Diminishing returns set in early?

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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 2105
    I've come to really believe the diminishing returns starts quite early now. The PRS SE Singlecut I bought recently has convinced me of that. 

    So in theory what would more money add to this guitar? 

    Better pickups? Well yes but I feel there's a whole lot of bullshit in this market too. The pickups on the SE Singlecut are better than on other SEs I've tried. But if I did want to upgrade £60 would get me a nice set of Iron Gear and really that would do.

    Full maple cap? Well yes, but that's just a load of wood I couldn't see anyway. Figured tops are nice, but there's no point having more wood than a veneer - despite what some people think it's not see through. A plain maple cap with a veneer is just fine thank you very much.

    I guess I could add some locking machine heads, but I'm just reaching now.

    The real thing that would make it a £1800 guitar would be paying USA level wages to those that made it, and perhaps an even bigger percentage of that money being just a little sticker that says "Made in the USA". 
    That's something that really annoys me - the Fender American guitars are higher end guitars then the Mexican ones and should be more expensive but then they make the arbitrary decision to make them in America which adds an extra expense. (And it is arbitrary; I find it weird that even Americans believe other Americans would be better at working in a factory, even weirder for non-Americans to think that).

    So if all the models were made in the same country, the Professional series would still be more expensive but not the difference that exists.

    With Schecter, for example, I'd be much more confident that their price differences are more indicative of quality differences since they're made at the same place.
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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 1127
    I actually saved up a pot of about 4k for my dream guitar and amp at one point.

    Still not found an expensive guitar or amp I actually want!

    The reality for me is, I know very well that there is one thing which will get me where I want to be as a player, and that's practise and playing songs with other people.

    In fact "playing songs with other people quite often" is probably what I'd like, and gear doesn't help with that one bit.

    It's a set of thoughts that come back to me whenever I'm about to hit "buy" and its probably saved me a fortune.
    Give me some dates when you’re free to pop round for a jam, and we can get that happening more often. There’s also Pete’s Hertford Jam in two weeks.
    Karma......
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  • Jez6345789Jez6345789 Frets: 1092
    With most Asian brands these days just basic stuff being Cnc is going to get far greater accuracy on the basic geometry of the guitar and combined with some bespoke set up and fretwork along with a few judicious parts upgrades is going to take you a long way into the diminishing returns argument.

    i spent a lot of time a few years ago making a Strat partscaster for my best friends birthday  and frankly I amazed myself how close you could get to a really good played in fit and finish for doing the fine detailing of rolled edges and super smooth neck feel and all that good stuff you get from a serious money Fender or PRS.

    Simplefact is these days you don’t need to spend a lot to get a really useful guitar with good feel.





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  • SnagsSnags Frets: 1532
    @markblagdon @darthed1981 What Mark said ...
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  • NeilNeil Frets: 2618
    thegummy said:
    That's something that really annoys me - the Fender American guitars are higher end guitars then the Mexican ones and should be more expensive but then they make the arbitrary decision to make them in America which adds an extra expense. (And it is arbitrary; I find it weird that even Americans believe other Americans would be better at working in a factory, even weirder for non-Americans to think that).

    So if all the models were made in the same country, the Professional series would still be more expensive but not the difference that exists.

    With Schecter, for example, I'd be much more confident that their price differences are more indicative of quality differences since they're made at the same place.
    Not arbitrary in reality.

    Fender started in the US, their roots are there, they are part of Americana. 

    Sure, the Mexican guitars can be very fine, got one myself, but to me Fender is an American institution and probably is to a whole lot of other people.

    I guess it's a tangible link to the past that is still in its home country.

    People are always a bit sad when a British firm leaves these shores for total offshore production and I guess that is similar with Fender. 

    At the end of the day it is all about emotion.........and playing a guitar is a very emotional thing. 
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  • NikcNikc Frets: 286
    Neil said:
    thegummy said:
    That's something that really annoys me - the Fender American guitars are higher end guitars then the Mexican ones and should be more expensive but then they make the arbitrary decision to make them in America which adds an extra expense. (And it is arbitrary; I find it weird that even Americans believe other Americans would be better at working in a factory, even weirder for non-Americans to think that).

