An Honest Question re Gibson quality/price
I put "Honest Question" so that those who like to engage in fratracide will know I'm not just trying to start some bad stuff.
I was just reading the thread from last March about quality/cost between custom shop/non-custom shop guitars. After weeding out the predictable "let me act condescending toward you so I feel relevant for another day" posts, the issue was pretty much "Why can't Gibson put as much care into lower cost instruments as higher cost, and is the extra effort worth a couple grand more". Some felt they should and some think that would be unrealistic.
Allow me to ask something by first thinking out loud. I have a Carvin bass that arrived in flawless condition, even still in tune. Didn't need so much as a truss rod adjustment for 12 years, and then only because I chose to change the action. Picked out the model, extra features, finish and they made it to spec. Those who have played it and heard the varied tones I can get out of it say it's as good or better than any they've ever seen.
I have friends who have ordered Carvin guitars and they got the same high American made quality at a great price and have the same high opinion of the craftsmanship/sound.
I know Carvin can hold the cost down a lot by having no middle men, be it distributers/warehouses or dealers. But it seems that you can get extremely high quality and sound SO MUCH cheaper than what you would pay for a VOS, for example. Just look at the finishes and high quality woods used in their current catalog and read some of the forums. From the reviews I've seen they also have a very low return rate because their QA does such a good job and the quality is there before QA ever sees it.
So my questions - 1) Does the Carvin business model prove that a high quality American made guitar can in fact be delivered to the masses at a price well below what we accept from Gibson or is your opinion that Carvin is an anomaly or even a different animal? 2) Has anyone here actually played some of the higher cost Carvins and seen how their tone/playability competes with Gibson's? I have to think that Walsh and Holdsworth wouldn't endorse them if they weren't of a stellar quality and sound. Not having "the Gibson sound" might be the big difference or just not having "Gibson" on the headstock?
Just looking for opinions - just seems to me with all the quality control issues that I read about on here, Gibson could put consistently high quality across all their price points and yet do it MUCH cheaper than they do now, even with the expenses of secondary distribution, but they just....don't bother to require that standard from their people. Those I know who have purchased a Carvin in the lower price point area maybe got a bolt on rather than neck through or solid top vs flamed, for example, but that's what they were choosing and the workmanship was no less stellar than what one would get in the higher cost ones. So I'm wondering how much Gibson gets away with marking up just because of the "I have a real Gibson" factor or how many people have just drunk enough koolaide to accept that inconsistent quality is to be expected in a $2,000+ guitar. Let's face it, ordering a Gibson online is a crapshoot, not so much for a Carvin, yet both using high quality materials and paying American wages to their workers.
For the record, my Custom Classic arrived in beautiful condition and other than some minor nut/tuner issues was ready right out of the case. Can't imagine another two grand making a whole lot of difference other than a fancier top, so not complaining about my Gibson, just scratching my head at why Gibson shouldn't be able to do better across the board.
Hofner 500/1 Beatle Bass
Carvin LB75 Bass
Les Paul Classic Custom
Fender Standard Strat