Edwards Guitars—The Whole Story, and More

Discussion in 'Other Single-Cuts' started by gibiphone, May 7, 2009.

  1. gibiphone

    gibiphone Senior Member

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    WARNING--If you are not interested in Edwards then STOP NOW. Lotsa boring stuff to follow.

    There has been a lot of discussion lately, both here and on other fora, questioning if Edwards guitars are made in China. I was skeptical when I first heard this, but have since become convinced that it is true.

    I have had a couple of exchanges with ESP Japan (parent company of Edwards) and did some reading—what follows is what I have learned or surmised.


    --The first runs of Edwards guitars were entirely made in Japan

    --Nowadays the initial phase of the manufacture of an Edwards guitar (woodworking through painting) is done in an ESP factory just inside the Chinese border in the Northeast province of Heilongjiang.

    -- I believe that the Edwards LP series is made from genuine mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla or possibly Swietenia mahagoni) grown in plantations in Indonesia and/or possibly Fiji. That’s why the guitars are so light and lively. The wood is neither Sapele (entandrophragma cylindricum) nor African Mahogany (khaya anthotheca).

    --ESP employees from Japan oversee and QC the production line.

    --The finish and electronics, hardware and plastics, as well as the setup are done in Japan, now at the new ESP factory near Tokyo

    -- This is not new. It has been like this for a few years, though exactly how many I could not pin down.

    ESP established a joint venture in Northeast China in early 1992, named the Heilongjiang ESP Electronic Audio Co., Ltd. (黑龙江ESP电子音响有限公司 Heilongjiang E.S.P Electronic Hi-Fi Co Ltd. Jiguan District, Jixi City, Heilongjiang, China 158100. Processing Electric Guitar. Phone: 86-453-2358268). ESP ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

    ESP made this move at that time due to China’s opening of the Northeast Asia Economic Subregion--in short this was an agreement among China, Russia, Japan and Korea to ease restrictions and tariffs on the import and export of finished and particularly unfinished goods among one another. This cooperation among the countries was renewed and expanded in 2003.

    In the case of ESP, this provided the availability of cheap, trained, literate workers, and cheap factory workspace. Obviously, for China it meant jobs in a region that was shedding thousands of heavy industry and mining jobs. So the deal was done and ESP established a factory in Jixi, Heilongjiang to do the woodworking and painting of guitars

    Raw materials are ocean-shipped by ESP to Vladivostok, Russia where the materials are transshipped by train about 200 km to the Suifenhe Sino-Russian Trade Zone. There they enter China at the Suifenhe port of entry and move an additional 120+ km to the ESP factory at Jixi. After the semi-finished guitars leave the factory, it is possible to reach Japan directly by means of overland and marine transport from Suifenhe customs office via Vladivostok or Nakhodka, Russia.

    According to the ESP representatives:

    -- Mahogany, Alder and Ash are used in EDWARDS. (This of course refers to more than the LP series)

    -- Neither Sapele nor African Mahogany are used in Edwards.

    -- The Mahogany that is used in the E-LP series is native to Southeast Asia.

    – Edwards LPs are not chambered/weight relieved

    The ESP factory is located at No. 72, Xishan Rd., Jixi, Heilongjiang, China (with a secondary mailing address of No. 20 Xishan Rd), and employees about 120-130 people, including 35 engineering technicians, 6 engineers, and 2 senior engineers. According to responses from ESP, the preliminary work on both Edwards and ESP guitars are done at this factory, from woodworking through painting. ESP claims that high degree of craftsmanship is maintained on the Edwards line because they are built totally within ESP facilities—in China, ESP has its own (high quality) factory, its own staff trained by ESP and production is done under the ESP monitoring. None of the work is contracted to other factories.

    “((ESP))木工〜塗装まではESP中国工場(黒龍江省)、組み込み〜セッティングは日本のESP新東 京工場にて行っております。”

    “EDWARDSは木工〜塗装までを中国、組み込み〜セッティングを日本で行っています。”


    --The Chinese government investor in the Heilongjiang ESP Electronic Audio Co., Ltd. is the WeiLong (Great Dragon) Plastic Electronics Products Company, Ltd.

    --In 2010, the value of manufacturing and trade of the joint venture was projected to reach $US 801,000. (黑龙江ESP电子音响有限公司今年加工贸易将实现80.1万美元) ????-???????????