    So if all the models were made in the same country, the Professional series would still be more expensive but not the difference that exists.

    With Schecter, for example, I'd be much more confident that their price differences are more indicative of quality differences since they're made at the same place.
    Not arbitrary in reality.

    Fender started in the US, their roots are there, they are part of Americana. 

    Sure, the Mexican guitars can be very fine, got one myself, but to me Fender is an American institution and probably is to a whole lot of other people.

    I guess it's a tangible link to the past that is still in its home country.

    People are always a bit sad when a British firm leaves these shores for total offshore production and I guess that is similar with Fender. 

    At the end of the day it is all about emotion.........and playing a guitar is a very emotional thing. 
    You know BMW are a German institution as are VW and not forgetting Mercedes of course - yet I've not heard people comparing the differences in a German made car ar one out of Spain, South Africa , India, Austria, Russia, Poland, USA etc.... and there are even more.

    You see these companies set up a plant and build cars - the guitar makers seem to set up production and then go out of their way to charge extra based on where the guitar is made not how or to what standard it is made - just IMO of course  
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 2105
    Neil said:
    thegummy said:
    That's something that really annoys me - the Fender American guitars are higher end guitars then the Mexican ones and should be more expensive but then they make the arbitrary decision to make them in America which adds an extra expense. (And it is arbitrary; I find it weird that even Americans believe other Americans would be better at working in a factory, even weirder for non-Americans to think that).

    So if all the models were made in the same country, the Professional series would still be more expensive but not the difference that exists.

    With Schecter, for example, I'd be much more confident that their price differences are more indicative of quality differences since they're made at the same place.
    Not arbitrary in reality.

    Fender started in the US, their roots are there, they are part of Americana. 

    Sure, the Mexican guitars can be very fine, got one myself, but to me Fender is an American institution and probably is to a whole lot of other people.

    I guess it's a tangible link to the past that is still in its home country.

    People are always a bit sad when a British firm leaves these shores for total offshore production and I guess that is similar with Fender. 

    At the end of the day it is all about emotion.........and playing a guitar is a very emotional thing. 
    Okay change "arbitrary" to "because they were started there but still absolutely nothing what so ever to do with the skill of the workers or the quality of the tools used" and my point is exactly the same.
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 2105
    Even looking in to that sentimental aspect and ignoring that it has zero affect on the guitar itself - it's not made by the same people as it was in the 50s, it's not owned by the same people or even the same family, it's not even in the same factory - the only link is that the piece of ground the factory that currently makes those guitars is within the same man-made political boundries as the old factory was.

    It doesn't stand up to any kind of reason; like practically every nationalistic idea it's fantasy.
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  • ChuckManualChuckManual Frets: 618
    The diminishing returns thing is real and, sometimes, stark.

    I used to have an Ibanez George Benson GB12, which was a wonderful guitar that I enjoyed for years. I eventually sold, though, it to fund a nice acoustic. A few years after that, I had a yearning for another big old Jazz box again and I picked-up an Ibanez Artcore AF105F, secondhand, for an absolute pittence.

    Now; is the Artcore as good as the Benson? Don't be silly. Is it £1500 worse? Don't be insane! It's a cracking guitar that is only a marginally poorer instrument. I've had to replace the bridge - and the neck p/up has recently crapped-out on me ...but the body really projects and the neck/fretboard/fretwork is (seriously) just as good as the GB12.

    Rather than trying to spend two and a half grand to spend on a guitar, I think it's better to go out and try as many guitars as you want, that are all under £2501, and buy the one you like the most, regardless of how little it costs. And buy secondhand too - your money will go waaay further.
    Not much of the gear, even less idea.
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 2105
    It would be nice if companies took the cost of materials + cost of labour + how much profit they want to make per guitar and kept that so as you go up their range, the better the guitar gets, the material cost goes up, the labour cost might go up but only if the added features actually take longer and the profit per guitar amount stayed the same.

