Where do top level Korean guitars rate?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Alex Najarian, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. Danzego

    Danzego Member

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    I have a Korean made LTD (ESP) EC1000T/CTM in white and it’s an excellent guitar. It’s a 10 lb or more monster that sustains for a ridiculous amount of time. It definitely feels like it’s worth more than the $1000 they usually cost. However, the EC1000 line seems to have recently begun manufacture in Indonesia, which worries me. I was playing with the notion of getting one earlier this year and once I started seeing Indonesian ones popping up on Sweetwater, it forced my hand into getting one while new Korean made ones were still available (interestingly, the Indo ones have white binding rather than cream).

    Anyway, I would put it pretty close to my LP Studio in terms of overall quality and feel. What quality of wood (and number of pieces) is under all that paint of the LTD is hard to say, though. I just bought a 2018 LP Traditional that I would say is definitely higher quality. I don’t know that I would say the Traditional is actually $1700 better, but I think that speaks more to the quality of the LTD than it does my Traditional, which is wonderful to play.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  2. thebowl

    thebowl Member

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    I have a Prestige Musician Pro, made in Korea from blanks sent from Canada. Prestige guitars have all setup done in Canada using high end components. The Musician Pro is a semi-hollow body made from solid wood.

    The fit and finish are really first rate, including a bunch of inlays and complex bindings. The guitar has a fairly thick poly finish, which is the only complaint I can think of.
     
  3. EnricoPalazzo

    EnricoPalazzo Member

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    I have a Korean Schecter Solo ATX Blackjack (around $700), that played great out of the box. Finish, binding, setup, frets, etc... Is flawless.

    Haven't had any issues with electronics, but it comes with SD blackouts so I guess everything in there is just SD.

    The only "issues" it has are the weight and the ebony on the fretboard isn't completely dark.

    Build quality and details has nothing to envy from any other guitars I've played, including some very nice Les Pauls, MIA Fenders, an amazing Japenese Fernandes and a Yamaha SG that might be my favorite guitar.

    I also have a cheap early 90's Korean Squier that has the best neck I've ever played.
     
  4. Nothingface

    Nothingface Member

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    The 4 Deusenbergs I saw yesterday were in the $3800 range. At least double what I'd say they were worth, in my opinion.
     
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  5. MkIII Renegade

    MkIII Renegade Member

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    As long as the materials and fretwork are up to speed, anything else can be fixed---pickups, toggles, whatever. Easy enough.

    But I think the better Korean guitar are already DONE from the factory, especially based on my experience with multiple LTDs. They make the full on ESPs unnecessary for a lot of people.....especially when the ESPs can 5X as much or lot more...
     
  6. Alex Najarian

    Alex Najarian Member

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    I am not knowledgeable of all Korean guitars but from my own experience, BC Rich has Korean guitars that are starter guitars, while others are very high appointed gems. Schecter does the same thing.
     
  7. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

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    I have a couple of Korean PRS's in the less than $1000 price range.....would those be considered high end?
     
  8. Alex Najarian

    Alex Najarian Member

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    In my opinion, yes but PRS only has one level of Korean guitars.
     
  9. Flatscan

    Flatscan Supporting Member

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    I love my Reverend Sensei. I couldn't tell you what I don't like about it. I like everything about it. It compares very favorably to my other guitars (Fender Deluxe, Ric, etc.).

    Their PAF-style Railhammers plus the Bas contour knob afford an inspiring and versatile guitar.

    (Not sure if the Rails are made in Korea or USA)
     
  10. JukeBoxRat

    JukeBoxRat Supporting Member

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    My first brand new guitar was a Korean Hamer Slammer Series doublecut I got back in 95 and stupidly sold in 2003. It was a great guitar and I never should've gotten rid of it. In 2013, I wanted another twin humbucker guitar and bought a silverburst Korean Epiphone SG. It was also a superb guitar. However, I got painful blisters on my fretting hand playing that guitar and regretfully had to part with it.

    Happily, I ended up finding 3 Korean Hamers in quick succession. A white and a black Slammer Series identical to my original Hamer and a beautiful blue burst with just the Hamer logo.

    The blue is the best of the three. The original Duncan Designed pickups are excellent and sound better than any of the more expensive ones I tried. The pots are good, though I had the 3 way switch replaced. It feels the most like my original Korean Hamer.

    The white has had the switch replaced and the pots are decent. One of the pickups sounded good, the neck pickup was terrible. I had SD Whole Lotta Humbuckers installed and replaced the tuners with Grovers myself. That guitar sounds amazing, but doesn't play as smoothly as the blue, feel wise.

