The Asian Made Guitar Pricing Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by SDMFVan, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. SDMFVan

    SDMFVan SS.org Regular

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    There's been a lot of discussion in various threads about the prices of Asian made guitars, so I thought it might be worthwhile to have a thread dedicated to that discussion as opposed to muddying up the various manufacturer threads.

    I'll start by saying I'm a fan of Asian made guitars, but typically for the value they offer. I have two Indonesian made Ibanez 7 strings that are very well built and cost ~$400 that I think were good values. I also have an Epiphone Slash Firebird that cost $900, but came from the factory with Seymour Duncan Slash pickups, Orange Drop caps, Kluson banjo tuners and a AAA top. It's a very well built guitar and plays great, but being from China $900 is about the limit of what I'd pay for it even with the name brand parts.

    In the Strandberg thread there's people saying that $2,000-$2,500 is reasonable for an Indonesian made guitar because it has the Endurneck neck profile and Strandberg bridge. IMO that's total BS. The Endurneck is nothing more than a CNC file that needs to be executed, and the hardware is mass produced in Korea. Never mind the fact that the minimum wage in Indonesia is $0.63 an hour...

    That being said, the prices of Asian made guitars seem to be rising. I was surprised to see the Shecter Keith Merrow MkIII was $1,600.

    So what are your thoughts on the pricing of these guitars? Are manufacturers using flashy spec sheets to gouge us or are we getting a fair deal?
     
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  2. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    Again show me another cheaper guitar with an Enduraneck.

    The price that something is set at is whatever people are willing to pay and whatever that item is available at.

    I have no problem telling people that strandbergs are relatively low value for the money. But if you like or want the enduraneck that’s the price that you pay.
     
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  3. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Counterpoint: this discussion isn't worthwhile. :fever:
     
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  4. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    Also this.
     
  5. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    as I tried to explain on the KM tread, the neck alone (and the fact its neck trough), would hike the price A LOT

    you cant expect regular maple neck to cost the same as the 9 piece exotic neck the KM III has..... that as one point


    asian factories are not a Kiesel type shop, where brands jsut select certain specs and be done. They are a "you tell me what to build and we would do so"..... with certain restrictions like getting enough blanks of wood X in order to mass produce a guitar. You can use their in-stock stuff, or you can actually tell them "please use this type of woods from this supplier, Im sending you the tops, Im sending you the hardware for my guitars, only use X quality of woods.... ect ect

    they can build you a 300$ guitar with minimal specs using the cheapest hardware in gloss black with minimal QC using the cheapest discarted wood they have laying down in the factory..... or they can build you a 2500$ guitar with the top of the cream specs that you can dream off, in terms of colors/woods/hardware/construction/QC/ect Its up to the brand to decide where to draw the line. As you dont want your asian made guitar to be the same quality as your main country HQ is (or to the other asian factory you use), you dont want to compete with yourself.

    in simple terms, a Korean factory wont be like "whatever you want us to build would be X price". nope nope nope. It is like any other shop, custom shop, the more you add, the more is gonna cost you


    just because LTD has a basic korean model at 500$ doesnt mean that every single guitar made in the same factory HAS to cost the same. Not every guitar cost the same to make
     
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  6. _MonSTeR_

    _MonSTeR_ SS.org Regular

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    It's all about companies pricing things at certain levels based on what sold last year. Every company along the supply chain will try to maximise their profits unless offering a product as a loss leader. The fact that the next iteration of certain guitars are continuing to be sold at increasing prices effectively proves that the market thinks it's a fair deal.
     
  7. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Lots of things go into the price

    One thing is marketing. Making something more expensive generally means that people will think it's better. Then you play that off against the cost deterring customers. So far, the market is apparently bearing higher prices. Actually you see that in many industries. The iPhone gets $100 more every year now.

    Obviously there's some raw material cost - like "exotic" woods will add a bit of extra. Brand name hardware is usually imported, so those costs will be relatively fixed. I think manufacturers pay roughly 1/3 of the street cost.

