On the modern electric guitar

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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: On the modern electric guitar

Post by D.A. Ridgely » 05 Jul 2017, 19:49

I know the topic here is electric guitars, but there were several reasonably priced ($100 or so) acoustic guitars from Japan as early as the 60s, including my first guitar, a Red Label FG-160. It's a tad smaller and lighter than my Martin and still sounds great after all these years.

Having never aspired to join a rock band, I've never been seriously interested in electric guitars, the fact that I own an early 90s American Strat, aside. As a result, I never bothered to learn anything about sound effect pedals and such, without which the Strat sounds, well, flat and uninteresting.

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Highway
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Re: On the modern electric guitar

Post by Highway » 05 Jul 2017, 20:31

The issue with the older guitars (70s, 80s, and 90s) that were cheap from Asia (or Mexico) was that the quality was tremendously inconsistent. They were knockoffs of other brands (see Ibanez) and made to look like other guitars, not from any specifications or selection of wood. There had to be some that sounded decent, but mostly they were just bad (like my Harmony guitar that actually had the nut in the wrong place, making it impossible to tune to open strings).

But in the 2000s, Fender, Gibson, and Yamaha primarily got their knock off budget guitars into shape, so getting a Squier or an Epiphone became "A cheaper guitar that sounds good and plays well, if not as well as a Fender or Gibson branded one." That is what I think is a source of the revenue loss. But that doesn't really explain the loss in total sales. That's a demographic thing, as JD said.
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Warren
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Re: On the modern electric guitar

Post by Warren » 05 Jul 2017, 23:18

Highway wrote:The issue with the older guitars (70s, 80s, and 90s)...
Just stop right there sonny. Now turn around and get your clodbusters out of my petunias.
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JD
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Re: On the modern electric guitar

Post by JD » 06 Jul 2017, 12:49

Highway wrote:The issue with the older guitars (70s, 80s, and 90s) that were cheap from Asia (or Mexico) was that the quality was tremendously inconsistent. They were knockoffs of other brands (see Ibanez) and made to look like other guitars, not from any specifications or selection of wood. There had to be some that sounded decent, but mostly they were just bad (like my Harmony guitar that actually had the nut in the wrong place, making it impossible to tune to open strings).

But in the 2000s, Fender, Gibson, and Yamaha primarily got their knock off budget guitars into shape, so getting a Squier or an Epiphone became "A cheaper guitar that sounds good and plays well, if not as well as a Fender or Gibson branded one." That is what I think is a source of the revenue loss. But that doesn't really explain the loss in total sales. That's a demographic thing, as JD said.
Yeah, I shouldn't say that there was no such thing as a good East Asian guitar - there were always a few - but now there are so many. As Highway says, Squier and Epiphone are now quite good; in fact, a lot of people think that Squier and Epiphone's higher-end instruments are stealing a lot of business from Fender and Gibson's low end. For example, you can get a Squier Deluxe that's pretty much equivalent quality to Fender's low-end stuff, but it's a couple hundred cheaper and has some features the Fender doesn't. And there are plenty of people out there singing the praises of the Squier Bullet, the absolute cheapest thing that Squier makes! And it's not just the big names, but there are plenty of others like Agile, Xaviere, and Jay Turser, that are making really inexpensive instruments.

It probably doesn't hurt that the market for parts is huge now. There was a time when swapping out parts was strictly for the very adventurous, assuming you could even find parts, but now it's routine. I think that's made people much more comfortable with buying a cheap guitar and then modding it rather than discarding it, or with buying a used one even if it's not 100% what they want.

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