I truly believe that we are living in the golden era of guitar making.
There have never been more companies making high-quality instruments than there are right now. So many companies are making affordable guitars that are truly stage-ready and reliable.
But part of being a guitarist is the natural fascination with the next new, better thing.
We want to know what our favorite players are using and often see that as the easiest route to sounding as good as them.
In the past few years, there has been a trend toward boutique guitars. Brands like Veritas and Elliott fill our Instagram feeds leaving us drooling, then quietly sobbing when we see the price. The FOMO gets even deeper when we see a friend with one of these instruments. So you get out your calculator, figure out if you can make it work, then go straight to their website to spec out your dream guitar.
The big question though, is it worth it?
Deciding if something is worth its price is far more nuanced than you would think, especially a purchase as personal as a guitar. I do think there are absolutely situations when these high-end instruments are worth the price.
So what do you need to know to make sure you get the right guitar?
1) Are the specs what you really want?
So many of these companies have so many options for every detail of the instrument and there is really no idea for you to know exactly how your combination of specs are going to work together until you get the instrument in hand.
Go off of what you know and do as much research as you can, this is not the time to wing it and try things just to try them. Talk to the builder if you have questions, they are the experts.
Outside of the technical specs of the guitar, think about the aesthetic specs as well. One of the best parts of custom guitars is the vast selection of finishes to choose from. It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy lime green to baby blue sparkle burst.
Think about the longevity of the guitar.
The intention of the builder and your intention when you buy this guitar is hopefully that it is a lifelong instrument. Make sure you can be happy with your choice 10 years from now. When in doubt, go with as timeless of an anesthetic as possible.
Are you ready to buy right now?
These companies get inquiries, questions, and requests all day. If possible, try your best not to be the person that goes through the whole ordering process only to back out at the last second. Asking for quotes is always a good thing to do so that you can get a clearer idea of what the process will be like and the cost. These are investment instruments, and by that I mean you will be investing time, energy, and money into finding the perfect guitar.
Always make sure that your finances are in order before making these types of purchases.
If there are other things in your life that need to be taken care of, there is no sense in making this or any other non-essential purchase. It is okay to make sacrifices for what you want, but you and your family need to be on board with those sacrifices. It can also be very tempting to look at the down payment and the build time and think “that’s plenty of time to come up with the rest of the money”. Life happens and things can get in the way, when possible be the person who’s ready with all the cash at the time you order.
Why do you want the guitar?
This is probably the most important question you have to answer for yourself. Interestingly, I think there are really only two wrong answers.
If you want the instrument as a way to flex or boast, that is a wrong reason. If that is the reason, you’ll get sick of the instrument as soon as the next cool thing comes along.
If you want the instrument to resell it and make money, that is a wrong reason. I am all for being financially savvy and making a profit when selling gear. There is something different though when something is purchased brand new, solely for the purpose of resale. Respect the work that the builders put in, they could sell it for more but they chose to sell it to you and let you pick out every detail. Honor that.
If you want this guitar because you played your friend’s and fell in love with it. Great reason.
If you are sick of having a whole rack of guitars and just want that one go-to instrument. Great reason.
If you are having trouble finding a guitar with the exact specs you are looking for. Great reason.
Whatever your reason ends up being, just be honest with yourself. This is a big purchase that can lead to years of joy and satisfaction with an instrument. If done hastily though, it can be a huge financial setback and cause a lot of stress and dissatisfaction. Understand the weight of the decision.
Buying a $4,000 guitar is not for everybody. But there are ways to give yourself a bit of a custom experience with instruments you already have.
Doing things like swapping out pickups and other parts on the instrument that you already have gets you part of the way there.
You never know either, I’ve had instruments that I wasn’t a huge fan of but after making a small change the guitar quickly became a favorite. Experimenting with what you have is often a much better option than trying to fix the issue by buying a new instrument.
Make what you have better first, then look for something else if you still aren’t happy.
This is a big purchase that can lead to years of joy and satisfaction with an instrument. If done hastily though, it can be a huge financial setback and cause a lot of stress and dissatisfaction. Understand the weight of the decision.
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