Miscellaneous Rumbles

Variety vs. Quality

1

It seems like many of us choose quantity over quality. By this, I mean that we prefer the variety of quantity. Say, 5 $1000 guitars over 1 $5000 guitar. Because $5000 gets you into a pretty rarified instrument. How many of you would consider reducing your stable for a holy grail guitar? Or, has anyone done this? Say, for a CS GreTscH?

[Should be unnecessary to state, but to make it clear, I mean no judgment either way. I think both inclinations make sense. Seems an issue of personal preference and I'd like to hear how members think about it either way.]

2

I’m thinking of reducing a few guitars to fund a Hofner 500/1. That would give me two holy grails (with the RIC 4003), plus my P-bass. I already did that to fund my Gretsch 6121 NAS.

3

Yes, I've often pondered selling off a few vintage Gretschs to buy a 50s blonde solid wood Gibson L-5....yummy! One of those Golden Hofners would be nice too! Maybe a super nice custom acoustic.

i don't always believe that price elevation = quality elevation but sometimes you just want something and collectibility has made it expensive.

4

It’s funny. I have a whole lot of very cool vintage guitars. But I actually don’t really care for variety and that’s not why I have them. I want to sound a certain way and with any guitar I play I search for that sound and I can get reasonably close with any guitar.

I just have a lot of guitars because I started buying them in the 80s when I was working myself up to a holy grail, several times. For a while it was the 6120, then LP juniors and now Telecasters. But the other guitars are so great that I don’t want to sell them and I still enjoy playing them a lot.
But if I really had to, I could sell everything and just keep my '71 Tele (that I modified to sound the way I want it to sound, because it wasn't original anyway) and be very happy.

5

Dan, I completely understand what your saying. I will say along the years that my tone palate has tasted more flavor. There was a time about 10 years ago that I really could buy what I wanted up to $5000 but less variety.

Now? The palate is the same but I've learned different ways to taste the flavors. Also, a couple of purchases didn't have the "golden feel" in the long term. I must have the feel with the only exception being Strats as the nut has always been too narrow but as I have improved, I can make the changes.....as long as I stay in practice.

A distinct possibility in the next year is for me to sell 3 guitars for a Gibson CS 336. I have a few $4000 - $5000 acoustics I have my eye on also. These are just thoughts for now. As for the Gibson? I'm really considering an Eastman instead. It has the tone I want but really want to think this thru. The budget without selling off a few is just not there.

I love what I have but consolidation may take me to the same place tonally. I might have to sacrifice some tone I already have but.........the choices are intriguing.

6

Great topic! I think one thing you have to rationalize: is that "expensive" guitar really worth that price to you? Can you hear, feel, and appreciate what it has to offer?

7

I like having different colors in the box of crayons, metaphorically speaking. I will admit it would be nice to have a CS and the turquoise Falcon has more than once skipped my heart a beat but I can't afford a Bentley either.

The Great thing about Gretsch guitars is that they have come to make some very nice Electromatic options that are just wonderful. They sound nearly as good as the pro-lines at an affordable price. I think it was a great idea for Gretsch to incorporate on. ( Still waiting for an Electromatic Billy-Bo ) "Winky"

As a side note, as much as I thought I'd use my Falcon in recording our current project, My Double cut Jet has dominated the tracks. It just has that Top Dead Center sound.

8

I’m pretty much satisfied with my current collection but have considered this option instead. Especially as a non-professional hobbyist, how many guitars do I need? The search for the Holy Grail is fun and simply a normal part of GAS and having one guitar that checks off most boxes is tempting.

Having played a couple of Cbell’s guitars, one could find happiness there. However, IMO Norm was one of the smartest/luckiest ones amongst us by being so satisfied with his Gent. And he paid less than $300 (still a deal given time and inflation).

9

The fact a guitar is considerably more expensive or rare does not make it of higher quality. Granted a $10,000 guitar costs that much for a good reason.

I have no holy grail or interest in rare or expensive guitars. I don’t see myself ever spending more than maybe $1,500 on a guitar and prefer the $600-1000 range.

Perceived value is important too. To me rare or really expensive guitars are cool to look at but I wouldn’t want to own one.

You get a lot of quality in an $800 5420 and at that price point you can upgrade the pickups or bridge or whatnot without much fanfare.

And to me a used 6120 represents a great value on a high quality guitar.

Anyhow my point is if I won $10,000 guitar I would immediately sell it and buy several quality guitars and an amp or two (and party like it’s 1999)

10

Why not a bit of both? Get one high quality main axe of around 2 grand or maybe a pre-owned one and a couple of cheap but cheerful ones for variety.

11

Both, of course.

I completely concur with the above sentiment that cost and quality are not always directly related (nor are they inversely related). A great guitar is a great guitar at any price. I find that I like many (but by no means all) electric guitar flavors, and the quest has been to find examples that satisfy musically, aesthetically, and functionally - not regardless of the cost (because I rarely gravitate to the very cheapest version, and simply can't afford the toppest end), but without considering cost as the primary parameter.

