So, I have this friend () and he is willing to invest a seizable amount of money on a great instrument (let’s say between USD 1,500 and 2,500; but, really, all the same challenges mentioned below would also apply to a 15,000 dollar instrument). He is, at this point, not interested in buying one of the big brands and well-known models, but would rather own an instrument from a smaller company/luthier.
Thus, if you wander off the beaten track a little, the challenges are:
- there is no (big chain) guitar megastore close by where my friend lives, only medium-sized and specialized shops
- even if there were big ones around, they are unlikely to stock this particular brand
- and even if they did, they would certainly not have several copies of the same model for testing
- the company/luthier is located too far away to make a visit there realistic/convenient
- in fact, the company itself might not stock too many copies of the same model either, as they make them upon request/order
- finding a used one has probably the same odds as finding Bigfoot
At least, there are (a few) reviews and product videos to get some impression and some more information about the model in question. The reviews are very positive and the next step would probably be to get in touch with the company/luthier and have a chat with them.
Still, more generally speaking, what are your thoughts about
- ordering an instrument online without having played it at all (I guess it depends largely on the company’s return policy also)?
- is it prudent to assume that a dedicated company/luthier would not let a “crappy” instrument leave their factory/shop? I.e., is it more likely such a small company would have a stronger ambition for producing with consistent quality than, say, Fender MiM (see extended discussions in another thread here in the forum)?
- Similarly, can one assume that a USD 2000 bass will always be of higher quality than a USD 500 bass? (Again, putting aside the possibility that lunar phases and disgruntled employees might affect day-to-day variations in instrument quality). I ask this not to re-start a discussion on the general correlation between price and quality, but to get a feel for whether it would be less of a “gamble” to buy something “unseen” if it is more expensive…
- Quality of the product aside, what other aspects of an instrument could make you not like it? Aspects you might have noticed had you had a chance to test it?