Trying hard not to roll my eyes...

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Flouswa, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    A Stratocaster is one of the most cost efficient guitars ever constructed.
    In fact most parts of these guitars can be made by machines. Only the final assembly is made by humans.
    You can build this guitars fast and by big numbers. No matter whether you place these CNC machines in the US or in Korea. The only part that costs money are the few work-steps done by hand.

    The costs and the individual skill-level of these few steps make the biggest difference between a Chinese-made Strat and an Us-made product. Does it justify the big difference in pricing? You decide.

    On the other hand I assume that a guitar like a Gretsch demands for much more handicraft. The costs of handicraft in Japan or USA are much higher than in Korea or China. That`s why there is such a big difference on the pricetag of an Electromatic compared to a MIJ Gretsch.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  2. 6124Bassman

    6124Bassman Gretschie

    255
    May 20, 2018
    Tempe, Arizona
    For me, I could always tell the difference between USA or MIM Fenders. Not that they actually sound that different, but the way the Guitar feels in your hands. The American Fenders always felt more solid to me, nice rolled fretboard (most of the time) and overall better quality. The MIM Fenders always felt less than. Didn’t feel as good in your hands, even with a nice setup.

    That being said, I’d love to do a blindfolded comparison between a couple different American and MIM Fenders to see if I can actually tell the difference or if it’s my mind preferring the status of an American made guitar.

    I definitely don’t think that $1000-1200 is a ridiculous amount for an American fender, especially when you can buy used at that price point for under $1k
     
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  3. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    Absolutely right. The difference in the cost of manufacture in US and, say, Korea is very small compared with the disparity in Fender's retail prices. It's basic market led economics on Fender's part: they charge a lot more for US product because people will pay a lot more.

    Also, who's to say that a worker in the US is necessarily more skilled than one in Korea or China? Two hands, one brain, one pair of eyes.

    At the end of the day, of course, it barely matters. Fender isn't a charity. And if someone buys a guitar they like at a price they're content to pay.....happy days for all.
     
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  4. slimwilson

    slimwilson Synchromatic

    Age:
    30
    790
    Dec 22, 2015
    Mobile, Al
    You just don't argue with people like that. Shake your head, and move on with life.
     
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  5. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Lines are blurry here, at least in the very recent past. My MIM 50s lacquer Tele was immaculate in fret work and feel. Light weight and finish was just about flawless. I stopped GASing for the AV '58 because there was no way the AV was two times better. Same between the said TVL JM and my AV '65 Thinskin. The fretwork was both the same high quality and both guitars weighed the same. Feel was good in both guitars so that extra money was only for the custom lacquer and matched headstock, in addition to that coveted Made in USA allure. The MIM poly neck was actually more playable because my AV neck is still sticky. It's all in the mind and pocketbook, sometimes.
     
  6. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Of course you are right.
    The difference in quality has a lot to do with the time invested for all the little finishing touches.
    If Chinese workers had the time maybe the quality of their guitars would be even nearer to their American relatives.
    But I assume that the assembly-lines are running very fast over there.
     
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  7. Jimi D

    Jimi D Electromatic

    60
    Nov 29, 2017
    Ottawa
    I have a keyboardist friend who likes to say that guitarists are the cheapest musicians in the world, bar none... and he's right... My wife is a harpist; guess what a good pedal harp costs... ever shop for a well made violin? a cello? A shyte beginner student cello is going to cost you more than $1000... hell, it costs my wife $500 for a set of STRINGS!! @tartanphantom nailed it with the "Walmart mentality" comment, imho, and I honestly think that's a big part of what's wrong with this consumer-biased modern world; "more more more cheaper cheaper cheaper" is the mantra and look where it's got us... :/

    Remember when a refrigerator cost a week to two weeks' salary, it was warrantied for 10 years and lasted 25? Oh, and it was made by one of your neighbours, or someone in the next town over... Now we pay a day or two's wages for a fridge, it was made by people a half a world away, it might last five or six years if you're lucky and the warranty is a year long... and your neighbour's unemployed, or working for minimum wage selling Chinese refrigerators for Walmart...
     
  8. ruger9

    ruger9 Country Gent

    Nov 1, 2008
    NJ
    My MIM (Thinline Cabronita) is every bit the guitar my Am. Std. tele is.

