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  1. #1

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    So apparently these guitars are the Mythical Beasts of Bolt Ons according to most of the owners. Problem is the owners are mostly amateurs with deep pockets and little real experience as working guitarists.
    I say this because unless you have experience at any profession how would you know the difference between great tools or plain tools?

    Anyway I can't even find out if Stephan D'Pergo has any luthier skills or machinist skills a d actually builds these guitars. It seems to be part of the marketing along with rare old growth Alder, maple,ash, etc... And in house fabrication of most parts.

    The good part is for only $10k and above. You too can own a Magical Toy !

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  3. #2

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    Tons of D'Pergo talk over at TGP, not so much here. Lovers and haters.

  4. #3
    I know they keep locking D'Pergo threads at TGP. Can't seem to get anyone to corroborate if he actually builds the instruments or not?

    I just find sad when anyone way overprices their work compared to actual market value, and people are taken in by it. This goes for a few Archtop builders as well.
    Not talking about D'Aquisto or even luthiers who are deceased.

    But I guess the saying of "Never give a Sucker an even break" still holds true!

  5. #4

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    I've played a few of his strats over the years. I prefer my own partscasters, but the D'Pergos I've played are nice guitars.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post
    I know they keep locking D'Pergo threads at TGP. Can't seem to get anyone to corroborate if he actually builds the instruments or not?

    I just find sad when anyone way overprices their work compared to actual market value, and people are taken in by it. This goes for a few Archtop builders as well.
    Not talking about D'Aquisto or even luthiers who are deceased.

    But I guess the saying of "Never give a Sucker an even break" still holds true!
    A couple thoughts:

    • If a company or luthier prices their guitars above market value they will not sell.
    • If their work is selling, that by definition establishes the market value.

    That said, like most people, on an individual basis I look askance at some guitar pricing and feel the value proposition is not justified by the price. This threshold will differ from player to player. This is different from market value. This is an individual cost/benefit judgement.

  7. #6
    Funny how passionate that many amateurs are about their D'Pergo guitars.
    But when one spends large archtop $$$ on a simple bolt on designed instrument with readily available woods. I'd try and convince myself I didn't just get fleeced as well.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post
    Funny how passionate that many amateurs are about their D'Pergo guitars.
    But when one spends large archtop $$$ on a simple bolt on designed instrument with readily available woods. I'd try and convince myself I didn't just get fleeced as well.
    There's a very famous story about that involving an emperor and some clothes.

  9. #8
    Thats why at my age, Im NOT PROUD of how I look NAKED. LOL !

  10. #9

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    The only expensive, luthier-made bolt-on neck guitar that I own was made for me by my friend and luthier Laurent Brondel. Laurent is both a fantastic luthier (he primarily builds acoustic guitars, but has a passion for vintage electric guitars and is also an adept player). He mostly builds these for existing clients and friends and it is not part of his primary business of building acoustic guitars.

    It was expensive by factory standards, but easily less than half the price of I understand that a D’Pergo costs. I had made because I wanted wider nut/bridge spacing, a thick D-shaped neck profile, particular frets/pickups and some aesthetic choices of neck and body woods and finish. I also wanted it because my friend Laurent made it. I was able to select woods and observe it being made throughout its build. There is no question who built every aspect of the guitar.

    The whole wild west world of Fender and Gibson solid body electric guitar lutherie (a focus of TGP) is truly a world of assembled, purchased components, a bit of snake oil, exclusivity and bravado. While there is some of that in the world of archtop, classical, flattop and gypsy guitar lutherie, in my experience it is a much more transparent world.

  11. #10

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    It seems to me that a low-volume manufacturer (such as a one-man-shop bolt-on guitar maker) is going to have to set a very high price on his/her instruments if s/he wants to earn a decent income. Irrespective of the raw materials costs of the instrument, if you're buying it from someone who makes a couple of hundred guitars a year (if that) and who also eats every day and is not homeless, you're going to pay $$$'s for it.

  12. #11

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    Sounds like a brand of wooden flooring. Paying for repurposed offcuts, maybe?

  13. #12
    High prices are really the issue involved with DPergo. Its that his guitars which are similar to say James Tyler, CS Masterbuild Fenders, etc.. are more than 2xs as expensive in asking price. Also his ad copy in his website is quite over the top in promising Unicorns to his perspective clients.

