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Is a Cheap Guitar Worth the Purchase?

Summary

It’s often questioned whether it’s a smart move to buy a cheap guitar instead of saving up for a high-quality piece – but the general consensus is that there’s actually a lot to gain from a cheaper model.

Many people see cheap guitars as a low-quality product, with poor design and manufacturing. Actually, some may even feel intimidated by the fact that it wasn’t made in the US. You may be reluctant to even consider Chinese or Korean guitars, and you may never have thought of buying a cheap one, until recently.

cheap acoustic guitar

Cheap acoustic guitar

Many big guitar manufacturers have already started making their products in Korea, china and India, in order to make them more affordable for the average player – not everyone can spend $2000 and more on a Fender or Gibson, and there’s quite the large market for guitars under $400.

Most of the cheap guitars of Epiphone, owned by Gibson, are made in Korea. Kramer, another company under the rule of Gibson, makes most of its cheap guitars in Korea as well. Fender bought Jackson a few years back, and now most of its Jackson guitars are made in Korea and India. BC Rich cheap guitars and Ibanez guitar models are made in Korea as well.

Ibanez Electric guitar Jackson electric guitar

Electric guitars made in Korea

The relatively low labor costs can help produce a cheaper guitar, but that alone can’t be the only reason for guitar prices going down. So, what’s the reason for some guitars to be so cheap while others are really expensive?

There are several factors in play – the first thing that can make a guitar cheap or expensive, is the actual manufacturing process. If it’s hand made it would typically cost a lot more than something coming off from the conveyor belt. Something else that factors into the price of a guitar is the quality of the material used in its production – this can include the wood used for the neck and body, the paints and the finishes. Cheaper guitars use inexpensive woods and materials like plywood for the body, while more expensive ones would incorporate quality woods like rosewood, mahogany and alder.

Next we have the quality of hardware – especially electronics, where applicable. Cheap guitars tend to have a cheap bridge, tuners and stock pickups – while expensive guitars are made with quality hardware and electronics. Sometimes the cost of a single electronic component from a high-grade guitar can be higher than the total cost of a cheap guitar.

So is it worth buying one of these cheap guitars? It depends, really – not everyone will use a cheap guitar. If you’re a professional musician and the guitar is what you earn your living from, then you’ll likely not want to buy a cheap guitar. Even though most cheap guitars nowadays sound very good, professional musicians usually prefer hand-made electric guitars made by experts.

If you don’t feel like spending several thousand dollars on a Gibson Les Paul guitar, then you might want to take a look at cheaper models. Keep in mind that cheap guitars don’t necessarily have to be brandless – you can nowadays buy an Ibanez, Jackson, ESP and many others for less than $200, making those a really good deal if you need something cheaper.

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