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Unread 12-17-2003, 01:11 AM   #61
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Do you agree?
In a word? No.

You make some excellent arguments, and well thought out at that! [Also, good to see you posting again.]

However, there are some flaws with your basic premises which sort of turns your argument on it's ear.

For instance . . .

Quote:
my wife used to have a 1987 Honda Prelude Si. It sold for $2000 used last year. Now, if I were to part it all out and sell the engine, seats, body panels, wheels, drivetrain, etc., all separately, I'd be able to get well over $5K or even $6K for it all. It doesn't mean that that Prelude was suddenly worth $6K, but rather what it'd sell for as a whole package. Take a mountain bike. I used to be the biggest mountain bike freak you've ever seen. I ate and breathed biking, pouring over magazines, reading specs on every part known to man, etc., and over time purchased a fancy aluminum frame, and each individual part based on it's performance, etc. (much like we all do with guitars now). All totaled up, everything came out to nearly $1500 (7 years ago). That doesn't mean that I had or have a $1500 mountain bike though. The equivalent in a store (brand new) would sell for closer to $1K. Used, I'd be lucky to get $600 for it. Now, that'd be closer to $300.
We are not talking about Mountain Bikes nor Hondas. We are talking about guitars. Everything you said in your post makes perfect sense in almost every single manufacturing industry except one. Yep, you guessed it. Guitars! Why?

Well, because there is a world of misinformation and romantic legend in the guitar world. It is a very imperfect market place indeed. And the overwhelming majority of it's buying public doesn't know what they are getting, nor how guitars are built. Nor do they know how to spot Machine-Made Guitars at Hand-Made Prices.

So, while in every other industry, the consumers expect the prices to commeasureately go down, as it get's cheaper to produce those goods, in the world of guitars, those prices stay artificially high, while, as you pointed out, they get the parts cheap.

Quote:
All that to say, that when Fender, Ibanez, Gibson, Guild, etc., build a guitar, they're getting a huge discount on parts. We're usually paying 75% to 100% more for individual parts than they are (if not more than that, even). Doing the math off of that, we could end up spending twice as much (give or take) by building the exact same guitar ourselves. They just buy in quantity which pushes down their cost, which then translates into a lesser expensive guitar for us than if we did it ourselves.
Sure, we are paying more for our parts, however, usually the parts that we are buying are of higher quality than the stock parts of most guitars. I never advocated that we get stock Fender or Gibby parts and then assemble our own guitar (apart from an interesting school project.). Rather, I advocate that we get parts that are miles ahead of what passes for stock over at Fender, Gibby, Iby, and Prissy.

So, we are building a far superior guitar than we could buy for the same amount of money, using higher quality parts, considering that while the manufacturer's are saving a bundle (ever heard of cost-cutting?), they are still charging us the Handmade list price.

Anyway, it should be noted that I never reckon the value of a guitar based on the sum of it's parts. And especially stock parts. Not only are list prices expensive, so are the options and add-ons.

More later . . .

Chesh

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Unread 12-18-2003, 06:16 PM   #62
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yeah, thanks for the help *extreme sarcasm* you guys are gonna do great on that advice for newbies thing.
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Unread 12-18-2003, 07:37 PM   #63
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So back to my question...

...

So what should be the very first step to buying a guitar?

(except the obvious: decide that you want to buy a guitar...)

Or maybe we should first compile a list of things someone should know before they go out to buy a guitar.

...

And please try to stay on topic. Other topics need other threads...
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Unread 12-18-2003, 08:27 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by CheshireCat
In a word? No.

You make some excellent arguments, and well thought out at that! [Also, good to see you posting again.]

However, there are some flaws with your basic premises which sort of turns your argument on it's ear.

For instance . . .

We are not talking about Mountain Bikes nor Hondas. We are talking about guitars. Everything you said in your post makes perfect sense in almost every single manufacturing industry except one. Yep, you guessed it. Guitars! Why?

