Other Guitars

People Who Buy Boutique Guitars Thousands of Dollars

1

I was looking on YouTube about the Tone Master DR and was watching a video of a guy saying how the MacMull is the best Strat style guitar. He implied that brand is better than the Fender CS. Of course I look up on the net what this MacMull is and the price. To my shock a MacMull may cost you nearly $6,500!

I'm pretty sure a CS model can be had for less than this. So why are people spending $6,500 almost for a guitar when you can buy a CS for less than that. CS can go up that much but I think many can be had for about $3,000. I'm kicking myself because Guitar Center in Fountain Valley (CA) about 1998 had a new CS 57 Strat in Inca Silver with gold hardware and birdseye maple neck for $1,300. I liked it. Should have bought it and it would have held it's value. Remember, but back then an Am Std Strat was about $575 and a 57 RI production model would have been about $775 abouts.

So why would anyone buy a over $6,000 MacMull over a CS Strat for less? I know it is a personal decision but what is your theory on this?

Here is the video of the guy playing the MacMull -

2

Are you going to play any better on a $6,500 guitar than on a $1,000 instrument? Will you sound 6 times better?

3

Are you going to play any better on a $6,500 guitar than on a $1,000 instrument? Will you sound 6 times better?

– wabash slim

Exactly, I was thinking the same thing too. You can get a good Strat for $,1000 and play the same skill level on that than a $6,500 guitar.

4

Using this format ,a cell phone, which I see as most most people using to watch this video I'd say what's the difference a high dollar strat copy and a Mexican strat. That's not a slam against his guitar nor a Mexican strat both fine in their own right. I just don't see the purpose in pointing that out, other then say this is what I have because I can.

5

In my opinion, with a solid body electric guitar (especially one with a bolt on neck) the amount it gets better when you add many thousands to it's price tag is not at all in proportionate with the price increase.

With an acoustic guitar, where all the sound comes from the instrument's construction, wood selection ,skill and experience of the luthier and which has usually many many many more hours and levels of craftmanship involved the rise in price for a hand crafted instrument from a respected established luthier makes far more sense.

6

Well why buy a Custom Shop Gretsch, when you can find some entry level Gretschs especially some of the Korean made ones that play and sound stellar? I have some production made Zemaitis guitars, and I wanted to try a custom shop model that sell for twice that of a production model, just to see what the extra money got me. But I have modded all of my production Zemaitis guitars with parts that actually may exceed the quality of what's on the custom shop models. So really all I'll be getting for my money is a lacquer finish vs a very thin open pore poly, a little better aluminum alloy for the top, aluminum control plates instead of plastic, and an ebony fingerboard vs rosewood or paduak. And the guitar will be built in a small 3 man shop vs on a production line.

Well I bought the custom shop model and set it up with the same electronics as the production model, and guess what, in the heat of the battle I would be hard pressed to tell them apart. But just sitting playing in my house, I love the feel of the custom shop neck shape which you can tell that was handworked, and I love the look and feel of the lacquer finish. Does it sound better? Nope, just a bit different, Was it worth double the money? Well I had the money, and it feels good, so to me, yep!

custom shop model...

production model...

7

Well I guess it's marketing -- just like Chevy and Cadillac both get you from point A to B, etc. I guess like cars, past a certain point, to build in some extra increment of quality just becomes costly.

8

i think that the $6500 Strat is an example of what i'll call "Gear Page Syndrome," where folks' obsession with the perfect guitar/amp/pedal/whatever leads them to focus on details that sound- or playability-wise are barely even concerns. i saw a thread there recently where people were concerned with tremolo latency. no, seriously. of all the things to worry about, that's what you pick? it reminds me of a meme i saw the other day: "am i a cat person or a dog person? stop asking stupid questions and bring me something fuzzy i can talk to in a silly voice."

9

In my opinion, with a solid body electric guitar (especially one with a bolt on neck) the amount it gets better when you add many thousands to it's price tag is not at all in proportionate with the price increase.

