Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly
At some point over the last 15 years, people decided they wanted to spend large amounts of money on new solid-body electric guitars and the guitar companies were happy to oblige. In order for this to work, the guitar companies had to make guitars that were worth the large amounts of money people were willing to spend. (Fender could not just sell a MIM Strat for $5000.) The biggest difference in quality comes mostly from the time spent building the guitar. However, after a certain point, more time stops making a difference. At some point, a better electric guitar cannot be made if we consider the electric guitar to be a musical instrument. The problem is people still had more money to spend and this is where I think guitar companies should have explained to buyers what they were actually paying for.
The PRS Dragon Series were more like pieces of visual art and the guitar was the backdrop and the people that bought them knew what they were buying. Guitars like that are different and nobody thinks otherwise. I do not know where quality tops out but I it is well before the $10,000 mark and I'm being extremely generous with that number. I would argue there is no such thing as a $10,000 solid-body electric guitar, just $10,000+ art projects. $10,000 guitars are not very common, but there are enough of them available that you can find them if you want. Personally, some of the EBMM JP models are getting awfully close to $4000 and there may be good as to why, but as a JP owner, I would like to hear those reasons. If one of the reasons is "art project," I would be fine with that. (His "Nomac" guitar was an art project in the most literal sense of the term.)
Ideally, playing these guitars is the best way to understand them and I have been fortunate enough to play new guitars passed the $10,000 mark and I cannot explain why they were not half the price. There might be a good reason, but it isn't because they were built better. In comparison, there are $500 guitar pedals made by Strymon, Eventide, and EHX. There is nothing less expensive that can do what these pedals can do equally well. You are paying for higher quality which makes sense. Mesa/Boogie and Bogner have made some really great amps in the recent past and, while expensive, they do not design new amps often enough for any price increase to seem out of the ordinary.
This is not a critique of the buyer. If a guitar is 1% better and costs twice as much, I would not question it. I am questioning what manufacturers are doing to certain guitars to justify the purchase price in a way that remotely makes sense. I have other questions such as "why ship a guitar without a hardshell case" and "why use a floating bridge that does not stay in tune?" These are things I have observed and thought about and I'm just putting them out there now. Wiser members than I may have good explanations.
Fair comment, always puzzled me why PRS can charge $2500 for a guitar then upto $3500 for the SAME guitar just with a different top! Yet the "real" price range for the guitar is more likely $1000-$1200, especially as nearly all guitars today are mass manufactured using CNC machines not worked on by dedicated artisans....
How many high street brands sell handmade guitars apart from Fender that deserve the high prices or even any manufacturer selling high priced guitars that actually feel correctly priced these days?
It seems some are purposely increasing prices while lowering quality, sure CITES has a part to play, but look at the JEM 70V, its around £1200 here in the UK yet has cheap n nasty pots and switch, cheap machineheads and visibly lower quality neck wood/fingerboard than the equivalent cheaper Japanese RG (the 655 perhaps?) AND it its made in Indonesia, since when did an Indonesian guitar deserver a much higher price then a Japanese one??
When looking objectively at the instrument I feel the "real" retail price should be £700/$700 half a grand less and certainly a more realistic quality-price ratio.
Even worse look at the rest of the premium JEM range, cheap electronics, cheap trems, cheap machineheads, cheap neck woods all over $1200, what are you really paying for? Is it a RG450 in drag??
Gibson Les Pauls have ballooned in price but deteriorated in quality, even James Tyler is slipping, yet we keep throwing our money at them for guitars that are lower quality than a 5 year old+ model of the same guitar yet at twice the price.
Are we to blame for this situation? Are we going to see a big swing towards the used market for moneys worth guitars?
If we buy a 90's RG450 and compare it to today's price equivalent RG350DX (I think) the quality difference is stunning, the modern one feels and looks cheap n nasty and doesn't stay in tune, the 90's one is made in Japan and has higher wood quality, better fretwork finish and trem, even though it is the LoTRS!!