Why are Fenders so much less expensive than Gibsons?

Discussion in 'Fender' started by Jim, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. Jim

    Jim Banned

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    Fenders and Gibsons, the big two of classic rock. Fenders are obviously quality guitars and so are Gibsons. But the run of the mill Gibson is 3 or 4 times as expensive than its Fender counterpart, and as the production quality increases, the ratio of Gibson Price:Fender Price increases. Why is this?
     
  2. michaelinokc

    michaelinokc Senior Member

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    Bolt on necks and easier to apply finishes are two things I can think of.
     
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  3. MisterDistortion

    MisterDistortion Member

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    I think it deals with the wood they use. Maybe the chunky Mahogany has something to do with them Gibsons running for so much more.
    I'm sure someone here knows exactly.
     
  4. studio1087

    studio1087 Senior Member

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    Many Gibsons cost less than Fenders.

    I believe that Gibson sells more USA made guitars for under $1000 USD than Fender does.

    The Fender Standards that cost $499 all come from Mexico as do the Blacktops and many reissues like my 72 Tele Custom Reissue (it's from the Mexico factory).

    The Melody Makers, all the Faded Guitars, the 50's Tributes, the 60's Tributes, the Les Paul P90 Specials, the Les Paul Juniors.....many Gibson guitars that are made in the USA cost less than $850.

    You can't buy a USA Strat for $850. You can buy a stripped down HWY-1 Strat or Tele for about $850 (I know; I have one of each).

    A Gibson rep told me (about 8 years ago) that the end user should expect to pay $50 per Gibson factory hands-on hour. The paint jobs on some Les Pauls take 12-18 hours of skilled factory labor. Gibson hand sets necks where Fender bolts on necks. Gibson binds bodies where Fender does not bind bodies yet Gibson can make plenty of offerings in the United States for $850.

    I believe Gibson builds guitars at better prices than Fender. I spend a great deal of time on the TDPRI Telecaster Forum and it amazes me how many TDPRI people ask the exact opposite question that you just asked........"If Gibson can do it for $850 then why can't Fender??....what's wrong with Fender??"

    Just offering another perspective.

    3 of my Les Pauls cost $999 or less and they were built in Nashville. I love it.

    [​IMG]

    John
     
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  5. Pinkie

    Pinkie Senior Member

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    The manufacturing process is my guess.
     
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  6. SKATTERBRANE

    SKATTERBRANE Banned

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    Gibsons are guitars, Fenders are slabs of wood with electronics put on them, tinker toys.
     
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  7. Seneca SS

    Seneca SS Senior Member

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    i only see a small difference in price if you compare comprible models:)
    Gib. studio in 1399.
    fender anerican strat 1199.
     
  8. Jim

    Jim Banned

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    So I guess my 3 or 4 times was a bit exaggerated, but at the high end: the holy grail of teles, 52RI is $2,500 MSRP and the holy grail of LPs, 59RI is $8,500 MSRP. Whaa?
     
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  9. River

    River Senior Member

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    Fixed that for you.
     
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  10. River

    River Senior Member

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    They're Teles. Just look at 'em.
     
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  11. So What

    So What Senior Member

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    Because Manufacturing is cheaper for Fender, YES.

    But, I also believe it is because Fender has always been the Average Joe's guitar. Bolt on necks and GM colored Auto paint on Alder wood. A tool for music and a Beauty, only in the eye of the Beholder.

    Gibson sees itself as the Prestigious Line of American Guitars. Set necks, Burst finishes, more classic design and style. They are more concerned with being a guitar that is not easily attainable to the Average Joe. Rather, one to be sought after and eventually acquired.

    It may sound ridiculous, and I have no facts to back up my opinion.

    But stupid things like that happen to remain exclusive, and turn a profit.

    Back in 1986, my father bought a Porsche 911 for $40,000. In 1990, I read an article in Motortrend, or some other auto magazine. The article was an interview with the CEO of Porsche discussing the fact that the price for the 1990 Porsche 911 was $70,000. He said that he felt Porsche was just too available to the common consumer, and was losing its prestige. So, they raised the price to maintain the exclusivity of owning a Porsche 911.

    Maybe this is the reasoning Gibson is using?

    my 2 cents...
     
