Guitars assembled in China or Made in China

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by the_dude, May 14, 2021.

  1. the_dude

    the_dude Squier-Meister

    Age:
    48
    182
    Feb 17, 2021
    Japan
    This is something that is just on my mind and not meant to start any sort of debate, but I was wonder, do you think it is possible that China is not only making guitars but also could be assembling guitars made elsewhere with Chinese parts?

    What brings this to my mind is a copy of a Les Paul black beauty that I bought last year (at my fav. second hand store of course ;)). It was a 'Laid Back' modal (LPC-450). Laid Back is another original brand from one of the largest retailers here in Japan, Shimamura Music. This brand was first launched in 2003 but at one time was discontinued and re-launched in 2017, however the line was completely changed to mainly Tele & Strat copies.

    https://www.shimamura.co.jp/originalbrand/laidback/index.html (sorry, Japanese only)

    The guitar I purchased was made in 2007 and according my research it was Made in China. Some of the images I have been able to find have a gold Made in China sticker on the headstock, which is missing on mine (I just have the serial number sticker on the heel).

    So my question to you guys is, what do you think of Made in China guitars in terms of quality over the years? I have had only one Chinese guitar over the years and have been mainly playing my Fujigen Epiphone SG since I bought it in 1999. I had a MIJ Squire Strat that I bought in the early 90's (which I sadly sold in 97) and a MIK Squire Strat. Last year purchase a Squire Affinity Tele (CY serial) that I find to be well built and I also picked up a used 2002 Squire Strat (also CY) a few months back. The strat plays well, but the build quality is far lower than my Tele, so I am guessing that quality has improved dramatically over those 18 years.

    So as to how this relates to my Laid Back Les Paul black beauty? Well as mentioned the guitar is from 2007, so I am wondering what is your experience in terms of fine detail quality of the Chinese guitars around that year?

    To me this Les Paul is amazing in terms of attention to detail. The fret work, the binding, the finish all top notch. The hardware is a little bit on the cheap side. I am sure it is made at Ping Works (same as the Gibson branded hardware but of lower quality metal). The pots are Alpha pots (full size) which I believe are from China or Taiwan.

    As I am not to ashamed to admit, I am a Fuijgen snob, their work is amazing in my mind, and this Les Paul seems to have the same level in terms of build. And as Shimamura typically has Fujigen build their other brands and that the design is identical the History and Cool Z black beauties, do you think it is possible that a guitar could be built in one factory (or country) then shipped off to be assembled (hardware, electronics, nut etc) in another?

    If this guitar was built in China in 2007, I sure would love to know which factory made it :cool:

    Sorry for the long winded post, just something that has been on my mind for a little while and see if there are any shared (or relevant) opinions.
     
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  2. Eddie

    Eddie My Squier is on Fire !!! Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    51
    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    Made in China quality ranges across a massive spectrum. We mostly think of MIC guitars as the basic, no frills, cheap, cheap, cheap instruments.

    But we also have the Squier Classic Vibe, which many of us would agree is an exceptional value along with a very well built guitar.

    Epiphone Les Paul's are made in China and run for almost $800 for the LPC's.

    Going up the ladder, the LTD EC-1000 is a $1000 guitar made in China.

    Heck, Max Carlisle says the Eastman Les Paul is the best LP out there .... for almost $2000 made in China.

    So it's hard for me to say. $1000 enters Made in Japan territory. I would take a FGN over an LTD at $1000.

    I could see companies shipping parts to other countries for assembly, though I'm not sure that would be a good idea. As a prior Industrial Engineer, I've always advocated one piece flow on the manufacturing floor. Reduce lead time, reduce material movement ... get the product out to market before your competitors can.
     
  3. fuelish

    fuelish Squier-holic

    My MIC guitars are perfectly fine guitars.... ya get good and bad from everywhere.... check out Les Paul forums....I love my MIC guits
     
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  4. Kinnon09

    Kinnon09 Squier-holic

    Mar 8, 2021
    Scotland
    IMG_20210224_153055.jpg I have a 07 sunburst Jim deacon guitar made in china and the body is the same as a squier only difference is the neck at the bottom is not as rounded. And that was an Edinburgh company.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
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  5. the_dude

    the_dude Squier-Meister

    Age:
    48
    182
    Feb 17, 2021
    Japan
    This is what I was thinking, the economics of it would not make sense to me, unless it was a deal that made sense to Shimamura Music some how.

    I don't have a problem with Made in China guitars (although I will admit I was skeptical years ago). But the ones I have played myself that were from 10 plus years ago didn't seem to have this detail (I will admit I have not played a Classic Vibe so I cannot speak to the quality of those).

    I was also thinking this because of the extreme similarities in construction and design of the Laid Back modal to the History and Cool Z modals. Same headstock shape, same binding, same truss rod cover (2 screws). Even down to construction of the truss rod cavity (plugged like Gibson as opposed to open under the nut like Chinese Epiphones). This made me think that perhaps it was one factory was making the same body for all 3 brands then having the hardware outfitted according to price point (my Laid Back Les Paul Custom had a 45,000 yen price point - hence the modal name LPC-450).

    I changed the nut to a Graph Tech nut as the plastic one from the factory was binding too much, but the Cool Z and History have bone nuts as well as Gotoh hardware (higher price point though, with Cool Z's starting at 88,000 yen).

    Anyways, it was just a thought and my curiosity sometimes gets the better of me LOL and now with my Cool Z purchase the other day I see a lot of similarities between the two that it made my curiosity go into overdrive :(:cool:
     
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  6. Eddie

    Eddie My Squier is on Fire !!! Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    51
    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    I'm not sure I'd pay premium money for an MIC instrument. Depreciation tends to be really bad. LTD EC-1000's barely sell for 50% of the new value on the used market, and sellers often need to throw in a hard shell case. BUT, on the flip side, buying a used MIC instrument can be quite beneficial to the wallet. :)

    But for $1000, I'd do an MIA Fender or MIJ FGN.