    Labour cost in Indonesia is cheaper the the US/EU, for sure. Quality isn't inherently worse. It depends on how much oversight the parent company has, how much QC they enforce etc (obviously guitars which fail QC are a huge cost for the company).

    $2,500 is outrageous for an Indonesian-made guitar, BUT they have the intellectual property of the neck profile. So that's a marketing thing. If you want that neck, then you have no choice but to pay what they ask. They'll be making huge margins.

    Also, watch this:

     
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  8. will_shred

    will_shred Wannabe audio engineer

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    I think there's something to be said for workers getting fair wages for what they do, but I don't really know what constitutes a fair/living wage in Indonesia. No doubt its far less than the US. And its true that Strandberg can charge whatever people will pay for the guitar, and if people are willing to pay $2000 for an imported guitar to get the Endurneck, than that's what they'll charge.
     
  9. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    I would say that for Strandberg the hardware is actually a significant cost because it's a custom design. Kiesel and Ormsby use Hipshot headless hardware, Skervesen uses ABM to name a few. In my experience the Strandberg hardware isn't in any way better than the other brands either. It is hugely annoying for adjusting string height and has less precision for that.

    Their guitars are expensive though. I was not happy with the quality of the Korean one I had briefly but the Japanese made ones I've tried and seen were really nice but only worth buying if you are in Japan since they are expensive too. I don't like the Endurneck so it's not a plus for me, I have a similar but smoothed profile on my Skervesen that feels less noticeable.

    Another thing is that Strandberg is a small player compared to say PRS who uses the same World Musical Instruments factory for their SE range. PRS is able to get much better pricing for the volume they do and they don't have a lot of the upper scale appointments like stainless steel frets or multiscale necks.

    When it comes to Asian made guitars in general, I have a Indonesian made Ibanez BTB33 bass that is close to perfect build. I think guitars coming from there are very impressive nowadays while I feel Korean manufacturing hasn't improved all that much. Maybe it's because the Indonesian factories are newer.
     
  10. AirForbes1

    AirForbes1 SS.org Regular

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    I used to think that the Korean made guitars represented the best value (might still, don't know). But, the last 2 Korean guitars had some quality issues that I wasn't expecting. I had a KM6 (mki) that had uneven frets and needed a levelling. On paper it has some great hardware and specs. I just got an SE Holcomb. It's got some sharp fret ends, there's some messy glue on the fretboard, and the fretboard has some uneven staining. When I got it, the shop had another to compare it to, and I took the better one. The other had fewer issues, but the issues were bigger. So, the quality is still short of either of the 2 MIJ guitars that I have.

    However, these guitars don't have any hardware that needs to be upgraded, really (unless you talk about the nut on the SE Holcomb). If you get one without any finishing issues, they can still represent pretty good value. The Indonesian guitars usually come with lesser hardware/electronics. Floyd rose licensed, in house pickups, etc. So, I suppose the value would depend on what you planned on upgrading.
     
  11. silverabyss

    silverabyss

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    I would rather have the guy (or lady) that built my guitar have a live-able wage and a nice life and not be exploited for their labor by a huge multi-national corporation but here we are.
     
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  12. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    emmmmmm I wouldnt take that as a recomendation video to watch. Yes he raises soe points, but it does fail to actually explain such points

    "inlays are not expensive", yes they are..... "...because CNC...".... exactly. Putting aside the trial and error time and lets say you got the perfect cnc template..... it would still need time to cut, and time its money..... You cant price a simple dot guitar same as an intricate tree of life inlay that would take an extra hour or two to cnc. Plus the extra time to cut and glue in all the pieces...... It might wont be a huge $ increase, but it def is more expensive.... Also depends on the inlay material too......... mind you this is comparing a simple dots vs a full fretboard inlay like on a JEM, something like blocks or a unique 12th fret inlay might cost the same as a dot guitar or a very small extra $

    "veneers dont add cost to the guitar".....mmm yes, yes they do. No like a full cap or top would do, but the will add cost. The veneer itself might be cheap to buy, some are more expensive ofcourse, but the extra cost is not in the veneer, is in the fact that such veneer needs to be glued into the body of the guitar, and cut fush with it...... it adds an extra set of steps in the manufacturing process. So yeah a guitar with a veneer would DO cost more than a guitar without.

