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Author Topic: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???  (Read 2340 times)

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gus30tavo

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Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« on: October 20, 2005, 05:43:37 AM »
Hello again.
I think the cuestion is pretty clear...
I know you are all american (remember I?m from Europe) and that?s the reason for the cuestion...I would like that your answers were honest.
I believe that even in Europe that estigma exists but, Is really fair? (Mainly with guitars of "high" range like some Blueridge...BR-183, BR-263, BR-283...)
 Thanks.

Offline Cambio

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2005, 07:35:51 AM »
That's a really good question Gustavo.  Yes, there is a stigma about guitars made in the "east", mainly because there have been so many bad ones over the years.  Sometimes it's a wonder to me that they can manage to make a guitar, and sell it for less than I could buy the wood.   And they're still managing to make a profit.  The quality of some of the instruments has managed to improve as the manufacturers start to learn and listen to feedback, and some of the instruments are quite nice.  I've never seen a Blueridge, but I have seen some Eastman's and some violin's that were pretty good.
The problem for me, as an independant guitar builder, is that there has to be many reasons why the Chinese are making instruments at such an incredibly low prices, and keep in mind that there are a couple middle men taking a cut in the process.   You have to wonder where they're getting their wood from, how they are aging their wood, what corners are they cutting in the process, how are they paying their workers etc.  If the answers to these questions doesn't bother you, then there shouldn't be a stigma attached. 
Personally, I try to buy things that were made by companies that treat there workers well, conduct their business fairly, and turn out a good quality product.  That's getting increasingly harder to do in this day and age.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2005, 08:08:25 AM »
Hello again.
I think the cuestion is pretty clear...
I know you are all american (remember I?m from Europe) and that?s the reason for the cuestion...I would like that your answers were honest.
I believe that even in Europe that estigma exists but, Is really fair? (Mainly with guitars of "high" range like some Blueridge...BR-183, BR-263, BR-283...)
 Thanks.

Actually, Weenie may have a majority of American members, but there are quite a few Europeans, Brits, Canadians and more on the board. The reason for the perceived stigma probably has to do with the fact that historically guitars made in Asia and sold in North America have for the most part been budget alternatives and entry level guitars, probably made in factories we don't want to know about. And many of them were just that. But there are certainly lots of people with Yamahas and Takamines. I sold a budget Tak recently that I thought was a really nice guitar, cedar top, warm tone and slightly gritty sound when driven hard, played great, cheap as dirt in the store. But it was a dreadnaught I never played with a narrow neck.

Blueridge has certainly had some good buzz. If you try them and like one of them a lot, that's what matters. I'd go by what you hear and feel when playing the guitar more than the name on the headstock. The first time I bought a Larrivee, I had never heard of them. I'd been trying the Martins, Gibsons, Taylors etc., and the guy in the store said "Here try this. They're really good guitars." Sure enough, I walked out with that guitar that day. As Chezztone noted wisely noted in another thread, we should all be worrying a bit more about playing than about the kind of guitar we're playing.  :D  You can always sell the guitar and get a different one if you change your mind in a couple years. Your tastes or desires may change, you may decide what I really want is an old ladder-braced guitar or a *new* ladder-braced guitar, or a bigass dreadnaught with my name inlaid on the neck.  :P

On a side note, I've spoken to several cellists lately who have very positive things to say about the entry level cellos coming out of China.

I see Todd has made some excellent points as well while I've been typing...

arbarnhart

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2005, 08:29:14 AM »
I have a PacRim mandolin; a pretty darn good copy of an old Gibson A4, except that it has an F style peghead. The dimensions are almost exactly the same and I think the sound is as good (it is hard to compare, because no two instruments are exactly alike even when they are the same model from the same maker). The price? Substantially different. I also have a Takamine guitar which is a Martin D28 copy. Very little difference in anything but price. I have recieved some negative comments about having made both choices, so I would have to say there is a stigma. I haven't had anyone refuse to play with me or debate the point to any great length; they just note their disapproval and move on. I have had more people ask me explicitly about the maker and model number, often writing it down, so they could add it to their models to evaluate. On the flip side, some people will assume you are a snob if you play a Gibson. Go figure...

