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Overall cost and maintenance of owning a guitar?

MikeNiteRail

Member
Messages
1,858
I don't play guitar, so humor me...

What is the breakdown of the cost of ownership of a good (assume a semi-pro or pro player) electric guitar and the maintenance involved (including basic mods)?

Cost of guitar?
How often to you buys strings and about how much?
How often do you tune?
Other costs over time for the instrument?

Thanks!
 

EricPeterson

Senior Member
Messages
48,875
Well it can be as much or as little as you want. Some people change strings pretty regularly, others, no so much, a set costs around 5-10 bucks depending on sales/bulk buys etc. Most people dont pay to have their guitars strung or tuned, so you can do that yourself. Mods are not required and represent personal preference. Parts generally dont wear out.


What gets expensive is the never ending search for certain tones, this involves buying new guitars, amps, effects, cables, picks, etc.
 

guitarz1972

Member
Messages
4,775
Biggest cost of course is the up-front investment of buying a good one; say a few hundred bucks up to a thousand gets you in the door for a pro-quality guitar. You can get as expensive as you want and do whatever mods you want, but none of that is really necessary in all but the most extreme cases. If you're going electric you'll need an amp obviously; same deal there.

About $15 a month for strings, more/less often depending on how often you need to, or feel like, restringing it.

Maybe $75 a year for a setup and basic adjustments; again, more/less often depending on how often you play, how intense you are, etc.

You tune it just whenever you get ready to play. $100 will get you a decent tuner.

That's your basic breakdown. "Other costs" I guess could be for the cables (necessary, probably $50 tops), a capo if you want that for playing in different keys, tan pants, etc. Just variable and incidental costs there really.
 
Messages
12,079
Biggest cost of course is the up-front investment of buying a good one; say a few hundred bucks up to a thousand gets you in the door for a pro-quality guitar. You can get as expensive as you want and do whatever mods you want, but none of that is really necessary in all but the most extreme cases. If you're going electric you'll need an amp obviously; same deal there.

About $15 a month for strings, more/less often depending on how often you need to, or feel like, restringing it.

Maybe $75 a year for a setup and basic adjustments; again, more/less often depending on how often you play, how intense you are, etc.

You tune it just whenever you get ready to play. $100 will get you a decent tuner.

That's your basic breakdown. "Other costs" I guess could be for the cables (necessary, probably $50 tops), a capo if you want that for playing in different keys, tan pants, etc. Just variable and incidental costs there really.

I always take my guitars to my tech, as all guitars are not set up well from the factory. You can set up an Epiphone to be a pro player, in the right hands. Intonation/fret level-ends work/action about $100. It might be the best 100 I spend in a lifetime of owning an instrument.
 

guitarz1972

Member
Messages
4,775
I always take my guitars to my tech, as all guitars are not set up well from the factory. You can set up an Epiphone to be a pro player, in the right hands. Intonation/fret level-ends work/action about $100. It might be the best 100 I spend in a lifetime of owning an instrument.
I agree.
 

'58Bassman

Member
Messages
4,928
I don't play guitar, so humor me...

What is the breakdown of the cost of ownership of a good (assume a semi-pro or pro player) electric guitar and the maintenance involved (including basic mods)?

Cost of guitar?
How often to you buys strings and about how much?
How often do you tune?
Other costs over time for the instrument?

Thanks!
How often someone changes strings depends on several things, including:

How often & aggressively they play,
Whether they wipe the strings after & how regularly,
How acidic their sweat is,
How much they want to be like nig time stars who claim to change their strings after every gig. String prices are all over the map and the cost depends on what someone likes, where they buy and whether they get a quantity discount.

Tuning should be done when needed and anyone who lets it go flat needs to think about how bad it sounds. If they can't hear that it's off, they need to work on their ear.

Guitar cleaner is pretty cheap and shouldn't be needed unless someone naturally makes it grungy every time. I know someone whose hands sweat unbelievably and it kills strings almost overnight. I'll never let him play one of my guitars because of this and the fact that he doesn't clean them after (or change the strings).

Maintenance- Frets wear, parts sometimes wear out and guitars fall, so the frequency of playing will determine what it needs. It should never fall, but things happen that can't be controlled. Fret wear depends on how hard someone presses, where they play most and which strings they use- some are harder on frets than others. If someone plays in a small range of fret positions, the wear will be accelerated compared with someone who plays all over the neck. The setup of my Strat Plus cost about $100 and it was worth it, even though I have done many- he does it all the time and I used to do it all the time but back then, frets were dressed without as much polishing.
 

EricPeterson

Senior Member
Messages
48,875
Biggest cost of course is the up-front investment of buying a good one; say a few hundred bucks up to a thousand gets you in the door for a pro-quality guitar. You can get as expensive as you want and do whatever mods you want, but none of that is really necessary in all but the most extreme cases. If you're going electric you'll need an amp obviously; same deal there.