    Also because most of the time veneer tops usualy come with bindings.... And yeah binding cost money too. "But Music Man does this", mmm yup, but only MM does that. IT still adds time, still ads extra steps in the process, you still need a guy gluing the binding around the body of the guitar, you still need the guitars to be left to cure (in that time you could have finished X amounts of non-binding guitars) you still need a guy who would scrap the binding out flush with the body and remove excess glue, you need a guy masking up the binding before paint, you need a guy carefully scraping the excess paint out of the binding after paint ect ect

    its not the materil that cost money, its the time put into it

    and heck, he said it himself with the pickups, yes namebrand pickups cost more money mmm DUH.... and yes its an added value for seling point. But although yes, brands pay way less for them taht you will on a shop, it still cost tehm more to buy those than to ask the factory to make them an specific pickup winded to their own specs


    he has a very superficial point of view of things
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
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  13. Dineley

    Dineley SS.org Regular

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    So to summarize the thread. Value is what you make of it... And Phil McKnight is trash.
     
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  14. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    That isn't really anything to do with country of origin.

    That just means that PRS and Schecter didn't bother properly enforcing QC at their overseas factories

    Iv'e had shit guitars from the US and Japan, but I wouldn't blame the country of manufacture for that either. It's the fault of whoever let it out the door.

    The fact is, companies like PRS and Schecter outsource to overseas factories because they're trying to cut cost. So that's the whole mentality, which then translates down to using cheaper stuff (plastic nut on SE MH to save maybe £10) and being more lax with QC. If a guitar fails QC, it takes significant time for somebody to fix, maybe disassemble, sand and re-finish it. That guitar drops out of the standard production line and is essentially treated one-on-one until it's fixed, which is a significant labour cost. Or, it has to be scrapped, which is wasted material and time.

    So you'll tend to find that guitars manufactured to be cheap have worse quality. It's not because Korean people are inferior at making guitars compared to Japanese. It's because of lack of oversight and the parent company trying to keep their margins.


    Yes obviously it's superficial. The title is clickbaity, but listen to what he says and apply some common sense to it. I think he was pretty clear about the inlays - a standard "tree of life" would cost slightly more than dots. It's "more expensive", but certainly not £100's which those guitars would tend to be up-priced by.

    Same with the veneer. Yes, slightly more expensive than bare wood. But again, it's treated like a "premium" feature now. As he said, a veneer top guitar might cost £100-200 more than a non-veneered guitar. But the actual added expense to the manufacturer is nowhere near that.

    Binding. As he said, compare the Gibson LP studio vs standard. One of the biggest differences is the presence/absence of binding. Gibson does it the old fashioned way, but the price markup is crazy and nowhere near proportional.

    Pickups. Look at Chapman, Solar etc - they're all making their own pickups because the margins are huge. And they will put a huge premium on having a brand name pickup in there - again, disproportionate to what they actually cost.

    Perhaps he should have tilted the video "7 things which guitar manufacturers charge a disproportionately high amount for"
     
  15. Randy

    Randy ROOMFORYOUROOMFORYOUROOMFORYOU Super Moderator

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    A lot of the gaps in the pricing that you're getting by calculating the difference based on materials and labor alone are filled in when you factor in the margin of error for chances you end up fucking up a guitar and having to bandsaw it, the more complicated the build becomes.

    Edit: And the thing that's missing from this thread from the OP on down is that there's a not insignificant markup on anything based on exclusivity and what the market will bear.

    A $699 smart phone doesn't have $649 more components than a $50 prepaid smart phone at Dollar General. Companies choose the tier of pricing, in no small part, based on how exclusive they want those features to be for the market they're going after, and those people are willing to pay a markup for exclusivity.
     