    Actually, I only own 1 MIA. It's my #1, and it'll be with me until I die. But my 2 MIMs are both outstanding (I did some mods to them, but that was a personal preference thing: pickups, and the trem bar on a strat because I don't like Fender vintage style trems... I also put new pickups in my Am. Std. tele, 20 years ago. These aren't "upgrades", they are preference)
     
  9. Charlie westside

    Charlie westside Gretschie

    411
    Jul 27, 2018
    Sylmar Califirnia
    Hi Flo, Years back I purchased a guitar like this. It is my Fender Strat. I had always dreamed of having one but couldn't afford the top of the line. I researched and found my American made Strat For just a lil under a 1000. I think it was 800.00. It's a Fender Hwy I. Which was replaced by the special. it is by no means an entry level guitar. It is my go to guitar along with my Gretsch. The only thing I did to it was change out the pick ups to Fender noiseless which i Paid a lil over a 100.00 for. the guitar is amazing.
    I had no qualms about buying it. If I see something I want I will eventually save up for it and buy it.Even if it takes some time.
    So I'm with you about the grippers. Don't like the price....don't buy the product. I will never overpay for a guitar and there is a dollar amount I will never go over.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  10. Jockabilly

    Jockabilly Gretschie

    Age:
    46
    272
    Sep 15, 2018
    Argyll
    The thing is that the lines between different countries of origin and ranges has narrowed so much over the years. I remember when Japanese made guitars were looked down upon as inferior yet, now, only the custom shop Gretsches are made in the US and, if you want a top flight production model Gretsch then Japanese are that pinnacle. In the minds of the public at large who are often quite restricted in their budget the gulf in quality between the Pacific rim made guitar and the American made guitar has narrowed so much that it's hard to justify the difference in price when it might simply be the difference in labour costs between equally skilled builders in different countries. While it may not truly be the case that the Korean, Chinese, Indonesian or Japanese guitar is made to an equal standard as the US made one, in the minds of the buyer the question is "Is it twice as good for twice the price?" The answer has gotten awful shaky these days. The Pac Rim manufacturers are certainly capable of producing to a very high standard if they want to and also, if the commissioning company require it and are prepared to pay for it.

    Some of these companies in the Far East have all the latest hi-tech equipment and can produce anything anyone else can and to a very high standard.

    At the end of the day what it really boils down to for us as consumers is how much we are prepared to pay and can we live with the cheaper option. The high end guitars are aspirational, unless you are a professional in which case they are a business expense. A whole heap of folks just can't squeeze a thousand bucks out of the household finances but Fender also know that some will sacrifice their firstborn for that fabled 'Made in USA' instrument and, for those who don't there are a number of ranges to capture your cash until such time as you can finally get that 'dream guitar'.

    Not being an American myself and with American imports to the UK being very expensive, having 'Made in the USA' on the headstock is not that different to 'Made in China' to me unless the instrument is physically so much better that it's worth paying a lot more for.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  11. Jockabilly

    Jockabilly Gretschie

    Age:
    46
    272
    Sep 15, 2018
    Argyll
    You can't really compare the guitar to other instruments such as the violin and harp. If the harp was as popular and in demand as the guitar you can bet there would be a huge range available over a huge range of prices and quality points. The same for the violin, quite a bit more common than the harp but still not very common except for school kids being taught, or forced to learn, and professionals. Even having said that, there are some superb violins available at incredibly low prices from China. The Chinese seem to take violin seriously. Add to that that the guitar has so many variations to catch the eye where a violin, harp, keyboard, cello, double bass etc. isn't really image driven. In the past I have known a lot of players of other instruments who have their main one and a spare or maybe two. Many guitarists who take it seriously, even if they aren't playing 'out' in any capacity to pay for their addiction, have incredible numbers of guitars as they hunt for the 'One'.
     
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  12. Flouswa

    Flouswa Synchromatic

    You've hit the nail on the head there. My parents paid over $200 for my flute when I started playing. That was a student version. That would be $940 in today's money. Sure, you can get a student flute nowadays for around the same amount of money, but let me just tell you, they are crap. I've played a few of them and the quality just isn't there. The flip side of it is that my mom always said it was the best money she ever spent, and here I am all these years later, still playing music. I realize I am probably the exception instead of the norm in that situation. I still have my flute and one of these days I'm going to have it completely gone over and refurbished as opposed to buying a new one because to get a new one that would meet up to my standards would cost a pretty penny.

    I always wanted my own baritone horn, but holy crap, once I priced one, I decided never mind. Still my second favorite instrument to play though after the guitar.
     
  13. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Country Gent

    Age:
    55
    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Although I play around a dozen different instruments, mandolin is my true love.
    Mandolin enthusiasts and professionals wouldn't even blink at a $1000 price point for an American made quality mandolin... In fact, $1000 is just the starting point for real quality... It can get pretty steep from there.