With an acoustic guitar, where all the sound comes from the instrument's construction, wood selection ,skill and experience of the luthier and which has usually many many many more hours and levels of craftmanship involved the rise in price for a hand crafted instrument from a respected established luthier makes far more sense.

– Toxophilite

I agree 100%. The best acoustics I've ever played happened to be vintage guitars with price ranging in the $10,000 range. That to me is beyond my means short of an unexpected windfall, but to someone else it's pocket change. Jazz guys pay those amounts all the time,which is ironic considering the expected payoff. I have a friend who's famous for his past athletics, and has several guitars ranging in the 10-20 K range, both vintage and custom built, and while I wouldn't turn one down, my modded Epi Joe Pass gets it 99% in the ball park. To each his own, I'm certain that if my income was in the 1% bracket my collection would look completely different.

10

I've had this discussion many times online LOL.

Generally, I am not paying thousands and thousands of dollars for a guitar- it's unnecessary. My American tele I paid 699 for in 1994 (it would be 1200 now), is my #1, and if had to live with ONLY that guitar for the rest of my life, I would be happy.

Also, as much as I have always wanted a "nice" acoustic (which usually means 2-4K), I recently bought a Gibson LG2 copy, a Farida Old Town OT-22... and it is such a PERFECT acoustic for me- the feel, the tone, the playability... I just love it... I have no GAS for a high-dollar acoustic.

I also think paying more for "vintage" or for "collectability" is silly. I think.

However.

There is ONE guitar, it's been on my bucket list for years, and there's no other guitar like it (why, is a whole 'nuther discussion, but it's special even in it's own manufacturer's line).
A PRS DGT. Part Les Paul, Part 335, Part Tele, vibrato bar, coil-taps... it's just one of those guitars where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

So, even I have an exception to my own rule, LOL. OH- and I will say, if I had the cash, I would have bought one of the guitars Brian Setzer sold on reverb recently, but he's one of my guitar heroes- so that is more of an "emotional" purchase, not reflecting the value or function of the gear LOL.

BTW- my 2013 "Mexican" tele is every bit as well-made as my 1993 "American" tele.

11

Here is an example of a MacMull Strat style guitar and price.

12

I always thought of that as the difference between a lithograph and a painting. They’re both pretty pictures for your wall, but one acknowledges and supports the passion and skill of a craftsman. If you’ve got the bank to be a patron and choose to spend it that way, God bless.

13

That's actually a very good analogy, JQM.

14

Well.... it's not as if anyone buying a high-end instrument is going to do paying work with it. It's all very much like Snap-On selling gold plated impact wrenches.

15

Well.... it's not as if anyone buying a high-end instrument is going to do paying work with it. It's all very much like Snap-On selling gold plated impact wrenches.

– DaveH

why not? String players pay 30K for a good cello and gig with it? on the other hand Jack Pearson uses a $99 squier to gig with as his number one. Guitars , amps, pedals are all in the eye(hand) of the beholder as to their worth/necessity. A $200 pawnshop MIM strat , a rat and a generic tubescreamer will always get the job done. A Gold Horsie Klon, a DeTemple (also 6-7K bolt on) and a Dumble won't sound hugely different in a bar with bad electricity and neon lights but they sure do look cool, right. My somewhat tweaked (personal preference mods) 2006 Korean Historic can outplay a lot of the "high dollar" pro lines I have fondled over the years. True story, pulled a 6k CS tele off the wall at GC ( mind you GC upkeep not great) that felt like a dead dog in my hands. Went in the used room and plucked a $200 Vintage Vibe off the wall, felt like a stradivarius in comparison. and YES a PRS DGT has always held an allure to me as well, but I have yet to play a 5k PRS that inspired me to date. now a $99 Squier , not so much either but a $45 first run MIM Squire body (1994) made an excellent guitar. It's like putting on a nice Armani suit. Friend gave me one as a joke for a disco gig-Lime green Armani with pin stripes. But damn I put that thing on and it screamed high quality and comfort to me. Maybe there is something to a name and a price tag..........

16

My best guitar goes with me on gigs but it isn't a CS.

17

Why buy a Maserati when a Kia will get you from A to B?

