#1
After spending the last several months looking exacly for what the title suggests, a durable guitar, I finally found an axe that I'm quite happy with. Now, I'd like to help others with the info and knownledge I've got during my search to answer to a very overlooked question nowadays: getting an instrument meant to last. 

We're living an era of disposal: everything gets obsolete, even things that could last longer. Things break, yet get harder and more expensive to fix, making a replace of the whole product a more viable option. When it comes to guitars and non-digital instruments and gear in general that doesn't seem to be the case yet, but we're slowly seeing already the inclusion of digitalized equipment which longevity won't be anything close to what we're used to (Marshall CODE amps, for example, that heavily rely on curent smartphones and tablets and in a decade from now might be obsolete because the device that controls them is no longer used) and even some guitars with unique-designed parts that can hardly be replaced with other components from the market.

I'm working on an article about the subject to publish here on UG and I'd like to hear your opinion about the matter: is the durability/ easiness to repair and replace parts/ expected lifetime an important requirement when you look for a new piece of gear? When it comes to guitars, what things do you look for to ensure it'll last? Would you rather get a guitar with a feature that, even though playing-wise is better, might last lesser or be harder to perform repairs on (e.g.: neck-through vs. bolt-on neck guitars: the first offers the confort of not having a neck heel making the neck harder to hold on higher frets and better sustain, at the cost of having near to impossible and very expensive repair costs if it happens to break)? Is durability even something you think about when choosing gear?

Your advice will be of great help; I'll assume everyone commenting here will be fine if I take quotes for the mentioned article (properly credited ofc).
'07 Jackson Pro Dinky DK2M (MIJ)
Squier Strat SE
Marshall Valvestate VS15R practice amp
Last edited by andre.fontes.es at Jul 7, 2017,
#2
I don't worry much about durability. But I do take care of my gear. I'm not sure what you found in a guitar that's "durable," but I have a guitar from 1939, another from 1949, several from the mid-50's and a couple from '67, more from the '70s and they all seem to be doing just fine. The majority of my guitars are set neck and neck-through. I'm not a fan of bolt-neck guitars; honestly there are only a few for which the necks are truly replaceable down the line, and I doubt very much that I'd bother in any case.

"disposable" items and things that will probably go obsolete because they're not going to be reparable in the future are a different story. I just spent money on a Line 6 Helix that I know full well will be superceded by something else in five years. But that's just the thing with electronics, and that extends to anything computer-related, including your new washer and dryer.
#3
Quote by andre.fontes.es
is the durability/ easiness to repair and replace parts/ expected lifetime an important requirement when you look for a new piece of gear?
In principle, absolutely. In practice, I rarely if ever see any gear I want to buy where this is a pertinent concern. Les Paul headstocks notwithstanding (and even then), the parts on a guitar which may wear out or break with reasonable use are much the same from guitar to guitar, and can generally be replaced pretty easily.

Quote by andre.fontes.es
When it comes to guitars, what things do you look for to ensure it'll last?
Nothing in particular. A lack of major cracks if it's secondhand.

Quote by andre.fontes.es
Would you rather get a guitar with a feature that, even though playing-wise is better, might last lesser or be harder to perform repairs on (e.g.: neck-through vs. bolt-on neck guitars: the first offers the confort of not having a neck heel making the neck harder to hold on higher frets and better sustain, at the cost of having near to impossible and very expensive repair costs if it happens to break)?
There are so many other things to consider, this probably wouldn't come into my thinking. For the most part, it's not that easy to seriously damage a guitar, and even with neck-through construction it's rare that any damage you do happen to cause will be hard to repair. The cost of a decent quality new neck vs. the cost of repairing a headstock break probably comes out in favour of the latter, plus a new neck changes one of the biggest characteristics of the guitar.

Quote by andre.fontes.es
Is durability even something you think about when choosing gear?
Yup, but mostly with pedals and cables rather than with guitars. Even a total heap of shit plywoodcaster can give you decades of service with reasonable care and maintenance.
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#4
The great thing about modern digital gear... they are getting better and cheaper. You're now getting top shelf tone for less than half the price as 2 years ago. Even when Kemper, Fractal  and Line 6 bring out new gear, the current stuff is already spectacular. I have computers at work that are almost 20 years old (data collection), so I wouldn't be surprised to see other digital units last for a long time.