    That would mean that the more you paid for a guitar, the higher spec a guitar you were getting and by a proportional amount when it comes to value (though not necessarily in terms of how much effect it has on tone/playability etc. as the diminishing returns would still kick in).

    But it seems that for a company who make their guitars in the same country, the cost of materials and labour goes up as expected but then they also want to make more profit per guitar so add more on (possibly to exploit people who are by definition willing to pay more to begin with).

    Then with Fender specifically, about half way up their range, the labour cost doesn't just go up based on extra time taken, it goes up because of the economy of the country they chose to make those models in. And I also believe they add even more to the profit per guitar amount because they know so many people have this idea that being made in America is of value in itself and will pay extra for it.

    So, like I said earlier, a £1400 Fender is better than a £500 Fender but not by as much as a £1400 Schecter is better than a £500 Schecter - and, even then, I don't believe that the £1400 Schecter cost them £900 more to manufacture.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5731
    Shop around for used Andersons and Suhrs around £1.5k +/- £200
    A lot of PRSs are currently very cheap for their quality, especially if you like fancy tops
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 168
    Of the guitars I tried, I mentioned one exception where the setup and neck feel felt higher quality. That was a PRS. Admittedly, I don’t like figured tops and the neck on this model wasn’t quite my taste in terms of profile, little slim front to back although the basic carve was fine. But, the rosewood was slick and nice feeling under the fingers, the frets were well polished and not too big or too skinny, fret edges smooth, and the action was in a safe middle ground. 

    Intellectually, I known I should shop for the specific guitar, not for the price, and that cheaper instruments may well be better. Being confronted with the reality is quite stark, though.


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  • NeilNeil Frets: 2618
    thegummy said:
    It would be nice if companies took the cost of materials + cost of labour + how much profit they want to make per guitar and kept that so as you go up their range, the better the guitar gets, the material cost goes up, the labour cost might go up but only if the added features actually take longer and the profit per guitar amount stayed the same.

    That would mean that the more you paid for a guitar, the higher spec a guitar you were getting and by a proportional amount when it comes to value (though not necessarily in terms of how much effect it has on tone/playability etc. as the diminishing returns would still kick in).

    But it seems that for a company who make their guitars in the same country, the cost of materials and labour goes up as expected but then they also want to make more profit per guitar so add more on (possibly to exploit people who are by definition willing to pay more to begin with).

    Then with Fender specifically, about half way up their range, the labour cost doesn't just go up based on extra time taken, it goes up because of the economy of the country they chose to make those models in. And I also believe they add even more to the profit per guitar amount because they know so many people have this idea that being made in America is of value in itself and will pay extra for it.

    So, like I said earlier, a £1400 Fender is better than a £500 Fender but not by as much as a £1400 Schecter is better than a £500 Schecter - and, even then, I don't believe that the £1400 Schecter cost them £900 more to manufacture.
    It would indeed be "nice", but don't be naive, nobody does that.    ;)

    The fact is companies charge what they think the market will stand.  


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  • guitarblasterguitarblaster Frets: 144
    What suhrs did you try? I’d like to try a Suhr, I have a CS strat and it’s been my only guitar for about 4 years ... I’m think my next might be a HSS Suhr. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39537
    Neil said:

    I guess it's a tangible link to the past that is still in its home country.
    Even when it's a wholly different company, which just owns the original name and designs, with a factory in a different place and a head office in a different state?

    The factory in Mexico is closer to Fullerton than Scottsdale is!

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • NeilNeil Frets: 2618
    ICBM said:
    Neil said:

    I guess it's a tangible link to the past that is still in its home country.
    Even when it's a wholly different company, which just owns the original name and designs, with a factory in a different place and a head office in a different state?

    The factory in Mexico is closer to Fullerton than Scottsdale is!
    A.) Very few companies are still owned by their original owners after sixty odd years.

    B.) I think you were being slightly facetious  ;) . As you well know Scottsdale is Fender's admin centre, the guitars are made in Corona which is 21 miles from Fullerton.