About $15 a month for strings, more/less often depending on how often you need to, or feel like, restringing it.

Maybe $75 a year for a setup and basic adjustments; again, more/less often depending on how often you play, how intense you are, etc.

You tune it just whenever you get ready to play. $100 will get you a decent tuner.

That's your basic breakdown. "Other costs" I guess could be for the cables (necessary, probably $50 tops), a capo if you want that for playing in different keys, tan pants, etc. Just variable and incidental costs there really.

you change strings 3 times a month? Man I maybe get it done every couple of months. :eek:
 
Messages
17,947
insignificant after the initial expense of the instrument, case, strap, and strap locks

I buy strings in bulk, I dont gig so dont change strings all that ofter

I dont pay someone to set up my guitars, do it myself...

the only ongoing maintenance are the strings and polish, which is pretty insignificant...especially when compared to the maintenance on a tube amp...tubes, fuses...that gets very pricy
 

lhallam

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
17,435
Electric gtrs range from $300 to $250,000. I'd say that the average cost is around $800 to $1,500 depending if you buy used or new. There a plenty of great inexpensive gtrs out there but you have to hunt for them.

Garcia changed his strings twice a night, Clapton changes his strings every 2-3 years.

It really depends upon who you are, how much acid you have in your fingers and what you are looking for. I don't change my strings until one breaks which takes about a year. I practice daily and play out about once a week.

If you have a good gtr, it will rarely go out of tune. This all depends up if it has a whammy and how well it's set up as well as how much travelling you do with the gtr.

My Koll stays in tune quite well even with whammage but I still check the tuning at least four times a night when I'm playing and using the whammy but I typically only have to tune it once. My Tele likes to go sharp for some reason so I have to tune if more often.

Other costs? LOL - if you remain on the gear page, probably thousands of dollars.

If you are thinking electric, then you need an amp - which can run from $300 to $45,000. You can get a decent amp between $800 and $1,000.

Cords - $25
Strap - $35-$50

Pedals - there are two many variables to answer this. I'd suggest getting something like a multi-effect board like the Boss ME-70 for $300 and you've got just about every effect you need.

The real cost is not in equipment but in blood, sweat and tears.

I suggest you find a gtrist to help you and buy used gear.
 

speedemon

Member
Messages
2,623
Well it can be as much or as little as you want. Some people change strings pretty regularly, others, no so much, a set costs around 5-10 bucks depending on sales/bulk buys etc. Most people dont pay to have their guitars strung or tuned, so you can do that yourself. Mods are not required and represent personal preference. Parts generally dont wear out.


What gets expensive is the never ending search for certain tones, this involves buying new guitars, amps, effects, cables, picks, etc.
This. Cost to play in a band dwarfs everything else.:JAM
 

they

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
249
The biggest expense is the other 3 guitars you are going to buy after the first one....
 

~sounddjinn~

Member
Messages
302
The flawed perception that gear is somehow more important than practice, is the costliest part of being a guitar player.
 

78deluxe

Member
Messages
5,355
I buy strings in bulk too, but still Strings + one decent set up a year is ~$300 PER guitar total. That isn't an insignificant amount, IMO.

That "insignificant" amount is enough to buy a pro level used electric guitar every two years.

I do basic set up on my guitars, but the real setups are done by a pro that gets the little things right.
 

78deluxe

Member
Messages
5,355
Clapton changes his strings every 2-3 years.

.
It might be true that he personally only changes his strings every 2-3 years, there is no way anyone can convince me someone else isn't changing them for him multiple times a year.

Even with a super light touch, his intonation would be completely shot given the number of shows he does due to simple fret wear on the string.
 

gtrbarbarian

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,021
The biggest expense: amplifiers + maintenance

Especially if the amp is a pcb based amp...those are costly to diagnose and repair, due to burnt traces, and things like the heating invloved with tube sockets mounted on the pcb board. Sometimes the cheaper pcb amps are just not cost effective to repair...and then, new amp.

A set of tubes + bias (if you don't know how to do this) are a good idea at least once per year (depending on how much your amp is used). $150-200

Electrolytic cap job once every 8-10 years (depending on how much your amp is used) $100+

It pays dividends to learn how to do your own guitar and amp service....
 

jay42

Member
Messages
7,082
One setup should last years, unless you play a lot on only one guitar. Then fret wear will drive you to either some intermediate fret work or full fret replacement, starting at ~$300. That time frame is completely dependent on hours playing and string gauge. If the guitar has binding, cha-ching. The frequent use of a capo speeds entropy up.
 

DGTCrazy

Mod Squad
Staff member
Messages
16,168
you change strings 3 times a month? Man I maybe get it done every couple of months. :eek:


Eric,


He's getting of easy....LOL I change mine weekly on my gigging guitars (3 of them). Fortunately, I do 99% of my own Tech Work (set-up, intonation, frets), so I don't have any major accrued expenses there. My strings are just shot after 8-10 hrs of weekly practice and constant weekend gigging.
 






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