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Old 04-02-2009, 09:40 PM
muonlepton muonlepton is offline
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Default Difference between a cheap and a good guitar?

Hi, first post here. I'm somewhat of a beginner player. I've got a pretty cheap (~$100, it reads Montana MT104-N) acoustic guitar that I've been messing around for some time. I play mostly finger-style...I usually download some random tabs (some really easy solos) online and try them. I just love how nice the acoustic guitar sounds.

I've searched around and found that the supposedly "good" guitars cost about $200-300. I am thinking of buying one but am kind of hesitant. How much difference would a good guitar make, really? I don't play that often and think that my guitar already sounds kind of nice. Would a good guitar be easier to play on as well? would my learning progress better?
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:53 PM
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Go to a high end guitar store, play a Martin or Collings in a similar body style and wood style to your guitar. See if it sounds different and plays different than yours. If not, you're good. If you can tell a difference, especially in the ease of playing (which will encourage you to play more and better), then you might think about what a better guitar can do for you.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:24 PM
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Default Go for something above the real entry level guitar

When the price range being examined is high, the obvious differences in quality between price points becomes more and more difficult to discern (eg: between a $3000 and a $4000 dollar guitar). But the difference between a $100 guitar and a relatively modest $500 guitar is dramatic. A really cheap and poorly made guitar can be hard to fret, even for an experienced player. And that's the last thing you need when you're learning.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:35 PM
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Some definite things you will notice:

Tuning...the higher end guitars will stay in tune better and be easier to accurately tune

Intonation...a more well constructed guitar will stay in tune the higher up the neck you play

(as already said) Ease of play.

Durability...some cheaper guitars will fall apart...I recently had to put the neck back on my cousins really cheap guitar because the string tension pulled it away from the body (she swears it wasn't dropped)

If you are looking for a good playing, good sounding, cheaper acoustic...I would recommend an Epiphone Masterbilt or a Blueridge or a Recording King. There are definitely others but for around $500ish you can get a good sounding all solid wood guitar. DEFINITELY have it professionally set up...that could really make or break you as a future guitarist. I know so many people who have quit the guitar because it hurt too much to play...and it doesn't have to.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:36 PM
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You're making the mistake of thinking that more expensive is automatically better.
That doesn't have to be the case, though chances are something in a higher price bracket will be superior in quality.
And the lower the bracket, the greater the difference will be.
So a $300 instrument will be a greater improvement overall from a $100 instrument than will be a $3000 instrument as compared to a $2000 instrument.

If I were you though I wouldn't go from a $100 guitar to a $200 guitar.
Start looking a bit higher, at say $400-$500, for something that can last you for a few years.
Much less and you're just going to be looking to upgrade again quickly.

Think of it like this: That $100 guitar is a pair of no-brand jeans. Poor quality material, poorly sowed seams, improper fit.
That $500 guitar is the store brand of Sears. Decent materials and workmanship, but you're not paying for a "fancy" brand label.
A $1000 guitar is a B-brand from say Levis.
A $2000 is a Levis.
A $4000 instrument is a taylor made, custom fit, pair of trousers made in Hong Kong.
A $10000 instrument is a taylor made suit from Saville Row in London.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muonlepton View Post
Hi, first post here. I'm somewhat of a beginner player. I've got a pretty cheap (~$100, it reads Montana MT104-N) acoustic guitar that I've been messing around for some time. I play mostly finger-style...I usually download some random tabs (some really easy solos) online and try them. I just love how nice the acoustic guitar sounds.

I've searched around and found that the supposedly "good" guitars cost about $200-300. I am thinking of buying one but am kind of hesitant. How much difference would a good guitar make, really? I don't play that often and think that my guitar already sounds kind of nice. Would a good guitar be easier to play on as well? would my learning progress better?
I hesitated at the price ranges you are talking about. I can say that I played for 15 years on the same as your price range guitar and was satisfied but wanting something that sounded better and played easier. I did not know what I was missing nor how much I was fighting my instrument instead of learning to play.

Buy the best you can afford and play it, you get what you pay for. You will progress quicker if you are serious on a "better" instrument. If you can go to a guitar store and tell the difference between the "store brand in 1xx-2xx prices to 5xx-1xxx price guitars you can answer your own question.

Jerry
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Old 04-03-2009, 06:38 AM
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I think the difference you would find between a $100 price and $300 price is going to be a little bit of workmanship and to some extent, a recognizable brand name. I don't think materials will be so different up to the point you are looking at.

One exception you may wish to consider, a guitar that has had plenty of respect shown to it regardless of its low price, and I'm talking about respect from owners of guitars worth multiple thousands of dollars, is the Seagull S-6, their original model. Even brand new, they are not that far removed from the price range you are looking at, but the value of what you get for your money would be excellent.

The Guitar Center near me sells them, so if you have a GC near you, it might be a good place to check one out. Ebay generally has some available used at reasonable prices.

Other than that, a good bet might also be some of the lower end Yamaha or Takamine guitars. Both brands have solid reputations.
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:15 AM
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+1 for Epiphone Masterbuilt

I know its a little more than the price range you've listed, but as others have said, it really is worth it.

