"made In Xyz" - How Much Does It Matter Nowadays?

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by GuitarIV, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. GuitarIV

    GuitarIV Well-Known Member

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    So I know this topic might generate a heated discussion, but I'll start it anyway.

    When it comes to products, most of us are used to them being made in China nowadays. Laptops, TVs, Micro Wave Ovens etc.

    We live in a globalized world at this day and age, and products are being made with cheap labour and low quality to ensure huge profit margins and fuel for our throwaway mentality. This is however not what I wanna talk about. I wanna talk about the world of music instruments and gear.

    Ever since I started getting more serious about the stuff we use to create music, I have found that the country of origin matters a lot to a lot of people, especially when it comes to music gear. I won't lie, I used to be one of them and still am. But lately my point of view has started to change a bit.

    Now let's not focus on the "good old times" when they used to make the good stuff. Everyone knows what it means to have an old made in England Marshall, made in U.S.A. Gibson etc.

    I'm talking about nowadays. And specifically the mid price sector, so no custom built boutique guitars and amps that cost a couple of grand.


    We all know how much shit Gibson has been getting lately from a lot of people, and their guitars all say made in the US. Then there are a lot of companies like Jet City, Bugera and even Thomanns house brand Harley Benton that produce in China and get very good feedback from customers.

    My personal experience with guitars has been that you shouldn't look at the back of the headstock, you should pick it up and play it. I had great results with made in Mexico Charvels and Fenders, played a few made in Indonesia Ibanez RGs and even owned one and pretty much all of the older made in Japan Jacksons have impressed me, the newer Indonesia models not so much. Then I tried a lot of ESP/LTD guitars and damn, these guys know their job!

    Played a lot of expensive Gibsons I didn't care for. Some of them felt cheaper compared to the afforementioned guitars. Tried a few PRS SE models people rave about, have been unimpressed. Then one I day I had a 2500 dollar Duesenberg in my hands and it was meh.


    Regarding amps I have an ENGL Savage 60 from 94 I bought used for 150 bucks. It needed service as it was making popping noises and would cut out and then cut back in, I purchased it solely because the price was low, the trannies were working and I wanted to fix it and either keep it or sell it for a profit. The amp says "made in Germany".

    My amptech called me up, said it would be too expensive to fix the flaw on it and I'd be off cheaper if I send it straight to ENGL in Germany and have them repair it as they'd do it fast and cheap since it's their own amp. Had a bit of a tech talk and he sent me some pictures of the innards, flimsy and thin PCB construction, tiny pots mounted straight to the board etc.
    The amp sounds great, but on the inside, hell the Jet City amps are built better.

    My Peavey Valveking was a chinese amp and held up great all those years before I sold it, gigged it left and right and the only times it needed service was when one of the output tubes blew. My tech told me it's built sturdily and reliable. Yeah the sound might not have been the best, but I was able to coax out a good tone easily, especially with a good cab and a boost pedal. Then I have my JCM 2000 that sounds great but looking at the insides I wonder when it breaks how much will it cost me to get it fixed?


    My point being, if I had a couple of grand to spend I'd get myself a high end guitar and amp, custom shop or handbuilt. If I was just starting out though and had a certain budget, I'm sure a cheaper guitar and amp would get the job done. And would they really be that much less reliable than the midpriced stuff that isn't being built overseas?

    Discuss! :D
     
  2. saxon68

    saxon68 Well-Known Member

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    When I was younger, I was all about made in USA. I had USA Peavey amps, USA Gibson, Kramer, Hamer. Now it's just too damned expensive, and lets be honest, we've all worked with people who just don't give a damn about anything but their next cigarette break and the end of the day. I've been supervisor in a shop where i had a lot of workers from south of the border, and they'd run circles around the "natives" and have a great attitude about it. I'm just not willing anymore to say we have the best manufacturing.

