Why Are Good Guitars So Expensive? The Truth About Quality & Cost

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 22, 2023

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You know the saying “you get what you pay for”? It’s especially true when it comes to guitars.

You can get a pretty decent guitar for around $200, but if you want to get a real instrument that will last a lifetime and make you sound great, you’ll have to spend at least $1000.

The main reason is that expensive guitars are made of better materials and have a better build quality. In this article, I’ll explain why expensive guitars are worth the money and what to look for when buying one.

Why are good guitars so expensive

The Real Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Guitars

When it comes to guitars, you get what you pay for. Cheaper guitars are usually made with lower quality materials, such as laminated wood instead of solid wood. Expensive guitars, on the other hand, are made with high-quality materials that not only sound better but also last longer. The wood used in expensive guitars is carefully selected and aged to produce the best sound possible.

Construction and Setup

Expensive guitars are built with more attention to detail and care. The process of building an expensive guitar takes longer and involves more steps than building a cheaper guitar. Expensive guitars are also set up by professionals to ensure that they play perfectly. Cheaper guitars usually come straight from the factory and may require some adjustments to play well.

Components and Parts

Expensive guitars come with higher quality components and parts. For example, expensive electric guitars usually have pickups that are designed specifically for that guitar, while cheaper guitars may have generic pickups. Expensive guitars also have better hardware, such as tuners and bridges, that are designed to improve the guitar’s playability and sound.

Custom Shop and Limited Edition Models

Expensive guitars often come in custom shop or limited edition models. These guitars are produced in smaller quantities and are designed to be the best of the best. They often feature unique designs, high-quality materials, and special features that are not found on cheaper guitars.

Famous Brands and Masters of the Craft

Expensive guitars are often produced by famous brands and masters of the craft. These companies have years of experience in building guitars and have a reputation to uphold. They have the ability to control every aspect of the guitar-making process, from selecting the wood to the final setup. Cheaper guitars are usually produced by big companies in countries where labor is cheaper.

Is It Worth It?

Ultimately, whether an expensive guitar is worth the price depends on the individual. Some guitarists prefer the feel and sound of expensive guitars, while others are perfectly happy with a cheaper guitar. If you’re looking for a guitar that will serve you well for years to come, it’s definitely worth investing in a higher-end model. However, if you’re just starting out or don’t have a lot of money to spend, a cheaper guitar can still be a great option. Just make sure to check the frets, playability, and sound carefully before making your purchase.

In the end, it all comes down to what you’re willing to spend and what you’re looking for in a guitar. Whether you’re dreaming of a custom-built Les Paul or a nice acoustic with an ebony fretboard, there’s a guitar out there for you at every price point. So let your mind wander and find the guitar of your dreams, whether it’s a cheaper model or an expensive tier.

Why Labor Costs and Construction Play a Key Role in the Price of Good Guitars

When it comes to producing high-quality guitars, labor costs are a significant factor that cannot be overlooked. The process of constructing a guitar is a labor-intensive one, with each instrument taking many hours to produce. The more time and effort that goes into making a guitar, the higher the price point will be.

Here are some examples of how labor costs affect the price of guitars:

  • Electric guitars require more labor to produce than acoustic guitars due to the added components and wiring.
  • Japanese-made guitars are often more expensive due to the higher labor costs in Japan compared to other countries.
  • Handmade guitars are more expensive than factory-produced guitars due to the extra time and attention to detail required in the construction process.

Construction: The Choice of Materials and Attention to Detail

The construction of a guitar is a complex process that involves many different parts and components. The choice of materials and attention to detail during construction can greatly affect the quality and price of the final product.

Here are some key factors to consider when it comes to guitar construction:

  • The neck and frets are crucial components that affect the playability and tuning of the guitar. A well-constructed neck and properly installed frets can make a guitar much more comfortable to play and easier to tune.
  • The bridge and string tension also play a significant role in the tone and playability of the guitar. A carefully constructed bridge and proper string tension can greatly improve the sound and feel of the instrument.
  • Natural changes in wood can cause the guitar to go out of tune or even break over time. A good guitar construction process takes these factors into account and uses high-quality materials to minimize these risks.
  • Regular setups and maintenance by a professional can also greatly affect the playability and enjoyment of the guitar. A decent guitar can become a great guitar with the right care and attention.

The Power of Branding in the Guitar Industry

When it comes to guitars, the brand can significantly influence the price. Established brands like Gibson and Fender have set a standard for high-quality guitars, and players are willing to pay extra for the assurance of a great instrument. These brands have been around for a long time and have a sizeable influence in the industry, which means that their guitars come with a higher cost.

