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"Where was this guitar made?"

Posted by in General on August 27, 2014 . 0 Comments.

"Where was this guitar made?"

I get asked that a lot, and it's a fair question. The fact is that a majority of guitars with a street value of under a $1,000 were assembled in China. From January through March of 2014, the USA imported a total of 686,447 guitars! Of those, 415,322 were made in China. Indonesia was the Silver Medalist with 147,722. Korea took home the Bronze with 22,605. Bringing up the rear was everyone else.

What I have trouble wrapping my head about is some folks' notion that factories don't make guitars, but countries do. For whatever reason, there is still a bad rap about Chinese guitars. Is it based in reality? Is it based upon snob appeal?  Is it a global socio-political statement?

Stripped of their origin sticker, here's what I see in common from all of the Southeast Asian guitar makers...
The majority of the wood is imported. Mahogany arrives from Africa, Malaysia, and  the Philippines. Rosewood arrives primarily from India. Maple comes down from the cold forests of northern Russia.  All of this lumber is milled and shaped with predominantly German CNC machines, often running on software written in the USA.

A huge amount of the hardware is built by Sungil, a Korean company. The other big player is Gotoh, from Japan. The majority of the pots are made by Alpha, in China. CTS pots, long considered an American made "upgrade", now builds much of their product line in Taiwan. The largest pickup manufacturer is Artec, based in South Korea. Artec isn't a household name, but they wind PUPs for many of the largest names.

From one brand to the next, the DNA of modern affordable guitars is strikingly similar. That's because factories don't build to domestic national standards, they build to the manufacturer's. 

If manufacturers want a quality product, they'll demand that from whatever factory they use, in whatever country. 

Last update: September 01, 2014


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