As for instruments, it really depends on how you treat them. Since I'm a home player, I don't really think about durability.
Fleet of MiJ Ibanez
Couple of Balls
Peavey & EVH Wolfgangs
Eclipse
Fender HM Strat
Kemper KPA
5150 III 50w & cabs
#6
I'm really not sure durability is much of an issue with guitar equipment, unless you're Pete Townsend.  Even then if you're going to smash the gear then durability doesn't come into it.

As others have said, the only equipment where durability might be a consideration would be leads, etc.  As long as you by decent quality, though, and don't abuse them they should last a long time.  I have at least one lead Iv'e had for over 20 years (I've replaced the jack plugs twice and the cable three times, and it's still going strong :-D)

As far as guitars go, I don't think it's an issue at all.  One of my guitars dates from 1965, and it's a fine guitar.  In general the technology of guitars hasn't changed all that much.  New ideas and construction methods come and go, but in general guitars will last a lifetime and more if they're not abused.  Even guitars with some sophisticated built-in technology, like the Line 6 Variax, will probably go on forever, as they're more-or-less self-contained.

With regards to emerging technologies, such as digital signal processing, then I'd say you're not talking about durability as much as longevity.  The nature of technology is that it changes and progresses, and the thing that makes you buy new is not that it stops working, but rather than it gets replaced by something which does the job better.  Personally I use valve amps and mostly analogue pedals, and the only time I've had any malfunctions was when some of my gear got wet from rain at an outdoor gig.  Most of my pedals are getting on for 15 years old and still going strong.  But they are all permanently mounted to a pedalboard, which helps.

I guess where durability may be an issue would be if you were using some lower-end equipment for regular gigging.  I'm thinking here of mult-fx floor units or stomp boxes with plastic cases and where the plug sockets are directly mounted to the PCB and have no other means of support.

In short, I think I've rarely considered the aspect of durability when choosing gear (with the notable exception of stands and cases: stands because they get transported around un-protected and cases because their very purpose in life is to soak up punishment)
#7
It's not much a consideration, because it's not really offered. I'd love all my guitars to have stainless steel frets. I'd also like all hardtail guitars to come with a FR-type nut or something similar, that is, a nut whose slots don't require filing for different string gauges and that is easily replaceable. A glued nut is moronic. I'd also prefer if the electronics were simpler such that all pickups are plug and play. I do get neck-through guitars only though because to me it's a finer mode of construction.  
#8
Most of guitars have been kicking a while--including one Teisco from the mid-60s and an early-80s MIJ Squier that are both older than me. Most things that could go wrong with a solidbody guitar are relatively easy fixes, except for refretting but there's no way around that, frets wear out. As long as you're paying attention to basic care (like humidity levels or avoiding extreme temperature change), it's pretty hard to screw up analog equipment in a way that can't be fixed without trying to. (Especially for somebody like me, a hobby player who doesn't routinely transport their gear and expose it to rough handling/spilled drinks/bad weather on the road.)

Cables, though. I wasted enough money throwing out the kind of no-name cables you find in bowls for $2.99, so now I pretty much only use Livewires, because even their cheap ones are pretty solid and backed by a lifetime warranty. 

For digital equipment--which I don't use much of, so I'm not an expert on by any means--I do think it's more often a case of "the technology has progressed and this now sounds dated, so I want something that'll do the job better" than "the equipment just crapped out due to age and normal wear." Digital equipment as a whole tends to be less forgiving of mishandling--I've tripped and dropped a tube amp going downstairs and had it come out no worse for wear, and I wouldn't want to bet on a Kemper having the same luck.* But, apart from that, well-made digital equipment can last ages of normal use with basic care and proper handling.

*I've never actually handled a Kemper in person, they might be a lot more rugged than I'm thinking, and definitely they're smaller and lighter so I might not have tripped at all had I been carrying one of those. 
#9
I don't think about it. The main reason something might break is user error anyway.
I think more about if it's smart to go to a small gig with a couple thousands worth of gear than of my guitar falling and being damaged. I haven't needed any repairs on any guitar that I paid more than 400 euros for. Some others have replaced pots and jacks and stuff, but they were cheap to begin with.

As far as digital equipment goes, I think of it this way: my Kemper sounds great now and I love it. In 5 years, a newer version might come out. That won't suddenly make the Kemper I have now sound bad. As far as breaking, the Kemper is very well built (what you'd expect from German manufacturing) and since it's a rack-mounted unit, it lives in a case at all times. Not that I'd throw it down a set of stairs willingly, but I'd be surprised if there was more damage than some marks on the case.