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  12. Jim

    Jim Banned

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    I love teles! Don't hate ;)
     
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  13. Pinkie

    Pinkie Senior Member

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    They have to craft one, they bolt the other one together.
     
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  14. River

    River Senior Member

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    What hate? Don't assume. They're still simple, bolted slabs, not even as fancy as a Special.
     
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  15. Alex W

    Alex W Senior Member

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    I don't know if I agree totally. Gibsons are a little more expensive but depends on what models you want to match up and compare prices to. (And there isn't necessarily a Fender model to match up to a given Gibson model and vice versa.)

    Here are some models I consider on par with each other along with their prices. (Prices from Musicians Friend unless otherwise noted)
    Fender '52 Reissue Telecaster $1700
    Fender '62 Reissue Stratocaster $1700
    Gibson USA Les Paul Traditional $2189 (gold or ebony)
    Fender MIM 60s Classic Series Stratocaster $700
    Gibson Les Paul Studio 50s Tribute $850
    Gibson USA Les Paul Jr $700 (Pelham Blue or Gloss Yellow)

    Gibson Custom Shop 57 Reissue Les Paul VOS $3699 (Wildwood Guitars)
    Fender Custom Shop 51 Nocaster Relic $3840 (Wildwood Guitars)
    Fender Custom Shop '60 Stratocaster Relic $3639 (Wildwood Guitars)

    Gibson Custom Shop '59 Les Paul $5999 (Wildwood Guitars)
    Fender Custom Shop 60th Anniversary Nocaster Relic $6000 (Wildwood Guitars)
    Of course all of the prices above may be negotiable to an extent for either Fenders or Gibsons, but you get the idea.

    I think where Gibson's prices really outpace Fender's are the signature models and other special models of Les Pauls, like the Billy Gibbons Pearly Gates, Collector's Choice "Goldie," etc.
     
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  16. colchar

    colchar Banned

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    :rolleyes:
     
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  17. Kalamazuu

    Kalamazuu Senior Member

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    I don't think anyone's said it yet, but most Fenders don't have binding, or carved tops.

    And I think it might have been said but the body is a slap, where a standard (or studio) LP is mahogany with a maple cap, going back to the Fenders are easier to produce.

    This doesn't necessarily make Fender and less of a guitar or company, I just tend to prefer Gibsons, but I haven't played too many fenders. While it won't stop me from buying a bolt-on I prefer the idea of a set neck. Probably from playing orchestral string instruments for years, it just seems more like an instrument to me.
     
  18. studio1087

    studio1087 Senior Member

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    Gosh. Crapping on a working man's American icon. Leo did design them so that the average Joe could take them apart and put them back together.

    Oh well.....sticks and stones.

    On second thought.......I'll never visit your web site.

    I attended Les's funeral (he's buried 15 miles from my property) and I wouldn't talk that way about Leo or Fender....ever.

    You're a sweetheart aren't you? :shock:

    I'm having a thin skin moment.
     
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  19. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    Here's a $6000 (street) Tele ... kinda narrows that gap too. Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition Snake Head Tele | Sweetwater.com I don't know what the MSRP is on it.

    And since we're looking at MSRP, a quick look at Fender's USA Electric Guitars catalog shows 50 guitars over $2000 MSRP. I'm sure that that's a smaller number of models than Gibson, but it's hardly much.

    From what I understand, it costs almost as much to bolt on a neck as it does to glue it in. I don't know that for a fact, but I've read others here who build guitars assert that.

    It seems to make sense to me, because glued-in or bolt-on, the fit between neck and pocket must be tight in order to get the best tone. And clearly shaping the neck involves the same labor -- or, as you put it, craft.

    I bet that the finish is a big part of the difference, myself. Nitro has a longer drying time, amongst other things, and while some Fenders sport nitro finishes, those are pretty uncommon. Additionally, the carved top probably has a bit to do with it as well.
     
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  20. diceman

    diceman V.I.P. Member

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    Has anyone mentioned that "Fenders" might be made in CHINA, Mexico, Japan or the USA?

    Gibsons are always made in the USA.

    ...as I sit here with my '64 Fender Musicmaster in my lap, and as a huge fan of Fender, I must say that they are a whore of a company who will crank out their name brand guitars on all corners of the Earth...
     
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