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I think that a bias or preference for country of origin is a very generational thing. Up until the late 70's, Japanese guitars were "cheap." Then by the 80's/early 90's Japanese guitars were hugely desirable and Korean guitars were cheap. By the late 90's/early 2000's, Korean build quality had largely improved and Chinese guitars were cheap. Then by the 2010's, some Chinese guitars were remarkably improved and Indonesian guitars were cheap. Now, as many have stated, you can find some excellently made Indonesian guitars. In a decade, we'll be seeing a new crop of instruments made in Bangladesh or Madagascar and scoff at them...but then those will start to improve as well.

I remember back in the mid 90's, my uncle, a session and studio musician for decades, looking at my first guitar- a Korean built Ibanez RX. He took one look and said "oh, made in Korea...you could have got a Mexican strat for a couple hundred more." But then he sat down and jammed with it and was thoroughly impressed at the quality for $199.

In the end, it comes down to the QC policy enforced by the brand regardless of country of origin. This is how we've seen some shit Gibsons and "meh" Fenders coming out of the US over the last 10-15 years and some surprisingly good guitars coming out of Korea, China, and Indonesia. There is also something to be said for older brands coasting on their reputation and newer brands wanting to make a good name for themselves, but unable to mass produce in the US or even Japan. You can find skilled workers anywhere, but it's up to management to train them properly and enforce standards. When you have lax management oversight, that's when problems slip through.

In 30 years, we'll probably see a huge demand for used Indo's made in the 2015-2025 range. All of the shitty instruments from that era would have been tossed in the wood chipper long before, and the best ones would have been taken care of. Just like cars: a lot of awesome hot rods and muscle cars from decades ago were used, abused, and abandoned to rust in some corn field. The ones that were taken care of are still running, so now you only see the most pristine examples on the road.
 

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OldSchool Blacksmith
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Discussion Starter #22
^^^^^ best answer so far. You should post more often.
 
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I think that a bias or preference for country of origin is a very generational thing. Up until the late 70's, Japanese guitars were "cheap." Then by the 80's/early 90's Japanese guitars were hugely desirable and Korean guitars were cheap. By the late 90's/early 2000's, Korean build quality had largely improved and Chinese guitars were cheap. Then by the 2010's, some Chinese guitars were remarkably improved and Indonesian guitars were cheap. Now, as many have stated, you can find some excellently made Indonesian guitars. In a decade, we'll be seeing a new crop of instruments made in Bangladesh or Madagascar and scoff at them...but then those will start to improve as well.

I remember back in the mid 90's, my uncle, a session and studio musician for decades, looking at my first guitar- a Korean built Ibanez RX. He took one look and said "oh, made in Korea...you could have got a Mexican strat for a couple hundred more." But then he sat down and jammed with it and was thoroughly impressed at the quality for $199.

In the end, it comes down to the QC policy enforced by the brand regardless of country of origin. This is how we've seen some shit Gibsons and "meh" Fenders coming out of the US over the last 10-15 years and some surprisingly good guitars coming out of Korea, China, and Indonesia. There is also something to be said for older brands coasting on their reputation and newer brands wanting to make a good name for themselves, but unable to mass produce in the US or even Japan. You can find skilled workers anywhere, but it's up to management to train them properly and enforce standards. When you have lax management oversight, that's when problems slip through.

In 30 years, we'll probably see a huge demand for used Indo's made in the 2015-2025 range. All of the shitty instruments from that era would have been tossed in the wood chipper long before, and the best ones would have been taken care of. Just like cars: a lot of awesome hot rods and muscle cars from decades ago were used, abused, and abandoned to rust in some corn field. The ones that were taken care of are still running, so now you only see the most pristine examples on the road.
Every guitarist in the world and future to be guitarist needs to read this here! Good write up dude!!
 

