Remember the old saying; you get what you pay for? In general its true, I was reminded of this thought recently when a student came to lessons with a recently bought guitar and amp that would not work.

They could not figure out what was wrong with the thing, after having the story recounted to me in extreme detail, there was no obvious explanation. So the troubleshooting began. First we thought it was the amp, no, then the cable, no, obviously there is something wrong with the guitar. The input jack seemed in good shape, wasn’t loose. Surgery was needed, get me a screw driver, I’m going in!

In the first turn of the first screw, I realize that the hole had been over drilled, leaving the screw turning, not gripping anything. This wouldn’t cause the guitar to malfunction in itself, but it’s not a very good sign.

I pulled the input jack all the way out of the guitar, and immediately see the problem, wires hanging loose, not organized. I grabbed my soldering iron, and solder, and had him fixed up better than new in short order. Mom was thrilled as there would be no repair bill, and no need to buy a replacement guitar on top of whatever other Christmas expenses she had going on. She asked me recounting the part of the story about something being loose, husband tightening, basically asking me what caused the problem. I’m not an instrument repairman, so comparatively I have only taken apart a few, but I had to tell her this guitar came from the factory like this, and to be honest I have no idea how it ever worked at all the way it was put together. It was truly better than new with that simple soldering job.

The reason I bring this up is to remind myself and anyone reading this that in a consumerist culture where price is king. You ALWAYS get what you PAY for, though the lowest price isn’t ALWAYS a sign of inferior quality.The decision to buy something and it’s perceived value is a complex equation. To be honest I find it truly incredible they can produce a functioning guitar (within reason) for less than $100. One of my favorite guitars I own is a made in Mexico strat that I bought when I was 15. The thing plays and sounds great, but one thing that has always bothered me since I noticed, or since it became apparent is a screw that holds the pick guard on, has the same issue the guitar mentioned in this post had, a screw hole was over drilled rendering the screw useless.

In our current situation of price being the all important aspect of the equation it should come as no surprise that the manufacturers focus on quantity rather than quality. I talked about this previously in my “how to choose a beginner guitar” article.

Remember you get what you pay for, and that when you go to big box stores, or the first ad you see, you are often paying for advertising, and potentially getting an inferior product.

The same goes for services…like…. music lessons! If you go to one of these large companies offering lessons, you are putting one more layer between you and the provider of the guitar lessons, or piano lessons you are seeking. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condemning any company in particular, nor did I set out to do so in the this post. I am sure some of these companies are providing the service of; doing the research, and vetting for you. Making sure the teacher has some qualification, and or has some degree of professionalism. Even so, I am very certain that many of these companies are basically an ad agency with very low standards of who joins as an instructor or anything else. So now you have to spend time vetting a company whose whole business model is supposedly saving you the time of vetting the music teacher.


Think before you buy, support local business, and don’t fall for the marketing schemes all around you. Be an informed consumer, and an enlightened citizen!

If you are looking for guitar lessons, or piano lessons in the McKinney, Allen, or Frisco areas get in touch with me now!


John W.

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