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

  1. #11
    Senior Member Rich Cohen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GAD View Post
    I have Japanese guitars that blow away American models. Country of origin isn't enough to determine anything.

    IMO the issue is the constant race to the bottom that our modern economy is based upon. People want to pay less, and companies from other countries can charge less due to different labor laws and/or practices. Thus, US brands are importing guitars (and everything else) because it's cheaper to do so.

    It's not that overseas guitars are worse; it's that people aren't willing to pay for the quality that once was standard and the easiest way for a company to deliver what people want is to source it overseas. Add to that the "good enough" mentality that is pervasive today and you get to where we are.

    This hit home for me looking at my Guild resonator. I think the MSRP for that guitar was positively absurd, and then I realized that it was almost the lowest-priced guitar in the catalog that year! The cost of producing in the US is very high and the average consumer isn't willing to pay it.

    The argument of "all else being equal, US-made is better" doesn't work because all else is not equal given the above.
    Gary, I second your opinion about Japanese guitars. I have an "Epiphone Elitist" Byrdland from 2004. Wow. It is a Japanese version, produced for Gibson, of the Gibson Byrdland, which by the way cost double. Production quality is IMO just the same as the Gibson. So go figure!
    Guilds:
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  2. #12
    I think GAD has it pegged. You get the quality you're willing to pay for.

    When I made the trade for my Gretsch Chet Atkins I had four really nice examples to choose from. (This was at Elderly, pre-WWW & maybe even pre-AOL.) While I was checking 'em all out an older guy came up and told me a Chet had been his main guitar for many years. He'd saved up for a couple years to buy it. And then he had to save up some more to get an amp worthy of it. For me, a late boomer & early *Silicon Valley dude, this was like hearing a dispatch from another world. IMO by virtue (or vice) of being born when & where we were, we lack the patience & focus of that guy.

    (I encouraged him to give the guitars a spin, which he did. When he picked up & played the one I ended up choosing, he smiled & nodded. "That's the one, isn't it," I said. "Yep," he said. "Put it on layaway if you have to." Layaway, I thought, does anyone still do that? Spoiled brat, I was (am)!)

    *No-one called it "Silicon Valley" during my time working there. The term existed but it wasn't really used 'til the media got hold of it after IBM released their first PC.

    -Dave-
    1962 F-20 Troubadour
    1970 M-75 Bluesbird
    1971 S-100 "Black Cherry"
    1973 S-100 "Nature Boy"
    1990 Nightbird Custom
    1999 X-170T
    2013 NS M-75 Aristocrat
    2016 NS S-200 T-bird

    c. 1971 Foxey Lady

  3. #13
    I thought we couldn’t engage in any dialogue that put American manufacturing ahead of its off shore counterparts? I think someone said it contributed to klimate change or something to that affect (I could be misremembering).

    Did anyone see the article in Parade this weekend about “the story behind the songs”? Three acoustics pictured..two were guilds.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Antney View Post
    I thought we couldn’t engage in any dialogue that put American manufacturing ahead of its off shore counterparts? I think someone said it contributed to klimate change or something to that affect (I could be misremembering).
    LOL awesome
    Wood

    down to just the Br ('71 D25) again...

    https://soundcloud.com/woody-adams/sets/not-metal

  5. #15
    I am going to wade in gently here. I am a constant cheerleader for the Guild import line(s). Overt generalizations have always bothered me so COO is always a contentious point of discussion. GAD I don't really think it is what folks are "willing to pay" as much as what they "can afford to pay". Since (even before really) 2008 many folks have not fully recovered from the recession (if you are one of the lucky ones - I applaud you) and if guitar companies wanted to continue growth they need to lower the point of entry while those U.S. made guitars may take much longer to turn. Plus with all the Big Box stores there are fewer POS. THeir biggest customers want product at price points that move.

    I would agree personally (even with my limited sampling)with the Gretsch Professional vs Electromatic line. I have owned only 2 Professional Gretsch's (still have 1) and 4 Electromatics (have none). The Electromatics did not seem to play or sound as nice but the Electro's have come a long way in fit, finish and overall QC plus many folks routinely upgrade their Electros and Streamliners. The only NS Guilds I have owned are a SF VI (still have) and a SF III. I sold the III because I didn't need 2 guitars with mini hums but I was quite impressed and happy with both. Now I have owned (2) US made SF III's and a Corona X-150D. The two American SF's were impeccably put together, looked great and played equally great. The X-150D was not as good at all. So I give the edge to American made Guild electrics but the NS line is creeping close.

    Acoustics. Well I have owned only 2. A 60's D40 and to be honest I don't recall much but I must have liked it till I sold it. I also had a really lousy True American (d4ce?) I bought new from Mars Music. It was a dog but to be fair I should have had it worked on but back then if I couldn't adjust it...I sold it. I have been impressed with the older GAD's (except the 1-11/16" nut) quality and sound (still have a GAD G212) and I now also own 3 (sold my F-2512e) Westerly imports. A DS-240 for a beater (I really will never beat it) An OM-140 which I REALLY like a lot and then a D-140 that sounds, plays (1-3/4" nut width - SWEET) and looks fantastic in my opinion. All three of the Westerly's are bursts.