    Korean made instruments have a good reputation for quality as well. Though, my threshold would probably be Wolf Guitars at $450. Any more, and I'm in MIJ territory ... or close to.

    Vietnam has been putting out some fine, low priced instruments as well. I contacted someone from the IYV website to inquire about an Explorer clone. $135 for the guitar but $175 to ship to the USA. Fugget that.

    So unfortunately, I do look at where the guitar comes from when making my decision to shell out big bucks. Eastman may make an amazing guitar, but no way I'm shelling out 2 grand for an MIC guitar.
     
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  7. Kinnon09

    Kinnon09 Squier-holic

    Mar 8, 2021
    Scotland
    Harley Benton made in china looks like a Epiphone made in China Is that the same factory? Anyone? Just looks like different knobs.
     
  8. the_dude

    the_dude Squier-Meister

    Age:
    48
    182
    Feb 17, 2021
    Japan
    I do as well look at the origins of the instrument, but only as of the last couple years. In fact when I moved back to Japan 3 years ago I was thinking of giving away my FGN Epiphone SG as I thought "It is just a 20 year old Asian copy" (even though I loved the guitar and how it plays), but before doing so I decided to have a look and see what others thought about my particular modal (Epiphone SG70) and it was from there that I see that the MIJ stuff was sought after. Needless to say I gave up the idea of giving it away (plus it is the only guitar that I have owned for such a long period of time, I have no desire to part ways with it), I did sell a Fender (MIM) Jazzmaster for next to nothing though LOL.

    What do you think of something like this it terms of value?

    https://netmall.hardoff.co.jp/product/574017/

    I know it is in Japanese but the pictures look good. It is a Cool Z (Fujigen) Les Paul Custom for just over 40,000 yen. I think it is fair, but I have seen the same guitar for slightly less. Cool Z was discontinued in 2017 so they are getting harder to find on the second hand market.
     
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  9. DougMen

    DougMen Dr. Squier

    Age:
    67
    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    Anyone who questions the viability of a high end guitar made in China has never seen an Eastman
    https://www.eastmanguitars.com
    They make world class violins too, as well as horns and flutes, and they own a percentage of Backun clarinets also.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  10. DougMen

    DougMen Dr. Squier

    Age:
    67
    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    No. Epiphone owns their own factories in China, two of them
     
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  11. Kinnon09

    Kinnon09 Squier-holic

    Mar 8, 2021
    Scotland
    Screenshot_2021-05-15-08-43-20-793_com.android.chrome.jpg Screenshot_2021-05-15-08-43-09-617_com.android.chrome.jpg
    Thanks for that @DougMen I thought I was invisible. Are very similar:D
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  12. the_dude

    the_dude Squier-Meister

    Age:
    48
    182
    Feb 17, 2021
    Japan
    They do look like well built guitars indeed. Interesting that they are using Gotoh hardware (personal I prefer Gotoh hardware) - this would add to the price point indeed.

    I was mainly talking about a guitar that was made in 2007, which to my understanding was far more of a crapshoot than it is now.
     
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  13. Kinnon09

    Kinnon09 Squier-holic

    Mar 8, 2021
    Scotland
    The Jim deacon I posted is a 07 china. I like it and the build quality is good no sharp edges lol
     
  14. Paruwi

    Paruwi Squier-Nut

    Age:
    59
    958
    Apr 28, 2019
    Kraut-Territory
    Harley Bentons are not made in just one factory, they are made wherever they get them cheap

    to me their shapes look more like the ESP/Ltd models

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  15. Kinnon09

    Kinnon09 Squier-holic

    Mar 8, 2021
    Scotland
    Mine was not good when I got it. Not a clue what year it is or from. Yes I no not all are made in china. The two pics I posted are made in china.
     
  16. Paruwi

    Paruwi Squier-Nut

    Age:
    59
    958
    Apr 28, 2019
    Kraut-Territory
    Maybe the Shimamura shop is replacing their CoolZ series with those 'assemled in China' models to get more 'entry level' prices
     
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  17. Paruwi

    Paruwi Squier-Nut

    Age:
    59
    958
    Apr 28, 2019
    Kraut-Territory
    Then we are two
    aaaaa1.gif
     
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  18. Eddie

    Eddie My Squier is on Fire !!! Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    51
    Nov 5, 2016
    New York

    I made a short comparo on this site about 2 years ago between an MIJ FGN NLC10, MIK Epi LPC, and an MIC Harley Benton SC-550. The reality is that while the HB was a nice guitar for $220, it didn't compare to the Epiphone and nothing close to the FGN. On a value level, it was great ... but head to head, it fell way short.

    I can't say for the Squier and the HB. After the new shipping charge has been tacked on, the HB is no longer that much of a bargain. :(
     
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  19. Kinnon09

    Kinnon09 Squier-holic

    Mar 8, 2021
    Scotland
    My Harley Benton was the worst guitar I had when I got it sounded like a tin can.
     
  20. Kinnon09

    Kinnon09 Squier-holic

    Mar 8, 2021
    Scotland
    I got sent this. Unlike other brands, it is very difficult to date HB guitars. Sometimes there are subtle design changes and different finishes between production runs but I have no detailed knowledge of those, I'm afraid.

    There are 2 details things that can help to get a very, very rough indication of timescale: the style of the Harley Benton logo and the make of the pickups. The logo changed a couple of years ago and HB switched from Wilkinson pickups to Roswell pickups. If it has the new logo (the same as the one on Harley Benton website and Roswell pickups then it should only be a couple of years old.