    --Heilongjiang ESP Electronic Audio Co., Ltd. ranks 32nd among the top 100 companies in China’s Electronic Musical Instrument Industry, according to a document entitled “Chinese Electronic Musical Instrument Competitor Analysis Report” issued by the Industry Research Report Network. By way of comparison, and perhaps of interest to some on this forum, the Gibson Joint Venture in Qingdao ranks 14th on this list. (2002年,GIBSON在中国青岛独资建立了青岛吉森乐器有限公司) These ratings were based on business operation, market share, growth rate, the company's overall strength in comprehensive evaluation against peers. 金融界博客提示页

    The finish process and installation of all the electronics, plastics and hardware is still done in Japan at the ESP Japan Factory in Saitama, Tokyo. This new factory was opened in June 2008. (2008年6月: 埼玉に新東京工場を新設) This factory is in the greater Tokyo area, about 20-30 km north of central Tokyo. ESP also has factories in Sado and Kiso for export mainly, but these now do not work on the Edwards line

    In ESP’s defense, the company has a tradition of choosing not to build giant facilities with CNC machines and undertrained staff. ESP traditionally has multiple work shops and custom shop facilities around Japan, enabling the company to spread the high volume of orders across multiple shops, without having to compromise their higher quality custom instruments. It looks as if the Jixi factory has been folded into this mix.

    Now for the 64 dollar question—why did ESP choose to build the Edwards brand in Northeast China? Well, there’s the break on tariffs, the availability of cheap factory space and a skilled literate workforce, but wages have got to be the primary driver. Wages for Chinese factory workers are less than for Korean and much less than for Japanese, BUT wages for workers in China’s Northeast even lag behind those for workers in the factory cities along the coast (Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and even Qingdao).

    So that’s the story of Edwards guitars being made in China. Anyone give a shit?

    See post #102 for a partial list of Edwards retailers.

    Here is the address if anyone would like to ask ESP Japan a question about Edwards guitars: https://espguitars.sslserve.jp/customer/form.html

    ((If anyone sees any incorrect facts I’ve presented here, I’d appreciate hearing about it. Also, if you have any additional information, feel free to pitch it in.))

    Pics from ESPs Saitama Tokyo Factory, where the Edwards (and ESPs) are finished:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    Edited
    New informations added

    see post #259




     
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  2. lifele55

    lifele55 Senior Member

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    Nice info gibi :thumb:
     
  3. PINKBITS

    PINKBITS Senior Member

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    I'm not sure about those guitars, the blokes that are making them don't seem to be American. [​IMG]
     
  4. joebonsai

    joebonsai Senior Member

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    Gibiphone
    Thanks a lot for the information

    Is there a concret year when they started the production in China, you wrote the first Edwards were mande in Japan. I've bought my two Les pauls from Apollon Music, Ryutaro Tsurumaki and he told me at both were made in Japan, year 07, week 40th's, my DC Junior has no serial number, I think that means the guitars was made before 2005(am I correct?).

    BTW if THIS is the chinese manufacture standart for a guitar a LOT of companies should built their instrument in China !!!!:cool:


    :hippie:
     
  5. fast1

    fast1 Senior Member

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    interesting read, thanks[​IMG]
     
  6. mrpesca

    mrpesca Senior Member

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    Doesn't change my opinion of the quality , only the credibility of the company. Just be up front when you charge close to a grand for a guitar you had built in China for slave wages.
     
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  7. kherman

    kherman Senior Member

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    I'll continue to play mine with pride! :thumb:



    [​IMG]

    And I still think it was a great price.
     
  8. mojotop

    mojotop Senior Member

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    THANX, gibiphone! An excellent story!

    Like 'joebonsai' I´d like to know when the ESP/Edwards-production in china was started.
    My Edwards LP-models are made in 2004 (serial-# ED0452620) and 2007 (serial-# ED0733312). Are both of them made in china? Is there a key to identify the production-land by reading the serial-#?:hmm:
     
  9. Kølabrennern

    Kølabrennern Senior Member

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    Interesting and insightful read, thanks a lot!

    There's just one confusing point, it first says that all the painting is done in the Chinese factory, but that they opened a new Japanese factory in 2008 where the finishing is done. Does this imply that they're no longer painted/finished in China since then? Or do they lay down the colour coats in China and then ship them to Japan for clear coats and buffing?
     
  10. UITA

    UITA Senior Member

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    "The finish process and installation of all the electronics, plastics and hardware is still done in Japan"

    Why?
     
  11. -=[Shifty]=-

    -=[Shifty]=- Epi Verification Expert V.I.P. Member

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    Nice information, gibiphone! :thumb:

    Take a look at Epiphones, then you know what it would be like if they'd do that in China!
    Not bashing Epis but we gotta face the truth.
     
