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Unread 06-17-2014, 07:47 PM   #1
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guitar snobbery

So now that I've played nearly four years and have played hundreds of models I can't help but wonder why the snobbery is so evident in the world of guitars.

Let me preface this with two things: 1) I am biased to and loyal to Yamaha for many things including musical instruments, sound equipment and motorcycles 2) I mean no disrespect to any big name brand companies or owners of their products

So my rant involves the quick response of many guitarists that the electric to own is a Les Paul and the acoustic to own is a D28 or any Taylor.

I have played dozens of guitars that sound way better for a fraction of the cost. And no, they are not all Yamahas. Lol. Also, even within the big name company, some of the low end guitars sound better than the high end models.

In closing, why the snobbery and dismissal of lesser known instruments in lieu of a make and model that everyone knows which doesn't necessarily sound the best?

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Unread 06-17-2014, 07:52 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by mathminnick31 View Post
So now that I've played nearly four years and have played hundreds of models I can't help but wonder why the snobbery is so evident in the world of guitars.

Let me preface this with two things: 1) I am biased to and loyal to Yamaha for many things including musical instruments, sound equipment and motorcycles 2) I mean no disrespect to any big name brand companies or owners of their products

So my rant involves the quick response of many guitarists that the electric to own is a Les Paul and the acoustic to own is a D28 or any Taylor.

I have played dozens of guitars that sound way better for a fraction of the cost. And no, they are not all Yamahas. Lol. Also, even within the big name company, some of the low end guitars sound better than the high end models.

In closing, why the snobbery and dismissal of lesser known instruments in lieu of a make and model that everyone knows which doesn't necessarily sound the best?
There are a lot of people who will agree with you on most everything but the Yamaha bit. I would never pay for a Les Paul. I think the most expensive guitar I own is the one I built, outside of that, I think my Artcore cost me 400 and I can't imagine the Toronado was much more new.

I have a Chinese Fender Marauder, it's pretty amazing.

That being said, there are certainly BAD cheap guitars. Rondo, OLP, Yamaha, First Act, Stagg (depending on the Stagg), the cheaper Epiphones... They get a reputation for a reason. But there are a lot of guitars that can be had under 500 new and much less than that used that are much more than playable guitars.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 06:59 AM   #3
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I own a Taylor (because someone bought it for me) and I love it. I think it is the best instrument I have ever owned.

However...I am currently contemplating buying a second acoustic and I'm looking at a $400 Epiphone because I love the way it plays. My current electric is a $300 Jackson. I really want an Ibanez I played last week and it is only about $400.

Like I said...I love my Taylor. It is the best guitar I've ever owned...but if I had to buy one myself...I wouldn't own one.

Not all of us who own high end instruments are snobs about it.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 09:24 AM   #4
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I'd also like to note that the Toronado is a Mahogany body, dual SD humbucker (with basically PAF clones but hotter), maple neck... It sounds a LOT like a Les Paul. Do I think it sounds better? Probably not. Les Pauls may be a bit overpriced, but you DO get a high quality instrument. I think the claim that you can find "better" for a "fraction of the cost" is pretty bold. You can get "close to" at a "very reasonable price" at least in sound. In playability? Hard to get that from a sub 500 dollar (new) instrument.


I say that, and I'm a very anti-Gibson guy.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 10:01 AM   #5
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I play in bluegrass circles. The perceived snobbery is mostly about players expecting folks to have a proper instrument. I've seen some real dog guitars over the years and when one shows up in your jam session it's like a skunk coming to the camp fire. If your non-name brand guitar is really as good as you think it is, it will be readily accepted. But if you come around with a guitar that won't stay in tune and sounds thin then expect to hear about it.

It's not about having to spend a certain amount to be taken seriously. It's about having decent tools for the job.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 11:34 AM   #6
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When you say you've played "hundreds", what does that mean? Five minutes in a shop?

You also say you've played four years. Is it possible you just haven't developed a feel for the nuances yet? I feel like I'm at a point in my playing where I've come to realize that I just know what I like, but I don't trust my hands to be able to discern the nuances of a high end instrument beyond that.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 12:28 PM   #7
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I play a Les Paul Custom. It plays far better than most guitars I have played. After having built a couple dozen guitars and such I have far more appreciation for my higher end guitars in that I can feel the subtle nuances that are superior about them.

I would also say that how they sound is not the most important part to me. I can compensate a great deal with my amp for how a guitar sounds. I can do pickup swaps to fine tune an instrument. How it plays is the number one factor for me.

It isn't always about the cost. My Peavey Generation plays better than most guitars I have played. I paid $200 for it. MIA, NOS. It is a fine guitar.

I dare say it has taken me years and playing some truly amazing instruments to "get" what makes an instrument better than the other.

