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Thread: What is it about American-made acoustic production guitars?

  1. #31
    Senior Member Guildedagain's Avatar
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    My luthier neighbor with the killer '53 D18 has a Blueridge he's had since it was new some time back (20yrs?). I've never given it much thought, but if that's his "other" guitar, that says a lot.

    At this point, any upgrades in guitars would just mean more expensive old Guilds. I've had Gibsons from B25's to a Dove (buying and selling), and to be truthful I ended up with fairly low regard for Gibson acoustics, I just don't lust after them, except maybe for a J200 or a J-160... ;)

    So that just leaves just Guild for me, I don't have much interest in any other guitars... maybe an older Santa Cruz 00 but luckily those are completely out of my price range.
    Last edited by Guildedagain; 08-13-2019 at 11:09 PM.

  2. #32
    Senior Member jcwu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreadnut View Post
    Is this a case of price being determined by overall quality, or is it perceived quality being determined by price somewhat?
    Once in high school, I had a lot of studying to do for an exam, and needed to stay up later than usual (which means anything past 1030pm). I had heard of this thing called coffee, and it was supposed to help you stay away, so... I scrounged in the cabinet downstairs and found a package of coffee candy. Voila! I said, and proceeded to eat a few of these candy. I was able to stay awake longer than usual that night, and got my studying done.

    One day, as a grown man now, I saw these same candies at the market and bought some for old times' sake. Wouldn't you know it - turned out there was no caffeine content in those candies!

    I think there *is* something different about American made guitars. The first difference is that it's American made. :)
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  3. #33
    Senior Member SFIV1967's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adorshki View Post
    And we've ascertained the Westerly Collection is built by the same factory, Grand Rewards Education & Entertainment.
    It's amazing to see how they protect the guitars, clean like in a hospital, all the backs of the guitars have plastic sheets on them!



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  4. #34
    Super Moderator fronobulax's Avatar
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    I tend to agree with GAD. It is the price point.

    Since I almost moderated a post and then realized someone might have been joking and I just wasn't laughing, the issue with country of origin discussions occurs when someone cites the country of origin as as the reason something is good or bad. It's the difference between saying "MIC Guilds suck" and "MIC Guilds suck because they were designed to sell for cheap". On the other hand, expressing a preference for MIA is OK, but explaining the economic and political reasons for that preference is not.

    One problem I have with this discussion is that we are assuming that what we see in the US market represents the best product available from the country of origin. There are many industries where the finest products made are never exported. So we only see the cheap end of the product lines. I occasionally come across reviews of electric basses with a price tag over $10,000. The reviewer can make a good case why the instrument is best of breed and it turns out the manufacturer a) is not making a line of cheaper basses and b) is not exporting them to the US.

    Bottom line - our perception of the quality of a country's guitar industry is probably based upon the cheapest instruments made and not the best available.
    Quote Originally Posted by mgod View Post
    What he said.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuball48 View Post
    Frono: You are correct----again.

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  5. #35
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fronobulax View Post

    One problem I have with this discussion is that we are assuming that what we see in the US market represents the best product available from the country of origin. There are many industries where the finest products made are never exported. So we only see the cheap end of the product lines. I occasionally come across reviews of electric basses with a price tag over $10,000. The reviewer can make a good case why the instrument is best of breed and it turns out the manufacturer a) is not making a line of cheaper basses and b) is not exporting them to the US.

    Bottom line - our perception of the quality of a country's guitar industry is probably based upon the cheapest instruments made and not the best available.
    That's really not the assumption at all. I was talking about quantity production guitars that we find in the music stores.
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  6. #36
    Super Moderator fronobulax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreadnut View Post
    That's really not the assumption at all. I was talking about quantity production guitars that we find in the music stores.
    But my point was that the best of another country's production is not what we find in US music stores. If you are interested in the specialness, or even superiority, of an American made instrument's tone, compare it to the best of another country's production and not just what gets exported.
    Quote Originally Posted by mgod View Post
    What he said.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuball48 View Post
    Frono: You are correct----again.

    '67 Starfire I Bass (Cherry)
    '71 JS II Bass (Walnut)
    '82 B-50 Acoustic Bass (Natural)
    '87 Pilot (Black)
    '13 Newark Street Starfire Bass (Cherry)
    '16 Betts Bass "Walnut Bottom"