Well, because there is a world of misinformation and romantic legend in the guitar world. It is a very imperfect market place indeed. And the overwhelming majority of it's buying public doesn't know what they are getting, nor how guitars are built. Nor do they know how to spot Machine-Made Guitars at Hand-Made Prices.
Honestly, I'm still not sure I'm understanding your viewpoint. Call me slow or whatever, but I still don't understand/believe how a guitar is the exception to the rule in terms of it's value.

Take your guitar for instance. I'm sure it has some incredible gear adorning it, has some great wood, etc. Do you honestly think you could SELL it for $5K then? If you can, then that's fantastic, and I'll happily be the first person to eat my words. IF, on the other hand, you're not able to sell it for $5K, but rather something closer to $2K, who's to say that it's still worth $5K? No offense intended in the slightest by me saying this, but it would seem to me that you're the sole person who values it at that. No doubt that time and effort in creating something must be worth something, and no doubt you have some amazing hardware/etc. on it, but if nobody is willing to whip out the checkbook and pay $5K/$7K whatever for it, then honestly, it's not worth that much. That's not to say that you weren't hit with a lousy batch of prospective buyers, and maybe having actual $7K of receipts can prove it's worth, but honestly, if nobody is willing to pay a given amount for an item - ANY item whether it be a car, bicycle, guitar, piece of artwork, etc., then with the exception of those receipts showing what's been spent on and put into it, there's no other way to value it except based on what the public will pay.

ANYTHING is only "worth" what someone is willing to pay for it. If Taylor just wasn't able to sell any 614ce's and couldn't convince a single person that they're worth the typical $2500 sticker price, it would make sense that they (or any other guitar manufacturer) would lower their cost to the dealer so that these things can actually be moved off the shelves. If it has the exact same hardware, finish, components of every kind, etc., and the only difference is the "sale" tag hanging on it, is it still worth $2500 vs. the $1700 or $1200 or whatever they'd end up selling them for? In a word, "no".

We've probably all seen the used vehicle adds with descriptions for a 4-month old SUV saying "over $40K invested into it in stereo gear, wheels, engine upgrades, etc...". Then they have a sticker price of $24K and it sits on the lot for weeks unsold. Is it worth the base price of the vehicle PLUS the supposed "$40K of upgrades"? No. It's worth what the public will pay for it.

It's not that components of any given thing don't push up the value of it that I'm disagreeing with, but rather the dispute on HOW it's valued.
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Unread 12-18-2003, 08:41 PM   #65
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Ryan,

I believe his valuing system works according to what it would cost to get his guitar custom built by a company. For example, say I want a Fat Stratocaster (standard) but I want [x] humbucker in it and [y] single coils. If I buy a regular stratocaster used and do this myself it costs me $250 for the guitar and $200 for the pickups. My other option is to buy the Fender made version of this guitar for $1000. It comes with the same parts as the Fat Strat, but with my special pickups in them. Thus, by spending $450 I get a guitar comparable to a $1100 guitar (this is exactly the case with buying a used Fender strat and adding a SD Pearly Gates Humbucker and two Fender Noiseless pickups as compared to a Fender American Fat Strat...I realize that the American has 22 frets and a different tremolo, but is that worth an extra $650, I HOPE NOT!).

I could be wrong (i don't mean to be speaking for Chesh) but I think this is how the "value" calculation works.
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Unread 12-20-2003, 07:52 PM   #66
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I know they are supposed to get better with age, but still, I feel I went wrong buying the same guitar again, because it is not as comfortable as the old one was, so I might as well have gone to guitar center...

So tell me, what did I do wrong, what did I do right, and did I pay too much for that guitar? It is a Washburn D10-SCE cutaway full bodied acoustic-electric with the equis crystal eq, and it was "marked" at 499.99.
First, sorry to hear about the crushed guitar thing. We all do stupid things in life, that's how we learn, unfortunately,by making mistakes; the hard way. What separates the men from the boys is if you repeat 'em. I'll bet you never do that again! Better to learn that lesson on a $300 guit than a $2000 one you might get down the road...