I have played a lot of tricked out epiphones and such that with their upgrades cost far more than a Gibson and didn't play as nice. Personally I see a lot of anti-nice guitar snobbery, where relatively new guitarists think that by tricking out a squier or an epi they can have a better guitar than a MIA Fender or Gibson. Usually, that is very wrong.

I can build a pretty darn nice tele. I can make a pretty cool custom guitar. But I can't match a couple of my Gibsons yet. One of them is a high end model, one is a relatively despised model.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 04:19 PM   #8
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If you think Martin/Taylor snobbery is bad, visit certain acoustic guitar message boards where impressive is only for custom guitars built with Ziricote, Pau Ferro, Sinker Mahagony,or pernambuco back and sides . Oh, and you can't forget the Ancient Kauri top!

Anyway, I understand what you're saying. However, in my experience with (mostly) acoustic guitars, you typically get what you pay for. Equally annoying to guitar snobbery is the player with the $300 Indonesian built guitar boasting that it sounds "just like" a Bourgeois Vintage D for a fraction of the price . Yeah, I mean it might be a great guitar and sound 90% like a Vintage D. But players are willing to pay thousands for that extra ten percent.

There are other factors than just sound, too. Neck feel, plugged in sound, action, style of play, weight, even looks are important to many players. I had a really nice Made in Japan Penco guitar that looked and sounded a lot like a Martin D-28. It wasn't even fun to play because I could never get it to stay in tune for more than a couple of strums. Even though it sounded good, I would have gladly paid a lot of money for the real thing (and I did).
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Unread 06-18-2014, 05:29 PM   #9
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Maybe I haven't been playing long enough to appreciate playability or maybe I take for granted that all my guitars are setup nearly the same and all hold tune well and to me play fine. But regardless of playability, sound ranks toward the top of my desired qualities in the guitars I'll buy, own and play.

I appreciate all the comments and insight so far.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 05:51 PM   #10
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Maybe I haven't been playing long enough to appreciate playability or maybe I take for granted that all my guitars are setup nearly the same and all hold tune well and to me play fine. But regardless of playability, sound ranks toward the top of my desired qualities in the guitars I'll buy, own and play.

I appreciate all the comments and insight so far.
There are guitars out there that play much smoother than others. For me, I can make a guitar sound how I want fairly easily. It is much easier IMO to get a guitar to sound great than play exceptionally.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 06:18 PM   #11
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There are guitars out there that play much smoother than others. For me, I can make a guitar sound how I want fairly easily. It is much easier IMO to get a guitar to sound great than play exceptionally.
I definitely feel this way about electric guitars, not so much with acoustics.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 07:05 PM   #12
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Another thing to remember is that playability is guitarist dependent. I personally prefer thicker strings and slightly higher action than a lot of people would. This means that for me, a lot of cheaper guitars can achieve "high playability" as easily as more expensive guitars.

People that want/need low action will require guitars with tighter tolerances in the neck.

I have a 1970's Ibanez that cost me less than 400 NZD second hand. I personally prefer it to all the american fenders and gibson les pauls I've had a chance to play on. That doesn't necessarily make it a better guitar overall, but it makes it a better guitar for me. I'm thankful that I can find guitars that work well for me at cheaper prices than premium guitars go for.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 07:13 PM   #13
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Oh and another thing - sometimes it's hard to pinpoint what we like about an instrument, but somehow there's a "wow" factor that encompasses how much you like an instrument. I tend to go on the wow factor more than a detailed analysis of features between guitars.

Curiously, after trying a sizeable number of different fenders at music shops, the classic vibe squiers have consistently given me a greater wow factor than any US Fenders. If I were looking for a new Fender, I'd take a classic vibe, even if price weren't part of the consideration.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 07:20 PM   #14
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I definitely feel this way about electric guitars, not so much with acoustics.
I very much agree. I was just thinking about electrics when I wrote that.

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I have a 1970's Ibanez that cost me less than 400 NZD second hand.
I have one, an MIJ Artist from the early 80s I think and it is about as fine a guitar as there is. Some of those MIJ Ibanez guitars are as good as anything out there.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 07:59 PM   #15
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Oh and another thing - sometimes it's hard to pinpoint what we like about an instrument, but somehow there's a "wow" factor that encompasses how much you like an instrument. I tend to go on the wow factor more than a detailed analysis of features between guitars.

Curiously, after trying a sizeable number of different fenders at music shops, the classic vibe squiers have consistently given me a greater wow factor than any US Fenders. If I were looking for a new Fender, I'd take a classic vibe, even if price weren't part of the consideration.
In the past I have owned decent Alvarez and Fender acoustics. I loved them. I loved the way played. However...they weren't the same as my Taylor. I don't even know if I can explain the difference...but it's there.

The $400 Epiphone I played last week played GREAT. I really liked the way it felt and sounded. If I had the money...I would buy it. BUT...it isn't my Taylor.

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