The Influence of Brand on Materials and Parts

One of the aspects that make branded guitars more expensive is the quality of materials and parts used. Branded guitars generally use higher-quality wood and hardware, which means that the cost of production is higher. However, it’s not just the quality of the materials that make branded guitars more expensive. The branding of the guitar also means that extra pieces are readily available, and the skill required to manufacture them is equally high.

The Cost of Manufacturing in Different Locations

The location of the factories where the guitars are manufactured is also a factor in the cost. For example, guitars manufactured in the United States or Canada generally come with a higher price tag than those manufactured in Mexico or East Asia. This is not to say that guitars manufactured in these locations are inferior or inexpensive. It simply means that the cost of manufacturing in North American locations is higher due to factors like labor costs and regulations.

The Power of Established Brands

The power of established brands in the guitar industry cannot be overstated. These brands have a long history of producing high-quality instruments, and players are willing to pay extra for the assurance of a great guitar. The branding of a guitar can also influence its resale value, making it a worthwhile investment for serious players.

Why Quality of Materials is a Major Factor in the Price of Guitars

When it comes to guitars, the materials used in their construction can make a significant difference in the sound and overall quality of the instrument. High-end guitars are made with superior materials that allow for better sound and playability. Here are some reasons why the quality of materials is so important:

  • The type of wood used for the body, neck, and fretboard can affect the tone and sustain of the guitar. For example, mahogany is known for its warm, rich tone, while maple provides a brighter sound.
  • The tension and thickness of the strings can also affect the sound and playability of the guitar. High-quality strings are carefully produced to ensure consistent tension and tone.
  • The pickups and wiring used in electric guitars can directly affect the output and sound of the guitar. High-end guitars often come equipped with certain types of pickups, like humbuckers or single coils, that are known for their superior sound.
  • The bridge, tremolo, and other parts of the guitar can affect the tuning stability and overall playability of the instrument. High-quality parts are carefully designed and produced to ensure proper tuning and playability.

The Role of Craftsmanship

In addition to the quality of materials used, the craftsmanship that goes into making a guitar can also affect its price. Here are some factors to consider:

  • The level of skill and experience of the guitar maker can affect the overall quality of the instrument. A master luthier who has spent years perfecting their craft will likely produce a higher-quality guitar than an entry-level builder.
  • The design and construction of the guitar can also affect its price. For example, guitars with a set neck or a neck-through design are generally more expensive than those with a bolt-on neck.
  • The attention to detail in the construction process can also affect the price of the guitar. High-end guitars are often produced in small batches, with each piece carefully crafted and inspected for quality.

The Impact of Market Forces

Finally, it’s worth noting that the price of guitars is also influenced by market forces. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Guitars are a niche market product, meaning that there is not a lot of competition and prices can be high.
  • The cost of research and development for new guitar models can also drive up the price of guitars.
  • The cost of production can be higher for guitars that are produced in certain parts of the world, due to factors like labor costs and local regulations.

Tonewoods: The Reason Why Good Guitars Are Expensive

When it comes to building a guitar, the type of wood used can significantly affect the sound quality of the instrument. This is why high-end guitar companies carefully choose the tonewoods they use in their production. However, these woods are not cheap, and the price of the guitar will reflect this.

  • Cheaper woods generally sound thinner and don’t have the same depth of tone as heavier, more expensive wood.
  • Tonewood quality refers to the quality and type of wood used in building a guitar.
  • Highly experienced craftsmen typically use fine tonewoods to create dynamic, warmer, and more balanced sounds.
  • The type of wood used can affect the sound of the guitar significantly.
  • For example, rosewood is a popular tonewood used in acoustic guitars because it produces a warmer, bigger sound.
  • Incredibly rare and highly sought-after tonewoods, such as Brazilian rosewood, can significantly increase the price of a guitar.

Why Tonewoods Are Important

The type of wood used in a guitar is not just a matter of preference; it can also influence the instrument’s sound and playability. Here are some reasons why tonewoods are important:

  • The type of wood used affects the guitar’s resonance, sustain, and overall tone.
  • The density of the wood affects the guitar’s volume and sustain.
  • The quality of the wood affects the guitar’s durability and longevity.
  • The way the wood is cut and treated can affect the guitar’s sound and playability.
  • Keeping the wood stable and dry is crucial to maintaining the guitar’s tone and preventing damage.

