Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Value for money and guitars

click photo to enlarge
In a recent post I reflected on value for money with reference to cameras and coffee, but it's something I look for in everything I buy. There are those who believe that "you get what you pay for", implying that there is a direct and widespread correlation between price and quality. Though there is often such a link it is by no means always present, and it seems to apply less at the top of the market than in the middle or at the bottom. In my experience value for money often resides at points around the middle of the market, sometimes a bit below, at other times a bit above.

Given those views it will come as no surprise that a guitar I recently bought is not the cheapest available and by no means the most expensive. In fact I'd say its price resides somewhere below the average. However, in terms of value for money it is quite remarkable. The Washburn WD10SCE electro-acoustic replaces a much more expensive Epiphone guitar that I've had for thirty or so years. When I bought the old guitar I looked at what was available, tried several in the shop, and settled on the Epiphone. And, despite my research and hands-on experience, I've never been totally happy with it in terms of sound or action. I've tried different brands of string, different weights, adjusted the truss rod and much else, all to no avail. But I soldiered on using the guitar because it was good enough. Since I retired I've played my guitars much more and the desire for a change has become more pressing. So, on the basis of no trials, but going solely on other people's opinions and reviews, I bought the Washburn. After a few weeks of use I can say that I am very happy with the sound, the action, the quality of materials and workmanship. There is (or rather was) only one problem.

The guitar is supplied with just a single strap button. Now, like any guitar, it can be played without a strap. However, if you are going to put one button on a guitar (at the base of the body), then surely you'd put another at one of the usual locations somewhere around the point where the neck meets the shoulders of the body. I recognise that a strap that fixes at the supplied base button and which ties on just above the nut is a possibility. But, the way this guitar was sold it's the only possibility, one that is much less favoured today, and so why not offer a second stud - the cost is minimal - to give the buyer a wider choice of fixing positions? To cut a long story short, I mounted my own second button so that I can use a strap in the way I prefer. You can see it in the photograph in the top left corner. I could have fixed it to the side of the heel of the neck but I chose to use the side of the body. To make a secure fixing I first glued a block of hardwood inside to receive the screw. It has worked very well, the guitar is now as near to perfect as someone of my relatively limited abilities can hope for, and I'm looking forward to using it for the next thirty years or so!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 95mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/3
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -1.00 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off