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  12. qwank

    qwank Senior Member

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    when did they start putting serial numbers on them? mine has the serial in the pickup cavity. i'd like to know what year it was. mojotop has an 04 with a serial, so i know mine is older then that.
     
  13. joebonsai

    joebonsai Senior Member

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    today's answer from guitarjapan

    guitarjapan.com

    Thank you for your mail.

    E-LS-90LT is 75,600 Japanese yen.
    E-JR-85LT is 71,400 Japanese yen.
    E-LP-92SD/P is 77,280 Japanese yen.

    We have E-LP-92SD/P now.
    Shipping cost is 16,800 Japanese yen.

    Edwards does assembly and painting in China.
    A final check is done in Japan.

    We are selling fender japan.
    Please teach to us when there is something interesting of you.
    Best regards.
    Mitsuyuki Yamazawa


    I've also asked WHEN they started the chinese production, no answer. I've tried to get some information about Edwards at the ESP boot at Musik Messe Frankfurt in april, NO ANSWER:shock:
    BTW I'm proud and more than happy with my 3 Eddy's, got 3 beautiful guitars with a lot of upgrades each for the price of one 58 VOS plaintop!!!!:dude:
    ....and I'm able to play those guitars for hours, try a four hours job with that 58 baseball-neck:hmm: I have very small hands.
    and as you see in the mail, I'm looking for the next chinese-factory-P90 Baby!!!!



    :hippie:
     
  14. EEF13

    EEF13 Senior Member

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    It says that the ESP employees oversee the QC. It does not matter where it's made as long as it is good quality and supervised. It is like Gibson moving the factory to China, but all the American Gibson employees are there doing the same thing they were doing in the U.S
     
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  15. qwank

    qwank Senior Member

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    hmmm.... seems like its an epiphone deal. MIC then sent to USA for quality control, except Edwards go to china for quality control
     
  16. tonebone

    tonebone Senior Member

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    It appears they're not using Chinese wood. That's good news!

    eh, I'm happy with mine. Sure beats the daylights outa an Epi (just a personal opinion, qwank, please don't take offense), which is what I had funds for anyway.

    :)

    btw, I understand they lost a lot of records in a fire sometime in the past. Not sure if it was Navigator or ESP that had the fire though. I read that somewhere. Mine's prob a Chinese one (2004).

    Whatever.

    "Ooooh, It's a killer machine, it's got everything, ......I love it, I need it..."
     
  17. qwank

    qwank Senior Member

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    why would I take offese to that bonebone?:laugh2:

    my Edwards kills my Epis also.
     
  18. tonebone

    tonebone Senior Member

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    <hangs head and laff's too, damn that joe, he really got my goat with that one>

    I just see you're not selling your Epi plus is all. You must have a nice connection with that one.
     
  19. JOE DEW

    JOE DEW Banned

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    :slash: hello bonbon, still bone bing bone bang everyday?
    remember not to mess with my work and name!
    take care bonbon!

    joe ace.




    :slash:
     
  20. gibiphone

    gibiphone Senior Member

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    You guys ask tough questions. :thumb:

    Like I said, I could not pin down the date when the initial phase of production on Edwards guitars moved to Jixi. Likewise don’t know what the break in serial numbers is for totally MIJ Edwards. Maybe after all this internet buzz, ESP will open up.

    Everyone is agreed that woodworking through painting is now done at the Jixi plant. As far as where the finish processing is done, I’ve seen one strong claim that its done at the Saitama plant in Japan, and I tend to believe this. Now if the Edwards production moved to Jixi before Saitama opened in June of last year, I would guess that the finish work was done at one of the other ESP plants in Japan.

    Here’s a bad pic of a section of the paint, finish, buff and dry facility at the Saitama plant. Can anyone make out Edwards models among those in the pic, or are they just ESPs?

    [​IMG]

    Some people are upset over this Jixi revelation. Myself, meh. Would I have liked to have known that Edwards are no longer fully MIJ? – YEP. ESP as a company seems to be close-lipped about its internal operations. But aren’t they all?? For example, I emailed Gibson in October of last year asking if the Elitist series was to be discontinued and explained that I needed to know to rationalize an immediate purchase. Gibson customer service would not tell me shit!!!

    Bottom line--my E-LP-130LTS/RE is one of the best guitars I’ve ever played, and my E-LP-92CD GO Goldtop is a hell of a guitar for the money. Since Edwards are intended exclusively for the Japanese market, I’m just going to play my gits and grin. :D:D
     

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