Interesting take on US Made Guitars
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  1. #1


    Join Date: Nov 2011
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    Interesting take on US Made Guitars

    Phill raises some interesting topics here. All spoken in broad general terms but me not being American everything is Import so whenever I hear thew: Ohhh but its a USA made one... yeah so what? More than not to me the price differences don't translate that much (if at all) to the so called "Import" guitars.




    Last part of the video is also pertinent. Most US Brands will be making Import guitars. That until the market collapses and weaves out lots of them that can't just compete any longer.

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  4. #2


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    I can tell you right now that the Charvels made just north of the Mexico plant in CA aren't $2000 better than the ones made in Mexico.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe View Post
    I can tell you right now that the Charvels made just north of the Mexico plant in CA aren't $2000 better than the ones made in Mexico.
    Didn't though they were to be honest. Cost raises when things take longer to make. Because taking longer means there more attention to detail and the threshold for flaws is much lower. But CNC machines work the same everywhere. Skilled workers are skilled any part of the World. Give an Indo factory the same time to make a single instrument that a Custom shop level has and then lets really analyse who made it better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe View Post
    I can tell you right now that the Charvels made just north of the Mexico plant in CA aren't $2000 better than the ones made in Mexico.
    From what I hear in fenders us plants most the skilled positions are filled with immigrants from their Mexican plants as they can’t find quality labor at the prices their asking stateside

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    It's economics 101. A skilled laborer in the US cannot survive making $10/hour. So, say they can squeak by on $15/hour but should be in the $20/hour range to really do well - as befitting their skill level in context of US society.

    For the sake of easy math, let's say he can make one sweet guitar a week, the manufacturer is now shelling out about $900 in labor (his hourly rate, plus benefits, plus unemployment insurance, payroll insurance, etc.) for 1 guitar. They need to make a profit on that labor, so the labor portion of the wholesale price is now, $1500 assuming the company isn't uber greedy.

    They buy parts in major bulk and let's say it costs $200/guitar for all the parts necessary (very conservative number, I'm sure, but just for the sake of the illustration) which they turn and add $400 to the price of the guitar.

    You now have an $1900 guitar, wholesale, which the retailer is going to sell for, let's say $2500 so they can keep the lights on, pay their Eddie Van Halen wannabe to help you buy it and/or just stand around and pretend to look cool.

    Do that same thing in Mexico, where a worker makes $10 A WEEK. and suddenly you've freed up $880 in cost, which allows you to wholesale the guitar for $500 and the local Guitar Center can sell it for $800 and hire even more guys to stand around and try and look cool while teenagers come in and butcher Enter Sandman on their lunch breaks.

    The US skilled work isn't necessarily any more skilled than the Mexican one, but the cost of living and all that is hugely different.

    (for reference, I've stood on the property of Mexican auto parts manufacturing plants where their employees are paid $100/week, then charged $90/week to live in the 8'x8' concrete box the company forces them to live in if they want to keep their job.)

    Quality might not have squat to do with it, economics has everything to do with it.
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    I worked at Fender and I will be the first to tell you that the guitar made in the USA are only different from Mexico because they are 400 miles north. They are basically the same guitars made by Mexicans. Just pick your locale.

    Hell the most famous Fender guys are Freddie Tovares and Abigail Ybarra. Those are not "American" names

    Is there a difference in the quality because of the Country of Origin? Generally, yes, but any guitar player should always be looking for what works for them from a quality, spec, and playability standpoint. COO is basically a non-issue for anything north of $500 these days.

    One other thing I just remembered. There are legal implications for things labeled "Made in the USA" so if you look carefully at many products that list the COO as USA, be wary of what it is labeled as. Fender started used "Handcrafted in the USA" because its legally means nothing. There is a reason for that.

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    Cost of manufacturing from place to place is not linear, add to that the cost for workers in some countrys and the fact that sometimes the US model has more high end options and parts, makes it way more complicated than it may seem.
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