Why are Fenders so much less expensive than Gibsons?

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

  1. The_Sentry

    The_Sentry Senior Member

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    They're more inexpensive because of the litmus. They have the basics:

    Dense neck material (maple)
    Resonant/lighter body (ash, alder, basswood, pine, etc.)
    Quick assembly.

    Binding ain't cheap. Carved tops aren't cheap, either. Mahogany is not as easily accessible as other woods.

    It depends. On a Strat I can do most of the wiring on the guard and dump it in once I'm done. With the LP I've got to do the work inside of the cavity.
     
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  2. SuperDuty62

    SuperDuty62 Banned

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    Your paying for the name, man! Man, the name your paying for!:thumb:
     
  3. the_lawyer

    the_lawyer Senior Member

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    Here's the answer: if you handle a gibson to a person, who has never ever played an electric before, he will say something like: "nice/ok, that's an electric instrument!"....if you give that person after that moment a fender, he goes like: "well, that's a cheap plastic one from china for the youth, right?!"

    This happened to me many times! :fingersx:


    Don't get me wrong: I love all my guitars. And yes: I have MIA Fenders....
     
  4. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    Yes they are. The difference in production cost between a strat and a Les Paul might - might - run as much as a hundred bucks. That carved top means throwing body blanks onto a CNC machine 6 at a time. Strat bodies are done the same way. Plastic binding costs pennies a yard. I guess Gibson has to pay the gal who scrapes finish off it afterwards. Oh, and Strats get three pups and a whammy.

    Fact remains: the only 2015 Gibson available for under a grand is the Junior singlecut- even the doublecuts are over $1000 now. Specials, SGs, all of 'em. The cheapest "real" Les Paul, the Faded, is more than that. The "reference" Gibsons, the Les Paul Standard and Traditional, now you're past $2500 and $2800.

    Meanwhile, an American Standard Strat is half that price, and the American Special series under a thousand. The nearest equivalent to an LP Trad, the Strat American Vintage,* costs half a grand less. AND Fender is doing it with union labor and California energy costs, taxes and regulations.

    ------------------------------

    *It could be argued that the AV series are closer to Gibson RI's
     
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  5. Malikon

    Malikon ゴジラの復活 V.I.P. Member

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    The CNC carve tops come out of the CNC machine very rough. They're still carved/sanded/finished by hand.

    Have you seen the BFG guitars? That's what they look like coming out of the CNC machine.

    [​IMG]


    ...not that I'm defending either company. Just saying,...they don't come out of the CNC machine ready to get painted or anything.
     
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  6. doitforvangogh

    doitforvangogh Senior Member

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    If the body comes out of the CNC that 'rough,' it's because the CNC was programmed to leave it that 'rough.' Also, they (whomever we're talking about) use palm sanders and other groovy electric helpers. It's not as if we're talking about back in "the day" when they used good old steam and elbow grease.

    But, yeah. There is a lot of extra finishing that goes into the whole thing. Anyone who has ever held a Gibson up to any sort of illumination will see the vast difference in quality and materials in a nanosecond. The time spent buffing (Gibson) alone probably surpasses the time Fender spends applying the danged finish.
     
  7. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    How much buffing goes into a Faded?
     
  8. Malikon

    Malikon ゴジラの復活 V.I.P. Member

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    probably none, which is why they're like $600-$700

    a lot of time/man hours goes into the body binding, the binding scraping, the painting, the glossing, wet sanding, buffing, etc.

    That's what you're really paying for with the more expensive Gibsons,..all those man hours.

    Gibson still has more sub - $1,000 MIA guitars then Fender though.

    Fender doesn't have a MIA guitar for $500. ...Gibson does.

    Still you can get a MIA Standard Strat/Tele for what? Like....$1,200-$1,400.?
    a MIA Standard LP is closer to $4,000.

    so maybe it all balances out on the whole.
     
  9. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    Looking through Sweetwater, I can't find a 2015 Gibson for under $1000 except for the Melody Maker and singlecut Junior. Even a Faded is now $1100. Meanwhile Fender has introduced its MIA "American Specials" at $899- and Gibson has no equivalent to the Mexican Fenders, tucked in between the Corona instruments and the Squiers.

    No, the extra cost isn't "man-hours," it's markup.
     
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  10. StormJH1

    StormJH1 Senior Member

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    There definitely are "Gibson" headstock guitars for well under $1,000. Guitar Center does $100 off sales quite a bit, and I routinely see Les Paul Studios for $699 and $799, plus single pickup models and Les Paul Juniors. Especially this time of year if they are purging 2014 inventory.

    I just honestly think I would rather own a $500 Mexican Stratocaster than an $800 Les Paul Studio. That's just me, and it's not a knock on Gibson. It just feels like the sub-$1,000 Gibson's are more compromised versus a LP Standard than Fender's cheaper models are compared to their upper end. Heck, I have a $200 Agile AL-2000 that nails that Les Paul aesthetic better than many cheap Gibsons (and some higher end Epiphones). It isn't as good of a guitar as the real thing, but it's good enough that I can play it and enjoy it and still have some money left over for other brands of guitars (and better amps).