    My boss went to China to tour a manufacturing plant, and an employee dropped a bucket of colorant pellets on the floor, every employee nearby scrambled to pick up every single pellet off the pristine clean floor. He said he'd never buy a plastics molding machine again, he couldn't compete with that. I know from experience, my guys would have swept it up and tossed it out, or said it wasn't in their contract, let a janitor clean it.

    It was a sign for me also, and I moved from manufacturing career to an IT career.

    Now I have an amp made in Mexico, a Guitar made in China, and I am sure my pedals are from China or Taiwan. I'm OK with it, the quality is there for me, they don't let me down, the amp doesn't fail, the guitar stays in tune all night long at gigs, I couldn't ask for more.

    I'm sure I will get shit for it, I don't care. My lead guitarist has 5-6 guitars that are EACH worth more than ALL my gear put together. I still sound good, that's all that matters to me.

    EDIT: I forgot, my Peavey 4x12 is USA made :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  3. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    Can't discuss right now 'cause I gotta take a nap after reading all that!~
    Please try to be a little more circumcised ( is that the right word? ) in your posts ok?
    BP
     
  4. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    One perspective is resale value.
    Years ago I would buy the mid to higher range stuff Made In The U.S.A. whether it be Barber or Lovepedal, Catalinbread or Wampler for example knowing full well that further on down the road I would be able to recoup the majority of my cost.
    At the same time I was replenishing that gear with lower end gear like Joyo or Mooer or even Made In The U.S.A. stuff like TC Electronics.
    Thing is you won't recoup half of what you spent on that gear.
    Thing is most of us know exactly what we're buying and have done our research on it as well.
    Word has it that the MIM Fender Strats are a really good product for example.
    Carl Martin products are made in Denmark. The Marshall DSL40C was made in Vietnam.
    My point being that from a resale value perspective place of manufacture still matters.
    BP
     
  5. Far Rider

    Far Rider Hendrixian VIP Member

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    In my opinion, if it wasn't for these companies building some of their equipment in Asia, they probably wouldn't survive. The income generated by saving on labor and assembly costs allows them to keep up their boutique lines for those that can afford it.
     
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  6. Ghostman

    Ghostman Well-Known Member

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    Make it in Zimbabwe for all I care. As long as the quality is good, it doesn't matter.
     
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  7. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't matter if it is made or assembled in Kabul, as long as a strict QC/QA are followed to the T....
     
  8. chiliphil1

    chiliphil1 Well-Known Member

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    I’m on the fence. I think China still carries the stigma of cheap products ripped off from the big guys, Bugera anyone?

    However, no one can say that the new epi’s Aren’t good, they damn well are. Korea and Japan are on another level, Japan especially I would compare to American builds and in some cases put them above American products.

    Case in point, I used to have a custom shop esp, that guitar was the definition of perfection, there was not one little thing that was off in the slightest way. Fast forward to now and I just bought a new Gibson traditional, right out of the box it had fret buzz and needed work. It spent a week with the tech and now is flat out killer but point being, it wasn’t right from the beginning. It’s a hell of a guitar and with some help it’s better than most out there but I can guarantee that an esp or ibanez wouldn’t have needed that work.

    Speaking of ibanez, the prestige series are some of the finest instruments on the planet, bar none. Made in Japan with more attention to detail than Gibson could dream of.

    My amp is German, so that’s as precise as a scalpel. European stuff tends to be the best but there aren’t a ton of choices out there. Either way, does the label matter? No, not really but, big but, the buyer has to decide. Are you ok with an imported product if the quality is good or does it have to be a premium domestic product? There is no wrong answer, it’s preference.
     
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  9. axe4me

    axe4me Well-Known Member

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    I don't care if it's made on the moon.

    If it's made well and useful, who cares?




     
  10. EL 34

    EL 34 Well-Known Member

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    I buy European or North American made products as much as I possibly can. I avoid Asian made stuff if I can.
     
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  11. saxon68

    saxon68 Well-Known Member

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    And you type this on your American computer or smartphone?

    I guess you’ve got no electronics at your place.
     
