Matt Eich on Value For Money?
I’ve previously posted about Mule Resonator Guitars and the amazing work Matt Eich is doing. But there’s more to Eich than his outstanding guitars. His Instagram feed of guitar (and cycling!) goodness features posts that contain philosophical thoughts around all manner of subjects.
Recently I was reading a post in a kit guitar Facebook group around the kinds of upgrades required or base-level features of kits. Is the wood good enough? Which components will I need to change? Would it be like a “real” guitar? Real in this case means a Fender, Gibson etc. A respondent pointed out that these name brands often take shortcuts that aren’t always easy to spot
The next day this Instagram post appeared from Eich – apologies for reproducing it here rather than linking off to it, but I think it’s so worth reading, and please do go and check out his website and social feeds.
I don’t have much beef with current inexpensive import guitars. I saw a kid at the guitar show looking at a $500 strat copy. It was a good enough guitar. I thought about how that was me once, and how if someone told 13 year old me that I had to buy a $1500 American made (robot made) guitar or else I was doing it wrong I never would have started playing guitar. No guitar making school. No Huss and Dalton, No Mule. You wouldn’t be following my story, I would still be in a factory. What songs would not have been written because the sounds that would not have been made? That blue Peavey Predator (that I ended up painting silver) started the ball rolling, it gave me access. Import guitars have their essential place. —- what I DO have beef with is the $4700 les paul custom. Come. On. It has $30 Grover tuners on it. Somewhere in that margin they couldn’t put high end tuners on, even though It’s made by the same machines, on the same line as the cheaper guitars. Does it have special wood? No. It’s not vintage, it just has block inlays. It’s not just Gibson of course, it’s many giant manufacturers. If you’ve purchased one of those high dollar guitars I’m not making fun of you. I’m making fun of a giant company who paints a guitar a certain color and upcharges a gazillion dollars. This funds fashion shows at electronics conventions. They play a game, hard. It creates a culture by assigning monetary value. Im not here to say you have to be able to afford hand made stuff. You don’t. Im here to encourage everyone who is looking to purchase an instrument- put some thought into the behind the scenes stuff. This is an awesome time for finding guitarmakers. Guys out there are doing amazing stuff. If you’re looking for the instrument you’ve been waiting for please please please show up for one of the hundreds of awesome makers out there now. It’s an amazing experience. It’s about people then, about something bigger than ourselves. We are all making our way and this is a way to do it as people.
This is such a good point. We all get suckered into brand names and blindly accept that because of the name on the headstock everything is perfect. I’m certainly not saying you should never buy one, but realise that a component of that cost is the name itself, and that it may well have flaws. I’ve got a couple of top end branded guitars and I love them, but increasingly I advise people to buy cheaper (Squier/Ephipone etc) models when starting out, then to look for custom builders if you have $5000 burning a hole in your pocket. You know that a builder like Mule is going to squeeze every last drop of value out of what you spend with them: no shortcuts, no cheap options.
I urge you to follow Eich on Instagram – he is wise beyond his years. One day I would love to buy one of his instruments, but until I do I will certainly follow his work, appreciate his insight, and share his abilities with as many as I can.