    I would love to own a Les Paul Standard some day, though I don't have any immediate plans to try for one. I guess this debate also hinges on whether you obsess over all foreign-made guitars being inferior to American-made ones, which I just don't.
     
  11. Comic

    Comic Senior Member

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  12. Comic

    Comic Senior Member

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    something is worth, neither more nor less, than what someone is willing to pay for it.

    gibson has created an amazing brand image of quality and craftsmanship that commands a premium price. is it worth it? that's for you to decide.

    i think part of the disparity in pricing is a branding problem with fender. they should have included ALL their non-usa made guitars (i.e. MIM's) as part of the squier brand and not the fender brand. gibson did a good job of protecting it's brand by offering lower priced off shore guitars under it's epiphone brand. if gibson had offered all the chinese manufactured guitars sold by epiphone with gibson logos on their headstocks, this conversation would be very different.

    rickenbacker only makes guitars in the usa, and has a perception of quality that commands the premium prices they fetch.

    also, remember that fender manages gretsch, who make some wonderful usa made guitars that are very very expensive. white falcon anyone? drool.... :drool:
     
  13. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    I would disagree- I think Fender got it right with its MIM Fenders, making excellent guitars (as in, better QC than GibsonUSA) at an affordable price point as an intermediate stage between US and Asian. All Fender geeks are perfectly well aware of the status distinction (and that plus pickups is about all it is) between MIM and MIUSA.

    Gibson by contrast is acting almost in strongarm fashion- either buy an insanely expensive Gibson USA, or all you can have is a sh!tty Chinese guitar.(This was reinforced by moving Epi production out of Japan, since MIJ Epis were usually better built than Nashville Gibsons- embarassing.)

    And again- You can buy an American Standard Strat for $1200- there are no Gibsons out there anywhere close to that price except for the deliberately cheapened, inferior instruments like the Fadeds and SGJs.

    Yes, there's no question that Gibson is trying to position itself as a prestige, high-dollar brand, like Mercedes-Benz. Problem is, M-B can command those prices based on advanced engineering and superb quality control. Gibson is more like Cadillac, still trying to cash in on a name that became empty years ago.


    ------------------------------
    All Gretsches today are made in Korea or China, except for a handful of high-dollar Custom Shop models which are made in Fender's custom shop.
     
  14. FUS44

    FUS44 Senior Member

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    The sheer hate in some people's eyes when they see Custom on the case and tiger stripes across the cherry sunburst top is worth the price of admission!
     
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  15. LenPaul

    LenPaul Premium Member

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    Probably in the thread already so If I'm repeating what's been said ,, sorry.

    I don't think Fenders are all that much less expensive. If you compare apples to apples, top of the line to top of the line or bottom to bottom & include Epiphone in the Gibson lineup I'd say they are pretty much about the same.:shock:
     
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  16. tenchijin2

    tenchijin2 Senior Member

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    I just bought a brand new ES-339 Studio for less than $1200 from a big box chain. Advertised price was $1399. That's "close" to $1200, I'd say.
     
  17. jtees4

    jtees4 Senior Member

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    The real answer is because Fenders are made in an assembly line fashion, where some steps can be performed by cheap labor. I mean, this is what Leo Fender did and it was actually a huge accomplishment...but it is the reason why Fender are generally cheaper. Some of the parts are cheaper too (pickups generally). Anyone is free to bash me, but the bottom line is Fender makes the most popular guitars and they make GREAT guitars too. I am a Gibson and Fender owner. I love them both, they are SO different it's crazy to compare IMHO. :thumb:
     
  18. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    --- in which case you have to include Squier, and Fender wins again.

    Comparing apples to apples, we have to talk about 2015 models, not what deals you can get on unsold 2014 inventory. Again, you can't get a 2015 model with Gibson on the headstock for anything like the price of an equivalent Fender.


    --------------------

    And Gibsons aren't?

    What, you think Nashville is full of venerable master luthiers painstakingly handcrafting guitars like John D'Angelico? No, they're made on mechanized assembly lines run by guys who could just as well be over at the Toyota plant bolting on manifolds.

    As to "cheap" labor- Fender is using union labor in California, Gibson is using nonunion labor in Tennessee.
     
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  19. questionman

    questionman Senior Member

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    I will say this. A Fender is a Fender. Mexican, American, Squier. Change some parts, a slight set-up and theyre the same. I would never buy an American because I know I can get the same exact thing out of a Mexican, and I dont need the extra fret that bad.


    A cheap Gibson is, well, a cheap Gibson. You could pay $1000 for a base line, lowest model Gibson with no binding, satiny finishes and mediocre electronics. But what if you want a Standard, or even a Trad. The real Les Pauls. You pay a lot of money for that. Personally I would not settle for a Studio or a Tribute when I could get a Standard. Its just the way Gibson created their lineup. The cheap models, then the basic models, the classic models, then the Custom Shop. Smart idea? Absolutely. But someones not going to order 2 or 3 Trads, Standards or even Studios at a time. Fenders? Yeah, for $499 a guitar, thats a steal. Grab as many as you can at a time.
     
  20. Malikon

    Malikon ゴジラの復活 V.I.P. Member

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    gotta admit looking at Teles lately it's been a real joy looking at guitars I find interesting that don't cost as much (or more) than a used car.
     
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