    All of this promised without any real info on who builds them or where he sources his magical components. So when trying to ask owners about them, it's mostly amateurs with deep pockets who don't play gigs bragging on the brand.
    Leads to some interesting discussions, where it goes a little like The Emperor Story mentioned in one of the above posts.

  14. #13

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    Not really sure why you brought this up here? Especially after obviously having read the vitriolic threads on TGP. Is it because of the high price, or because he may not build them himself?

    They guy charges what he charges. Is it worth it? Not to me, not to you, but it is to some people. Maybe he doesn't build them all himself, but neither did most of the Martin family, and that worked out ok. For that matter, neither did Leo. Some folks swear by his guitars, and others swear by equally exclusive builders who just happen to charge somewhat less, but still quite a lot for a bolt on. Myself, I'd rather talk about some of those, because it is more in the realm of possibility that I would do a build with one of those, and leave the $10K strats and teles to someone else.

    We are just used to talking about archtop builders here who do their own work, and it seems OK if they charge $8K and up for their work for that reason, and because they are complicated to build. But Gibson arch tops are also in that range now, and I haven't seen any members of the Gibson family down there shaping necks, but people still buy them.

  15. #14
    Actually I've seen this in the archtop world as well. However it generally is a really good luthier who feels he's worth the really high asking price.
    For me as much as some of those instruments are stellar, they are not worth the 2 to 3xs guitars built by say Mark Campellone, Franz Elferink, Stephen Holst, amd a few others.
    Last edited by jads57; 09-03-2021 at 09:24 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post
    Actually I've seen this in the archtop world as well. However it generally is a really good luthier who feels he's worth the really high asking price.
    For me as much as some of those instruments are stellar, they are not worth the 2 to 3xs guitars built by say Mark Campellone, Franz Elferink, Stephen Holst, amd a few others.
    ”For me” is the key word in your statement .

    This is not “market value”. For similar reasons to what you expressed, I too regard certain builders guitars who make very fine guitars not worth the differential expenditure over other market options. For you, that line falls in the first quartile of the archtop market. For others like me, it might be in the second or third quartile of the market. The market, supports all quartiles. People are still buying guitars from John Monteleone.

    I guess D’Pergo is in the fourth quartile of small shop Strat builders (as are Fender Custom Shop “Master Built” Guitars) and companies like Tom Anderson, Fender Custom Shop, Don Grosh, John Suhr or James Tyler might examples of second or third quartile builders. Perhaps someone like Ron Kirn might be a first quartile builder. Some feel that second and third quartile builders products are not worth it. I do feel that Fender derivative, bolt on neck S and T style guitars are inherently far more similar than carved archtop guitars.

    I think much of the D’Pergo vitriol is due to the fact that he is making a fairly ubiquitous Fender derivative product of assembled parts and is non-transparent, litigious person, who markets with some snake oil claims. Add to that, the shutting down of discussions in other guitar forums and it creates an environment of distrust and anger. In the archtop market there is a WIDE range of prices (even wider than the Leo derivative market). I don’t see the same aspects baked into D’Pergo in the archtop market. I don’t begrudge certain builders charging what they charge, I just choose not to buy them.

    With solo builders, price is driven by many factors. Yes, reputation, experience factor in. But beyond that, some builders live in more expensive regions cost of living wise, some only build part time and have other income sources, some have greater shop overhead, some only build a narrow range of guitars and others build more custom unique instruments.

  17. #16
    So sorry take issue with above analogy, but here goes. When you use John Monteleones guitars or similar well known established market value items as a comparison. This is exactly the issue I have with builders like D'Pergo.

    He is not an established maker of goods,nor do his guitars actually command his asking prices to begin with. The market is based on scarcity, desire, or artist associated parameters.

    This is where the B.S. in my opinion is thick. Wether it's just wealthy amateurs or his marketing bravado. None of this works to distinguish his offerings from other well known similar boutique builders with actual track records and reasonable prices to begin with.

    I'm sure his guitars are of similar quality but I find it quite off putting when wealthy amateurs dictate to actual professional musicians what is worth it or not.
    Especially when they neither have the skills needed to actually perform at a Pro level on stage,studio,etc.
    And sorry but being a volunteer musician at your church doesn't give you any Brownie Points in my book anyways.