As a beginning guitarist, I think the ease of play would be the greatest factor. I remember picking up my first Taylor and thinking, "I'm a better guitarist on this instrument". Not only is that a cool feeling, but as metioned before, it will make you want to practice more. So whatever guitar you end up getting, make sure that it is one that gets you excited when you play it, that is the best way for you to enjoy your instrument and improve as a musician.
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:18 AM
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You may also want to consider the used market. You can sometimes find some really nice guitars that may have some cosmetic issues, but otherwise sound fine and are guitars you couldn't afford if you had to buy them new. But, a word of warning, have someone who is experienced at looking at used guitars help you in your search. Some of the used market is worse than what you're currently playing. You just have to know what to look for..
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:29 AM
dagostin dagostin is offline
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I've had all sorts of guitars in my lifetime, but most of them were nothing special. I started out just like you, playing a very inexpensive guitar, learning on that. After a couple years I upgraded to a Yamaha acoustic, in the 500 range. Acoustically I mostly stuck with this all the way until 2008 (more than 10 years later) when I got more or less my dream guitar in the 814ce.

What I would say is this, if you truly love guitar and music you're gonna continue to play, regardless of what you play on. Would I have loved to have been playing somthing like the 814ce for my whole life? Sure, that would have been awesome. But was it a deal breaker in my love for music? Not at all.

This experience of course is what happened to me. For some people, strarting on higher-end guitar may be just what they need. One thing I will say is that I do seem to "feel" more creativity and "enjoy" the sound more when playing a nice instrument compared to an ok one. During my years with my Yamaha, in college, my buddy had a sweet 614ce. Of course I was jealous a bit. And everytime I played his guitar it just felt better. But I stuck with my modest yamaha and focused on playing and learning and all that, not on what guitar i was playing on. And hell, 14 years from when I started, I finally got something I'm really proud of. And it was worth the wait.

Let me add one last note. If money is not an issue, then I would upgrade Otherwise, rock out for now, it'll all fall into place in time.
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Old 04-03-2009, 07:39 AM
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If you're happy with what you have, then stick with it! But I'd also suggest that you keep playing alot of different guitars, in different price ranges and with different wood combinations. (It's a difficult task, but somebody has to do it!

It takes time to train your ear to hear the differences, especially between guitars with different tonewoods. In the store, play in an isolation room if you can--away from the noise. I also have the salesperson play the guitars so I can hear how it sounds directly in front of the soundhole.

For me, cheaper guitars generally feel less solid and sound thinner. Quality builds have a wider range of tone (fuller bass, clear mids, and highs that don't drop off) and feel more solid. These guitars also tend 'sing along' more--you'll feel the back and top responding to your playing.

Over time, you'll find yourself going back to a particular guitar or series or wood combo...one that feels and sounds right...or maybe 2 or 3 that sound right...

Have fun and stick with it! I've been playing for over 25 years and I'm still figuring it out...and that's the fun part!
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:00 AM
jwenting jwenting is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solarix View Post
I hesitated at the price ranges you are talking about. I can say that I played for 15 years on the same as your price range guitar and was satisfied but wanting something that sounded better and played easier. I did not know what I was missing nor how much I was fighting my instrument instead of learning to play.
Do remember that a $100 guitar of 15 years ago costs $300 now, same make and model, same materials and craftmanship (not likely the same craftmen, as those factories have moved from Japan and Korea to China in the last 15 years).
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:41 AM
Jeff M Jeff M is offline
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Tone.
Ease of playability.
Fit and finish.

Get to a guitar store and play as many guitars as you can.
Play the expensive ones.....Taylors, Gibsons, Martins, etc.
Get a feel for what they are.

Then go out and find/play the least expensive guitars you can find.

There are lots of great "relatively inexpensive" guitars out there, especially built overseas. Brands like Blueridge, Eastman, Masterbuilt. Generally though, they will still run you more than your stated price range.
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:46 AM
Jeff M Jeff M is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muonlepton View Post
..... Would a good guitar be easier to play on as well? would my learning progress better?
Yes.
Lots of people give up learning guitar becuase of trying to start out on cheap "finger killers"/poorly set up instruments.
Whatever you settle on, have it checked out and set up by a tech (pro) who knows what they are doing.
Actually, best to take somebody with you who knows what they are looking at....neck angle, fret dressing, neck warp....etc. Then get it in for a good set up (most good guitar stores will do this for free at time of purchase...(and in most cases this DOESN'T mean just a twist of the truss rod ) to get the action as low / comfortable as possible for you. Makes playing MUCH easier.


Here you go. A link to great information site about guitars;
http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/pagelist.html

Check out some of the topics....action adjustment, checking action at the nut, truss rods, care and feeding of your guitar, etc.
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Last edited by Jeff M; 04-03-2009 at 12:19 PM.
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:24 PM
KJC KJC is offline
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Default Cheap vs good

I've learned, over the years, that I am "cheap" and my guitars are "inexpensive" (relatively). As others have mentioned already, "good" is in the eye of the beholder. If you shopped blindfolded and bought according to tone and playability you'd be surprised at what's out there, new and used, in your price range.
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