That is, if a guitar I'm attracted to falls within the price range I've learned can frequently yield a satisfying guitar - a range I can afford - I'll pursue it whether it's low or high in that range.

I guess I should clarify that for me, guitars sort into "types" based on combinations of construction details: scale length, body build and bracing, (solid, chambered, semi, hollow, etc), materials, and pickups.

Few guitars in my excessive stable were chosen solely for cosmetic reasons, but there are some functional duplicates that can only be blamed on appearance - and I have bought a few others for no better reason.

But I haven't kept any guitar for cosmetic, sentimental, or even "investment" reasons. It has to play right, and I have to like it.

Among that bunch are more expensive and less expensive guitars - and while I'm aware of those differences, price doesn't even factor in to how well I like or how much I value a particular guitar. And, among that bunch, there's surely wide variety (with some depth with minor differences in some types) - and, for my purposes, plenty of quality as well.

But no doubt I felt deprived of electric guitars when first smitten, and through my teens and early 20s. I'm probably still compensating.

12

Agree that there is no necessary correlation between price and quality. But there are indeed many instruments, vintage and new, that one cannot get cheap and are every bit worth it. They are special. A 1950 Gibson L5. Some vintage GreTscHes. A '52 tele. Or a custom order from a top builder whose work you are familiar with. I picked $5000 instead of $10000, because for many of us that is above what we could simply shell out without selling off some current instruments. And there are really special guitars for around $5000. If one could afford a $10000 guitar, or if one has so many $1000 guitars that it would be easy to convert them into a $10000 guitar, that's another bracket altogether.

Truth be told, one of the most wonderful guitars I ever played was a 50s LP Custom with staple pup and bigsby. (Too bad it wasn't wine red.) At Elderly. Listed for $35000. And even if I could afford it, I don't know that I would spend that on a single instrument. Though most basic professional grade violins are more than that. I played another of the same model and year at Chicago Music Exchange. Much lesser instrument. And not that much less expensive.

13

I'm not a good enough guitarist to warrant/justify a $5K guitar, but a $500 Historic or Pro Jet is fine. They're far better than what I learned on. I doubt a guitar worth 10X more would make me sound 10X better. As it is, I put my cash into my keyboards, and even then, I've never spent more than $500 for them, except one I got for $1800 that does everything I want.

My view is that if you can justify the expense, and the kids aren't going hungry and the bills are paid, then fine. Get what you want and enjoy it!

14

My actions may be a compromise. I want for a certain sound, or a certain feel, and age or price rarely enters into my decision unless reasonable economics dictate it. I love my G6122-1959, for instance, and I would certainly love to have a custom shop model, but I can't convince myself that it is worth the difference in price. The same with owning a vintage '59. I just can't convince myself that it is worth the price, and would there be enough difference to what I have. There are limits to my funding.

I would rather have one guitar that had what I wanted than to have any number of others that didn't suit me. I feel the same way about clothes.

15

This is an interesting topic, one that I've thought hard about all my adult life. For me, I've always followed my GAS instinct, it's always lead me into some very nice instruments, and I've almost always bought new guitars, I guess it's a personal defect brought on by having a lot of of used things growing up. The only used instruments I've bought were a 1968 Stratocaster (my first electric guitar), and a 1972 Fender P bass, that fell into my lap while I was serving overseas in Belgium.

The least expensive electric guitar I own is my Gretsch 5422TG, a stunning instrument by all accounts. My least expensive acoustic guitar is my old Japanese Epiphone PR700. I bought it new in 1985, and it's opened up over the years, to ring like a bell. I look at guitars as functional works of art, beautiful tools to get me where I want to be, sonically. I guess I would be in the quality camp, for the most part. However, I'm certainly not a price snob, I put very little higher value on any of my guitars, I seem to cherish them all equally. Each one represents a period in my life, and on that count, they are all irreplaceable. Though it's a bit off topic, I look at wristwatches the same way. I'd rather have one very nice wristwatch, than a lot of cheaper ones.

Price is definitely not a good indicator of quality, Gibson is notorious for hit and miss quality. They seem to slap their electric guitars together, often with no regard for setup. Even design flaws go unchanged year after year. The 17° angle on the Les Paul headstock has caused major tuning instability, and easy breakage if accidentally dropped on its back. That being said, I do own several Gibson electric guitars that are the crown jewels of my lot. I've been Gassing lately for a 2018 SG standard in Heritage Cherry Red. It is loosely a remake of the 61, and is somewhat reasonably priced at $1499.99.

16

It's hard for me to answer because honestly, I don't really think any guitar is worth more than $5000, not even a '59 Les Paul. I value my instruments, and all instruments, but they are wood and metal to me, no more. They are not idols to worship.