    LMG I, II, III

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  7. #37
    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom O View Post
    I have 3 Chinese GAD guitars that sound fine as well as 3 USA Guilds. Guild had a lot of problems with the GAD thick finish and had many reworked in the USA. They had a sticker with a new serial number pasted on the Guild label and a used stamp on the back of the headstock so they couldn't be sold at list.
    Tom: I'm about 99% positive you've been sold a myth that combines elements from 2 sources:
    Those bar code-s/n stickers are a known giveaway of guitars that were refurbished by MIRC and the first examples started popping up when Fender closed the Guild factory in Corona CA in '04.
    Coronas DID have known finishing problems when they started out, likely due at least in part to the fact they installed a brand new spray booth for NITROCELLULOSE lacquer there, but had no techs skilled in spraying nitro on flat-tops, they had to be trained.
    Corona used MIRC to liquidate unsold inventory as well as seconds, and did it again when they closed Tacoma in '08.
    (And GAD's coincidentally enough also first appeared in the spring '04 Guild price list, that may explain the mixed seeds of truth in that myth)
    Here's where I think the story about "re-finished GAD's" falls down:
    GAD guitars are finished in polyester lacquer (it's one of the little details purists like myself hold against 'em from an ultimate quality of materials standpoint: we believe NCL improves top resonance and tone as it ages because it constantly gets thinner and lighter through the process of outgassing the solvents that made it sprayable in the first place.
    Poly doesn't.
    It is what it is from day one and always will be.
    MORE important in this case:
    Poly by it's nature is quite troublesome to repair (NCL's quite easy) and I'm 99.99% positive nobody would have gone to that expense on GAD guitars.
    BUT: We DO know that Fender sent GAD guitars through MIRC as well: Warranty returns for things like loose braces/ frets/binding.
    And those got those same bar-code ID stickers you describe.
    Why?
    Because Fender deemed those guitars to be cheaper to replace than to repair, and their GUIld warranty included the verbiage "repair or replace at our discretion".
    They didn't even maintain any repair parts inventory here for the imports.
    I can recall at least one story from back around '09 or so of an owner member here who dearly loved his GAD F30 but when he asked Fender for a warranty repair (loose brace) they would only commit to replace it.
    And btw I know one member was able to contact MIRC and find out exactly what was done to his guitar from that bar code number, but it was fairly quicky after he bought it: MIRC offered dealers a 30 day replacement window, but no warranty themselves, to the end buyer.
    So no snark intended but poly finishes and warranty repair "dodginess" are another 2 elements always working against collectible value of most current imports.
    And the whole finish thing might well be one of those intangibles giving the US built Guilds at least, their ''something extra" in "tone".

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom O View Post
    GADs sound good, remember they listed for around $1000, much more the the Guitar Center asians. I bought a new GAD G212. It is a good sounding 12 string with dual truss rods. One dealer told me they sounded as good as a Taylor in a blind test in their shop.
    (Can't resist):
    Gosh! Taylors are finished in poly too!
    Wonder if any Taylor purists would be insulted at having their brand compared to a GAD......
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom O View Post
    But I agree the Asians don't sound like my maple New Hartford's or my '64 Gibson.
    The intangibles:
    Secret sauce, luthier's DNA, and the 101 Invisible Changes Theme which was subsequently ripped off by Volkswagen.

    And thanks for bearing with my diatribe.
    Last edited by adorshki; 08-14-2019 at 05:06 PM.
    Al
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  8. #38
    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fronobulax View Post
    But my point was that the best of another country's production is not what we find in US music stores. If you are interested in the specialness, or even superiority, of an American made instrument's tone, compare it to the best of another country's production and not just what gets exported.
    Possible "hair split" but would this be an apples to apples comparison?
    I think Dread was tying to say he is comparing regular production US-built to regular production import builts and even at the higher ends of the spectrum he perceives something special about US-built production instruments.
    (So did most members and at least a couple did cite makes that were probably more directly comparable to "regular production mid-level US builds" than the admittedly economy-driven GAD's.
    I would agree that if we're talking "absolute top of the line" (like the old Nashville Custom Shop) the right artisans and materials can be found everywhere instruments are made.
    But that would be a "Boutique-to-Boutique" comparison which he specifically ruled out in his original post.
    Al
    "Time May Change the Technique of Music But Never Its Mission " - Rachmaninoff
    My 1st Guild: '96 Westerly D25NT "Hally" (10-31-96 stamped on heelblock)
    #2: '01 Westerly F65ce "Blondie"
    #3: '03 Corona D40e Richie Havens "Richie"
    All bought new!

  9. #39
    Super Moderator fronobulax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adorshki View Post
    I think Dread was tying to say he is comparing regular production US-built to regular production import
    Perhaps. But I maintain that comparing a regular production domestic guitar to an import instrument in a shop is not comparing similar items. I base my claim on several factors including: the absence of domestic production at the import price point; the expectation that any country's domestic production would be superior to its export quality production; and the fact that most of the imports are built to specs provided by (in this case) an American company.

    But ultimately I am more interested in opinions that can be supported objectively and I didn't see this heading in that direction. But if it is only me, then Never Mind.
    Quote Originally Posted by mgod View Post
    What he said.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuball48 View Post
    Frono: You are correct----again.

    '67 Starfire I Bass (Cherry)
    '71 JS II Bass (Walnut)
    '82 B-50 Acoustic Bass (Natural)
    '87 Pilot (Black)
    '13 Newark Street Starfire Bass (Cherry)
    '16 Betts Bass "Walnut Bottom"


    LMG I, II, III

    This space available.

  10. #40
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adorshki View Post
    But that would be a "Boutique-to-Boutique" comparison which he specifically ruled out in his original post.
    You are correct, Al.
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