Made In USA and Guitar Provenance

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  • underdogunderdog Frets: 3159
    ICBM;877961" said:
    Many of the higher-end Japanese guitars from the later 70s onwards will compete on equal terms in every way with the best American guitars. (With the exception of the jack sockets!)

    eg Yamaha SG2000, SA and AES series, Ibanez Artist guitars and Musician basses, Aria SB basses, and Levinson Blade which are made there despite the brand being Swiss.
    So are we not considering Japan as a 1st world country? :D

    I understand that initially guitars were made there for cheaper labour costs but that's not been the case for decades now, and that's point I guess.

    You won't get quality Korean/Indonesia guitars on a consistent level until the workers are paid more by which time the price of the guitar will be not far off US/UK made ones.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 21004
    Obviously Japan is 1st world, but it's still perceived as being a lower-quality producer than the US for some reason. The electrics in their export models are often intentionally lower quality than those in the home-market guitars.

    It's an intentional marketing strategy for Korea to keep costs down too. If Koreans thought they could sell guitars at the same quality and price point as American or even Japanese ones, they would. But the perception is that Korea is a lower-quality producer hence no-one would take them seriously, so there's no point.

    Koreans and Japanese workers are equally skilled and capable of using the same quality of machines as well as American ones...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • WhitecatWhitecat Frets: 560
    In the world of cameras, "made in Japan" now generally carries a price/cachet premium... it is of course more expensive to manufacture there than it is in China or Thailand, but the perception is somehow that the work then must be better, to say nothing else...
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3007
    edited December 2015
    Whitecat;878111" said:
    In the world of cameras, "made in Japan" now generally carries a price/cachet premium... it is of course more expensive to manufacture there than it is in China or Thailand, but the perception is somehow that the work then must be better, to say nothing else...
    ...more like "made in Germany".

    Zeiss and Leica.

    To be fair, Zeiss lenses are actually the top of the tree, actual lab tests have shown that but Leica is not technically the best camera, in design, ISO performance, ergonomics, pixel count, dynamic range, or any actual camera qualities...
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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 1827
    edited December 2015
    The last two guitars I've bought have been Made in Mexico (one Fender, and one Martin) and they are excellent.  I have several expensive higher end US made instruments but I'll quite happily use the Mexican made ones. I also have a Made in China Fender Modern Player that is very good.

    As others have said, I don't believe there is any difference in manufacturing quality.  The might be differences in the specifications (the Martin doesn't have a gloss finish) but in terms of quality of manufacture I don't see them as being inferior.  In fact the only guitar I've had in recent years that had significant flaws from the factory was a US made Gibson.
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  • WhitecatWhitecat Frets: 560
    RaymondLin;878170" said:
    [quote="Whitecat;878111"]In the world of cameras, "made in Japan" now generally carries a price/cachet premium... it is of course more expensive to manufacture there than it is in China or Thailand, but the perception is somehow that the work then must be better, to say nothing else...
    ...more like "made in Germany".

    Zeiss and Leica.

    To be fair, Zeiss lenses are actually the top of the tree, actual lab tests have shown that but Leica is not technically the best camera, in design, ISO performance, ergonomics, pixel count, dynamic range, or any actual camera qualities...[/quote]

    Well, some would say the very best guitars come from Germany too - Nik Huber, Hartung, etc...

    Those are a very tiny slice of the overall market though, just like with Zeiss and Leica.

    I'm talking about the Fender & Gibson of the camera world - Canon and Nikon... If for example Nikon releases a new lens and it's an expensive one, there's a good chance it's made in Japan.

    And the user communities will be happy to discover this, and often sometimes annoyed if it isn't...
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 21004
    Japan-snobbery has reached such heights that the new Boss Waza Craft pedals say "Inspected In Japan" on them :)).

    Really? They actually open them up and check everything's been done right by those inferior Taiwaneses? Or just have a quick look from the outside and slap a sticker on...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • NeilNeil Frets: 1506
    Mexico is in America. Just not in the USA.

    In any case, a lot of work is shared (or used to be) between factories which are fairly close to each other albeit across a national border.
    Mexico is indeed in America, not the USA as you said but the difference between the two re wages, worker benefits and environmental concerns are a world apart.

