood that you need to support the amplification chain, so just about anything will do in terms of practicalities. OTOH, we all like to own nice things. - So long as it isn't confused with being musically better in some way, or being musically better is used as an excuse for owning said nice stuff.

Assuming your first sentence is 100% true and accurate! the nicer lumps of wood tend to have better electronics in the amplification chain.

They also tend to have better QC.
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!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Apr 18, 2014,
#24
Quote by dannyalcatraz
Assuming your first sentence is 100% true and accurate! the nicer lumps of wood tend to have better electronics in the amplification chain.

They also tend to have better QC.

This is true to a certain extent.

But a lot of the price tag in certain higher end models is purely aesthetic. And aesthetics don't really do more than make it pretty.
#25
I just recently bought a Gibson LPJ and it plays and sounds just as good as the Standard i used to have,Infact i'd say it feels nicer to play due to not having all that laquer on the neck.About £1500 cheaper too.
#26
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
wat


I'm not trolling, I really believe that, especially of electric guitars. - Most of what you need is in the pickups and the hardware. Leo went for the cheapest options he could get away with and a production line concept, and I admire those guitars greatly for that. Are Chinese cheapos any different in concept and execution? I don't think so, what they lack is originality/mojo. Gibson went for something that looked more like a traditional musical instrument, but what of their current QC?

I do own a Gibson, a '95 LP Special. It weights a ton, and the finishing of the crenelated neck binding was seemingly done by a badly trained monkey. I have five cheapo electrics, all with upgraded pickups, all as good as the Gibson in their own way, and the best sounding of the whole collection is an OLP bari knockoff on which I use 10-46 strings and tune to open D.

FWIW, I recently abandoned AGF, because there was way too much "I own a .......". They even put a list of their guitars in their sig. I don't care; show us yer music!

Rant over, jump off hobby horse.
Last edited by Tony Done at Apr 18, 2014,
#27
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
This is true to a certain extent.

But a lot of the price tag in certain higher end models is purely aesthetic. And aesthetics don't really do more than make it pretty.

True, but for the most part, guitar makers like to have the aesthetics of their pricier guitars match up well with the quality of the electronics and overall workmanship.

Still, exactly how much quality you get in tandem with your improved aesthetics varies greatly from brand to brand. Arguably, in some brands, there's almost no linkage at all.
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!
#28
Quote by Tony Done
I'm not trolling, I really believe that, especially of electric guitars. - Most of what you need is in the pickups and the hardware. Leo went for the cheapest options he could get away with and a production line concept, and I admire those guitars greatly for that. Are Chinese cheapos any different in concept and execution? I don't think so, what they lack is originality/mojo. Gibson went for something that looked more like a traditional musical instrument, but what of their current QC?

Personally, I see guitars as individual instruments, not just a guitar that represents a certain model, which is why Gibson's QC doesn't bother me very much. I simply buy the Gibson that I love, and that's made possible simply because so many guitar stores stock so many Gibsons.

But this isn't just about Gibson, this is about high-end guitars in general. Personally, I don't see why anyone should be shunned for buying an expensive guitar that they're proud of. And it isn't cool to say that they got ripped off if they're happy with it just because design-wise the guitar is extremely similar to a Squier Strat that can be bought for $100. There is value in owning an original over a copy I think. But I'm just a traditionalist like that.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Apr 18, 2014,
#29
Quote by dannyalcatraz
True, but for the most part, guitar makers like to have the aesthetics of their pricier guitars match up well with the quality of the electronics and overall workmanship.

True. But if, for instance, you buy a mid-range guitar, you should be able to able to buy better quality electronics. Of course, the workmanship varies on the brand.

Still, exactly how much quality you get in tandem with your improved aesthetics varies greatly from brand to brand. Arguably, in some brands, there's almost no linkage at all.
True.
#30
In the end, guitars are really just tools. Do they play in tune, mostly stay in tune, and can you get some badass tones with attitude or sweet musical chimes? Not what so-and-so sounded like on his 5th album, second cut but areYOUR tones in there? Yes? Then ignore the naysayers, guitar snobs, and anti-snobs and go make some music with it. How much $$ you spent is none of their business.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Apr 18, 2014,
#31
Quote by Cajundaddy
In the end, guitars are really just tools.