Acoustic guitars in that price range are pretty much always a plywood top; 3-ply plywood made of spruce, and the back and sides plywood also, but some other species. Nothing wrong with that construction, it can yield a pretty decent guitar for the low $$. Anyway, conventional wisdom has it that plywood top guitars do not get significantly better with age like a solid top will. I can neither confirm nor deny this...

Guitars vary a lot from one to another in the same model. Apparently yours had some redesign, might have even been made in a different factory, who knows? I don't know what difference the maple sides would make, generally, its tone contribution is to add brightness to tone in comparison with other species.

As far as the comfort thing - is it the same size, or are you speaking figuratively? I would venture to say that a lot of a guitar's "magic" to its owner is due to at least some intangibles, that mostly are in one's head, but real nonetheless. A familiar guit can give one a comfort level and confidence that is a product of its looks, tone, sentimental value, whatever. I certainly have had guitars over the years (electrics) that gave me more confidence than others, for reasons that it would be hard to pinpoint other than its tone. Possible if you would have had this one first, you might have thought your deceased one was no good...

Before I would give up on it though, unless you have already done this, definitely put new strings on there - especially if it was on the wall at the store. World of difference between grungy strings and new 'uns. Might be all it needs.

As far as what you did wrong, it would be applying "buying rules" for household items to buying guitars. If you ran over yer Hoover vacuum, you could replace it with the same model and never know the difference. Guitars vary.

If this guit just turns out to be a dud for you in comparison to the first, cut your losses, sell it and get another. Next time you know what to do.



OK, try this; next trip to a music store bring a claw hammer and a screwdriver, with you. Find the section with the most expensive guitars, and start looking at the price tags, touching the guitars, and shaking your head. When the sales person comes over to "help" you - with tools in hand, ask him/her how much they discount scratched and dented guitars.

Last edited by Major Tom; 12-20-2003 at 08:01 PM.
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Unread 12-20-2003, 09:14 PM   #67
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This is too funny:

BigPirate, self declared newbie, asked for help and advice in a post on this thread 12/16, about a recent guitar purchase. Yes, this thread about how to help newbies buy a guitar. Unfortunately, his request went unnoticed - it was in between some posts that appear to be some side discussion about how to value a guitar. Like an ambulance racing down the street, and driving around a human body laying in the middle of the road, like it was a pothole or something and speeding away...

Anyway, here's his follow up post a couple days later:

Quote:
yeah, thanks for the help *extreme sarcasm* you guys are gonna do great on that advice for newbies thing.


great post, newbie BP.

OK, I tried to answer him as best I could. Now its time for one of the egg-spurts to correct all of my glaring misconceptions, and point out every little fact that I could have added to my already long reply. If, that is, anyone is still viewing this thread.

Have at it
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Unread 12-20-2003, 10:25 PM   #68
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Oops!

Sorry we missed it. Tho, actually, I thought he was just contributing to the conversation. I didn't see the part where he asked, "I'm going to get a new guitar - what should I get and how should I get it".

Quote:
OK, I tried to answer him as best I could. Now its time for one of the egg-spurts to correct all of my glaring misconceptions, and point out every little fact that I could have added to my already long reply. If, that is, anyone is still viewing this thread.
Yes, we are still reading and viewing this thread, and no, you hit the nail on the head, plus all the high notes.

Chesh
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Unread 12-20-2003, 10:44 PM   #69
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Ah, I didn't know that was a question...
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Unread 12-21-2003, 03:53 PM   #70
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Go onto Ebay,go to the "other" section in the guitar company section,find the most expensive model there is and bid twice as much as it starts as(to enure you're the winning bidder)
seems kinda simple dosen't it? (and never upgrade anything)
(and it is also bad advice to follow my advice!)
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Unread 12-22-2003, 03:16 PM   #71
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Yeah, thanks tom... that clawhammer stuff ...

