do you think there's a market for high quality Chinese made guitars?


In my work as a designer I've noticed that over the last 5 or 10 years Chinese made stuff has come a hell of a long way. I mean you can still get the crappy stuff made down to a price but you can basically specify something as nice as you want it now. Very much like Japan in the mid 1980s.

I'm not talking about Strat / Les Paul copies all covered in abalone or anything ghastly like that but a range of cool and unique looking high quality guitars that could have been made in the USA that just happen to come in at a reasonable price point - say starting at $700 loaded with boutique pickups. Think people would be interested or is the country of origin a dealbreaker for most players?


They were all over the NAMM show, so we get to find out too!

IMO. Yes. Not at TGP tho, or "hotbeds of corksniffery" like the coasts, Nashville, Dallas, Austin.


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I have a Recording King that is as nice as most of what's coming out of the rest of the world. Beautiful guitar.


In recent years China manufacturing/design are way more capable than most people would think.
The world largest display panel was coming out from China factory last year.

People think Chinese only produce cheap stuff because many years ago China mainly do ODM/OEM stuffs for other company as cost reduction way out.
As China had cheap labour cost, many years ago you don't even need to build/buy a factory yourself.
You invest enough money, China government more than happy to build a factory and give the land to you for free!

But this song not singing anymore as China's economy growth; labour cost increased, real estate price went sky rocketed.
Going the cheapest way in China now has little to no added value now.
Many OEM/ODM factory moving/moved to other SEA countries, like Vietnam, Indonesia where labour and other cost are much lower than China now.

Now China's inevitable way out (Manufacturing) is design their own product, make quality stuff that sell at better price. other than selling cheap and keep breaking stuffs.

You will see more and more high quality guitars(and anything else) coming from China.
But the reputation of China made product would take longer to restore though.

Last year I bought a Made In China from China local guitar company. A Fanned fret acoustic guitar.
It blow me and many of my friends away.
How good it was and how much cheaper it was than the other alternatives.(USD 820)


I will still always "try" to buy American.. Not just musical instruments but everything.. I know it is hard to do sometimes, but we have to keep our economy going.. The more jobs we give away means the more people out of work here..

And, Please, I am not trying to start a debate on the subject.. Just my own personal view..

Member 1963

I have a Recording King that is as nice as most of what's coming out of the rest of the world. Beautiful guitar.

+1. You have to go to the higher end ones to get both killer tone and good craftsmanship. But thats still dirt cheap. Mine is a mid line one thats not made like a larrivee for example, not even close. But it sounds better than the one i had and was $350 OTD. The market for chinese of any level is there already because even if they make stuff to match USA high end stuff it'll be so cheap people will be all over it. They're already making stuff that matches a lot of high end stuff tonally, they are just behind on building with triple A quality materials and build quality. But to be fair, USA build quality back in the vintage era wasn't close to todays hi end USA stuff either.


I have a Wechter that is outstanding, but they are out of business. I think China will still do good with things that are labor intensive ie. hand carved arch tops, but due to their increase in energy costs some manufacturing will suffer.


If we're talking something like the Chinese equivalent of Duesenberg, then sure. Folks are paying $2k for Korean made guitars today when 10 years ago that would have been unheard of. Same thing with Japanese guitars before that. Don't see why it couldn't happen.

That said, probably not for me.


Silver Supporting Member
I don't think people will hesitate to buy a cool, unique, well-made guitar just because it's made in China. That said, if it doesn't say Fender or Gibson on the headstock, resell value will be crap (Heritage, Eastman), so I don't think most import guitars will command US name brand prices. 'Cause, hey, we all change guitars like we change underwear, right?

There may be exceptions if something really unique and/or desirable comes along, but I think the rule for the foreseeable future will be: China < US, at least in terms of "value."