    I wouldn't call the factories fairly close either TBH. They are around 175 miles apart.
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  • I think that the TGPer's of this world have a lot to blame here - It ain't any good unless its built here in the good ole' US of A.....

    I too have a plethora of "USA" instruments - Gibson CS, Fender CS, PRS, EBMM, but I also have a few non USA instruments and if they had "Made in USA" on the headstock you would not tell the difference - my old JV is a case in point, it is still by far the trump Strat of the household - it out-performs anything else that comes near to it...and thats made by the "lesser" Japanese.

    The days of Leo Fender and his band of merry-men (all US citizens!!) making Strats in their good ole' USA factory in Sunny California are long gone.. 

    PRS are the same, I bet there aren't any models that are completely US manufactured,sourced and built - talking component levels here..
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3007
    edited December 2015
    Whitecat;878290" said:
    [quote="RaymondLin;878170"][quote="Whitecat;878111"]In the world of cameras, "made in Japan" now generally carries a price/cachet premium... it is of course more expensive to manufacture there than it is in China or Thailand, but the perception is somehow that the work then must be better, to say nothing else...
    ...more like "made in Germany".

    Zeiss and Leica.

    To be fair, Zeiss lenses are actually the top of the tree, actual lab tests have shown that but Leica is not technically the best camera, in design, ISO performance, ergonomics, pixel count, dynamic range, or any actual camera qualities...

    Well, some would say the very best guitars come from Germany too - Nik Huber, Hartung, etc...

    Those are a very tiny slice of the overall market though, just like with Zeiss and Leica.

    I'm talking about the Fender & Gibson of the camera world - Canon and Nikon... If for example Nikon releases a new lens and it's an expensive one, there's a good chance it's made in Japan.

    And the user communities will be happy to discover this, and often sometimes annoyed if it isn't...

    The difference between cameras and guitars is that cameras have no mojo. And unlike pieces of wood or choice of glue use, metal is metal, glass is glass, it's all made in a lab, not grown on a farm. To be honest, I have never thought about Canon/Nikon as Gibson/Fender, mainly because the logic behind getting them is not like guitars.

    With cameras, when I advise someone to buy a camera I advise them to buy either Canon or Nikon because they have the best support as a system, not because like Guitars, their idols used them or that they sound the best or take the best pictures. I would say get either Canon or Nikon because when you upgrade, your lenses go with you, as you are tied to a system. You do not tied to a particular guitar. You are not tied between a Gibson to a Marshall or a Fender to a … Fender amp. You cannot however use a Canon lens on a Nikon camera. For one thing, they screw in the totally opposite direction ! These 2 system also has the widest range of lenses, so you can get lenses for them from all price bracket, in all focal length (although Canon has the edge on this, which I will explain more below). I do not advise people get either Canon or Nikon because they are made in Japan, I advise them on the merit of the system.

    (going on to a bit of an essay here now)

    In the physical form, from holding the camera in the hand, or the picture it produces. Where as in guitar one can say "this sounds nicer to my ears". With a photo, you can actually judge everything scientifically. A Zeiss has shown it is constantly the sharpest lens maker in the world, beats Nikon and Canon's best efforts. Leica to me is nothing more than a logo, it seriously relies on its rangefinder heritage in this digital age. IMO Fuji makes a better digital rangefinder than Leica does these days. Better noise control, better choice of lenses, better menu in camera, better price, it is just a better camera actually regardless of the price. I don't really think of where it comes from with cameras, like I do with guitars. I don't think Korean is worse than USA or Germany is better than Japan or vice versa. It is very much spec dependent for me, and actually an individual case by case basis.

    I know that Sigma only really has like 6 great lenses, the 24A, 35A, 50A, 24-35, 18-35 (APC sensor), their new 20mm. The rest of their stuff is best ignored.

    Canon makes 2 tiers of lenses. The L Glass is generally excellent, but some are much better than others. The 85/1.2 is a masterclass in optics engineering. The 200/1.8 is the unicorn of the lens world. The 1200/5.6 is just insane. They consumer range like the 50/1.8 is widely considered a great optics if cheap enclosure (the mk1 version is better built, the 85/1.8 is the best bang for buck lens for that focal length for £300. The new STM range of lenses is really quite excellent. But you can get not so good like their 28/2.8 which I find pointless.