    These cheap@$$ whiners about a thousand-dollar Fender would absolutely choke to death on the price of a Dudenbostel F-body.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
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  14. DougCraft

    DougCraft Gretschie

    119
    Apr 24, 2018
    Northern Colorado
    I agree that quality guitars are cheaper now than ever. We are living in the golden era of lutherie and manufacturing. American made instruments are cheaper (and more uniform in quality) because of CAD/CAM. The imports are even cheaper because they have the automated construction and lower wages. I used to have a bias against imports, but Ibanezes, Gretsches, and Jacksons changed my mind.

    Because I am retired and on a tighter budget, I rarely buy new, but the low low prices are a boon to beginners and retirees like me. When I first started out, the beginner instruments (then Silvertones, Stellas, Kents, and Danelectros) were horrible quality and difficult to play - I remember when I got my first Gibson - a C1 classical - I was shocked how well I could play (because I had been doing the equivalent of swinging leaded bats). Now, the entry level guitars are playable out of the shrink wrap.
     
  15. Charlie westside

    Charlie westside Gretschie

    411
    Jul 27, 2018
    Sylmar Califirnia
    I agree 100% I truly think My Gretsch G5230 t is an amazing guitar. The build quality is excellent It's right up there as far as quality and playability as my most costly guitar and it was made in China. I was skeptical after I ordered it because I had fallen into that American branding thing that you mentioned. I recieved way, way more then I had anticipated and it was literally just a fraction of what I paid for my "US" made Strat. Needless to say I have been using my incredible made in China Gretsch as my go to guitar for the new album I am recording. This just reinforces what you are saying about Pac Rim Guitar makers. Some really are every bit as good as any guitar manufactured here in the US without the outworldly ridiculous prices that you have to pay here for a decent guitar.
     
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  16. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Country Gent

    Age:
    55
    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Just perfect, Jim!
     
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  17. Jockabilly

    Jockabilly Gretschie

    Age:
    46
    272
    Sep 15, 2018
    Argyll
    In another area of interest I came across an American chap, a top flight luthier who had cut his teeth in the US guitar industry, he lives in Japan and he stated that he was a consultant to Chinese, Korean and Japanese makers. The opinion I got was that, quite frankly, with labour costs and access to cheaper materials the Pac Rim makers were hard to beat. We are living in a 'golden age' at the moment as far as price goes for their products but this is going to change in the very near future. Over the last year the Chinese government closed more than half of the factories in the country (all types of factories not just musical instruments) under some mysterious new anti-pollution regulations that even the factory owners couldn't figure out how to comply with in order to re-open. The real reason I suspect is that the Chinese government have done what they needed to do in order to undercut the rest of the world on price and to persuade as many people as they will ever persuade that their products are as good as if not better than the rest of the world produce. The next step for them is to bring their prices up. If you look around it is already evident that Chinese goods are getting a lot more expensive where, in the past it has been hard to figure out how, even with cheap labour and resources, they could possibly sell things as cheap as they were. At times I have bought things from China that must have cost more to ship than I paid. How they could do this? Simple they took a hit and virtually gave the items away with the long term goal of getting their product accepted then, once they have proved their reliability and become recognised as worthwhile the price goes up.

    The playing field will level up, it always does and the folks at Fender have proven they are no fools. They know exactly what they are doing and providing not only homegrown for those who want to support the home team but Pac Rim as well for those who just want good but cheap(er). Either choice you make puts money in the Fender company pockets so it's a smart policy.
     
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  18. Charlie westside

    Charlie westside Gretschie

    411
    Jul 27, 2018
    Sylmar Califirnia
    The real deal is to buy and play what feels good and makes you happy. I have purchased guitars that I wanted but playability and feel were ultimately my deciding factor.
    Charvel super Strat: Japanese made.
    Fender Strat: US hwy I: US
    Cretsch G5230: China
    Martin Acoustic: US
    Ovation acoustic/Elec Korea
    Washburn Acoustic: US
    These guitars were chosen for their appeal to my taste. Price was important to me but not the place where these were manufactured.
     
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  19. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Great point. I'm not convinced that US can produce similar quality guitars at similar prices as Japan and S. Korea in large volume. I just don't think we have the depth of skilled labor here. Its not just a factory of workers, but the whole network or suppliers, schools, etc. that that those 2 Asian countries have developed over the last few generations and which have atrophied in the US.

    I actually think S. Korea probably could produce to the same quality as Japan, they just need to develop the market reputation, and are getting there, just as Japan was the lower cost producer in the 70s and 80a and now seems to be the primary high end producer for hollow bodies electrics.
     
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