It actually has a solid top, and now that I am getting a little more used to it (I have been playing it a lot to try and get a feel for it), I think with some elixirs on it, it would probably be a little better technically than my old guitar... of course, it still won't feel the same, but I must admit the lower action makes the chords come out like butter, and the pickup is actually pretty fierce when I tell it to be. It is like, the way I played on my old one, now with this one I can throw in stuff, and people freak out... my friends, including one who played guitar, totally thought I was just jammin when I was wondering how in the heck stuff was coming from my fingers so fast... cool in front of 600 people at church.
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Unread 01-02-2004, 01:18 AM   #72
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Quote:
This is too funny:

BigPirate, self declared newbie, asked for help and advice in a post on this thread 12/16, about a recent guitar purchase. Yes, this thread about how to help newbies buy a guitar. Unfortunately, his request went unnoticed - it was in between some posts that appear to be some side discussion about how to value a guitar. Like an ambulance racing down the street, and driving around a human body laying in the middle of the road, like it was a pothole or something and speeding away...
BTW, in response to what just happened with BP, as a general guideline to everyone, if you have a specific question, actually ask the specific question. Kind of like on Jeopardy, "make sure your answer is in the form of a question."

I honestly thought he was just contributing to the discussion. Sorry about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dudedude2
Ryan,

I believe his valuing system works according to what it would cost to get his guitar custom built by a company. For example, say I want a Fat Stratocaster (standard) but I want [x] humbucker in it and [y] single coils. If I buy a regular stratocaster used and do this myself it costs me $250 for the guitar and $200 for the pickups. My other option is to buy the Fender made version of this guitar for $1000. It comes with the same parts as the Fat Strat, but with my special pickups in them. Thus, by spending $450 I get a guitar comparable to a $1100 guitar (this is exactly the case with buying a used Fender strat and adding a SD Pearly Gates Humbucker and two Fender Noiseless pickups as compared to a Fender American Fat Strat...I realize that the American has 22 frets and a different tremolo, but is that worth an extra $650, I HOPE NOT!).

I could be wrong (i don't mean to be speaking for Chesh) but I think this is how the "value" calculation works.
Now, in response to DD2, yes, that is the exact valuing system I am using.

Basically, the worth of something is one of three things. The first, Ryan accurately identified: What someone is willing to pay for it. The second and third were the ones I was tapping: the opportunity cost of choosing that over another option, and the cost to replace said item.

Why is the guitar market different from all the others? For reasons I went into extensively in the Handmade vs. CNC thread. Basically, I would have to say that per capita the guitar buying world has the least educated buyers. There is wanton misinformation, lack of information, lack of awareness, and very few, if any, market checks and balances to keep prices reasonable.

That may happen a bit in other industries, and perhaps wantonly in the POV of those industry's insiders, but it pales compared to the guitar buying industry.

Chesh
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Unread 01-02-2004, 12:01 PM   #73
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By your "cost to replace an item" method, if there are receipts and such, I whole-heartedly agree with you there. If, however, the receipts on add up to 75% of the total cost (pretend for a minute: 75% of the $5K that you value your guitar at), that's where I draw the distinction.

Take Carvin guitars for a minute. Some of their more expensive models (we're talking $800ish) have most of the qualities of the FAR more expensive Tom Andersons. We're talking custom made pickups, dozens upon dozens of different custom hardware and finish options available on any guitar, etc. I see the huge room for abuse of value by someone taking this Carvin guitar, duplicating the specs of a $3500 Tom Anderson, and then mistakening valuing their guitar at $3500 simply because it has all of the same features, woods, hardware, specs, etc., etc., as the TA. See the danger there?

Take a Gibson Chet Atkins SST (solid-body acoustic with sound chambers and L.R. Baggs electronics). It's eerily similar to the Tom Anderson Crowdster Acoustic (named after David Crowder). Solid-body acoustic, sound chambers, similar electronics, etc. Take that CA SST, and slap identical electronics in it, and it's not suddenly worth the $3K of the Crowdster Acoustic simply because it has near identical or even identical specs. It's worth the $1200 you paid for it at Guitar Center plus the cost of the new electronics, minus the cost of the old electronics. It's with examples such as these that I just don't see your method as being infalable. I can be proven wrong, however.

