Let’s face it; in this modern climate of world economic-crisis, countries going bust, governments taking more of our hard-earned cash, and the music industry in financial turmoil from sheer ignorance, do we really have the money to spend $2000+ on a guitar to be and sound professional?!
The answer…well, if you say yes; lucky you. But for us mere-mortals, there are options. Firstly, Gibson, Fender, PRS and every other high-end manufacturer offer much more down-to-earth options. Epiphone, Squire and PRS’s SE range are quickly catching up with their more expensive, American made siblings. The quality of components, hardware and woods is not all that different from one range to other; not until you hit the $1500+ price tag. So you can get a descent, off-the-shelf guitar for under $800, easily.
“But” I hear you cry “the pickups are rubbish!” True as that may be, pickup construction has taken similar leaps-and-bounds. You can now buy pickups to suit ever genre, style, preference under the sun; all without breaking the bank. Wilkinson and Dimarzio pickups have become the standard go-to for replacement pickups, and rightly so. Two Dimarzio ‘Domination’ humbuckers will set you back £160 ($250ish); that’s hardly bank-busting! Put these inside a good Epiphone Les Paul or Ibanez RG…boom, instant Mark Morton! Tune to Drop D, get a heavy set of strings and grow a beard…If that’s not your thing, head over to Bare Knuckle pickups in the UK, and they can hand build you anything your budget can allow.
So, in these times of skimping and saving, but still wanting that ideal setup, do we have to spend $2000+ just on the guitar? This writer says no. If you’re intelligent and do your research, you can pick up a very good guitar for under a grand. Then add in some high-end pickups for less than a good night’s drinking, and there you have it! And what’s more, it’s custom!
Next time: Amps! Can you get an amp to cater to all venues?
— Rich Norton, Bury the Hatchet