On Guitar Prices, or WTF?

My brother and I were having a conversation the other day about musical instruments; specifically, about the rising cost of electric guitars and how we were pretty damn confused by it.

“They haven’t really changed the methods or the materials they use to make a Fender Telecaster in 15, 20 years,” he said. “So the guitar I’ve got is essentially the same one they’re putting out now, but mine cost half as much.”

And it’s true. A Made in Mexico (MIM) Telecaster used to go for around $250 or so in the mid- to late-90s. Today, it goes for $500. A used Tele from the mid-90s will go for $400 on Craigslist, which is also pretty ridiculous. I bought a mid-90s MIM Stratocaster back last March, and it cost me around $300 (which, now that I look at it, was apparently a good deal). But now the Squiers, the cheap little brother of the Fender family, cost as much as the MIM Teles or Strats used to, and that just doesn’t seem right. In what world would someone really want to pay several hundred dollars for an entry-level, crappy little guitar like a Squier? That’s like paying several hundred dollars for someone to crap out a guitar-shaped thing for you, and it just ain’t worth it. I mean, they’re selling a freakin’ Squier for almost $400 here.