    Nikon too have the same great lenses but also not so great ones. Their 14-24mm is gorgeous, but they do lack range, they don't have say any auto focus 1.2 lenses, and they need to update some of their line up to catch up with Sigma now.

    And Nikon and Canon's logo does not automatically means great lens, actually most lenses are made in Japan, at least all mines are, and I don't have much allegiance in brand names. I am tied to Canon because my bodies are Canon but I would get the best glass for it. My sharpest lens is a Sigma, the 50mm Art. I would get the Zeiss Otus but the Otus, at £3500, is a manual focus lens, which is useless for me in a wedding situation.

    Anyway, these days, Zeiss makes the best lenses, though they do not make any autofocus for Canon and Nikon mount, must be to do with licencing, since everybody and their dog do it – Tamron, Sigma, they both reverse engineer their lenses to Canon and Nikon but Zeiss only make autofocus lenses on a Sony mount.

    Sony makes the best sensors, they supply Nikon with their sensor tech so Nikon too have the best sensors.

    Canon has the best range of lenses, from super wide to super tele, to tilt shifts to macro, they also have the best flashlights systems with built in radio transmitters.

    I would say if someone show me a Canon or Nikon camera, I don't immediately think it’s the best because it's made in Japan. I think they picked a system that has the best support. If they show me a Sony DSLR I would think they were sold on the body spec, but not the lens range (as it’s the most lacking and also the most expensive). If someone show me a Leica, I would think they bought it because of the brand name, not it's picture quality.

    Saw a guy with a Sony A7Rii with a Zeiss 25mm in Stockholm, now that's someone who knows what he is buying, was quite envious actually, there I was holding a Canon 5D3 with a 35L in my hand!

    Anyway, I never think "made in Japan" is best. Perhaps because all my lenses are made in Japan….or that I never pay attention to its country or origin, I do pay attention to the lens that I am getting.
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  • WhitecatWhitecat Frets: 560
    You can measure sharpness, but sharp does not always equal best.

    You can measure pickups, would a pickup that has more even output across all frequencies be better? Most likely not, and that's partly because it's part of a system (as is a lens).

    The truth is that cameras and guitars actually have exactly the same amount of "mojo" - that is, zero. Some guys do feel the camera is an extension of themselves and they want whatever they want for reasons that are exactly the same as the reasons as any given reason you might want any given guitar.

    Both are tools to create art with and it's not really for me to say what's better or best. Some crazy awesome stuff is made on Holgas and lensbabys and stuff that might not stack up 'scientifically.' My favourite lens of all time is the Nikkor 58mm 1.4 G lens - as far from optically perfect as is maybe possible, which was actually intentional on the part of the designers to give it a specific 'look.'

    Everything is a means to an end.

    Your perspective on camera equipment having "no mojo" is interesting because you are a working pro - yet you are an amateur musician with far more emotion invested in your gear rather than logic, perhaps, and I think that's pretty telling of the general mindsets of any amateur vs pro in almost any field. I worked for
    years in a camera shop and I can tell you that the majority of amateurs buying gear were doing so an emotional purchase, because this was a tool that was going to be used to capture moments in time, make memories visible, etc etc - whereas the pro customers wanted the best tools to get the job done fast and properly.

    Anyway, back on topic, yeah, Nikon makes lenses in three different countries now at least, possibly four... not really sure about the other systems, but when a new Nikon lens is released its country of origin is often a minor talking point and I have read stuff like "for this kind of money I'd at least expect it to be made in Japan!

    So my comparisons with the origins of guitars was mainly based on my experience with that brand.
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3007
    edited December 2015

    You are very right in that the mind set between a pro and an amateur is so very different. With a pro you treat everything as a tool, you care much more about the final product and places little to no attachment to any particular gear (that's where it becomes difference to guitars, I bet May would feel a bit lost if his Red Special got stolen). I upgrade my camera every few years, lenses when it gets an update. With my guitars I am more emotionally attached, I am still upset making that ding on my PRS, I have various scratches on my camera, actually dropped my camera when the stupid tripod head came off in Sweden, but one look, test that it works and I continue. The UV filter got dented but since got replace and I don't worry about it anymore. I do care for my camera, I send them off to Canon for a service when I feel they need one, I am a Platinum CPS member, meaning if I send the lens off Monday, I have it back by Friday. I do sensor clean every season. They are all stored in a Pelican case for maximum protection, all with UV filters on from day one.