  16. A-Branger

    A-Branger SS.org Regular

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    as far as I knew non of them two use branded pickups?.... and if they do, then it does makes sense for them to be charged more for it. A smaller bulder like them its not gonna have a need to buy big bulk quantities of a branded pickup, so its going to be a bit more $ for them to get a name pickup than on a big brand like Ibanez. Also since (my guess here) is that the branded pickups are for sig guitars..?... then those might be extra $ to add the % the artist would get from it... and yes, to ad a percieved value to the instrument I guess


    yup, that would make more sense, and I failed to write on my rant. The way he talks in taht video is like the features he mentions, should cost the same..... Like a binded guitar should be same as a no binding. Which is a full lie, as explained by the process required to bind a guitar...... and yes, maybe he never said that, but thats how he came across

    all features he mention are features that do cost more money to do. Some by not that much money, but they do are more expensive. Yes, the difference in price shouldn't be astronomical different, and yes, some brands would just use that as a perceived value
     
  17. Sogradde

    Sogradde SS.org Regular

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    He'll have quite a hard time, considering it's patented.

    The problem I see, which I mentioned before in regards to Ibanez, is that everyone tries to ramp up the specs on seemingly affordable instruments. You pay a premium for woods, a fancy finish, complex electronics etc. on what is basicly a low to medium tier instrument.
    What should happen instead is that MII and to an extent MIK instrument should come without any visual padding. Just plain work horses with cheap PUs you switch out for whatever you like. You save your good stuff for top tier instruments and make the low tier as playable as possible and pass the savings onto the customer as much as you can. All the MIK instruments I bought so far were really plain with a solid finish and little to no special features. I paid an appropriate amount of money and got very playable instruments. They didn't have AAAAAA poplar burl top with a pukeburst finish and no 9 layer laminated neck, no evertune, no fishmans with a built-in coffee machine but they were really nice and solid instruments that got me through years of playing without any flaws.
     
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  18. Dineley

    Dineley SS.org Regular

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    I think the ltd 1000 series had it right with sharp looking guitars with quality components that mattered, well built, but no over the top features. Great workhorses
     
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  19. AirForbes1

    AirForbes1 SS.org Regular

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    In this particular case of guitar manufacture, QC does relate to country of manufacture (because the parent company sets it up this way).

    When people say that they wouldn't buy a MII Ibanez, or that they think it's crazy to have $2,000-5,000 MII Strandbergs I think that we can just skip over any kind of racist overtones and assume that they DON'T mean "I wouldn't trust an Indonesian guy to make a $2000 guitar, or Indonesians can't make Wizard necks correctly". What they mean is "The QC coming out of that Indonesian plant is so spotty that it would be hard for me to get one because a) a guitar with significant QC issues isn't worth the savings or b) the materials and labour costs don't equal $2000 - 5000". But, we can just skip that and assume that when anyone says MII they don't have to also say "it's not that I think that Indonesians, inherently, can't make good guitars, it's that I've seen so many poorly made one's that I'd be hesitant to spend that much money on a guitar coming from that plant". It would make every post extremely long.

    So, yes, I agree with you. Koreans are not inferior at making guitars, I don't think anyone actually thinks that they are. It's all about the QC coming from those countries and factories. And it's 100% on the parent company. My sharp frets and fretboard glue would never come out of the USA plant, but from the SE line MIK? Okay.

    I agree with everything you said. The country of origin is about getting the costs down and a big part of that is the QC coming from those factories. But, the OP asked "what are your thoughts on the pricing of these guitars", and the answer is "it depends on the particular guitar (because you can get good and bad ones from everywhere)".
     
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  20. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    It is also down to the factory. Yamaha for example seems to manage pretty consistently good quality across their whole guitar range and I'd say the Chinese made Epiphones from their own factory are better than what they previously got from various Korean factories. Even back in the day when most cheaper guitars were from Korea there were noticeable differences between factories. I felt Cort did a better job than Samick in the same price range and there were a number of smaller factories that were more hit and miss. This is a bit anecdotal because I haven't played a ton of guitars from either brand.
     

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