And how much is it worth?
There’s no simple solution. Guitar prices aren’t as low as they were in the early ’90s (when Fender, for instance, was charging a grand to play a Telecaster in a shop in Los Angeles), and the number of guitars available on the market has grown from 250 to more than 9,000.
But it seems that the price of guitars has changed, too. We thought that when we were all buying guitars for a living, the cost of owning a guitar would be fairly constant.
But if you compare the price of many older guitars — the ’50s and early ’60s to the more recent models — the difference isn’t that much. That list above isn’t even including the most expensive guitars from years past. Many of them aren’t even worth $250.
For instance, the 1958 Gibson SG-300 has been one of our top picks for a guitar for almost a decade and is currently selling for less than $50. And some of the more expensive instruments of the ’60s and ’70s — from the Stratocaster and SGs up through the Les Paul Custom and Les Paul Standard — are still fairly cheap.
And then there are the guitars like the Les Paul Standard that weren’t designed for rock music or are still being sold today. The guitar maker used the word “fantasy” in describing the standard model, which came with pickups that weren’t designed for rock music but worked well enough on acoustic and electric guitars. The guitars didn’t come with a tremolo but the tremolo was standard for guitar amplifiers of the ’60s and ’70s — and still is today.
(And if you’re planning to buy an electric guitar, check out our reviews for models like the Epiphone Les Paul Plus for beginners. If you can’t afford an Epiphone, it might be worth waiting a few years until the stock runs out — the models are typically available in the $200 to $300 range.)
The Gibson Les Paul Custom remains our most popular guitar, but the Epiphone Explorer in the same price range costs almost 20 times as much, at $1,995. That’s well over $1,000 more than the Les Paul Standard. These instruments aren’t going any cheaper.
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