USA Tele’s and Strat’s vs made in other countries

transmetro

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We aren't talking about custom shop master builders or even luthiers of any level, we are talking about production line workers.

and I don't agree that they 'might spend equal amounts of time with guitars in hand'

Here's one example I can think of from a recent experience.

On a Squier Jazz bass it's pretty clear that when they install the pickups they just ram the screws straight into the wood with some kind of power tool. They are really difficult to adjust for height without taking all the screws out cleaning out the holes and threads, maybe even needing to drill them a little deeper if you want to lower the pickup height.

On a USA made Bass it appears the holes have been drilled to the correct size and depth (and in the right place) the holes blown out and you can adjust the pickups up or down quite easily.

I'm gonna suggest that the Squier pickups are fitted in a matter of seconds, maybe it takes minutes on a USA.

This has nothing to do with the skill of the worker, the folk that install the pickups in Indonesia could quite easily do an equal or better job than on the USA ones and could be taught/shown how to do it very quickly and you can apply this to any part of the production line to make a better guitar. .. at a higher cost.
The workers in Indonesia are working more quickly and producing more guitars. The point is that the economics of the industry dictate they do not have time to focus on the differentiators of quality even though they are working as hard.

A lot seem very enamoured of the theoretical argument that guitars of equal quality to e.g. US made could be produced with cheaper labour. I don't dispute this argument (and there are small manufacturers - Shije would be one - who are running with this model).

But this model hasn't cracked the mainstream and won't in the foreseeable future.

There was nothing to stop major manufacturers moving high end production overseas e.g. five or ten years ago but none have.

One reason is that workers in richer countries e.g. Japan, are more productive than those in e.g. Indonesia. So the labour cost saving isn't as big as some assume (an hour of labour is cheaper but you need more hours per guitar to produce the same quality).

Secondly, we live in an uncertain world. Moving production of high end guitars still requires cap ex in land/machinery/buildings, recruitment, training, marketing etc. And in the current climate of high supply chain uncertainty, what company is going to relocate manufacturing away from the biggest market for its products? It would be a crazy bet.

Thirdly, electric guitars are not hugely expensive instruments when compared with some others. Most people buying US/other higher end guitars are not shopping primarily on price. They understand they are paying a high premium for the last few percentage points. This further reduces the incentive for anyone to do it.
 

Bakersfield66

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I have a MIM Brad Paisley, a MII FMT HH tele, a MIC Squier CV Strat and a MIM Players Jaguar. I also have a Gibson USA flying V and two MII Epiphones (a LP 1960 Tribute and a G-400 Pro). The only one of any of those with questionable building is the MIM Jag. The frets were awful, the nut was cut extremely poorly and the neck was not seated properly for the tremelo. Of the rest, I really don't see any improvement at all with the USA Gibson vs the dirt cheap Squier. I guess I've been extremely lucky, but the only real difference I've found was the price.

Play what you love and none of the rest of it matters.
 

msalama

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or people don't want to see the differences
It would help if you listed the practical differences you see even once, instead of just repeating your opinion about their inferiority every time this topic comes up. And yes, I mean practical differences affecting playability and/or sound, not cheapo finishes and/or lack of bling, etc.
 
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IrishBread69

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It would help if you listed the practical differences you see even once, instead of just repeating your opinion about their inferiority every time this topic comes up. And yes, I mean practical differences affecting playability and/or sound, not cheapo finishes and/or lack of bling, etc.
Hey man, absolutely. Not worried about bling at all, it's the quality of the parts and electronics. They're less tactile for one, scratchy pots, soft metals that tarnish quickly. It's mostly the electronics, the pickups are always muddy or shrill. It's one extreme or the other and before we talk pickup heights and EQ...I've tried over and over. That's before I get into fretwork, rough, sharp edges. Badly cut nuts. How the finish looks and feels, every Squier I've had has had blems in the finish. You're right...they don't matter, who cares, but they're there.

I have put this into context each time though, I'm quite prepared to believe that I'm just unlucky, but relative to my other guitars, there is a perceptible difference. Lots of small factors that cumulatively add up.

I have CV Telecaster Deluxe that I want to love, seafoam sparkle. Limited edition. But the neck is rough with sharp ends (fixable yes), the pickups sound trash no matter what I do, the pickup selector switch wobbles and is on the brink of failing, the knobs are scratchy and have limited range. Overall to fix it all would could almost as much as the guitar. Yes many of these things can be fixed, but we're talking quality here and it falls short.
 

msalama

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Thanks mate. Yeah, a lot of what you say is true, but as I've said before myself, the trick with Squiers is either to keep searching until you find a good one (and they, too, do exist), or buy used from someone who's already modded the guitar with better HW and electronics. I did the latter myself, and I can say with my hand on my heart that this is now as good a Telecaster as any I've ever played.

Lastly, if one wants a Squier that's perhaps a cut above the rest, one should try to find a late 2010s MIC specimen. Mine is a 2018 50's CV, and it's clearly of a higher quality than some others I've tried, including the frets which seem just as durable as on any MIA guitar. But yes, as you said yourself, we're still dealing with budget axes here, so one definitely needs one's due diligence before purchasing...
 

TunedupFlat

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I've had mij, cij, mim and still have my mia. There are ones from all walks that I did or didn't get along with.
The playability of most of the mij guitars was pretty dang good.
I'd never buy one unless it felt like it was the one.
These days the quality is up among so many of them that I think it is just up to what you prefer and can afford these days. ( I still hunt down early 90's strats and teles, but buying it depends on who made the neck...)
 

HomeOffisRockstar

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I don't know if it is my local Guitar Center getting bad stock, or a decline in quality, but every MIM Tele I played in their store the last two visits were almost unplayable.

The fret ends were either not filed or had bad sprout from poor climate in the store.

Picked up an AMProII and Ultra and they were flawless.

I have a Noventa tele and it is pretty close to flawless.
 

bgmacaw

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First, contrary to the previous post, workers are not all capable of the same level of workmanship. They are shaped by the experience and knowledge they acquire over time.

Yes. The AI they're putting into CNC machines these days is incredible. They even know what part of the world they're in and adjust accordingly.
 

bgmacaw

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My favorite part of these threads...

corksniffer.jpg
 

PCollen

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Aside from the vast difference in price… what are the other differences?? All my guitars are either MIM or MIJ. I’ve never owned or played any made in USA.
Many of the Japanese models used basswood for the body. It's very important to identify the model number, including the trailing -nn number (i.e. ST57-nn), to determine the specs. Really nothing wrong with basswood, other than it's not ash or alder. EVH had a basswood body on one of his early guitars. This one here is basswood:


 
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PCollen

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Here in Europe we are blessed with the existence of excellent electric guitars manufacturers like Vigier, Marceau, Maybach, Duesenberg...
Our choice is therefore rather varied between buying local, American or Asian! ;) :)
Only Duesenberg guitars have caught on to any significant degree in the USA , and then primarily as "stage art" for professional musicians (Ron Wood, Joe Walsh, etc.)
 

Skyhook

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Higher-end MIM models are built just as well with as good of components as the US Teles and Strats I've had. Right now my Fender stable has three high-end MIMs and one MIA - all stock, super happy with all of them and I wouldn't change a thing with any of them.

Somebody once told me(clumsily paraphrased here) something to the effect of:
"There's no practical difference as to which side of the US border, the Mexican who built your guitar is standing on".

Also... I've heard that there's less than an hour of a drive between the Mexican and US Fender plants.
Haven't checked that though.
 




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