    Again its the bravado of the said luthier,maker or amateur rich buyers that's the real issue.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post
    So sorry take issue with above analogy, but here goes. When you use John Monteleones guitars or similar well known established market value items as a comparison. This is exactly the issue I have with builders like D'Pergo.

    He is not an established maker of goods,nor do his guitars actually command his asking prices to begin with. The market is based on scarcity, desire, or artist associated parameters.

    This is where the B.S. in my opinion is thick. Wether it's just wealthy amateurs or his marketing bravado. None of this works to distinguish his offerings from other well known similar boutique builders with actual track records and reasonable prices to begin with.

    I'm sure his guitars are of similar quality but I find it quite off putting when wealthy amateurs dictate to actual professional musicians what is worth it or not.
    Especially when they neither have the skills needed to actually perform at a Pro level on stage,studio,etc.
    And sorry but being a volunteer musician at your church doesn't give you any Brownie Points in my book anyways.

    Again its the bravado of the said luthier,maker or amateur rich buyers that's the real issue.
    I honestly wasn’t comparing John Monteleone to D’Pergo’s actual work other than both of their respective guitars costs many times that of his established peers (e.g,., Andersen, Buscarino, Campellone, Grimes, Ribbecke with archtops or Anderson, Grosh, Suhr or Tyler with Fender derivative guitars) and both are in business. I could have used Jeff Elliott, Kim Walker or Ervin Somogyi as examples instead. All make fantastic guitars which cost many times that of their established peers.

    Irrespective of how you or I feel about a builder’s work, the free market has made its judgement or otherwise they would be gone. I would add, it has been my experience that the whole advent of large company “custom shops”, boutique small shops and much of lutherie has been primarily supported by amateur musicians with good day jobs for decades.

    I am totally with you in that I would NEVER buy one of his guitars for a multitude of reasons.

  19. #18

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    The guitar is a tool to do a job. The job, in our cases, is creative and demands good technique, knowledge and soul. The tool needs to be in good working order, and, if one is lucky, can inspire, and should inspire. For my money, acoustic instruments are worth a lot of money: good ones take a real mastery of luthery, a lot of time and attention, and the proof is in the pudding; they basically sell themselves. Electric guitars are different animal: the materials need not be as select as in the acoustic world, although the workmanship needs to be excellent in order for the guitar to function for the purpose. In my possession are 2 Lester Devoe concert flamenco guitar: very simple, not flashy, not fancy, just extremely well-made, responsive and loud instruments for accompaniment or solo work, among the best in the world, costing about $8500 now, if Lester is still building. Those are worth the money.

    On the electric side, I have just acquired a lightly used, almost unplayed Gretsch 5420, black finish with gold hardware, including a Bigsby tremolo tailpiece. This is a more-or-less standard hollow body with a 16" lower bout and a cutaway, with two Filter'tron pickups. It is the most inspirational guitar for electric application I have owned in 55 years and some 300 instruments later, including all the usual suspects from Gibson, Guild, Ibanez, Vega and the like. This guitar cost me all of $650 with case. It paid for itself in 3 gigs. As a professional player, I have never been able to justify any piece of equipment that wouldn't pay for itself in a reasonable time, since, as I started with, it's a tool to produce my product: music. Seems like the price tag should reflect the real value.

  20. #19
    As in all Luxury Items marketed, it's diminishing returns past a reasonable investment amount of money. And I totally get that concept and in no way begrudge any real luthier or individual of making a decent living

    It's when it becomes Bragging Rights, especially when advertised as such, and fails to deliver on the premise of the maker themselves.
    Their clientele wears it as though it's a Badge Of Smugness and their ability to be Hip that bugs the crap out of me.

    Being the age of 64 and owning way too much gear from Vintage Gibson,Fender, etc. Dumble amps when they were expensive but still affordable. I actually have made my living with many of these tools.
    So for me the B.S. runs deep in many of these forums. I just fid it really disingenuous at best and laughable that people fall for many of these toys.

    Well I guess "A Fool and his Money are Easily Parted" rings still true as ever!