    When I refer to sharpness, of course there are many aspects that makes a lens good, focus speed, bokeh, CA control, flare control, corner to corner sharpness, vignette control, weather sealing, IS or build quality to the noise of the focus motor. Sharpness is just 1 element, it may not be the most important but it is one that most people do care about and easily measured if you place a camera side by side in a studio on a tripod taking photo of a potato.

    We are digressing off topic here, my point is that country of origin does not apply to me, my favourite lens (35L) is not my sharpest lens (50A), my most versatile lens (24-70 perhaps, although I only travel with a 35L) is not my most used lens (35L), my most expensive lens (85L) is not the best lens (?).

    I do however prefer a USA made guitar...
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  • I think my Reverend RG2 is every bit as good as - say - an American standard Fender, Gibson SG std or whatever, certainly as good as a Japanese Gretsch.

    I used to cringe at the thought of 'far-eastern' guitars but the fact is that they can - if required / requested to do so - produce items of exceptional quality.

    Indonesian guitars, of which I've had 2 recently, from Squire and Sire, were 'acceptable for the price'. The Reverend is a bit more expensive but better than the price would suggest.
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  • You can't beat 'Made in Dagenham' During the 70s, that was a mark of quality crap.


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  • I have been a fan of all sorts of makes and nationalities over the years. Country of origin is only as good as the finished product. 

    I regret selling my 1980's Burny Les Paul I have yet to find its replacement  unless I find another 79-80 japanese Les Paul.

    As for what the President of Schecter had to say it just a bit of bad legislation that totally under values the good guitar companies making products in the US. 

    Law makers so glad I am a Law Breaker


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  • dindudedindude Frets: 3360
    Just resurrecting this old thread of mine as I noticed that the new Fender American Professional series simply states "Corona, CA" on the headstock instead of the "Made In USA" of the old American Standard.

    I'm sure it's a result of the aforementioned law, which again seems ludicrous as Fender make a huge amount of their parts in the American factory.

    I guess in reality it's becoming less and less important where a guitar is made as parts come from all over and many countries can turn out fine guitars. 

    However, I can't help think that his will somewhat backfire for the legislators, I mean if they can no longer put made in USA on the headstock, what motivation is there for Fender to continue to CNC and finish bodies in the US when they could do it in Mexico just as well, trunk them up and still have the same script on the headstock.
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 1395
    ref above link from @dindude - I recall 'Made in the USA' started to appear in the mid late 60's as Jimmy Hoffa and the union guys started to impose their authority - As we know a pre-cbs Strat and 50's LP never had 'Made in the USA' on them - So it has become a 'symbol' since then

    see this link to see where an iPhone is made https://www.quora.com/Where-is-the-iPhone-originally-made
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  • There are some USA made guitars that I happily accept are incredibly high quality, such as PRS but I don't for one second think that's simply because they're made in the USA and therefore must be better. We only have to consider most American made cars to realise that 'Made in the USA' does not mean it's going to be any good. I own a Mexican Fender Stratocaster that may not have the same quality of components as the USA made counterpart but it's still a very well made guitar and is a lot closer to the quality of the American line than the price difference would suggest. I also own a PRS SE Custom 24 and it's my third one, all of which have been built to an incredibly high standard, though I accept not as good as the American PRS guitars but again, that's either partly or largely down to the quality of components used. I do have one 'Made in the USA' guitar, which is a 2013 Gibson Les Paul Studio. It's a really good guitar and I love it. I play this one more than the others but if I'm brutally honest, the Korean made PRS is miles and miles better built than the Gibson. I'd say my American made Gibson is more on a par with the Mexican Fender than the Korean PRS.
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  • iain.reverbiain.reverb Frets: 109
    ICBM said:
    Obviously Japan is 1st world, but it's still perceived as being a lower-quality producer than the US for some reason. The electrics in their export models are often intentionally lower quality than those in the home-market guitars.

