When Should You Upgrade Your Guitar

by Rodrigo Sanchez, Sep 25, 2020 . 4 min read

When Should You Upgrade Your Guitar

Do you know when you should upgrade your guitar? That is a very personal question that will therefore have quite different answers.

Many factors come into play here. For instance, if you are a touring guitarist, your guitar and gear will be your main source of income. As a result, the answer to that question will differ greatly from a hobbyist. So context is key to answer that question. 

Firstly, do you have enough money to upgrade your guitar? And let’s face it: for many, if the answer to that question is “yes” then you’ll probably upgrade your guitar. Secondly, what does “upgrading” your guitar mean? It could be replacing the pickups or neck (or any other guitar part). It could also mean buying a new guitar altogether. Finally, why would you upgrade your guitar? Do you absolutely need to? Or is it just something that you want to do? Again, this is highly personal and there is no wrong answer. Let’s explore some scenarios of when you should upgrade your guitar. 

Your current guitar is not functioning well

This is perhaps the easiest and most direct way of knowing if you need to upgrade your guitar. Does it work well? Perhaps the electronics stopped functioning properly and/or are making unwanted noises? Maybe you need to have someone look at it and replace the pickups? Will the price for this be as high as buying a new guitar? Or maybe your guitar can no longer tune well. You’ve invested in a good tuner and tune your guitar often, however, it cannot stay in tune like it used to? This is very simple: you need a functioning guitar in order to play, even if you play just by yourself at home. Take your guitar to an expert and get a quote on how much it would cost to fix it. You can then make an informed decision. Maybe you will have to exchange something. Or maybe it will make more sense to invest in a new guitar. 

You need or want a better guitar

This reason is just as valid as the previous one. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a better guitar than the one you have (don’t show this to your wife or husband). Also, there is nothing wrong with upgrading several components on your guitar. Perhaps you want to upgrade your pickups. Or maybe, you have been practicing really hard for a year and want to reward yourself with a highly desirable guitar. In addition, if you are starting to get a lot of studio work, you might want to upgrade your guitar and gear. The best musicians customarily want to have the best tools to work with. Guitar players are no exception. 

You need to expand your tonal palette

Many guitarists will have several types of guitars for different situations. Acoustic, nylon-string, baritone, hollow-body, solid-body, etc. This is especially true for studio and touring guitarists. In other words, the top players want to provide variety whenever they play. For instance, maybe you have a strat-type guitar, but need to get a hollow-body to get more of a jazzy sound. This will definitely upgrade your guitar collection and be a welcome addition. 

The rest of your gear has been upgraded already

You have carefully built your pedalboard. It features legendary pedals and you meticulously took care of the ideal signal chain. You’ve invested in a boutique amplifier that sounds like a dream. But you are still playing on that cheap guitar that your mom bought you at Sears? Then it’s time to upgrade your guitar, my friend. There is no point in having high-end gear that is connected to low-quality gear. And that goes both ways. In other words, having a four thousand dollar guitar play through a 200 dollar amp makes no sense. 

Reality check your quest to upgrade your guitar

No amount of upgrading will make up for lousy playing. None. Zilch. Nada. In other words, there is no substitute for practicing. Sorry. There’s no way around this. In other words, if your playing sounds like nails on a chalkboard now, upgrading will only amplify that. Now that I got that out of the way, upgrading is fun! Sure, there is always the risk of serious G.A.S. but it’s still very cool. If you are a dedicated guitarist, you will likely want to practice and play even more once you upgrade your guitar. Feel free to leave us a comment.

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