How Tonewoods Affect the Price of Guitars

The quality of the tonewood used in a guitar is one of the main factors that determine its price. Here are some reasons why tonewoods affect the price of guitars:

  • Higher quality tonewoods are more expensive to produce and harder to come by, meaning they cost more money.
  • Highly sought-after tonewoods, such as Brazilian rosewood, are rare and difficult to find, making them even more expensive.
  • Super brands and companies have a reputation to maintain, and using high-quality tonewoods is one way to do that.
  • The process of building a guitar with high-quality tonewoods takes more time, energy, and skill, which means the price of the product will increase.
  • The tonewood used in a guitar is one of the most significant factors that affect the sound quality of the instrument, and guitarists who want the best sound will be willing to pay more for it.

Why Building a Good Guitar is No Easy Task

Building a guitar is not a simple process. It involves a lot of hard work, skills, and attention to detail. Every piece of the guitar needs to be carefully crafted to ensure that it meets the required standards. The body, neck, bridge, and pickups all need to be built to certain specifications to ensure that the guitar sounds good and plays well.

The Rarity of Certain Models

Some guitar models are rare, and this rarity can significantly increase their value. Vintage guitars, for example, are highly sought after by guitarists and collectors alike. These guitars are usually very expensive, and their value can increase over time.

The Time and Energy Spent on Building a Guitar

Building a good guitar takes a lot of time and energy. Every detail needs to be carefully considered and executed. The craftsman needs to spend a lot of time and energy on each guitar to ensure that it meets the required standards.

The Difficulty of Building Electric Guitars

Building electric guitars is more difficult than building acoustic guitars. Electric guitars have more parts, including pickups, tremolo systems, and pole pieces. These parts need to be carefully installed and wired to ensure that the guitar sounds good.

The Value of a Good Guitar

A good guitar is worth the money. It is a product of significant research, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. A good guitar can last for generations and is a valuable instrument for any guitarist. It is important to remember that the price of a guitar is not just about the materials used but also about the time and energy spent on building it.

Why High-Quality Guitars Are Not Outsourced

The reputation of a guitar brand is also a significant factor in why high-quality guitars are not outsourced. The best guitar brands in the world have spent years creating their reputation, and they have built a loyal following of guitarists who trust their products. These brands have a reputation for creating guitars that sound and feel better than other guitars on the market. They have a reputation for using high-quality materials, such as solid wood and high-end strings, in the construction of their guitars.

The Differences in Construction

The construction of high-quality guitars is significantly different from the construction of affordable guitars marketed towards beginners. The level of detail and the amount of time and effort put into the production of a high-quality guitar is simply not possible with cheaper guitars. The body, frets, inlay, and sides of a high-quality guitar are all carefully crafted to create a product that is not only beautiful but also sounds incredible. The action and playability of a high-quality guitar are also typically better than that of an affordable guitar.

The Sound and Feel

The sound and feel of a high-quality guitar are also significant factors in why they are not outsourced. The sound of a high-quality guitar is simply better than that of an affordable guitar. The differences in the materials used, the craftsmanship, and the construction all add up to create a guitar that sounds better. The feel of a high-quality guitar is also better than that of an affordable guitar. The action, frets, and other features of a high-quality guitar are all designed to make playing the guitar easier and more enjoyable.

Why High-End Guitars Are Worth the Investment

When it comes to high-end guitars, the old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true. These instruments are built to last, with the highest quality materials and expert craftsmanship. The production process is marked by attention to detail, with craftsmen taking the time needed to create a truly fine product.

  • High-end guitars are made with solid wood, which is more expensive but produces a better sound.
  • The sides, fretboard, and inlay are all made with advanced techniques, resulting in a unique and highly valued instrument.
  • The body of the guitar is carefully crafted to create the perfect sound, with attention paid to every detail.
  • The strings and action are set up to the highest possible standard, making it easy to play at a professional level.

The Value of Investing in a High-End Guitar

While it’s true that high-end guitars can cost thousands of dollars, the investment is well worth it for serious guitarists.

  • A high-end guitar will last for generations, making it a true family heirloom.
  • The sound quality is significantly greater than that of an affordable instrument, making it a joy to play.
  • High-end guitars are highly sought after and can be resold for a significant profit.
  • Vintage high-end guitars are extremely rare and can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.


So, there you have it- why are good guitars so expensive? It’s because of the materials, construction, and labor involved in making a guitar, plus the brand name and reputation. It’s not just a guitar, it’s an investment, and one that you can enjoy for years to come. So don’t be afraid to spend a little more for a guitar you love.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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