Do I really need an expensive guitar? This is a great question and I am asked this all the time. The short answer is… No, you do not really NEED a guitar that is expensive BUT You can really benefit from having a nice guitar. Across the board, all of the manufacturers more expensive models will give you a better playing experience and in most cases better tone. This makes sense as the guitar manufacturer can put more money into the build of the guitar. Woods, parts, hardware, and time spent on building the guitar all go up and this will produce a higher quality instrument.
The nicer woods cost more and are harder to come by. It is common for top guitar manufacturers to pay a higher premium to sawmills for the choicest cuts of wood. Many sought after woods (Flame Maple, Quilted Maple, Rosewood) are rarer and harder to get today than even twenty years ago. This makes these woods more expensive.
Top-quality hardware is also more costly. Better plating and harder metals come at a premium. Better electronics can really raise the price of the top shelf guitars. Pickups made by US manufacturers can cost hundreds of dollars more than the import pickups from Korea or China. These pickups made in the USA have top quality components and not only have a higher quality sound but will last for many years.
From the woods that make up the guitar to the tuners that get the guitar in tune and hold it there, more expensive guitars will play, sound, and function better for a longer period of time than the less expensive models.
However, in today’s guitar market you will find some really amazing guitars at lower price points than ever before. No worries if you don’t have thousands to spend on your guitar purchase as quality, well-made guitars are out there for way less than $1000.00. Guitars made in Mexico and Indonesia are amazing and sell for just a few hundred dollars NEW!
Brands like G&L Tribute models or PRS SE Lines are good bets to check out. Myself, I really prefer to buy used guitars. A guitar that sold new for $1200.00 will sell used for about $800.00, sometimes even less. You can always find quality used guitars on the market and these guitars are a great way to get a better, higher-priced guitar for much less cash.
If you are looking at used guitars but are not really a guitar expert I would recommend purchasing your used instruments from a guitar shop vs. a private seller. A guitar shop selling used instruments well check out the guitars before they take them in on trade and put them out for sale so it is less likely that you will purchase a used guitar from a shop and have problems with the guitar.
I have seen pro musicians play on less expensive guitars over the years and they still sounded amazing, A well-built guitar that is set up to play properly can take you a long way on your guitar playing journey. In the end, purchase the best guitar that you can afford, have it set up to play correctly and practice as often as you can.