Offline Rivers

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2005, 08:49:54 AM »
Good question. A case in point that refutes the quality issue are Eastman archtops and mandolins. Retailing for  USD 2K they are way cheaper than anything that could be produced locally. Two out of the four I've played were excellent. A third was stunning and I hope to take it home with me soon if it hasn't already been sold. The other just needed a set-up job.

Quality is not the only issue. The other debates 'in play' are jobs moving from North America to China, workers' conditions and other human (and animal) rights. These are whole other discussions and they clearly taint Chinese instruments. Eastman have moved into archtop and mando building from violin building, for which they are well respected. They had the skills and infrastructure already in place which helps keep the price down.

It's a complex and lengthy moral discussion where both sides can make very good points. At the end of the day the customer must decide based on what they know, what they need and what they can afford. Some things about China turn my stomach, specifically human and animal rights. I'm just not at all convinced that is any fault of the artisans in Beijiing building instruments, others would disagree.

gus30tavo

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2005, 09:49:12 AM »
(I DON?T WANT TO TURN THIS INTO A POLITICAL TALK...OK?. I HATE IT)
That?s right... Ok. I supose what China means to liberty, humans right and other stuffs, but SAGA is an American Company... Am I right?...From San Francisco,CA... Isn?t it?. And they make instruments in China for sell it in America a real good price...Ok?. (Please, correct me if I wrong.. I?m only 32 years old... :D)
So... What?s wrong in the system?... What?s going on?...
Anyway... I got the commercial message, workers rights and price balance, but I?m talking about guitars quality and finish and sound and...
Thanks a lot again

Offline Cambio

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2005, 10:16:55 AM »
Sure, there are lots of American (and European) companies making buckets of money off of goods manufactured in China.  That doesn't make it right, in my opinion.  If none of that stuff bothers you and you like the instruments and are attracted by the price, buy one.  What really matters is what makes you happy and what is going to help you play guitar.

I personally like to support independant craftspeople and work with them on getting the exact thing I want.  I' m willing to live a little more simply and pay a little more money in order to support them.  I hope, in turn, that folks will support me in my work.  I suppose that's an idillic way to be, but it makes me happy.

arbarnhart

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2005, 11:03:45 AM »
If you have an eye for such things, the quality of construction can pretty much be determined by close inspection. The quality of materials is a little tougher; that is what can cause problems a little ways down the road. The sound is very subjective. You will find some really well made instruments and some turkeys from just about any country of origin. Some makers seem to have a lower percentage of turkeys and better customer service when it happens that you get one.

The political issue is tough. I agree that it's wrong to exploit workers, but I don't agree that boycotting goods is the answer. In the short term, it hurts those workers even more. Is this my justification to save a few dollars? Maybe, but it's not a clear cut issue.

Offline waxwing

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2005, 11:50:39 AM »
I feel for you, having to buy a guitar sight unseen and unheard. Perhaps the question you ought to be asking is, "Which makers are the most consistent?" Unfortunately the fact that even Martin guitars can vary quite a bit from one to the next does not give you much confidence. Perhaps you need to think about which are the reputable dealers that you can correspond with, express your needs, and have them suggest models which they have, and they can choose a guitar that will be well made and sound worthy. One such dealer, whom I admit I have had no dealings with however, might be Elderly Music. They have a broad inventory and a very good reputation. I believe they also ship world wide. I'm sure folks might suggest others.

I would be very leery of buying a guitar from ebay and having it shipped overseas. The cost of returning it if you don't like it might be prohibitive and you would feel stuck with it.

I would also ask myself, what is wrong, or lacking in the guitar I have now? What would I like to be different? Also, what are you planning to use the guitar for? If you are planning to perform then you may need a guitar with a bigger voice, if you're just playing for yourself, something smaller and more comfortable might work better. You haven't really expressed any of these issues in the various threads you've started, just the range of styles you play, and so our advice has kinda been all over the map.

The "political" issues of buying a guitar from China, as opposed to, say, Korea or Taiwan, is certainly a good issue to consider, but after you have answered the above questions for yourself, it may not be an issue at all.