Unfortunately, not so (though some of the owners may be).

If they were, we'd all play the same guitar.

If cars were just transportation to get us from point a to point b, we'd all be driving 1995 Honda Civics.

Truth be told, there are a whole lot of reasons we own guitars (and a particular guitar) that have little to do with learning to play an instrument and become a good musician. Otherwise a lot more of us would be learning french horn, viola or oboe. Or piccolo.
#32
There are a couple of things which are not negotiable in guitars, for me.

The first is tuners. I cannot abide shitty tuners. The tuners must be good, or they will piss me off. Grovers are, well, they're okay. Vintage is best. 70s-80s japanese vintage tuners have proved to be the nicest I've encountered so far. Even though they don't lock, these things hold their tune better than the locking tuners I've owned.

The second non-negotiable item is feel. Feel is not dependent upon pricing. Different people prefer different neck profiles, etc. But more than just the neck profiile, the body should feel right. I've tried Les Pauls, and I can't get used to how much heavier they are than a form-fitting Strat or Tele. I dunno, that extra weight feels weird to me. But that's not as big a problem as trying to play with a neck profile that's too fat or too thin.

The way a guitar feels to you is pretty subjective, so if you hit that jackpot, keep the guitar.
#33
My experience is quite mixed. There are some AWESOME mid range guitars and awfull "high end" that simply doesn't worth the investment. Also I learned that Japanese-korean manufacture tends to be quite more valuable than american one. So check every guitar you like and compare if paying more money is suitable for your needs.
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#34
I guess it will depend heavily on which midrange guitar you are comparing to which high end guitar. Using Fender as an example a MIM strat is around £420, the cheapest new american strat i could find £930.

What do you get for your extra £510?

Better pickups - a big plus unless you intend to buy after-market options.

2 piece body - Subjective as to whether this makes a difference over 3+ piece.

Better machine heads.

better trem.

More attention to detail for fit and finish.

Having the authentic item that is likely to hold value.

For some that will be worth every penny and for others it wont.

If you find a nice MIM and upgrade the trem £100, Pickups £150 and Machine heads £60 that means you have a comparable guitar to a usa std for less though it'l still be a MIM.

Take Fender off the Headstock altogether and there are many luthiers that can build a custom strat style guitar for less than the cost of an off the peg usa std. Does that make these guitars custom build or a strat copies? Both probably.

For me if it is comfortable to play and holds its tune well it is the right guitar. Change pick-ups to get the sound you want if the stock ones don't do it for you.

If you can pay extra for custom shop build quality, the best features and great looking woods then go for it, I would if I was loaded. Doubt it would make me sound or play any better though.
#35
Take Fender off the Headstock altogether and there are many luthiers that can build a custom strat style guitar for less than the cost of an off the peg usa std. Does that make these guitars custom build or a strat copies? Both probably.

Most definitely- if you compare MiA Strats to similar SLOs (Strat Like Objects) from G&L, Carvin, Godin, Ruokangas, Suhr, Fernandes, Fret-King, US Masters and so, so many more, you'll see a range of options Fender simply doesn't have, for competitive prices +- Fender's own.

Will they feel and sound exactly like a Fender USA? No. Most, however, will be able to fill the same niche. They'll each have some kind of feel or tonal differences that will set them apart, of that there is no question. And there will DEFINITELY be variations in mechanical and aesthetic options.

But ultimately, whether they're worth buying depends on the guitarist. Personally, I don't like the feel of the Fenders I've played. I much prefer the SLOs I've handled over the years- some for aesthetic reasons, but most for subtle differences in feel, tone and ergonomics. That's why, living in Texas, surrounded by MiA and MiM Strats, I imported a Fret-King from London.

OTOH, I have a buddy who plays nothing but Fender Strats. Nothing else feels right to him.
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!