    Ensenada is 149 miles away. 
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39537
    Neil said:

    I think you were being slightly facetious
    Possibly ;).

    I also didn't mention that the original Fender workers at Fullerton were mostly Mexicans :).

    I don't know what the current workforce is like, but it wouldn't surprise me if they still are...

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • NeilNeil Frets: 2618
    Nikc said:
    Neil said:
    thegummy said:
    That's something that really annoys me - the Fender American guitars are higher end guitars then the Mexican ones and should be more expensive but then they make the arbitrary decision to make them in America which adds an extra expense. (And it is arbitrary; I find it weird that even Americans believe other Americans would be better at working in a factory, even weirder for non-Americans to think that).

    So if all the models were made in the same country, the Professional series would still be more expensive but not the difference that exists.

    With Schecter, for example, I'd be much more confident that their price differences are more indicative of quality differences since they're made at the same place.
    Not arbitrary in reality.

    Fender started in the US, their roots are there, they are part of Americana. 

    Sure, the Mexican guitars can be very fine, got one myself, but to me Fender is an American institution and probably is to a whole lot of other people.

    I guess it's a tangible link to the past that is still in its home country.

    People are always a bit sad when a British firm leaves these shores for total offshore production and I guess that is similar with Fender. 

    At the end of the day it is all about emotion.........and playing a guitar is a very emotional thing. 
    You know BMW are a German institution as are VW and not forgetting Mercedes of course - yet I've not heard people comparing the differences in a German made car ar one out of Spain, South Africa , India, Austria, Russia, Poland, USA etc.... and there are even more.

    You see these companies set up a plant and build cars - the guitar makers seem to set up production and then go out of their way to charge extra based on where the guitar is made not how or to what standard it is made - just IMO of course  
    The car comparison is not accurate in this case because we are talking about guitars, a very different market. 

    The reason being, guitar makers purposely spec their overseas output at a lower grade to their home built stuff or people would be comparing them too much.  ;)

    I would imagine the Fender strata goes something like:

    Custom shop
    USA
    Mexico/Japan 
    Other far east. 

    And the prices along with them. 

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  • NeilNeil Frets: 2618
    ICBM said:
    Neil said:

    I think you were being slightly facetious
    Possibly ;).

    I also didn't mention that the original Fender workers at Fullerton were mostly Mexicans :).

    I don't know what the current workforce is like, but it wouldn't surprise me if they still are...
    Wouldn't surprise me either. 
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  • KittyfriskKittyfrisk Frets: 951
    Yeah, what would all those classic vintage USA Fenders be like without that all American legend, Abigail Ybarra winding pickups for them?  :3
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4812
    I've come to really believe the diminishing returns starts quite early now. The PRS SE Singlecut I bought recently has convinced me of that. 
    I just spent Saturday evening and some of Sunday morning comparing and contrasting a 2014 SE Custom 24, a 2017 SE limited edition spalted maple top and my trusty 1993 Custom. 

    All very playable. After pickup height and polepiece adjustments, the sounds were fairly similar. The Asian machineheads and control electronics were a let down. Ultimately, the American guitar had more finesse.

    Better pickups? Well, yes but I feel there's a whole lot of bullshit in this market too. 
    I choose replacement pickups by a combination of prior experience and good ol' trial and error. 

    I guess I could add some locking machine heads
    Definitely. The Jin-Ho items are not good enough, no matter which way you tie the strings around the tuner posts. The S2 ones are not massively better.

    The other weak item on SE models is the vibrato sustain block. Zinc? 
    Be seeing you.
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  • NikcNikc Frets: 286
    Neil said:
    Nikc said:
    Neil said:
    thegummy said:
    That's something that really annoys me - the Fender American guitars are higher end guitars then the Mexican ones and should be more expensive but then they make the arbitrary decision to make them in America which adds an extra expense. (And it is arbitrary; I find it weird that even Americans believe other Americans would be better at working in a factory, even weirder for non-Americans to think that).

