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What's Too Cheap?

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I've been learning for the past couple of month on how to play guitar on a friends guitar and I'm ready now to purchase my own! What's a good price point to consider? I want something that'll last me and that will sound good when I play it but I'm not looking to perform professionally or anything ūüôā Would $400 be good or is that too high/low?

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There's no such things as too cheap or too expensive. It's all about what feels and plays good to you. A well set up cheap second hand guitar often can be much better than a sloppily built expensive one. The only way to find out is to play them, trying to find out if the basics are right so you can fine adjust it to be perfect. You know, intonation, string height, fret ends... It's been said that the quality of the cheap pots may not last forever but they aren't expensive and swapping them is quite easy if ever needed.

About 25 years ago I bought a second hand Applause Strat copy for 50 marks, I guess at that time it would have been about $/‚ā¨/¬£ 10! It was black without any major dents in the paint, green tarnished frets on a rosewood fretboard. I even got a set of new strings on the house! I cleaned the frets and the entire guitar with a rag and restringed it and it still looks almost like new. And it's nice and easy to play. I've since changed the pickups, most likely in vain.

For comparison, a friend bought a silver Gibson Les Paul. The frets stick out on both sides of the neck because the fretboard had visibly shrunk by width! For ‚ā¨ 1500 you'd expect better.

So take your time, try as many as you can and pay only for what's worth your money.

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answer is: "mike v"?

fortunately for you you are in the 'golden age' of cheap guitars.  $400 can get you something great.  I would advise that you consider buying off of craigslist as if you end up selling it later you'll recoup more of your money.  perhaps a used epiphone or fender.  If buying new... the fender vintage modern series holds value well and is under $400.  good luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In that price range there are a lot of good options. For an all around guitar it's hard to beat these for a beginner. I've bought a couple of them and they aren't bad.


Also, these are pretty comfy and versatile 


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Hi, @RacheRach and welcome!

I'm assuming that you maybe talking acoustic based on posting in the acoustic & hollowbody section?

There are a number of Yamaha models at and below that price level and, to be honest, they are ALL playable and punch way, way over their weight.  

If you are in lockdown, then you may have problems doing what is generally seen as essential with buying acoustics - that is, finding a well stocked supplier and trying them.  But I would personally be confident in buying a Yamaha untried - and I make acoustics!  Within the Yamaha range, then the general rule is that the larger the body style, then the fuller the sound will be.  Likewise, the more expensive the model, then the better will be the sound and the looks.  But the entry level 310 starts off with a perfectly good sound and playability.

So, for what it's worth, my recommendation is: if you are able to visit a shop, then do so - there are lots of good makes at that price range, but do try them out rather than just go by looks - and if you are in lockdown and have to buy untried, get a Yamaha.

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One thing about second hand acoustic guitars: Guitars tire during time, losing their tone. That's why a performing professional guitar player often has one guitar for performing and another for breaking in. However, as you can tell by looking at the violins made hundreds of years ago, some instruments keep improving. And no matter what a retired guitar from a pro most likely is way better than any new guitar of the same price.

Beaten up guitars like Willie Nelson's Trigger don't fall into that category, though.

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