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Every company/factory can make fantastic and lousy guitars if they want to. I figure that with American and European and some Japanese guitars your get greater attention to detail and a smaller chance of getting a dud. Another issue is the size of the operation. A factory making hundreds of guitars a day vs. a small factory making a few a day.

Yes, if definitely comes down to what level of quality control a company is willing to pay for. Most large companies (and some small budget companies) don't pay for any quality control at the plant whatsoever. In effect, they have transferred QC over to the customer. In turn, the customer can return/exchange products for any or no reason. They don't care about having a bunch of initially unhappy customers because they rely on volume. They care about showing growth on some spreadsheet to justify executive bonuses. Some of the smaller and newer companies still pay for QC because they realize that first impressions matter.

Country of origin matters less these days because it's all budget-dependent. If you have an entry-level budget all you can get is a Chinese guitar. If you're can afford mid-range you're looking at Indo or perhaps some Korean ones. etc.
 

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Great discussion gentlemen. Recently bought a schecter diamond damien. 350.00 used. Lower end schecter. Very nice guitar. feels rock solid and smooth and I like the passive emg,s. Kind of dead acoustically but good plugged in. It's a way better guitar build wise than most strats i have seen. Course I admittedly don't know what the hell I am doing.
 

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Schecters have long been among the best-built lower end Asian guitars. I haven't bonded with many of them, but they're a seriously good value.
 

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OldSchool Blacksmith
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Discussion Starter #28
Schecters have long been among the best-built lower end Asian guitars. I haven't bonded with many of them, but they're a seriously good value.
My KM6 MK1 is a work of art. Made in Korea, but is one of the best guitars I've ever played. Super low action, zero buzz, sounds great acoustically and even better plugged in.
 

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My KM6 MK1 is a work of art. Made in Korea, but is one of the best guitars I've ever played. Super low action, zero buzz, sounds great acoustically and even better plugged in.
You could stab somebody w/ that KM. I wish you had not shown me that.
 

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OldSchool Blacksmith
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Discussion Starter #30

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I think I'm in the minority, but when I'm buying a guitar, things that don't even register on my list of pros and cons:

- country of origin
- how light/dark/streaky the fretboard wood is
- what the fretboard wood is
 

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I think I'm in the minority, but when I'm buying a guitar, things that don't even register on my list of pros and cons:

- how light/dark/streaky the fretboard wood is
- what the fretboard wood is
Total opposite for me. I love nice fretboards, they're just as important as the finish IMO. And even if it's just rosewood the difference between a dry, boring piece of RW and a nice dark one is night and day. I oil the hell out of my fretboards all year to keep them dark and awesome.
 

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Total opposite for me. I love nice fretboards, they're just as important as the finish IMO. And even if it's just rosewood the difference between a dry, boring piece of RW and a nice dark one is night and day. I oil the hell out of my fretboards all year to keep them dark and awesome.
I wish this was XenforoBook because I would LIKE this post. :lol:
 

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In the end, it comes down to the QC policy enforced by the brand regardless of country of origin. This is how we've seen some shit Gibsons and "meh" Fenders coming out of the US over the last 10-15 years and some surprisingly good guitars coming out of Korea, China, and Indonesia. There is also something to be said for older brands coasting on their reputation and newer brands wanting to make a good name for themselves, but unable to mass produce in the US or even Japan. You can find skilled workers anywhere, but it's up to management to train them properly and enforce standards. When you have lax management oversight, that's when problems slip through.
So much this!!

Country of origin has never made a difference to me, or more accurately, until the last few years I couldn't afford to be picky, lol! With that said, country of origin still doesn't matter. Out of what I own, I reach for the Japanese(EII Eclipse and Caparison) and Korean(LTD Snakebyte baritone) built ones 1st.
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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I oil the hell out of my fretboards all year to keep them dark and awesome.
Most people don't oil their fretboards enough. :agreed:

It's not just aesthetic, though Rosewood can withstand negligent ownership much better than woods like ebony, it's a part of responsibly owning guitars.
 
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