    I'm still working on the black one. My original one was black, so they look the same, but my 1st one was better. I got it new though and took really good care of it. The current one has a lot of fret buzz, needs new pots, and the pickups are both pretty lousy sounding. It has a new switch and output jack and I added Grovers to it as well. Interestingly, it sounds very good acoustically, even with the fret buzz. Very bright and snappy, whereas the other 2 and my original are very dark unplugged. It's one of my long term projects. Add a little here, add a little there.

    This year, I bought an Ibanez EX-160 HSS that's my current obsession. It's a maple body with a natural finish. I added a used set of Gotohs to replace the crappy covered tuners, so now it stays in tune. It could also use some better pickups. The originals aren't bad exactly, but it could sound a lot better. Lots of potential. It's super fun to play and I love the way it looks. And it was dirt cheap.

    TL;DR, I love Korean made guitars and they're fun to tinker with.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  11. Jimi D

    Jimi D Member

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    "High end" compared to what? Compared to a $4500 PRS core CU24 or 594 or 509 or ... ? I have a bunch of PRSi and all but one are core guitars... The "one" is my SE One, a Korina LP Special clone, Korean made with a Thorn Staple-Top thrown in it; the SE One isn't "high end", but it's as giggable as any of my other PRSi, and has seen a lot of band use over the years... Meanwhile, I've owned Gibson Custom Shop guitars that were absolute dogs, but you'd be hard-pressed not label a guitar with a $2800 street price (in 1997!) a "high end" guitar.

    The PRS Peerless factory guitars are about as good as they come out of Korea, imho, but they're built to a price point. The Duesenberg stuff is just beautiful but only the wood and finish are MiK; the rest is done in Germany, and they're deliberately producing a high quality product so you can bet they aren't skimping on anything trying to hit a particular MSRP... I suspect that factories like Peerless can make guitars as good as anyone if price were no object; but it usually is...
     
  12. MmcGrouty

    MmcGrouty Member

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    The highest end LTDs from Korea are very nice. Not as nice as Japanese ESPs though. The frets, paint, and electronics are the major differences. I have a Korean PRS SE which is also nice. I prefer Japanese guitars to pretty much anything.
     
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  13. toomanyamps

    toomanyamps Member

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    Not from what I have played.

    I would still put U.S.A at the top, Music Man,Suhr and PRS are outstanding.
    USA Signature Fenders are better than the Japanese Ibanez, Satriani and Vai

    Japanese Pro Line Gretsch are above Korean Electromatics.

    I would put Mexican Fenders over most Indonesian and Chinese guitars.

    Most Indonesian and Chinese guitars are low end.

    I think Korean guitars are great, but they are going away.
    The vast majority will shift to Indonesia.
     
  14. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  15. DrumBob

    DrumBob Gold Supporting Member

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    My Korean Guild Starfire IV Newark Street reissue is easily the best gigging guitar I own. It sounds amazing, plays great and stays in tune pretty much all night with just a little occasional tweak.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
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  16. ASATlove

    ASATlove Member

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    One of the best Korean guitars I keep buying (and then trading away, but no more) is the Soap bar II PRS. The last one I bought was a wall hanger for the former owner. Never played, it was like buying a brand new SE Soapbar II. New strings a small neck adjustment and a solid player is born. Not gonna get rid of this one.................. NO, REALLY!!!!
     
  17. Lonnie00

    Lonnie00 Member

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    I've owned a ton (probably 40 or so) Korean guitars from Fender, Schecter, Agile, PRS etc. I seriously can't remember having a problem with any of them, excellent value for money. My latest is an Agile AL3000 that couldn't be more perfect for me if I'd custom ordered it. No idea how old it is as I got it used but it's flawless in quality. A previous owner put in Dimarzio DP100 and 104 pickups so that doesn't hurt.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. mikebat

    mikebat Member

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    They rate very well in terms of build quality, but what determines pricing and market perception of value is how they are spec'd. Electronics, hardware, wood grade, type of finish.

    These determine high end from middle of the pack.
     
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  19. kor

    kor Member

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    I have a bunch of Korean guitars. I've had a handful of American made guitars in the 1500.00ish range that weren't nearly as good as most of the Korean guitars that cost much less. Especially the Reverends.
     
  20. mystixboi

    mystixboi Member

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    I've been spending a lot of time with my Balaguer guitars, especially this one...

    [​IMG]

    I recently started gassing for a Strat so I got one...
    [​IMG]

    It's fantastic, but doesn't hold a candle to the Balaguer. As far as playability, fit and finish, the BG is hands down leagues above. Don't get me wrong... the Fender is a great guitar, but the BG's are so much better.
     
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