Brand origin vs. manufacturing location...

Mockbel

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Thank you mmd ... that was really clear and helpful.. I will pass on this... and I believe it is better to wait for a USA Jackson or a PRS

My Ibanez plays very nice and sounds very good after pickup upgrade.. my issue is with the bridge actually !
 

mmd

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Thank you mmd ... that was really clear and helpful.. I will pass on this... and I believe it is better to wait for a USA Jackson or a PRS

My Ibanez plays very nice and sounds very good after pickup upgrade.. my issue is with the bridge actually !

Even though I am not exclusively playing them anymore, I will say the quality of the USA is great. You will hear things about "pre-Fender" and how much better they were. Wrong!!!! Prior to FMIC buying Jackson/Charvel they were owned by Akai. QC was spotty. You would have Custom Shop orders that were the wrong specs - even after waiting almost two years for it to be built.

Under FMIC, the quality of the USA Select guitars has improved, the Custom Shop still has occasional issues - but NOT like under Akai. I stopped buying them because the price doubled after a couple of years. USA Jacksons were the BEST deal on the market. A USA made guitar with top grade hardware - solid colors were $1299, graphics were $1499, and trans finishes were $1699!!!!!

Deals are out there, but the prices on USA Jacksons have been steadily increasing in the used market since FMIC increased the new prices. For example, my PC-1 cost $1699 new with a case. The street price now is $2999 with a case. Used, the version I have (pre strathead) the local GC has for $1899!!!! It's priced TOO high, but that's where they priced it....if I were to look around I could probably find one in the $1200 range.
 

dspelman

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You've defeated your own arguement. If US importers ordered high quality guitars from asian sources, i'm sure they'd be great. But they don't. Gibson, Fender, PRS, etc. use overseas manufacturing for their low-end models to cut costs and you get what you pay for. It's not about what they could or couldn't do but what they are doing.

But some do.

I compared the Variax JTV-89F Korean guitars to the US version of the same guitars. The Korean JTV-89F is about $1200, which is pretty healthy for a Korean guitar. The US version has the same (not similar) pickups, hardware (bridge) and electronics. Spec-wise, the US version has Hipshot tuners (not a major change given the Floyd Rose on the guitar), an extra battery, a G&G hard case rather than the gig bag that comes with the Korean version. But the US version is over $3600. The G&G cases are sourced here in downtown LA for under $300 (retail). I don't have a problem spending that money if it's warranted.

I played both for quite a while and ended up buying the Korean version, with the assumption that I'd have to run it through the PLEK machine when I got it. Not only did I NOT have to do that, but the guitar was already set up with low action and outstanding playability all-round. No flaws.

So when it came time for me to buy a backup a year later, I tried both again, just to make sure that what I thought I'd felt the first time was still valid. I now have two Korean versions. Oh, and a lot of extra batteries, two G&G cases (purchased direct from the factory) and a significant lump of money left over before I get to the point where I've spent $3600.

I have to make one admission. The second guitar arrived with the alternate tuning and the modeling knobs transposed. I showed it to the Line 6 boys at Calabasas (it was a two-minute swap), and they had some stories about the US-made versions...

I'm not sure what your logic is, but I offered, "Virtually any guitar builder is capable of extremely high quality, and honestly, woods don't differ all that much. "Country of origin" is immaterial." I think that stands.
 

Grey

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But some do.

I compared the Variax JTV-89F Korean guitars to the US version of the same guitars. The Korean JTV-89F is about $1200, which is pretty healthy for a Korean guitar. The US version has the same (not similar) pickups, hardware (bridge) and electronics. Spec-wise, the US version has Hipshot tuners (not a major change given the Floyd Rose on the guitar), an extra battery, a G&G hard case rather than the gig bag that comes with the Korean version. But the US version is over $3600. The G&G cases are sourced here in downtown LA for under $300 (retail). I don't have a problem spending that money if it's warranted.

I played both for quite a while and ended up buying the Korean version, with the assumption that I'd have to run it through the PLEK machine when I got it. Not only did I NOT have to do that, but the guitar was already set up with low action and outstanding playability all-round. No flaws.

So when it came time for me to buy a backup a year later, I tried both again, just to make sure that what I thought I'd felt the first time was still valid. I now have two Korean versions. Oh, and a lot of extra batteries, two G&G cases (purchased direct from the factory) and a significant lump of money left over before I get to the point where I've spent $3600.

