A Short Story about Cheap Guitars and Chinese Fenders

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Jdstrat, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Jdstrat

    Jdstrat Supporting Member

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    I'm cheap, by nature. I like to take used stuff and bring it back to life. I drive a 92 Ford pickup that burns enough oil that I don't ever have to change the oil. I'm not swimming in cash. And I'm not a good enough player to justify spending the money on an American made guitar.

    So when I look at Craigslist, I don't look at anything over $200. It's an endless parade of Squiers, Agiles, Xavieres, Yamahas, Peaveys, etc. I'm always looking for the "one in a hundred" that has an above average fit-n-finish and that I can get to before anyone else (I'm an hour from a city). The names on my electric guitar wall are: Austin, Austin, Silvertone, RG (a bass I bought in the Philippines), Lotus.

    Well, a few weeks ago I decided it was time for me to invest in a brand new guitar, in the under $300 range. For me, that's quite an outlay. I did my research, and ordered a Xaviere Thinline Tele, XV-610 with a nice tweed case, hoping it would be a guitar that I could mod to my liking and be my main player for the next few years. It was a step up from the Austin tele I've been playing--and it was brand new. Well, I didn't fall in love with it (I wanted a glossy neck and fretboard, and the Xavier was satin, almost natural), so I made the difficult decision to pack my first brand new guitar back into its box and return it within the 10 day refund period, and eat the $60 in shipping.

    Decided that I needed to play my new guitar before buying it. After some more research and endless youtube clips, I set my sights on a Squier Customer Tele II, the black on black with two P90s. Man that thing looks good on a computer screen. It could be mine for $250. Drove 60 miles to Des Moines last Sunday afternoon, figuring that either the GC or another music shop would have one on hand to play. Nobody had one. Eyeballed a Squier Classic Vibe tele, but I didn't want to spend that much. Beautiful glossy neck though.

    So I looked around on the wall and spotted a Fender tele with a $400 price tag on it. Seriously? And a blindingly glossy neck. No way. "Fender Modern Player Telecaster Plus." Never heard of it. All kinds of pickups on it, all kinds of gloss, beautiful honey burst, and $400. Pulled it down, hooked it up to a Fender amp, fell in love, and immediately started trying to figure out how to tell my wife that I went over budget.

    The moral to the story is, I believe I am the reason Fender decided to put a Fender-branded product like that on the market.

    My friend put it this way: "You went from Austin to Xaviere to Squier to Fender in about 72 hours!"
     
  2. ksandvik

    ksandvik Member

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    I assume it was a MIM Fender. Might be you migrate to MIAs later :).
     
  3. StanG

    StanG Member

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    And then back.... For me, it's the spec's of the model, and how the particular guitar feels and plays, not the price point. That being said, it would be custom shop, etc. all the way if I could afford/justify the expense.
     
  4. Pax

    Pax Gold Supporting Member

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    Congrats. Enjoy it.
     
  5. airportbar

    airportbar Member

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    The Modern Player series is made in China.
     
  6. Jdstrat

    Jdstrat Supporting Member

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    Yeah, that's how it happened. "Fender" and "$400" just made me pull it off the wall. But playing it made me buy it.
     
  7. fjwiv

    fjwiv Supporting Member

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    You're only like 24 months away from Grosh, Fano, or K-line...
     
  8. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I'm impressed with the chinese guitars i've seen and bought so far. Impressed beyond what i will say here because i don't want to start any flame wars. But i have a few that are just far beyond good deals. They're insanely cheap and jaw dropping good. Not all of them, but there are some. And i'm not talking squier or fender only. There is some shockingly good bang for the buck stuff coming out of china today unlike anything in the past. You often DO have to change some of the hardware or p/u's because thats where they often (tho not always) skimp. But thats what most end up doing even on many mid to high end guitars, and generally it's a cheap fix.
     
  9. Jdstrat

    Jdstrat Supporting Member

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    A person's reference point makes a lot of difference in perception of quality. My reference point is low cost guitars. In that sense, I'm where many of you guys were at 25 years ago. In full disclosure, I will tell you that I have literally only held two or three American made guitars in my life, that I can remember. When I go into Guitar Center, I never grab a $1000 guitar to play around with it, because frankly I've always been afraid that I'd hate to go back home and pull my old Austin off the wall if I did.

    I'll say this about the Chinese Fender I just bought, it makes me finally want to pull one of those $1000 guitars off the wall.
     
  10. ksandvik

    ksandvik Member

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    My opinion of the Asian made guitars the last year, especially Indonesian made ones, is that the hit-and-miss ratio is going down, you find a better average quality with the guitars made compared with let's say 10 years ago.

    What the Asian guitars still skimp upon is the final fretwork -- one problem is the shipment to USA with the humidity changes causing havoc with fret endings. Some companies like Fender and EBMM avoid this by inspecting the guitars and doing tuneups before sending them off to the stores (with some higher end Asian made guitars.)

    The other part with lesser quality are the pickups -- instead of DiMarzio/Seymor Duncan et rest they are copies of average pickups. Again, Fender did right by licensing the Seymor Duncan pickup setups in some of their models (like the Squier VM modified and Squier Stratocaster Deluxe.). Still built in Asia but the sound is better. Same with bridges and nuts, instead of using quality material they are made in Asia to a formula that is cheap but maybe not up to par with US made components.

    One trick is to get an Asian guitar and take to a guitar technician for a tune-up, $50-80 goes a long way. Or replace the pickups. Just do a quick calculation before doing all this in case getting a MIA or high end MIM might be economically as close as spending all the money on upgrades.
     

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