Eastman makes great instruments. They're extremely good. I really like a lot of the Chinese made Fender stuff. I don't care where a guitar is made. If it feels good, plays well, and sounds good to me, who cares? I don't buy guitars for resale value, I buy them to play the hell out of. I have them at every price point, from the cheapest to some really nice PRS, Gibson, Taylor, Fender, Musicman. I simply don't care what someone else thinks of my guitar, amp, or pedals. I approach every instrument as if it will be the greatest I've ever come across. I've been working on guitars for 30 years, so I've come across some great deals, and I no longer buy new guitars, so I don't worry about resale. I buy what I like to play, and be damned with all the other factors that people worry about. Just the other day someone asked me what wood on of my strats is made of. I said I didn't know. It could be alder, swamp ash, maple, who cares? The guy looked at me like I was crazy. Same with my amps. I have no idea exactly what tubes are in most of my amps. They sounded good when I bought 'em, so I play 'em like that. When I get 'em retubed, I ask the tech to put in something of equal quality to what's in there and leave it at that. The more I look under the hood, the more time I spend looking for tones only to wind up where I started.

Is there market for Chinese guitars? Yes. Or they wouldn't still be selling them.

Buy what you like. Don't think to hard about anything other than does it feel good to you and sound good to you.



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Silver Supporting Member
They were all over the NAMM show, so we get to find out too! IMO. Yes. Not at TGP tho, or "hotbeds of corksniffery" like the coasts, Nashville, Dallas, Austin.

I just ordered a loar because it played so well at NAMM. Super excited.


Silver Supporting Member
So my understanding is that the problem isn't that Chinese manufacturing is bad. They make a lot of stuff that we use all the time. No, the problems are consistency and theft.

Problem 1: consistency. Talk to people who have worked with Chinese manufacturing, and what tends to happen is they do phenomenal work for the first several months, and whenever you're looking. Turn your back and all of a sudden materials get substituted, corners get cut, quality falls apart. Apparently you have to be ruthless in staying on top of the manufacturing companies and their subcontractors or things are very likely to go to hell. Just ask Aston Martin.

Problem 2: theft. Affects some categories of product more than others, but where do you think Chinese copies come from? A lot of them come from simply running illegal extra shifts on the same factory lines that made the originals, off the same schematics (and possibly worse materials and much worse QC). Handing over manufacturing to China effectively means handing over tons of IP and trade secrets, and it's awfully common for those secrets to immediately wind up in the hands of somebody looking to make a quick yuan.

Honestly I suspect this is why a lot of people have been moving away from Chinese manufacturing to other Asian countries. There are some serious cultural problems involved. Of course, it looks like things might be swinging back. The rise of Chinese wages and standards of living (despite various efforts by their government) and the simultaneous collapse of American manufacturing and its wages are making things much more favorable to build things at home. Or at least until we find another country whose leadership is willing to look the other way for us.

Setting aside all of those things: yes, I think there's a market. I just wonder if Chinese manufacturing would actually save you any money once you put the elements in place to have consistent high quality output product.


On a related topic - my friend was looking for a wife from Asia - he went to China 3 times to meet various girls - every one of them lied to him about something.

He said his assessment was they are constitutionally incapable of being honest with westerners.

Not to dis Asians - I married a Filipina, as did my friend. And they're both Hawt.

Didn't Mick say "Chinese girls are so gentle - they're really such a tease - you never know what they're hidin inside those silky sleeves"?

OR something like that.

Member 1963

if it doesn't say Fender or Gibson on the headstock, resell value will be crap

True, but it's more or less balanced out by the fact that they're so cheap the loss you take in resale will probably be a smaller percent than the loss you take selling a gibson. For example, If i sold my recording king I'd likely get no more than $150-200. But even if i only got $150 my loss would be $200. Buy a low/mid range martin of the same style and it'll cost you around $1000-1500 and you will likely lose $500 selling it. And trust me, if you played mine you'd realize it'll take a higher end martin than that to sound better. Plus if it were stolen or totaled i'm out $350, about the cost of a refret. Theres just no losing with them.
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