Perhaps you really need to play more, to discover what it really is you want from your guitar. Also, ask other guitarists if you can play their guitars so that you can hear and feel the differences. You might look arouind for any gatherings/workshops that you could attend where there would be many guitars to check out. By the nature of your questions, I feel you are asking us to make decisions for you when, perhaps, you need to be educating yourself more thru direct experience with as many guitars as you can actually play and hear.

Please take this advice in the spirit it is given. The more you know, the easier the decision will be and the happier you are likely to be with the final outcome. You may feel frustrated by a sense of isolation, but if you look around more carefully you may find that you have more reasources within reach.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2005, 02:01:58 PM by waxwing »
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2005, 01:43:16 PM »
Or just avoid any issues and get a Martin 000-15S. But do remove the silly decal rosette and satin finish. Hang a shrunken head (rubber is fine) and a tin cup from the headstock, use a ratty old piece of string for a strap and you'll be good to go.

Offline Buzz

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2005, 05:40:29 PM »
Rivers:
Just read this post, and I had to crack up  :P

Yup, he sure would be good to go...

You are one kick in the pants, my man...
Buzz
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Offline Buzz

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2005, 08:23:06 PM »
Not to take the thread to lightly:
I agree with some of what has been said. Would add:
1. You must play the guitar, feel her, hold her, try her for a few days, and see if she asks you, invites you to play herself. If she does, the the romance begins. Try not to buy any instrument unseen. I learned that lesson.
2.My Takamine Martin D-35 knockoff from 1972 has gorgeous Brazilian burl sides and 3 piece back, a better action on its very playable neck, but cost me much less in 1972. I am trying to sell my 1969 Martin D-35 Brazilian now, since I like playing the Tak more!  I also should add that I bought the MArtin unseen, could have not kept it when my friend brought it to me--he dealt in vintage guitars and found this one for me sight unseen--but I did, cuz I thought I would always want to play a big dreadnaught. But I don't feel her call to me every day. Wonder if I ever did...
3. Try small bodied guitars, Please. Do not be hoodwinked by dreadnaughts.  I have found plenty of punch, sweet tone, and greater playability in parlour sized guitars. There are plenty of those old (and new) smaller bodied ones out there, and you can start the looking process, play some of your buddies parlor sized ones, and zoom in on one in the future when she shows up at the right time. Worked for me. Now I play mostly my 100 yr old rebuilt NY school, like a Stella, and it is so comfortable and plenty full.
4. As a matter of fact, you should ask around, ask for example Todd Cambio at www.fraulini.com if he has or knows of any older parlours that are good players, even in your area. Ask your friends. Search on line like at Gyrphon or Elderly, etc. But try to play them, try to find them locally to play them.

Ta',
Buzz
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,

Buzz

Offline onewent

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2005, 06:07:08 PM »
Gustavo, are you 'shopping' for a new guitar, or just posing the question about bias against guitars made in the east?  If shopping, lots of good advice above and I'd add seek out fellow guitarists in your area that share similar tastes in guitars and music and explore that 'network' ... also, I think Lakewood guitars were made in Germany a few years back, maybe still are ... I played a few and they were good value, should be easy enough to track down in Europe .. I see you're in Spain, birthplace of the 'modern' guitar?  Sounds like you may be in guitar heaven!
If you're inquiring about the 'stigma' against guitars made in Asia, yes, it exists here in America, for reasons posted above, plus, I believe that it's natural for the citizens of a country to 'root for the home team' when it comes to things native...I guess it comes from a certain home grown pride in craftsmanship, plus, when you have so many fine, pre-war examples of Gibsons, Martins et al, the standard is set pretty high... a similar 'stigma' existed with cars back in the 60's when the first Datsuns and Toyotas were imported, but, by the 70's, Detroit quality went down as Japanese quality went up, and American consumers put their money where the value was... stigma may be too strong a word, though, especially for readers of this board who are deeply into American music from a certain period, it just makes sense to gravitate to the guitars played by our 'heros'..it just adds another dimension to the experience...

Offline kid reno

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Re: Is there a stigma about guitars made in the "east" ???
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2005, 07:08:45 PM »
When I think about guitars made in the east, I think Chicago or New York.  It seems to me that playing blues on a homegrown guitar is just more appropriate.  There is also a possibility of some investment potential. There are so many good guitars available from US makers, either new or old.  The guitars I mean... John

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