  12. Australian

    Australian Green Beret VIP Member

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    ...countries who do care about copyright.
    I'd like to see a lot of production work its way back to the Western world.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  13. EL 34

    EL 34 Well-Known Member

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    Oh I've had my fair share of Asian-made electronics fail. Even top rated ones from consumer reports. I now expect all Asian electronics (tv, phone, etc) to fail. It's just a matter of time. My phone was free with my plan anyway.

    My cars, amps, guitars, home appliances, vacuum, toaster, kitchen ware...European or US and they kick so much ass. Life's too short to use cheap garbage.
     
  14. Dogs of Doom

    Dogs of Doom Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the reason companies like Gibson, Fender, etc., get bad reviews, are because they cost a lot & when people play a premium for something, they are going to have higher expectations.

    When you pay pennies on the dollar for an import version, your expectations are not as high & you figure you can live w/ it.

    If you pay $300 for a guitar, that's playable, but, maybe isn't great quality, but looks decent, vs paying $3,000 more, for a guitar, you're going to expect that $3300 guitar to be perfect, better playing, have better tone, everything must be better about it.
     
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  15. Vinsanitizer

    Vinsanitizer Hi. I'm new here. VIP Member

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    I always know where my guitars and amps are made because it's usually one of the first things other people point out: US, UK, Vietnam, China (exactly where in China), Japan, Mexico, etc. Outside of music gear I have no idea where anything I buy came from. If I only sought US products I'd probably either end up broke buying them or I'd never own anything because it was made overseas. The US isn't the same world leader it once was, plus, I don't think we'll ever be as patriotic as we once were.

    A long time ago (yes, I said "a long time ago") I was in line at Kmart in the Electronics department, behind a guy that walked up to the cashier and said, "are any of your electronic products made in the US?" The cashier chuckled and said, "nope". The guy turned around and walked out of the store. Not a very effective move I suppose, because he only made his point with a cashier as opposed to the company owner. But it did show patriotism. I can't see anyone doing that today.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  16. Lo-Tek

    Lo-Tek Well-Known Member

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    American made all the way for guitars and amps.
    I have no interest in Fender/Gibson though- boring.
    American made is not really too expensive in my mind and I'm not rich. 2 or 3 grand will buy a nice guitar and amp (even less buying used).
    Cars=japanese.
    F China! Yes, I do own apple crap. A big hypocrite like everyone else. lol
    #maga
     
  17. John BNY

    John BNY Well-Known Member

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    For the most part, my main guitars are made in the USA and amps are made in England. Having said that, it is becoming very difficult to purchase any product that does not contain foreign made parts. The iPhone is made in China. BMWs have foreign parts (Takata airbags?), and the list goes on and on. You'd be hard pressed to come up with a product with no foreign made parts.

    Also, the quality of foreign -- Asian -- made guitars has improved dramatically, and provided that you find the right manufacturer, it's difficult to argue that a guitar is superior just because it was US made. I got paid $300 from a recent gig, and as a goof, I set that as a budget to put together a guitar I could use at my next gig. I purchased a Chinese made guitar for $230 that came with a straight neck, working truss rod, and excellent fret job -- no sharp edges and the binding work on the neck was no worse than my Gibson R9. I stuck a Gibson 500T pickup that I bought used for $65. For $295, I have a guitar that plays and sounds as good as any of my Gibsons.

    Bottom line, I agree that for resale purposes, US/UK made products will hold value better. But, for playability, I could care less about where it was made, so long as it plays and sounds right.
     
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  18. Ghostman

    Ghostman Well-Known Member

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    Unless it's made in Kyrgyzstan..... those people don't know their ass from a hole in the ground...
     
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  19. Vinsanitizer

    Vinsanitizer Hi. I'm new here. VIP Member

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    What other good American guitars are left outside Fender/Gibson, PRS maybe? What else do ya have in mind?
     
  20. Ghostman

    Ghostman Well-Known Member

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    I here Bob Smith makes a mean guitar in his basement. But those are just rumors.
     

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