Most people perceive cheap guitar as low quality, poorly manufactured guitar. In fact, some people will be intimidated by the fact that it wasn’t US made guitar. You may never consider Chinese or Korean made guitars and may never buy a cheap guitar, until recently.
Many big guitar manufacturers have already started producing their guitars in Korea, China and India to offer more affordable guitars for the regular guitar player. Not everybody can afford a $2000+ Fender or Gibson guitars and there is a large market for cheap guitars under $400.
Most of the Epiphone cheap guitars models which is own by Gibson now are produced in Korea. Kramer, which is another company owned by Gibson produces most of its cheap guitars in Korea too. Fender bought Jackson a few years ago, and now most of its Jackson guitars are produced in Korea and India. BC Rich low-cost guitars and many Ibanez guitar models are made in Korea too.
The low cost of labor may help to produce cheaper guitar, but that alone cannot be the only reason for lowering guitar prices.
So, why some guitars really dirt cheap and yet some guitars are outrageously expensive?
There are several factors determining a guitar manufacturing price.
The first factor for making a guitar cheap or expensive is the actual guitar manufacturing process. Was the guitar hand-made or was it produced in a highly automated modern guitar factory? Hand-made guitars are usually more expensive, while the guitars coming out from an automated factory are usually cheaper because the highly automated manufacturing process doesn’t require much manual labor such as guitar building, quality control.
Another factor which will determine a guitar price is the quality of material used for producing this guitar. This can include the woods used for the guitar neck and body, the paints and finishes. Cheaper guitars use inexpensive woods like plywood for building the guitar body, while more expensive guitars use quality woods like mahogany, rosewood, alder.
The third factor for making a guitar cheap or expensive is the quality of electronics and hardware that go in the guitar. Cheap guitars usually have cheap bridge, tuners, and stock pickups. Expensive guitars are made with quality hardware and electronics. For example the cost of a single Seymour-Duncan pickup may be much higher than the price for a decent cheap guitar made in Korea.
Cheap Guitars – Does it worth to buy one?
It really depends. Not everyone will use a cheap guitar. If you are professional musician and the guitar is your tool of trade, then you probably won’t want to buy a cheap guitar. Although most cheap guitars nowadays have a very good quality, professional musicians prefer hand-made electric guitars created by professional luthiers.
If you don’t want to spend several thousand dollars on a Gibson Les Paul guitar, then you might have a look at cheaper guitars. Bear in mind that cheap guitars are no longer no-name guitars. You can still buy Ibanez, Jackson, ESP, Epiphone, Fernandes, BC Rich, Squier, and many more famous guitar brands for less than $200!
I bought a cheap guitar made in China by Fernandes for just $150. The guitar has a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo, a very good, easy-playable neck and nice sound. This guitar is able to put “cheap” and “quality” in one sentence. My cheap guitar is worth much more than $150 and it’s actually of a better quality than some US made Fenders I have played.
Would you rather buy the cheapest US made Fender Strat model for $500 or would you rather buy a Japanese made Jackson, with Duncan-designed pickups, Floyd Rose tremolo and super-fast neck for $300? This decision of cheap / expensive guitar is yours.