    I think the F-512 is a glorious acoustic orchestra and I do not believe any of my import 12's can touch it but my GAD G212 is one of the nicest dred 12's I have played or heard with the exception of the aforementioned and I discovered that I prefer playing a dred (or a Grand concert)over a Jumbo body. Plus most of the current American made acoustics have 1-11/16" nut widths on the 6's whereas some of the imports do offer the 1-3/4" nut. If that statement is incorrect please let me know.

    A lot of possibly wasted words because folks are gonna like and defend what they own. The fact that someone played 4 or 5 individual guitars in a store may or may not be representative of a whole line and I see a lot of anecdotal reviews based on this small sampling. Funny thing is my few Guilds and preferences are anecdotal as well I guess because it is based on the few I own (ed). I say if you like an American guitar then buy it and play it. If you like an import then buy it and play it. Either way I don't see it as a one is better than the other. It is more about what puts a smile on your face. Truth be known...all of my current guits put a smile on my face.

  6. #16
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    But if others could produce comparable acoustic guitars they would command comparable prices. Just sayin'.
    Last edited by dreadnut; 08-13-2019 at 03:15 PM.
    TODAY is the TOMORROW you spent all day YESTERDAY acting like there was no.

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  7. #17
    Senior Member adorshki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreadnut View Post
    Boutique luthiers aside, what makes the tone of American-made acoustic guitars so special?
    Steel string flattops were invented here.
    https://www.premierguitar.com/articl...Evolution_Pt_1
    That's the most important reason I finally decided my first lifetime keeper guitar had to be US built:
    Primarily sentimental but also the one most likely to retain intrinsic value as it aged.
    And why the collector's market don't give imports no respect except in rare cases of unquestionably impeccable quality.
    As has been said great sounding guitars can be built anywhere, but a (steel flattop) guitar worth refurbishing is probably gonna have a made in USA stamp on it somewhere.
    Here's something else:
    Much like the secret recipe for Coke, somewhere the secret recipe for "American sound" has been passed around from luthier to luthier and maker to maker.
    We simply have the longest history of production and therefore the largest skill set and knowledge data base to keep that secret sauce recipe alive and evolving in response to new demands.
    Cute analogy aside, I've said before I think it's little invisible things like top bracing and radius and thickness, and the almost infinite combinations thereof that a high quality maker knows how and where to use to best advantage.
    Wood quality has a lot to do with it too, and when it comes to sitka and some other woods North America's got (or maybe had) some of the best resources on the planet.
    When I came into the paper industry in '95 one of the first things I heard was that Japan was busily trying to buy up all the premium North American woods it could.
    Not for papermaking but cabinetry (of which industry guitar making is considered to be a part of, in definitions of types of industries.)
    This is once again a good time to trot out Guild's article on wood selection crediting their plant manager Willie Fritscher with being responsible for ensuring Guild had the highest quality raw materials to start with:
    http://www.westerlyguildguitars.com/...dselection.pdf
    A note of acknowledgment on no less than Benedetto's website called him "the heart of the legendary guitar company".
    And how about the accolades for Ren Ferguson when he came to Guild from Gibson?
    Perfect example of dissemination of the DNA of US guitar making traditions.
    I'd be willing to bet Martin has similar legendary figures in their history as well.

    So I agree with those that say a great sounding guitar can be built anywhere, but I humbly submit there may be quality advantages to being located in the US to build 'em.
    Sure, cost of production IS higher here.
    But apparently there're enough customers to support more than one maker.
    They can't ALL subscribe to the mistaken belief that higher price or country of origin is a reliable indicator of quality in both sound and materials.

    When I first met my D25 in a Guitar Center, this little badge said it all:

    (Random pic from the 'net, but:)
    Even the script evoked the Harley Davidson logo somehow, and I said to myself:
    "They know exactly who they want to sell to.
    Guys like me."
    It took me about 2 weeks to realize there was something about the way that D25 was built that was a step above all the others I'd ever owned: the intonation was just about perfect, making every chord sound good.
    No more wondering why some of 'em sounded lousy and not realizing it was the guitar not the chord
    Last edited by adorshki; 08-13-2019 at 04:44 PM.
    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!

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Antney View Post

    Did anyone see the article in Parade this weekend about “the story behind the songs”? Three acoustics pictured..two were guilds.
    I did!!! I was going to take a picture and upload it but my wife tends to discard anything I leave laying around for over an hour.
    NH 2011 D-40 Standard, 2014 Orpheum 000-12 Fret SH Hog, 2010 F-412, 2010 F-512.

    Westerly: Songbird, JF-30-12, 1976 F-212, 1971 D-25 CH, 1982 D-70, F4CE, 1996 D-26, 1972 F-30

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    Most of the pain associated with my playing comes from having to listen to me. frono

  9. #19
    Senior Member SFIV1967's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adorshki View Post
    Steel string flattops were invented here.
    ...by a German :-) Christian Friedrich Martin I. was born in Markneukirchen/Germany. But yes, he built them in New York or maybe he was in Nazareth already.
    Ralf

  10. #20
    this MIC Guild GAD F30sb looks very nice: https://tucson.craigslist.org/msg/d/...955161919.html
    the GAD line was a great line of Guild acoustics.
    Wood

    down to just the Br ('71 D25) again...

    https://soundcloud.com/woody-adams/sets/not-metal

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