I am constantly amazed at the type of instruments that beginners buy these days. When I first started playing, I bought a starter guitar, and then, as my talent improved, I moved up to a better guitar.
I see so many kids now that have $2,000 – 3,000 instruments as their starter guitar. I suppose it is no different than the 30 handicap golfer buying an expensive set of clubs. Maybe there is a belief that buying at the top will somehow make it easier to learn. Or maybe that buying at the top will somehow make you play better.
Gifted players have touch and feel. They can make an expensive instrument sing. Beginners lack touch and feel. And they can make the same instrument sound terrible.
It is not just kids spending big dollars on a starter guitar. Baby boomers are taking up the guitar in record numbers and they do not shy away from spending money on the best instruments. According to Music Trades, guitar sales have almost tripled over the past decade, from about 600,000 guitars in 1997 to over 1.6 million units in 2005.
Collectors will spend remarkable sums of money on guitars. Christie’s held an auction in June 2004 for a set of Eric Clapton guitars. The top lot of the evening was Blackie, a black and white composite Fender Stratocaster that served as Clapton’s sole stage and studio guitar from 1970 till 1985. Blackie was sold for $959,500 becoming the most expensive guitar ever to have been sold at auction.
Here is a picture of Blackie, the million dollar Stratocaster: