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Thread: Is expensive always better?

  1. #1
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    Default Is expensive always better?

    Today I visited a guitar shop and spent an hour with a Taylor PS14ce. At nearly £8k (Stirling) it was certainly a nicely built and good looking guitar, but to be honest, for ME, it neither played or sounded any better than my £350 Freshman Apollo - in fact, I found the action up at the dusty end to be quite off-puttingly high!

    I suppose someone who could REALLY play - as opposed to MY humble efforts - may appreciate the difference, but I certainly couldn't. I am very happy with my Freshman and, apart from just the pleasure of being able to say I owned the Taylor, it certainly didn't justify the £7.5k price difference.

    Have others found this or is it just me with my limited knowledge/experience/ability not being able to appreciate the subtleties?
    Luv n stuff, Dave

    * GUITARS
    Freshman Apollo 6 string electro acoustic
    50yr old EKO 12 string jumbo
    American Fender Stratocaster deluxe
    American Gibson SG Special
    Squier Telecaster Custom II with P90ís
    Ibanez GSR200 BASS

    * UKES
    Ozark 2035 banjole
    Kmise tenor banjole
    Cordoba 22T-CE Tenor
    Kala KA-CE electro acoustic

    * OTHERS
    Kawai KM-10 Grand piano & Technics KN-2000 keyboard

  2. #2
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    The action is not an inherent issue, it can be easily adjusted with a proper setup, but I do agree that lower cost instruments can be very good. I've told this story many times; when I first started playing ukulele five years ago, I went through 16 ukes in the first year, having fun buying different styles and woods, but towards the end of the year I bought a $370 Kala cedar top that was so good, I culled down my collection to 4 of my best sounding most comfortable. At the time I actually did a side-by-side comparison with two $1200 K brand ukes and found the Kala was at least 90% as good, if not more. It became my go to gig uke.


    8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 9 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

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  3. #3
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    I think it boils down to personal taste in tone and if looks or bling is important to you. I have played some $5000 guitars that were worth the price from a tone point of view and others that were not, someone might like the one I didn't. But if I play an entry level Martin dreadnaught with spruce top and laminate back and sides then I play a Martin D18 the difference is huge.

    I will get a bit personal and discuss instruments that are expensive......at the risk of sounding like I am bragging, which I am not. I have guitars ranging in price from $500 to $3000 and the quality of sound does improve with price. My Taylor 512e 12 fret cedar mahogany sounds the best out of everything I own, its the most expensive. But the $500 Taylor GS mini sounds great and I am happy playing that when it is in my hand. But if I then grab the Taylor 512 the difference is obvious

    My ukulele collection is the same, my best sounding ukes are the most expensive but it is not propotional in price. The $3600 LfdM does not sound 3 times better than the $1200 Kimo. Here is the rub and most people don't get this unless they have owned multiple good sounding instruments. The difference between very good and excellent is about 10% same from excellent to great and great to amazing. I little bit more sustain or projection or clarity makes the difference between good and amazing. Just my personal thoughts from experiences with a house full and ukuleles and guitars.
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 09-29-2018 at 07:00 AM.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the input Mike. You obviously subscribe to the 'If it suits you and you like the sound of it, go with it!' train of thought then? I think I'm beginning to...
    Luv n stuff, Dave

    * GUITARS
    Freshman Apollo 6 string electro acoustic
    50yr old EKO 12 string jumbo
    American Fender Stratocaster deluxe
    American Gibson SG Special
    Squier Telecaster Custom II with P90ís
    Ibanez GSR200 BASS

    * UKES
    Ozark 2035 banjole
    Kmise tenor banjole
    Cordoba 22T-CE Tenor
    Kala KA-CE electro acoustic

    * OTHERS
    Kawai KM-10 Grand piano & Technics KN-2000 keyboard

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownUpDave View Post
    I think it boils down to personal taste in tone and if looks or bling is important to you. I have played some $5000 guitars that were worth the price from a tone point of view and others that were not, someone might like the one I didn't. But if I play an entry level Martin dreadnaught with spruce top and laminate back and sides then I play a Martin D18 the difference is huge.

