How are cheap guitars priced so low?

Close-up of the neck plate on a Squier electric guitar
Squier has been releasing more affordable versions of classic Fender designs since 1982 (Image credit: Future)

The majority of more affordable instruments are made overseas, primarily in Asia. Back in the day it was Japan who led the way for affordable production guitars, but as their economy developed and their workforce rightly expected wage rises brands started to look further afield: South Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, the Philippines. 

This migration is always about money – the cost of building an instrument so it remains competitive in its destination market. Fender, like Martin and Taylor, has long produced guitars in Mexico for its lower-end ranges; it’s their ‘overseas’.

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Dave Burrluck
Gear Reviews Editor, Guitarist

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.