18

Definitely not for reliability. A friend has a Maserati Quattroporte, which is something of a hanger queen. Maintenance has to be rigidly adhered to or it quickly begins making strange, non-Maserati sounds under the hood. AND- each trip to the shop ends with a bill into the range of an extra payment on my much more reliable Japanese-made sport ute.

19

Why buy a Maserati when a Kia will get you from A to B?

– Otter

But why would you pay Maserati money for a copy of a Kia?

20

The law of diminishing returns will inevitably apply in these comparisons. But I would have to say that point at which the diminishing returns become unacceptable varies based on the type of guitar. And that threshold will be lowest for a bolt on Fender type. I've had a few Fender Custom Shop guitars, in the $3,000ish street range (never paid that much, either bought used or in one case, so long ago that they weren't that expensive), just standard reissue models , one relic Nocaster, a couple of closet classic Strats. Fantastic guitars, and to me, significantly nicer than the standard counterparts. But the thing is, at that point, I can't really imagine how much room for improvement there could possibly be to justify paying twice as much. How much perfecter can a Strat or Tele be than what the Fender Custom Shop produces?

With hollowbodies or Jet/LP type guitars, I think the calculus is definitely different. In a similarly priced comparison, take a $3000 production Gretsch versus a $6000 Custom Shop Gretsch, I can definitely see how the Custom Shop can make a guitar that is different enough (better in my estimation, but maybe not to others) to justify the price difference. They may not sound all that different, but there is room for differences in feel, resonance, liveliness, finish and attention to detail that could be appealing enough to shell out for a Custom Shop model.

With acoustics and carved top guitars, the law of diminishing returns may still apply, but I don't doubt that there is a lot more opportunity to squeeze out more magic with more effort and craftsmanship if one is willing to pay for it.

21

why not? String players pay 30K for a good cello and gig with it? on the other hand Jack Pearson uses a $99 squier to gig with as his number one. Guitars , amps, pedals are all in the eye(hand) of the beholder as to their worth/necessity. A $200 pawnshop MIM strat , a rat and a generic tubescreamer will always get the job done. A Gold Horsie Klon, a DeTemple (also 6-7K bolt on) and a Dumble won't sound hugely different in a bar with bad electricity and neon lights but they sure do look cool, right. My somewhat tweaked (personal preference mods) 2006 Korean Historic can outplay a lot of the "high dollar" pro lines I have fondled over the years. True story, pulled a 6k CS tele off the wall at GC ( mind you GC upkeep not great) that felt like a dead dog in my hands. Went in the used room and plucked a $200 Vintage Vibe off the wall, felt like a stradivarius in comparison. and YES a PRS DGT has always held an allure to me as well, but I have yet to play a 5k PRS that inspired me to date. now a $99 Squier , not so much either but a $45 first run MIM Squire body (1994) made an excellent guitar. It's like putting on a nice Armani suit. Friend gave me one as a joke for a disco gig-Lime green Armani with pin stripes. But damn I put that thing on and it screamed high quality and comfort to me. Maybe there is something to a name and a price tag..........

– LarryR

I’m with you on the Armani. Their suits just hang on your body like nothing else.

22

I've built with a friend a few solid body guitars from wood blanks and I've also put together parts guitars. There is no way in the world a Strat style guitar or any solid body guitar is worth that much to me.

23

Why buy a Maserati when a Kia will get you from A to B?

– Otter

Because while both do their task equally well, the Maserati is simply MORE FUN TO DRIVE.

Why eat steak when you can just eat nutritionally fortified paste out of a tube? They both do the same job.

24

Could you PM me a list of those people? I still have a new, unrelic'd BZ Tribute to move!

25

With acoustics and carved top guitars, the law of diminishing returns may still apply, but I don't doubt that there is a lot more opportunity to squeeze out more magic with more effort and craftsmanship if one is willing to pay for it.

acoustics (and i'm including archtops here) offer a lot more opportunities to go wild or semi-wild with materials and design. one seldom sees a solidbody or semi-hollow with binding as complex as a herringbone Martin or inlay like an old Höfner or a Prairie State, and the options just expand from there.


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