How good are $300 and cheaper guitars, anyways?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Zalbu, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    You have to realize, when dealing with Chinese manufacturing, labor cost isn't very much a factor. That's why it's being built there.

    The biggest driver of costs is QA/QC. Good quality control means that you have rework, product loss, reorder, engineering controls, process monitoring, and a host of other concepts and actions that drive up down time, material loss, tooling service and asset care.

    Also, while a small builder might find making a Les Paul more difficult, the level of automation, and line process aids makes it much less of a factor at these giant guitar OEMs.
     
  2. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Doc McStuffins Contributor

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    I own a bunch of ~$300 old Peaveys that are killer guitars. Same with older Charvel. I've played a bunch of newer LTD and Schecter, as well as used Ibanez, in that range that were nice too.
     
  3. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Used stuff is a different animal. Especially if it was made a decade ago or more.

    Though, those Peaveys were always an amazing value. :agreed:
     
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  4. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Doc McStuffins Contributor

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    That's what I keep telling the wife every time I buy another one! :lol:

    I had to sneak home and turn off her paypal notification the other day so she didn't know I bought another one lol.
     
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  5. chopeth

    chopeth SS.org Regular

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    There is nothing wrong with these cheap guitars, but with the slaves building them.
     
  6. M3CHK1LLA

    M3CHK1LLA angel sword guardian

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    ltd's are usually good bang for your buck...
     
  7. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    You're to Peaveys that I am to low rust Jeep XJs. :ugh: :lol:
     
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  8. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Well, I'd argue that the labour cost was the reason it was outsources in the first place :p

    But yeah, wages would be around 1/3 of what they would be in the US.

    Absolutely correct about QC though. And, to my knowledge, that is mostly dependent on how much attention the parent company pays. Chinese factories can absolutely make good stuff, but you keep to keep your eyes on them and make sure they don't cut corners.
     
  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Labor costs of more expensive to produce in countries is what pushes manufacturing into countries where labor is significantly less.

    The 1/3rd the rate is, from my experience working in offshore supply chain, not at all accurate. Maybe for a country like South Korea, but not Indonesia or China, where these sub-$500 guitars coming from.

    It's not about how much attention the customer pays, it's the money the customer pays. Any increase in costs due to QC/QA is being passed on to the customer, who in turn eventually passes it down to the consumer.
     
  10. SDMFVan

    SDMFVan SS.org Regular

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    I know this isn't really in the spirit of the question, but I recently got a Les Paul copy off of Aliexpress and have been blown away by the quality for the price. There's a few small finish issues here and there, but the woods look nice, it's a real maple top (with veneer obviously), the frets were level out of the box, it has just about the nicest piece of rosewood I've ever seen for a fretboard and after a truss rod tweak it plays fantastic. All the parts are Epiphone, so I'm assuming it's just some guys who build Epi's making some with Gibson headstocks and selling them on the side. Certainly the quality is hit or miss and I just as easily could have gotten a dog, but for $209 shipped to my door it was worth the risk.

    My point is that it's REALLY made me think about the markup on imported guitars, because these guys have to be making them for around $100 to be making any kind of money on them. I wonder what Strandberg pays to have their $1300 Chinese imports made...
     
  11. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    You typically pay between four and six times the price of a given mass produced, Chinese/Indonesian/South Korean/etc, as it would be direct, when purchased at a retail store. Sometimes a little more or less.

    Not only does the factory need to make money, but so does company commissioning the guitar, the importer and distributor, and of course the retailer.

    Multi-tiered supply isn't new or unique to guitars.

    You'd be surprised how cheaply you can build things when you have to pay workers so little, compared to the United States or Western Europe, don't have to follow the strictest environmental or safety regulations, and don't mind ripping off intellectual property.
     
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  12. Wolfos

    Wolfos Guitarded

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    I have to say I have played 3 and now own 1 Indonesian Ibanez RGMS7. I am floored by its quality, new they're I believe $499 I purchased mine used for $300 beyond the parts and labour being cheap, the guitar is awesome, the neck profile feels wonderful there are surprisingly no sharp fret edges, the fretboard has a wonderful grain. The wiring inside the control cavity is surprisingly clean and tidy, there is no hissing or humming or crackling using the controls, it a all grounded properly. Everything is nice and tight with no slop to it, the fan fret feels great etc. Even the crap pickups arent crap!

    I ordered upgraded (Hipshot + Switchcraft) parts for the assuming the worst and I still intend on using them but they not near as needed as I thought they were going to be.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  13. The Silent Man

    The Silent Man Savatage,Evergrey, Shadow Gallery,Vanden Plas fan

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    I totally agree. I play(ed) and own(ed) some 300 € instruments with better sound and feel than some 1000 € ones.
     
  14. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    Used Godin for the win!
    I bought an Indonesian LTD for $500 (or thereabouts) that was selling for $800 as model was discontinued and compared to Korean guitars from few years back at that price, the build quality is not as good.

    They've gotten better at the visuals though. Translucent flame whatever, etc...which I don't care for much as I am quite happy with just a black guitar.

    The guitar is a good player but strap locks falling out, the Floyd Rose hardware is not very good as well, it holds but you can tell the difference.

    Bought an Chinese made Gary Holt LTD and it was really awful in comparison, although the price range was the same.

    In comparison to that I got a Korean LTD M-1000 used for under $400 with better hardware and the build quality is better overall. It just feels like more attention was put into it.
     
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  15. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

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    "Buy honey, look at how much money i've saved buy buying all of these!" It reminds me of an old Burns and Allen episode where Gracie hears you can save 10 cents per serving on whipped cream by using Carnation Evaporated Milk and lemon juice instead of heavy cream, so she filled the fridge with this cheaper whipped cream, and is excited about how much money she's saved. :lol:
     
  16. Synllip

    Synllip Syn

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    Cheap guitars have come a long way, the only trade offs are minor paint issues and bad setup out of the box.
     
  17. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire baritone zone

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    every guitar is different, but some brands seem to put more effort into making good low end guitars (ie schecter, ltd, agile). I've owned/played some 300$ guitars that held up to guitars that cost more than double that new and some that were absolute trash *cough* low end jacksons *cough*. Some of my favorite guitars were sub 400$ guitars like my agile LP, laguna superstrat or my ibby rg3exfm.
    I've been pretty consistently impressed with low end LTDs and schecters, they tend to have better fit/finish/general qc than other brands at that price from what I've seen. Mitchell guitars are pretty decent for what they cost too.
    The biggest problem with guitars in this price point is the pickups are usually garbage (the only exceptions being my ibby mini destroyer or my prs mushok), and the guitars typically require a good setup/having the fret ends filed (which I've had to do on guitars all the way up to 2k USD production models and one custom).

    Jacksons have been consistently the worst in terms of having sharp fret ends ime. It's been so bad on some of their guitars that they should advertise how they also work as cheese graters.
    YMMV
     
  18. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Same. Until the X-Series, which aren't exactly stellar, any cheap-when-new Jackson was pretty much garbage.
     
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  19. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire baritone zone

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    I've yet to find a jackson with decent fret ends until I tried some of the higher spec x-series. Conversely I stopped finding super sharp fret ends on ltds and schecters around the 500$ price range. Nothing compares to some of the EIIs I've tried though. I found an hIII with rounded fret ends for 1200$ new, which is insane considering I've never seen that on production guitars.
     
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