    So if all the models were made in the same country, the Professional series would still be more expensive but not the difference that exists.

    With Schecter, for example, I'd be much more confident that their price differences are more indicative of quality differences since they're made at the same place.
    Not arbitrary in reality.

    Fender started in the US, their roots are there, they are part of Americana. 

    Sure, the Mexican guitars can be very fine, got one myself, but to me Fender is an American institution and probably is to a whole lot of other people.

    I guess it's a tangible link to the past that is still in its home country.

    People are always a bit sad when a British firm leaves these shores for total offshore production and I guess that is similar with Fender. 

    At the end of the day it is all about emotion.........and playing a guitar is a very emotional thing. 
    You know BMW are a German institution as are VW and not forgetting Mercedes of course - yet I've not heard people comparing the differences in a German made car ar one out of Spain, South Africa , India, Austria, Russia, Poland, USA etc.... and there are even more.

    You see these companies set up a plant and build cars - the guitar makers seem to set up production and then go out of their way to charge extra based on where the guitar is made not how or to what standard it is made - just IMO of course  
    The car comparison is not accurate in this case because we are talking about guitars, a very different market. 

    The reason being, guitar makers purposely spec their overseas output at a lower grade to their home built stuff or people would be comparing them too much.  ;)

    I would imagine the Fender strata goes something like:

    Custom shop
    USA
    Mexico/Japan 
    Other far east. 

    And the prices along with them. 

    I think its more marketing and smoke and mirrors - making stuff in factories is just that - and electric guitars are on the whole just mass produced products sold for the best margin the marketeers can create  ;)
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  • GrumpyrockerGrumpyrocker Frets: 1372
    edited July 7
    I've come to really believe the diminishing returns starts quite early now. The PRS SE Singlecut I bought recently has convinced me of that. 
    I just spent Saturday evening and some of Sunday morning comparing and contrasting a 2014 SE Custom 24, a 2017 SE limited edition spalted maple top and my trusty 1993 Custom. 

    All very playable. After pickup height and polepiece adjustments, the sounds were fairly similar. The Asian machineheads and control electronics were a let down. Ultimately, the American guitar had more finesse.

    Better pickups? Well, yes but I feel there's a whole lot of bullshit in this market too. 
    I choose replacement pickups by a combination of prior experience and good ol' trial and error. 

    I guess I could add some locking machine heads
    Definitely. The Jin-Ho items are not good enough, no matter which way you tie the strings around the tuner posts. The S2 ones are not massively better.

    The other weak item on SE models is the vibrato sustain block. Zinc? 
    But here's the thing. You make it sound like the tuners on my SE are shit. But on my guitar I tune it, the tuners turn as they should, the guitar stays in tune. So what is so terrible that these things cannot hold a candle to magic USA tuners?

    And the control electronics?

    This just sounds like stuff people say, I've seen it a hundred times. But when I play the guitar I don't see these faults. They just sound like things to justify ideas rather than realities. 


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  • NikcNikc Frets: 286
    I've come to really believe the diminishing returns starts quite early now. The PRS SE Singlecut I bought recently has convinced me of that. 
    I just spent Saturday evening and some of Sunday morning comparing and contrasting a 2014 SE Custom 24, a 2017 SE limited edition spalted maple top and my trusty 1993 Custom. 

    All very playable. After pickup height and polepiece adjustments, the sounds were fairly similar. The Asian machineheads and control electronics were a let down. Ultimately, the American guitar had more finesse.

    Better pickups? Well, yes but I feel there's a whole lot of bullshit in this market too. 
    I choose replacement pickups by a combination of prior experience and good ol' trial and error. 

    I guess I could add some locking machine heads
    Definitely. The Jin-Ho items are not good enough, no matter which way you tie the strings around the tuner posts. The S2 ones are not massively better.

    The other weak item on SE models is the vibrato sustain block. Zinc? 
    But here's the thing. You make it sound like the tuners on my SE are shit. But on my guitar I tune it, the tuners turn as they should, the guitar stays in tune. So what is so terrible that these things cannot hold a candle to magic USA tuners?