In reference to your guitar, if you do have the $5K, $7K, etc., of receipts, then that's a fantastic way to value your guitar right there. Without those receipts however, how do we value it at $5K if the receipts themselves only total $3K (I'm pulling numbers out of the air right now as I don't know the exact amounts you've spent)? Honestly (and PLEASE understand that I mean honestly no disrespect by saying this ) when I see the pictures of your guitar that you've posted, I see what looks to be a square wood-blank with a bid of design work on it (near the neck), but that still looks like a plain wood blank. Something similar to what you'd find a brass awards plaque screwed onto and hanging on a wall down at the local City Hall. Maybe it's just the quality of the pictures, maybe it's something else, but I see nothing more than a wood blank with some routing and such done on it for the purpose of slapping in some pickups, wiring, hardware, and a neck. I don't see a finely polished and worked flamed or quilted maple body similar to an LP or anything. If I DID, that extra workmanship would certainly push up value of your guitar in a way that wouldn't require simple sales receipts to back it up. Until then however... it'd be pretty reliant on those sales receipts to prove it's worth beyond what anybody simply claims that it's worth.

If you don't mind my asking, how do you value your guitar? I might have missed it in a previous post or something (and by the way, that's just a simple honest question - not an arrogant challenge or anything), but please do outline it as it'll help me understand your viewpoint more.

- Ryan
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Unread 01-02-2004, 02:42 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by ryanspeer
If you don't mind my asking, how do you value your guitar? I might have missed it in a previous post or something (and by the way, that's just a simple honest question - not an arrogant challenge or anything), but please do outline it as it'll help me understand your viewpoint more.
As follows:

Quote:
Originally Posted by me
Basically, the worth of something is one of three things. The first, Ryan accurately identified: What someone is willing to pay for it. The second and third were the ones I was tapping: the opportunity cost of choosing that over another option, and the cost to replace said item.
IOW, I only have two options when looking into a guitar. Either I build it, or someone else builds it (or maybe we collaborate . . . same difference). As you might have gathered by now, I don't buy off the shelf/rack. Not when it comes to guitars. If I do, it's only to further hotrod said guitar. The only guitar stuff I buy off the shelf are the actual items that I use to hotrod said guitar. (And even then, they might be hotrodded or customized a bit.)

Now, in your example above . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanspeer
By your "cost to replace an item" method, if there are receipts and such, I whole-heartedly agree with you there. If, however, the receipts on add up to 75% of the total cost (pretend for a minute: 75% of the $5K that you value your guitar at), that's where I draw the distinction.

Take Carvin guitars for a minute. Some of their more expensive models (we're talking $800ish) have most of the qualities of the FAR more expensive Tom Andersons. We're talking custom made pickups, dozens upon dozens of different custom hardware and finish options available on any guitar, etc. I see the huge room for abuse of value by someone taking this Carvin guitar, duplicating the specs of a $3500 Tom Anderson, and then mistakening valuing their guitar at $3500 simply because it has all of the same features, woods, hardware, specs, etc., etc., as the TA. See the danger there?

Take a Gibson Chet Atkins SST (solid-body acoustic with sound chambers and L.R. Baggs electronics). It's eerily similar to the Tom Anderson Crowdster Acoustic (named after David Crowder). Solid-body acoustic, sound chambers, similar electronics, etc. Take that CA SST, and slap identical electronics in it, and it's not suddenly worth the $3K of the Crowdster Acoustic simply because it has near identical or even identical specs. It's worth the $1200 you paid for it at Guitar Center plus the cost of the new electronics, minus the cost of the old electronics. It's with examples such as these that I just don't see your method as being infalable. I can be proven wrong, however.