    I will get a bit personal and discuss instruments that are expensive......at the risk of sounding like I am bragging, which I am not. I have guitars ranging in price from $500 to $3000 and the quality of sound does improve with price. My Taylor 512e 12 fret cedar mahogany sounds the best out of everything I own, its the most expensive. But the $500 Taylor GS mini sounds great and I am happy playing that when it is in my hand. But if I then grab the Taylor 512 the difference is obvious

    My ukulele collection is the same, my best sounding ukes are the most expensive but it is not propotional in price. The $3600 LfdM does not sound 3 times better than the $1200 Kimo. Here is the rub and most people don't get this unless they have owned multiple good sounding instruments. The difference between very good and excellent is about 10% same from excellent to great and great to amazing. I little bit more sustain or projection or clarity makes the difference between good and amazing. Just my personal thoughts from experiences with a house full and ukuleles and guitars.
    Thanks Dave. I DO see where you're coming from. I think the weak part of the equation is my ability and experience (or more accurately, my LACK of both). For ME, I can't notice a considerable difference, but so many far better players than I use expensive guitars like Taylors, Martins, and the like, that they must offer benefits I can't currently appreciate.
    Maybe one day...sigh! lol x
    Luv n stuff, Dave

    * GUITARS
    Freshman Apollo 6 string electro acoustic
    50yr old EKO 12 string jumbo
    American Fender Stratocaster deluxe
    American Gibson SG Special
    Squier Telecaster Custom II with P90ís
    Ibanez GSR200 BASS

    * UKES
    Ozark 2035 banjole
    Kmise tenor banjole
    Cordoba 22T-CE Tenor
    Kala KA-CE electro acoustic

    * OTHERS
    Kawai KM-10 Grand piano & Technics KN-2000 keyboard

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by S11LKO View Post
    Thanks Dave. I DO see where you're coming from. I think the weak part of the equation is my ability and experience (or more accurately, my LACK of both). For ME, I can't notice a considerable difference, but so many far better players than I use expensive guitars like Taylors, Martins, and the like, that they must offer benefits I can't currently appreciate.
    Maybe one day...sigh! lol x
    I have heard you play and sing and you are much better than me. This is all a fun debate but at the end of the day as long as we make music we enjoy the cost of the instrument doesnt matter one bit. The old cheap depression era guitars made some great music and still do. You have the right formula.......love what you have and love making music with it.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  7. #7
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    I think after a certain price point, gains become so small compared to the rising cost, that I stick with what sounds good to me, too.

    My best & most expensive uke is what some call an intermediate uke, but I won't be looking for anything else.

    And, whilst slightly off topic, I'm having great fun with some (tin) whistles, & they only cost from £5.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2017
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    Honolulu, HI
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    In the late 70's my friends & I bought cheap acoustic guitars, like Carlos, Suzuki & Terada. Next, they upgraded to Yamahas which sounded noticeably better. As they improved, over the years, most ended up with Martins & Taylors. Around that time, I tried their Yamahas & Martins. Noticed that it took more effort to play the Martins if you wanted to get good sound from them. In my case, the older Yamahas sounded better when I played them.

    One of my friends added several custom made guitars including a James Taylor model Olson & a nylon string McGill. These are absolutely beautiful guitars which sound great, even when I play them. My friend is a much better guitar player than me - I'd never consider getting one of these instruments (plus I couldn't afford 'em).

    I guess you should stick to whatever sounds good & makes you happy.
    Last edited by ampeep; 09-29-2018 at 11:22 AM.

  9. #9
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    I have heard you play and sing and you are much better than me.

    Thanks guys for all your responses which I read with great interest.

    Also Dave, thank you for your above comment which I doubt is true but I love you for saying it. lol
    Last edited by S11LKO; 09-29-2018 at 02:08 PM.
    Luv n stuff, Dave

    * GUITARS
    Freshman Apollo 6 string electro acoustic
    50yr old EKO 12 string jumbo
    American Fender Stratocaster deluxe
    American Gibson SG Special
    Squier Telecaster Custom II with P90ís
    Ibanez GSR200 BASS

    * UKES
    Ozark 2035 banjole
    Kmise tenor banjole
    Cordoba 22T-CE Tenor
    Kala KA-CE electro acoustic

    * OTHERS
    Kawai KM-10 Grand piano & Technics KN-2000 keyboard

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Blaine, Washington
    Posts
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    For me, it's all about the shape and feel of the neck. I like a thin, fast, low action neck. Cost is secondary... to a point. I've been playing guitar for 61 years and ukes for close to 7. With the commercial instruments, there was always some nuance that was missing. Therefore, I buy mostly customs now because I can order exactly how I want it. I do have a Dolphin and a cheap Mainland that sounds really nice. I play them regularly.

    String choice makes a big difference also. It's been a bear finding a replacement for Dirk's strings but finally think I've found a combination that works for me. Nylon strings seem harder to find a great set vs. steel strings are all closely sound the same.

    Lately I've been playing with a flat pick again. Just found out there is a subculture on custom picks. I just received a few of Bill Stokes (Showcase) flat picks. They aren't cheap but really make a difference compared to the cheaper Dunlop that are available in stores. A Wegen flat pick sells for thirty-five dollars. Capos are another sub culture. Big difference in regular sold ones and custom ones though they both do the same function.

    I care less about how cheap an instrument is over how it plays in my hands; not some one else's'.

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