The Guitar Collecting Cookbook:How To Choose the Right Ingredients For Your “Chopping Block”

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do at is sharing and and talking about some of the guitars in my collection.  Not only is it fun for me to talk about the specs and the tones but also the unique stories behind many of them.  From the ones that temporarily got away,  to the one that set my passion in motion, it’s still hard for me not to get excited about opening up the vault and being reminded how much I love these things we call guitars.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m not much different than any other guitar collector in that I’m passionate about the instrument.  But we’re all humans with different interests and preferences, so it makes total sense that different likes and dislikes will drive our collections.  Some may be happy to collect one particular kind of guitar, like Ibanez JEMs or B.C. Rich Mockingbirds.  Others may exclusively collect from one particular builder, like Carvin or Diamond.  Others may even gravitate towards a particular shape, regardless of what builder made it.

But there is one thing out there that any collector, whether he just bought his first guitar yesterday or has bought a warehouse full of instruments over many years, needs to keep in mind.  It’s no secret that many manufacturers contract the construction of their guitars to overseas builders.  Jump on to Youtube and you’ll find footage of factories in Asia making instruments for several different manufacturers all on the same assembly line by the same people.  It’s mind-blowing to see several familiar headstock shapes all lined up in the same room, with one person working his or her ass off to keep the production line going.

In situations like these, we have to wonder whether any collector is truly served in this kind of arrangement.  Think about the following scenario: your mother has a large collection of cookbooks from famous chefs covering a variety of different cuisines.  Whenever she cooks, she follows the recipes to a “T”, making the dish exactly as the chef who wrote it would make it themselves.  Now, everyone’s mom is a master chef in her own right.  But even with that recipe and all the right ingredients, you’re not getting the true experience that comes from the unique skills of a renowned, professional chef making that recipe.

And that’s pretty much what’s happening with these types of builders.  You’ve got the name, the specs, and even the blessing of the company that has contracted to have these models made, but a major factor that is supposed to set one guitar apart from the other, the unique craftsmanship that comes from different builders, is missing.  I doubt there is any collector out there whose main goal is to collect a stable of guitars that wear different brand names but come from the same factory.  What’s the point?

Now don’t get me wrong: there is no doubt these contract builders work hard, take pride in their craft, and deliver quality, affordable guitars to many players out there.  That’s not the issue here.  Nor are we talking about collections that purposely revolve around a specific maker.  It’s expected that the guitars in those collections are probably going to be manufactured in the same factory or factories.  The issue is those collectors that are trying to achieve a certain level of variety and diversity in their collection, but falling short through no fault of their own.

So I’m going to throw it out to the readership.  Whether you have a collection of one or one hundred, what’s your recipe for guitar collecting? And would you feel cheated if you found out that, despite having different brands on the headstock, some or all of your collection was built in the same contract factory?



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About the Author: The Tone King | | TTKRocks | REAL reviews for REAL players! ROCK hard, ROCK loud, ROCK ON!

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