    It's an intentional marketing strategy for Korea to keep costs down too. If Koreans thought they could sell guitars at the same quality and price point as American or even Japanese ones, they would. But the perception is that Korea is a lower-quality producer hence no-one would take them seriously, so there's no point.

    Koreans and Japanese workers are equally skilled and capable of using the same quality of machines as well as American ones...
    I've been in guitar manufacturing places in Japan, China and the USA. The only difference between the Japanese and American ones were that there was not a single tool or speck of sawdust out of place in the Japanese one. Tidiest cleanest workshops I've ever been in. Every tool has  a place and is put back when not in use. All the tools were the best quality you could find. The Chinese one although having QC inspectors imported from Japan, was dark and noisy and a little chaotic. The finished product was very good, however. I also have friends who have visited OEM Chinese factories where guitars are made and he said it was terrible. People sleeping under their machines, unskilled labour force. The owner of the factory reliably informed him that when they weren't making mandolins and banjos they were making hanging baskets for garden centres. 
    I work for http://www.reverb.com/uk Any questions, queries, complaints, Drop me a line.
    Our Boxing Day Sale is now Live ! http://goo.gl/F5OlAk
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  • iain.reverbiain.reverb Frets: 109
    ICBM said:
    Obviously Japan is 1st world, but it's still perceived as being a lower-quality producer than the US for some reason. The electrics in their export models are often intentionally lower quality than those in the home-market guitars.

    It's an intentional marketing strategy for Korea to keep costs down too. If Koreans thought they could sell guitars at the same quality and price point as American or even Japanese ones, they would. But the perception is that Korea is a lower-quality producer hence no-one would take them seriously, so there's no point.

    Koreans and Japanese workers are equally skilled and capable of using the same quality of machines as well as American ones...
    I've been in guitar manufacturing places in Japan, China and the USA. The only difference between the Japanese and American ones were that there was not a single tool or speck of sawdust out of place in the Japanese one. Tidiest cleanest workshops I've ever been in. Every tool has  a place and is put back when not in use. All the tools were the best quality you could find. The Chinese one although having QC inspectors imported from Japan, was dark and noisy and a little chaotic. The finished product was very good, however. I also have friends who have visited OEM Chinese factories where guitars are made and he said it was terrible. People sleeping under their machines, unskilled labour force. The owner of the factory reliably informed him that when they weren't making mandolins and banjos they were making hanging baskets for garden centres. 
    Tell a lie, it wasn't hanging baskets it was barbeques and patio furniture.
    I work for http://www.reverb.com/uk Any questions, queries, complaints, Drop me a line.
    Our Boxing Day Sale is now Live ! http://goo.gl/F5OlAk
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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 19
    Whatever the good points of this legislation, it hasn't stopped some microphone manufacturers from being very disingenuous about the origins of their products. In a capacitor microphone there is basically one component that is key to the operation and sound of the microphone, which is the capsule. Every other aspect of building a microphone is basic mechanical and electrical engineering for the most part, but designing and building good capsules requires considerable expertise, skill and expensive machinery. That expertise was primarily developed in Germany and Austria after WWII by companies such as Neumann, AKG and Sennheiser.

    Today, all those companies still exist, but there's also a plethora of Chinese factories turning out cheap knock-offs of old Neumann and AKG capsules. Most of the US-based microphone 'manufacturers' are actually using these Chinese capsules, because it would be too expensive and difficult to design and build their own. But they go to incredible lengths to obscure the origins of the capsules and to imply, if not state outright, that their microphones are wholly built in the US.


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  • So is FB going to be sued for having a "Made in the UK" sub forum? :o
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  • hubobuloushubobulous Frets: 1766
    dindude said:
    However, I can't help think that his will somewhat backfire for the legislators, I mean if they can no longer put made in USA on the headstock, what motivation is there for Fender to continue to CNC and finish bodies in the US when they could do it in Mexico just as well, trunk them up and still have the same script on the headstock.
    Trump's border tax
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