I have to make one admission. The second guitar arrived with the alternate tuning and the modeling knobs transposed. I showed it to the Line 6 boys at Calabasas (it was a two-minute swap), and they had some stories about the US-made versions...

I'm not sure what your logic is, but I offered, "Virtually any guitar builder is capable of extremely high quality, and honestly, woods don't differ all that much. "Country of origin" is immaterial." I think that stands.

What they're capable of doesn't matter if most manufacturers arn't taking advantage of those capabilities. I said most, not all. I never said great guitars didn't exist overseas, I cited specific examples.

Gibson, Fender, PRS, the three largest guitar companies in the world, all use overseas manufacturing for their low-end models to cut costs. Country of origin is not immaterial when it's used as a clear dividing line between models by these companies. No one is comparing Variax to Gibson, maybe Variax produces high quality guitars overseas but these companies don't, making the origin of the guitar one among many factors to consider when purchasing an instrument from these manufacturers. I myself have several and they're great, but saying it's not relevant because of the untapped potential that exists or is exhibited by other brands is simply not true.
 

jtees4

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I don't care where a guitar is made. I do care about quality, and I know quality when I feel it....BUT having said that....I also know that USA labor costs are MUCH higher (as are taxes).....so if I am buying a non USA guitar, it better be priced that much lower. To me the real scam these days, is guitar companies are making higher profits on cheaper priced imported guitars, because they are not passing the entire cost savings down to consumers. Scam is too strong a word, I don't blame the companies if consumers don't have a clue.
 

hbucker

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I would argue that the PRS SE line does not qualify as 'low end' guitars. They are quite good. Some of their lower cost is due to wood and hardware variances from the USA models, not just lower labor costs. But they are fine instruments. I'm sure the USA models get much more hand crafting and setup, too. - for the price, they'd better.

Bottom line: compared to 30 years ago, "you get what you pay for" seems like a much more watered down statement, now. Which only adds validity to the o.p.'s question.
 

jtees4

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I would argue that the PRS SE line does not qualify as 'low end' guitars. They are quite good. Some of their lower cost is due to wood and hardware variances from the USA models, not just lower labor costs. But they are fine instruments. I'm sure the USA models get much more hand crafting and setup, too. - for the price, they'd better.

Bottom line: compared to 30 years ago, "you get what you pay for" seems like a much more watered down statement, now. Which only adds validity to the o.p.'s question.

I have owned a couple of PRS SE guitars, and they were quite nice...so no argument from me. BUT Labor is the #1 production cost difference in overseas guitars, that's just a fact.
 

kevinpaul

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The worst guitar that I have ever bought was a Gretsch Corvette II. It just fell apart on me, I thought a string broke, the tuner fell off on stage at a big arts festival. That was the end of me and my dream guitar. Korea has been good for guitars, a couple Chinese. My American Gibsons and my Peavey are perfect.
 

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BEACHBUM

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I don't think we can generalize to any accurate degree but since we're basing this on generalizations I think we need to break the quality issue down to two aspects, the first being the bones of a given guitar (meaning bodies and necks) and the second being the electronics, hardware and cosmetics.

1. My first generalization would be that as far as the bones go offshore vs. domestic has become a moot point. All current guitar builders, no matter what the country of origin or brand name pretty much produce their bodies and necks using the same techniques and CNC computerized machinery. So, for this aspect I think that the more expensive domestic guitars offer little advantage.

2. Secondly, in general and in order to make building cost effective off shore guitars profitable cuts are often made in the area of pickups, electronics and hardware. Not always, but I think most often. You would assume that this one would go in the plus column for the more expensive guitars but the problem is that spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars to gain these advantages that can cheaply and easily be added after market is a fools game. Why pay 3 or 4 times the price for a guitar that only offers a few hundred dollars worth of additional real value.

3. As far as cosmetics go if you're into it this is an area where the offshore brands excel. If you love flames, binding, ebony, gold, glitz and want an American made guitar with brand recognition be prepared to sell your soul. Not so with most of the offshore builders who offer tons of high quality cosmetic upgrades with little to no price hike. It's simply something that they offer to remain competitive and by many it's seen as a huge advantage.

Never the less Country of manufacture and brand recognition are still important to many and I don't think that paying for that if you want it is a bad thing. For my part I have a few of those and that's OK. But, going forward I'm glad that I no longer have that cross to bare.
 

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