  21. #20

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    For years I followed all the D'Pergo threads on TGP as well as DeTemple who seems to pretty much offer the same sort of guitars at the same prices.
    D'Pergo excels at taking the bespoke concept to new heights by offering esoteric woods such as sinker woods and old growth wood as well as machining his own hardware and winding his own pickups from parts he creates himself.

    From bridge assemblies to pickups, from string trees to springs, each piece is hand-made from alloys that are specifically chosen for their particular characteristics and tonal contribution. Our parts are precision-milled to tolerances that improve performance and stability while maintaining an authentic vintage tone, feel, and vibe.

    I'm skeptical.

    D'Pergo won't talk to you unless you agree to a $300 consultation fee which he applies if you buy a guitar.
    OK.

    A few pros like David Torn and Julien Kasper play D'Pergos and sing high praises.
    But then I see David Torn playing a number of other really nice guitars and singing their praises.

    I have no doubt they are the ultimate evolution of the Stratocaster but the diminished return is so great I can't help but think it's running backwards.

    A guy drove by me last year in a Porsche GT3 RS in full Martini & Rossi livery. I understand if you throw a set of racing wheels on one of these things you have an actual, competitive race car. They are around $300,000 USD. He was driving the speed limit. Did I see the headstock of a D'Pergo peeking up from the back?
    Last edited by DRS; 09-04-2021 at 07:55 PM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRS View Post

    I have no doubt they are the ultimate evolution of the Stratocaster but the diminished return is so great I can't help but think it's running backwards.
    That pretty much sums it up for me as well. All guitars have a point beyond which the practical benefits that come with increased price get smaller than I'm willing to pay for. In different types of guitars that point is different amounts. I'm not a Strat player so I won't put an actual number on it but in T-types I don't think there's much additional utility to be had past $2000 and you can get pretty close for a lot less than that.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post

    Well I guess "A Fool and his Money are Easily Parted" rings still true as ever!
    Or perhaps we have built a society with such an imbalance in the distribution of wealth that for a lot of people these are amounts that don't even rise to the level of concern.

  24. #23

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    hobby1 /?h?bi/
    noun: hobby; plural noun: hobbies
    1. an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure.

    hobbyist /?h?b??st/
    noun
    a person who pursues a particular hobby.
    "a guitar hobbyist"

    You're shaking a fist at hobbyists pursuing their hobby. Their hobby-the activity that gives them pleasure in their leisure time-happens to be D'Pergo Strat-style guitars. Ain't gonna call him no fool. Whatever floats your boat cuz it is your hobby and you can do whatever you want with your time and your money to fill that time.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRS View Post
    ...I have no doubt they are the ultimate evolution of the Stratocaster but the diminished return is so great I can't help but think it's running backwards...
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway View Post
    That pretty much sums it up for me as well. All guitars have a point beyond which the practical benefits that come with increased price get smaller than I'm willing to pay for. In different types of guitars that point is different amounts. I'm not a Strat player so I won't put an actual number on it but in T-types I don't think there's much additional utility to be had past $2000 and you can get pretty close for a lot less than that.
    I guess if I have any problem with a maker like D'Pergo it would be that they are essentially using Strat and Tele designs in very literal ways. If their guitars are as good as they say they are they should be developed beyond exploiting those iconic designs. There is only a certain amount of cleverness in taking what someone else has done literally and improving a few things about it under the surface. Perhaps saying it is a design rip-off is too harsh, but I don't know of another way to put it. And having dabbled in partscasters over the years I agree with Jim that you can get 95% there for $2k or less compared with one of these boutique builders that exploit the iconic designs. All that said, the guy deserves the freedom to have a business and do what he wants. If what he makes floats someone else's boat it is not my position to say that he should stop. My 2 cents.

  26. #25

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    Planc de Plancs? I've visited quite a few guitars shows, and from the distance of one meter, most Strat or Tele clones claiming uniqueness, to begin with, are more or less indistinguishable. There are well trained, meticulous small-volume luthiers all over the world, probably more of them than ever before. Nothing wrong with that, but how could one stand out and make a product more valuable by multiples than the rest? I grant that tonewoods matter even in bolt-on guitars, but hardly that much. To take another angle, I'm not aware of boutique cabinet makers reproducing Ikea designs with more valuable raw materials and charging a fortune for them. Reproductions of antique artifacts cost a fraction of the originals.