Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Jonathan Horsley

How do you make an entry-level guitar that’s twice as good? Spend an extra $5 when making it, says Lee Anderton of UK gear retail giant Andertons

Lee Anderton appearing on The Guitar Geek YouTube show: Anderton and Andy Ferris discussed the economics of guitar making.

What makes a cheap electric guitar great could be down to a matter of mere pocket change. Lee Anderton, big boss of UK gear retail giant Andertons, has revealed that spending an extra $5 in the making of an entry-level guitar can result in an instrument that is “twice as good.”

In a fascinating conversation with Andy Ferris on his Guitar Geek YouTube channel, Anderton was discussing the economics of budget instruments, and explained how even small investments on the cost of making budget electric guitars can make a huge difference in the end product.

Using Andertons’ own budget guitar brand, EastCoast, as an example, he said that so long as you could meet the factory’s minimum orders, an extra $5 to $10 made for a dramatically better instrument than the most basic guitars that you typically find in a £99 starter pack. And crucially, it does so without dramatically inflating the price of the guitar.

“I was looking at these models and thinking it was mad how much better I could make the guitar relative to these £99 ones by just saying to the factory, ‘What if we just spend five dollars more?’” he said. “Like, not 50 dollars more, 100 dollars more, something really that would really inflate the retail price. What if we just spent five dollars more so that we are only really maybe putting the price of the guitar up by 10 or 20 quid after it has gone through all the various import processes and stuff.”

Taking the EastCoast ST-1 as an example, which is an entry-level S-style with an SSS pickup configuration and a vibrato, Anderton said the experiment worked – the extra money spent in the making of the ST-1 was something that could really be felt by the player.

Ferris asked whether it was hardware or better finish options. Anderton says it was “attention to detail”. 

“I would imagine the cost price on that is probably only five to 10 dollars more than the guitar that comes in the pack for £99 but it is, like, twice as good,” said Anderton. Sadly, these economies are not felt as we look at more expensive instruments. 

“We were talking about this before, these diminishing returns," he continues. "This does not apply when you start spending £500 or £1,000 on a guitar – another five dollars doesn’t get you anything, really. A different strap button or something. But at this price point, five dollars, relative to the cost of building the guitar, is a fair percentage.”

EastCoast ST-1 (Image credit: Andertons)

The EastCoast brand is one that is presently shared by Andertons and GuitarGuitar. It was originally a three-way deal with PMT, struck up in 2017 when the three UK retailers collaborated so they could meet the factory minimums and carry a budget guitar in their stores they could call their own. 

After PMT dropped out following their change of ownership in 2019, but the current arrangement allows both Andertons and GuitarGuitar to run exclusive colours and finishes and expand their inventory of beginner instruments. The ST-1 is the cheapest in the EastCoast lineup. It is listed on the Andertons website right now for £99 (though in the video Anderton says it is £109). 

But it’s not the only EastCoast model. There is a T-1, which is a budget T-style, and guitars such as the HM1, which is a compact S-style metal guitar in Ferrari Yellow that’s sells for £149. 

Anderton says they don’t necessarily have control over all the specs. In the case of the HM1, they would specify Canadian hard maple for the neck, rosewood for the fingerboard, and there would be an FSC-certified tonewood used for the body. In this case poplar. There are also EastCoast bass guitars, classical guitars and acoustics, compact combos and guitar starter packs.

You can check out the full range at Andertons, and compare and contrast with the EastCoast models carried by GuitarGuitar. But do check out the full interview with Ferris above – it offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes perspective on a retailer’s own brand and what factors affect the list price of your guitar. You can subscribe to The Guitar Geek here.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.