Cheap vs Expensive Guitars: What’s the Difference?

cheap expensive guitars difference

Understanding the differences between cheap and expensive guitars is crucial in making an informed decision when purchasing one. We are here to break down these differences and help you make the best choice for your needs.

The differences between cheap and expensive guitars can be seen in affordability, sound, playability, upkeep, and resale value. Despite this, the guitar’s price does not guarantee its quality. Some low-priced guitars can feel and sound great, while some high-priced ones may have a poor design.

In this article, we compare cheap vs expensive guitars, taking into account various factors that should be considered when making a decision. Whether you are a beginner, a seasoned player, or a professional, the comparison of cheap vs expensive guitars will provide insight into what to expect from each type of guitar.

Cheap vs. Expensive Guitars: What Matters Most?

cheap expensive guitars difference

When comparing cheap & expensive guitars, there are several factors that should be taken into account. These include affordability, sound quality, playability, construction, maintenance, and resale value.


The price of a guitar is a key factor to take into account. Cheap guitars are more accessible and affordable, making them ideal for beginners or those with limited funds. Despite their lower cost, some cheap guitars can still deliver exceptional sound and perform just as well as more expensive models in a professional setting. Moreover, cheap electric guitars can even be upgraded to meet your needs and preferences.

On the other hand, expensive high-end artisan guitars offer a luxurious playing experience that can enhance your performance and enjoyment. These guitars boast superior balance and comfort, elevating your sound to the next level.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of a guitar is an important consideration. As a general rule, cheap guitars often have less resonance and sustain, meaning that their sound is not as rich or full as that of an expensive guitar. Expensive guitars, on the other hand, typically have higher-quality wood and craftsmanship, resulting in better sound quality.


The playability of a guitar refers to how well it plays and how comfortable it feels to play. Cheap guitars often have less comfortable necks and fretboards, making them more difficult to play. Expensive guitars, on the other hand, typically have better playability due to their higher-quality construction and materials.

Construction Quality & Durability

Construction quality and durability are other important factors to consider. Cheap guitars are typically poorly built and less durable, which makes them more prone to damage, whereas expensive guitars are often built with more attention to detail and the intention to last for many years.

Maintenance and Function

Maintenance and function are major factors to consider when comparing cheap or expensive guitars. It’s important to note that some budget-friendly guitars will often require more upkeep and may not be able to be set up to their full potential due to subpar materials and construction.

Having a cheap guitar properly set up by a technician can often be more expensive than the guitar’s original cost, making it a questionable investment and can result in a frustrating playing experience with a cheap guitar.

Resale Value

The resale value of a guitar is an important aspect to keep in mind. Although cheap guitars usually have a low resale value, high-end guitars often retain their value, making them a better investment. However, it’s worth noting that some extremely expensive guitars from lesser-known makers can be challenging to sell due to a lack of recognition.

Cheap Guitars

cheap guitars

Cheap guitars are typically defined as guitars that approximately cost less than $300. They are usually made with lower-quality materials and construction techniques, resulting in a lower price point.

The main advantage of cheap guitars is affordability. This makes them a great option for beginners or those on a tight budget. Cheap guitars are also typically more durable and easier to maintain, making them a good choice for those who are just starting to play.

The main disadvantage of cheap guitars is sound quality and playing experience. They often lack the resonance and sustain of expensive guitars, resulting in a less rich and full sound. Additionally, cheap guitars can be more difficult to play, making them a less attractive option for experienced players.

Reliable, Recommended Budget-Friendly Guitars

The Squier Stratocaster and Telecaster are among the most dependable guitar models available in this price range. The Squire variants are cheap and can even be upgraded with the addition of high-end guitar pickups.

Squier Stratocaster
Squier Telecaster

Mid-Priced Guitars

choosing a guitar

Mid-priced guitars are typically defined as guitars that cost around $500 to $1,500. They offer a middle ground between cheap and expensive guitars, offering a balance of affordability and quality. Characteristics of mid-priced guitars include good sound quality, great playability, high-end features, and good resale value.

The main advantage of mid-priced guitars is that they offer a balance between affordability and quality. They typically have better sound quality and playability than cheap guitars while still being more affordable than expensive guitars.

The main disadvantage of mid-priced guitars is their cost. While they are more affordable than expensive guitars, they can still be a significant investment.

Reliable, Recommended Mid-Priced Guitars

The Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster are considered to be highly reliable and durable guitar models. In comparison to the American counterparts, the Mexican and Taiwanese Fender variants are more affordable. Additionally, the guitars can also be enhanced by installing high-end guitar pickups.

Mexican Telecaster
Mexican Stratocaster

Expensive and Artisan Guitars

expensive guitars

Expensive and artisan (or custom shop) guitars are typically defined as guitars that cost over $3,000. They are typically made with high-quality materials and construction techniques, resulting in premium sound and playability. Characteristics of expensive and artisan guitars include sound quality, playability, and high-end features.

The main advantage of expensive and artisan guitars is their sound quality and playability. They offer a premium sound and playing experience, making them a great choice for experienced players and professionals.

The main disadvantage of expensive and artisan guitars is their cost. They can be several thousand dollars, making them a significant investment. Additionally, expensive and artisan guitars can sometimes be harder to sell.


In conclusion, the comparison of cheap, mid-priced, and expensive guitars reveals that each type of guitar has its own advantages and disadvantages. Cheap guitars are affordable and accessible, making them a good option for beginners or those on a tight budget. Mid-priced guitars offer a balance between affordability and quality, while expensive and artisan guitars offer a premium sound and playing experience.

CategoryCheap GuitarsMid-Priced GuitarsExpensive/Artisan Guitars
AffordabilityMore accessible and affordableA balance between affordability and qualityLuxurious playing experience
Sound QualityLess resonance and sustainBetter sound qualityPremium sound and playability
PlayabilityLess comfortable necks and fretboardsBetter playabilityPremium playing experience
Construction&DurabilityPoorly built and less durableBetter attention to detail and durabilityHigher-quality materials and construction
Maintenance&FunctionMore upkeep and may not perform wellPerforms well but may still require upkeepHigh-end features and performance
Resale ValueLow resale valueGood resale valueRetains value over time

Gon Zadok

Gon Zadok is a Tel Aviv-based session player, recording artist, and independent producer for Simply and local artists. He plays various instruments, including guitar, bass, synths, and ukulele. Gon studied music at Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Israel and music production at SAE Institute in Berlin, Germany.

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