Welcome to this months edition of Fingerstyle Monthly.
This month we'll be looking at cheap guitars and their importance to guitarists.
Most players begin their playing careers on a cheap guitar. In the past, some brands were considered to be "good" guitars. Then there were other brands that were thought of as "cheap" or low end. Now, it's not quite as clearcut.
Nowadays, "boutique" guitar builders are having instruments built in countries where production costs are low. They'll do the setup and inspection in the U.S.
By doing this, they're able to sell their "brand name" to players at a lower costs.
But the reverse is also true. Companies that were thought of as making cheap guitars, are making some great playing and sounding instruments.
How is this happening? In my opinion, a lot of it is due to the use of machines. Specifially CNC machines.
Take guitar necks, for example. In the past, necks were all shaped by hand. In less expensive guitars, necks were rough, uneven and varied in their dimensions.
Time is money. The low cost guitar didn't get much time and attention. The more expensive the instrument, the more time and attention to detail went into it.
On modern guitars, the necks on two inexpensive guitars of the same model, will feel very much alike. That's because, in most cases, CNC machines are used to cut out the necks. These machines can be adjusted by the thousanth of an inch.
This means that today's low-end guitars will be very consistent in feel. This process is used all through the instruments construction.
You'l find precision cut bridges, braces and other components. This makes it easier to buy a good playing guitar now than it was in years past.
Differences between cheap and more high end guitars will be things like types of woods, hardware and fit and finish.
But even cheap acoustic guitars have quality control standards that must be met. That, in combination with modern manufacturing methods is good for the shopper.
It means that you can get a good player at a good price.
Why Buy Cheap
Many beginning players are young people. Young people often don't have the extra money to buy an expensive guitar.
So the availability of an inexpensive guitar is a real benefit for them.
A cheap guitar is good for more experienced players, too. It gives them a good playing guitar for places where they don't want to take an expensive guitar (camping, the beach, etc...).
If you are a beginning player, the guitar buying process can be a little scary. Who you deal with is very important.