I guess I'd rather have 5 different guitars valued at $1000 each. Besides, a $1000 Stratocaster still sounds and plays like a $5000 one, vintage or new.

Addendum: If I was a multi-millionaire, I'm sure I'd easily pay $5000, or a bit more, for one of my dream guitars, but not much more. This goes against what I wrote above, but wealth and perspective change when $$ is rampant. An Alembic Series 1 six-string might temp me if it was 6 grand, and I was incredibly wealthy.

...------

17

no. the reason i have multiple guitars is because they have different sounds which i find useful. when i look at electric guitars my main concern is the pickups; i've tried to collect as many different types that i like as possible. when i look at acoustic guitars, i care about tone and body size. i don't really feel the need to upgrade: Joe C. said that my Pro Jet with Dynas in "(feels) just like a Duo Jet" and my various Strats/Epiphones/Tokais etc. are good enough that any improvement gained from "upgreading" would be minimal. the only way i could trade up would be if i replaced my acoustics with a Lowden, but there's no way i'll ever be able to afford that.

18

I've thought about this; selling off a bunch of guitars to get something 'nicer', but I get stuck over what that would be. I don't really want guitars that are expensive collector's items which are too nice to play, so those are pretty much out.

I would love to get a couple of my long-term lust objects, namely a first year Super Chet, an L5S with normal pups (not those weird low impedance ones), or a blonde vintage Starcaster. I would feel fine taking any of those to a gig or a jam as opposed to a vintage D'Angelico or Super 400 which I'd feel I could only play at home and then wipe with a diaper.

The problem is I'm too attached to what I have, especially the ones that are much nicer instruments than their value. I have a Dearmond Starfire Special that is one of the best all around guitars I've ever played and is optimistically worth maybe $600.

There isn't a direct relationship between dollar value and intrinsic value. Plus if I were to part with serious (meaning multi-thousand) $$ for a guitar I would have to LOVE it (meaning I'd want to play it, which means not being afraid to have it leave the house) and not just want to have it, if that makes sense.

19

A lot of good comments followed my post and I think mine reads too much of "I think all higher priced guitars are of greater value". I only look at the value it has provided my desires to match my imagination to what the guitar is able to produce along with feel.....neck shape is the "big one" in the feel category for me.

To be honest, I am disappointed with the feel of the Gibson Firebird. I can do a lot with it because of the array of tones but I have grown apart from it because the neck just isn't beefy enough. For me, this leads to mistakes. It is great quality but it's value to me is close to nothing if I compare that to my Gretsch 5126. A dozen years ago, I wanted a Gretsch. 3 years of burning desire later, I bought the Black Phoenix. It actually gets maybe the least play time right now BUT it is of huge value to me because it can do exactly what I wanted AND it actually helped me discover different tones to play with. It will stay.

Maybe things would be different altogether if my Strats were 1.695" wide at the nut vs. it being the most narrow neck in the herd. But that isn't the case and really the ultimate catalyst for why I played around, bought and "cheated" on my Strats.

Many guitarists tell me that for what I do, I am just fine in the electric guitar department. I have 2 acoustics: a Sigma by Martin and a Taylor 414ce. I am missing something though and what I would like to have to round out the herd, from all the acoustics I've tried in past years, is going to cost some bucks........Santa Cruz, Huss & Dalton, and Collins are among but a few.

Do I really need anything more though? I played the 5126 yesterday for 5 hours. What I have gives me great joy so I think the real value is how much fun I am having with what I have.

20

For me guitars are kind of like wine, in that for me above a certain price the taste(sound) isn't noticeably better. Luckily for me the guitars I like aren't that expensive (<$1500), and I don't have room for any more anyway.

21

I normally don't even spend $5K on a car.

22

It's a balancing act. I want quality and there are certain sounds only certain guitars will get you so I guess you could say I also want quantity to an extent. I sold my only electric guitar at the time, a Strat to buy my Duo Jet. The Duo Jet is a better guitar in every way but there were certain songs that I've written or play that just needed a Strat sound. I was missing it. So basically I agree with everything everyone has said so far on this topic.

23

I would treat a $5,000 guitar like I would treat a $5,000 diamond ring.

You don't see me wearing my $5,000 ring in public.

I'm more comfortable with something that's not such an investment, so if it takes a hit and gets a bump or a nick on it, I won't stress about it.

24

How many of you would consider reducing your stable for a holy grail guitar? Or, has anyone done this?

I have. Variety has never had that much appeal to me. I have one guitar.

25

I'm also in the camp that if I could afford a custom shop, I don't know if I could come up with anything different than Gretsch already offers, in their stock line-up, for me to like more. If I did, with my ever changing taste, I couldn't commit to one. Maybe that's why Cam had so many. Those were all very special.

I could certainly be happy with way less guitars than I own because I already gravitate to one or two of them more than the others. Don't tell Karolyn though.


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