Mexico is, undoubtedly, one of the few countries in the world that produces a lot of guitars per year. It is the country where the giant guitar brand, Fender, makes all of their Taylor guitar series and other well-known series. Martin Guitar is also another brand that produces most of its guitars in Mexico.
Since many guitars are produced in Mexico, does that make guitars any cheaper in Mexico? Will you save some cash purchasing a guitar in Mexico, or you’re better off buying it wherever you live?
In short, no. Guitars are no cheaper in Mexico. Guitars prices in Mexico are usually slightly higher if not the same as its market price. That’s because guitar companies require Mexican guitar shops to sell their products at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (or MSRP).
Before we get into how guitars in Mexico are priced and how to find cheap guitars, let’s talk about why some manufacturers prefer making guitars in Mexico.
Why are Guitars Made in Mexico?
There are two main reasons why companies like Fender and Martin Guitars build their guitar factories and make guitars in Mexico. Let’s explore them.
1. There are many expert guitar craftsmen in Mexico
For so many years, the guitar has always been part of Mexican culture and tradition.
The 16th Century was when it all began when Spanish missionaries traveled to Paracho, Mexico. Paracho is one of the most iconic cities in the world when it comes to guitars.
The Spanish missionaries taught the artisans and woodworkers of Paracho the art and craft of making guitars. Since then, this knowledge has been passed on to the next generations of Mexicans till today.
According to estimates, over 90% of Paracho’s population is involved in the guitar business. There are many expert guitar makers in Paracho and the rest of Mexico, both young and old. That’s because most of them start learning the craft at a young age. Also, nearly every shop in the city sells hand-made guitars.
Now, Paracho has become the city that produces the most guitars globally, producing over a million guitars per year. And that is just ¾ of the total number of guitars made in Mexico in a year.
And this is all because there are many guitar craftsmen that are highly skilled in Mexico. Most of these craftsmen are employed in guitar factories, while few still make hand-crafted guitars.
Paracho is not the only city where guitars are produced. In fact, guitar craftsmen, also known as luthiers, are spread all over the country.
2. Low cost of labor in Mexico
Another reason guitar companies prefer manufacturing guitars in Mexico is that the cost of labor is relatively cheaper over there compared to the United States.
This is something that many companies do. They move their production overseas to countries with low cost of living and hence cheap labor cost. This is why many guitar companies manufacture their guitars in countries like Indonesia, Japan, China, Korea, and Mexico.
They will spend significantly less to make the same quality or even higher quality guitars than what is made in the US.
Does that Make Guitars Any Cheaper in Mexico?
Under normal circumstances, guitars sold in Mexico should be cheaper. That’s because they are produced locally.
The general assumption is that sellers don’t have to pay any importation, shipping, and handling fee to get the guitars in their stores. All this cost that would have been added to the guitar’s final price is saved.
This means, logically, the prices of guitars made in Mexico should be sold at a lower price in Mexico. But is that the case?
No. Guitars are no cheaper in Mexico. In fact, guitar prices in Mexico are mostly higher, if not the same as their original price.
While I was researching this topic, I found many discussions on forums about guitar prices in Mexico. Many guitarists want to save some cash by buying their favorite Fender or Martin guitars directly from Mexico. And as surprising as it sounds, these guitars are no cheaper over there. They have the same price tags as their original prices in US shops and e-commerce sites.
Most of the time, after converting a guitar’s price listed in Mexican peso into US Dollars, the price is mostly higher than the guitar’s price listed in US Dollars.
Here is one of the comments I found in a Reddit discussion that confirms the fact that guitars in Mexico are not cheaper.
As you can already tell, you’ll make no savings if you decide to buy a popular brand guitar in Mexico. You’re better off buying a Fender or Martin guitar wherever you are to save cost on shipping or to avoid any traveling damages to the guitar.
However, if you are willing to explore some not-so-popular Mexican guitar brands as well as some hand-crafted guitars, you can definitely find an excellent guitar at an affordable price.
There are many locally made unbranded guitars in Mexico. And honestly, there are many not-so-great options. However, if you take your time to try out different guitars in different shops, you’ll be fortunate enough to find something well built and sounds great at a low price.
Why are Guitars Expensive in Mexico?
As we’ve already discussed, guitars, especially name-brand guitars, are not cheap in Mexico. They sell them at the market price just like any other place, although the guitars are manufactured there. But why is this the case?
As surprising as this may sound, all the guitars made in Mexican factories are shipped back to the United States. Fender uses temporary importation to ship all guitars made in their Mexico factory to the United States.
Sellers in Mexico who want to sell these name-brand guitars like the Fender or Martin Guitars have to apply to be an authorized dealer. Once they get approved, they are required to buy a lot of guitars. The purchased guitars will then be shipped to the sellers from the United States back to Mexico.
As part of the deal between the sellers in Mexico and these guitar companies, the sellers are required to sell these guitars at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (or MSRP). They are allowed to add extra charges to compensate for importation and handling fees. However, they cannot price the guitars below the MSRP.
This is the primary reason why guitar prices in Mexico are the same or slightly higher than their market price.
Guitar manufacturers use MSRP so that their products have a consistent and standard price all over the world, regardless of the location.
How to find Cheap Guitars in Mexico
Finding an excellent guitar in Mexico that has a great build quality and sounds awesome can be quite a daunting task.
As we have already talked about, there are many guitar craftsmen in Mexico. And in the city of Paracho, especially, guitars can be found on every corner. However, this doesn’t mean all guitars made in Mexico are great.
Some guitar luthiers use woods that can break easily. At the same time, other luthiers are simply not good at making excellent guitars. So here are my tips on finding cheap guitars in Mexico.
1. Visit Guitar Shops and Try Out Different Guitars
One of the best ways to find a cheap guitar in Mexico is to visit many shops and try out different guitars. This may be a bit time-consuming, but it’s definitely worth it.
There are a dozen guitar shops spread all over Mexico. So checking out different guitars in shops will take a while. But you’ll definitely find a guitar you love that is within your budget if you take the time to look.
Also, I’ll recommend shops that make their own guitars. Guitar luthiers that make and sell their own guitars can be considerate and reduce the price of a guitar for you during the haggling process. It all depends on how likable you are and how well you’re able to negotiate.
These guitars will mostly be unbranded or may have been made by unpopular Mexican-based guitar brands. But that should not discourage you from trying them. There is always a diamond in the rough.
2. Buy used guitars
Another way to find cheap guitars is to buy used guitars from Mexican natives. You can find guitars in excellent conditions being sold at a fraction of the price.
Browse through some Mexican-based classified ad sites, and you might get lucky and find a very well-built guitar selling for cheap.
Guitars are not cheap in Mexico. Most of the name-brand guitars sold in Mexico are imported from the US. And the manufacturer’s set the prices of these guitars so that their prices are consistent all around the world.
This means guitars sold in Mexico are priced the same as their market price.
However, if you spend time going through different guitar shops, you can find a locally made, well-built guitar by independent guitar luthiers at a relatively low price.
Another way to find cheap guitars in Mexico is to browse through classified ads to find used guitars in good condition that are selling for cheap. If you found this helpful, don’t hesitate to share it with someone who needs it.