The price of electric guitars has become outrageous!
Or has it? A couple grand might feel like a lot to pay for a new Les Paul or Strat, but what happens when you adjust the 1959 cost of a Strat for inflation?
Here's the bill of sale for a 1959 Stratocaster. It was $324. Adjusted for inflation, that's $2,650 in 2014 dollars. What will an American Vintage '59 Stratocaster set you back today? $2,300. That's comparatively less than the cost of an off-the-shelf Strat in 1959.
A new Les Paul Standard would have set you back $290 in 1959. That's $2,370 today. And how much is a Les Paul Standard (with a "light flame" top) today? $2,750. Only slightly more than in 1959.
That doesn't take into account the 400 other variations of the Les Paul and Stratocaster available today, or the much more expensive "custom shop" models. But the cost of a regular old anyone-can-walk-in-off-the-street-and-buy-one electric guitar hasn't really changed much over the years.
And you could argue (I certainly would) that the low-to-mid line, American made Gibsons and Fenders ($600 - $1000) are better values than they've ever been. I paid $800 for a Les Paul Deluxe in 1980 ($2,300 today), and I think a Les Paul Special that I bought for $550 a couple years ago is a much better guitar than the '80 Deluxe. But then 1980 wasn't exactly a banner year for quality from Gibson.
The moral of the story is that playing music on real instruments is still a god damn expensive thing to do. And probably always will be. Which is also probably why so many young people use computers to make music. But, you know, it's just not the same thing.
Calculations courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index calculator, which is a fun tool: http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl #gibsonguitars #fenderguitar #lespaul #stratocaster #costofliving #inflation