    And the control electronics?

    This just sounds like stuff people say, I've seen it a hundred times. But when I play the guitar I don't see these faults. They just sound like things to justify ideas rather than realities. 

    Yep tuning on my SE is reliable and solid the vol and tone controls do exactly what they are meant to do - Just like those on a lovely R9 I had the pleasure of playing yesterday. 
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  • TenebrousTenebrous Frets: 707
    edited July 7
    I made a thread about this with a PRS SE I picked up on sale. None of the three guitars I bought recently in the £500-800 bracket were much different in terms of QC than the guitars I've owned/own costing twice as much. In fact, the USA Tele I bought last year needed more of a set-up than the PRS SE, Yamaha 611, or Ibanez RG550 I picked up -1 They all play fantastically now, all have their own tones, and in terms of fit & finish, tuner stability, etc, there's really nothing in it.

    Comparing a mid-ranged guitar like a PRS SE/MIM Fender to a top-of-the-range guitar like a PRS CS/CS Fender, you do get a good 80% of the guitar for 15%~ of the budget, and that's being pretty conservative.
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  • rossirossi Frets: 695
    Virtually all the guitars that I gave a nice fret level,dress, ,shim , and nut job to are  as  nice to play as anything else  I have played in terms of actually playability .Its all in there really .The guitar I didnt do that on ,a Gibson Midtown ,didnt need it done .The rest is choice and  weight and style and pickups but its that playabilty that is the sweetener ..The Affinity I bought for peanuts was really sweet to play after a good fret level and neck adjustment .Its pickups didnt appeal to me much but thats a choice ,a mod ,an upgrade,Expensive guitars usually  come with a good set up .I think a lot of makes from Asia that are owned by US companies deliberately dont .I quote Fender /Squier and Gibson /Epiphone.Both  types have been  playable but not set up well  ,with the exception of a Squier Joe Trohmann which played like a dream out of the box.The Epiphone played as swell as my Midtown but needed a fret level and lots of other upgrades first .
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5731
    edited July 8
    Here's my experience:
    After buying USA strats, LPs and 335s,
    my main guitars are now not Fenders or Gibsons, they are Anderson and Suhr S and T shapes, and PRS solid and hollowbodies (and a Ibanez signature hollowbody)
    I have bought Fender pawnshop and blacktop guitars over the last few years. The Blacktop had such a serious defect I got a partial refund from Fender, the USA pawnshop was OK, the Japanese pawnshop was (and still is) great
    I personally rate Fender as not close to Anderson and Suhr, and Gibson miles behind PRS

    If you don't like the bling, start with the plainer Anderson and Suhr guitars, plenty turn up used over 6-12 months
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5731
    Greatape said:
    I have played a lot of expensive guitars - mostly Suhrs, PRS and Fender CS - and certainly, I've lusted after these unobtainable items. However, recently I borrowed a Mexican strat that had received a lot of tlc and a set of Alegree pickups. That guitar seriously closes the gap between it and higher priced guitars. 
    The other massive improvement you can make is replace the neck with a Warmoth or even better a UK-made one of the same quality or better.
    I bought an indonesian made guitar, and replaced the pickups and added a Warmoth neck, it was my main instrument for more than 2 years, leaving my expensive ones to get dusty. Trouble is, you will have normally paid a lot by the time you add pickups and a neck unless you are patient and wait for used ones
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  • Musicman20Musicman20 Frets: 795
    Musicman are a superb manufacturer. They don't get mentioned that often but 2-2.3k will buy you a seriously impressive instrument. 
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  • stonevibestonevibe Frets: 3532
    Only thing I'm not so keen on is the fret wire used on a lot of PRS SE, Epiphone and Squier models. 

    To me it often feels smaller than the stuff on PRS Core, Gibson and Fender.

    That and Metric hardware...


    How much does it weigh? & Does it play like butter?

    You can now read my insane guitar ramblings daily here http://www.gearnews.com

    https://www.instagram.com/jefstone/
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