In reference to your guitar, if you do have the $5K, $7K, etc., of receipts, then that's a fantastic way to value your guitar right there. Without those receipts however, how do we value it at $5K if the receipts themselves only total $3K (I'm pulling numbers out of the air right now as I don't know the exact amounts you've spent)? Honestly (and PLEASE understand that I mean honestly no disrespect by saying this ) when I see the pictures of your guitar that you've posted, I see what looks to be a square wood-blank with a bid of design work on it (near the neck), but that still looks like a plain wood blank. Something similar to what you'd find a brass awards plaque screwed onto and hanging on a wall down at the local City Hall. Maybe it's just the quality of the pictures, maybe it's something else, but I see nothing more than a wood blank with some routing and such done on it for the purpose of slapping in some pickups, wiring, hardware, and a neck. I don't see a finely polished and worked flamed or quilted maple body similar to an LP or anything. If I DID, that extra workmanship would certainly push up value of your guitar in a way that wouldn't require simple sales receipts to back it up. Until then however... it'd be pretty reliant on those sales receipts to prove it's worth beyond what anybody simply claims that it's worth.
. . . you gave a rather thorough, comprehensive, and exhaustive analysis of the third value estimation - the cost to replace said item - only there is one flaw in your analysis, as thorough and insightful as it was. Your analysis was a stringent treatment of replacement costs for specific parts, and not what it would take to replace the guitar as a whole if someone else was to build it for me, or if I was to buy the most comparable guitar off the shelf and have it further customized to the original spec of the guitar being replaced.

This leads me to beg the question, "Dude!! Do you work as an insurance adjuster?"

Anyway, the point being is that if you had to replace a Gibby, or a Prissy, you just go down to GC and get one for $3K or whatever. And, hey, if they have it on sale, all the better.

But if it came to replacing my Utah (which, obviously on a sentimental note, we could never do, but for argument sake), then I would have to either completely make it again myself, with all the costs of carpentry tools and what not that I no longer have available, and the opportunity costs that go with it, or I would have to have a Luthier do it as well. Then there are the costs of parts, which have gone up since I built my Utah.

Also, the neck. I didn't build my own neck, having gotten one cheap from a friend. Now, that neck is shot (the truss rod went) so I will be making a new neck, which should be fun to say the least! I got that neck for $75. To get a neck with all the features it has now, with birdseye maple, a custom headstock, and half-scalloped fretboard, it would cost about $400 or more from Warmoth. Then there's the custom inlay work I want done. (I hate those little dot markers, and side dots.) To build it myself, since I'm not jigged-up or tooled-up for it, will cost about $100, plus my time (my one irreplaceable and non-replenishable commodity). Now, granted, the time and effort to build that neck would be very fulfilling, but that's not the point.

So, when I spent only $500 on my guitar to build, that was the function of a lot of things working in my favor. Great deals at Atlanta Discount Music, a $400 neck for $75, making everything myself, plus some really nice deals on touch up work by my mentors (like fixing one or two electrical glitches from combining passive and active electronics - this was rather avante-garde for a 21 year old kid. ).

Now I am talking about $2K worth of upgrades. That's straight cost of parts, from custom pickups to MIDI/Piezo to EQ circuits to you name it! That's straight cost of parts.

So, to get a guitar with all the specs and features of my Original Utah, it would have cost me $3K to $5K to buy from a Luthier and/or off the shelf new, and with my Upgraded Utah, with all the features going into it, it would cost me $7K to $10K, and could only be gotten from Alembic or from a Luthier.

Make more sense?

Chesh

BTW - the only reason I am doing these upgrades now is because this stuff wasn't available 12 years ago. If they were, I'm sure I would have done it then.
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Last edited by CheshireCat; 09-09-2006 at 01:07 AM.
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Unread 01-03-2004, 07:40 AM   #75
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BTW, in response to what just happened with BP, as a general guideline to everyone, if you have a specific question, actually ask the specific question. Kind of like on Jeopardy, "make sure your answer is in the form of a question."

Sounds like a question to me:

Quote:
So tell me, what did I do wrong, what did I do right, and did I pay too much for that guitar?
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