A POLL - Where do you draw the line purchasing a bass made in the Far East?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BassHappy, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. I ONLY buy basses that are 100% made and sold in the good old USofA

    18 vote(s)
  2. I only buy basses sold in the USofA, but I don't care where they are made

    36 vote(s)
  3. I would absolutely save some hard-earned money and buy a bass directly from the Far East

    35 vote(s)
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  1. Fender Japan established themselves as world-class craftspeople in the mid-80's when Fender US was re-tooling and Fender Japan became the worldwide manufacturer of 80% of everything Fender for a block of time. Bear in mind, Fender US trained these folks in everything Fender and provided all the inside production techniques and well - "secrets" to the Japanese workers. Basically all of the US Fender craftsmanship was transferred directly to them - so we had a big role in Japan becoming the kings of craftsmanship and imitation that they became at that time. Bear in mind, America rewards people for ideas and innovation while many of the Far East countries reward people for dedication and hard work. It is a big difference. Japan in that era and probably even today are not the kings of innovation, but probably, along with some other countries - are among the kings of imitation:

    "The Japanese are, as many of you know, masters at copying—as these guitars testify. In fact, the new Fender USA management guys "almost cried" when they traveled to Japan and saw the quality. At that time, Fender USA was still trying to get back up on its feet after the CBS buyout, as USA quality under CBS ownership let their standards really slip.

    Here is what happened: In 1984 CBS decided to sell Fender and finally, an investment group led by William (Bill) Schultz bought it in the month of March for twelve and a half million dollars. This investment group formally became the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation or FMIC. Bad news though, the sale did not include production facilities in Fullerton, California. Thus USA guitar production ceased between late 1984 till October of 1985 until the new factory was built in Corona, California. It has been estimated that 80% of the guitars sold during this time were made in Japan. The quality is better than Fender USA excluding the USA Custom Shop models. They were made in Japan too, so do not think they were made in USA and shipped to Japan. Just read the history of Fender Japan and that is easy to understand!"

    Since that time, almost every major and many minor manufacturers of American musical instruments has set up shop somewhere in the Far East - hand-picking and training the folks over there in basically the same way that Fender did. There is a certain competitive American pride I have noticed between manufacturers - even about how their Far East instruments stack up against their competitors Far East instruments. Seems to me - no manufacturing secrets are sacred. Even respected builders like Rick Turner and Paul Reed Smith and a huge list of others - have hand-picked and trained craftspeople in the Far East - to duplicate at least a good portion of the craftsmanship of their US operations.

    With this in mind, maybe it is simply a matter of time before the goods produced over there become equal to the quality of the ones we produce here. After all, a great majority of them were taught by our masters - and after years and years of experience they are eventually going to get it right - maybe they are starting to already, or maybe they already have - I don't know. Every day I see someone raving about the "surprising quality" of an instrument from the Far East.

    I have a herd of Fenders manufactured in Japan in the mid-eighties, and they are simply fantastic instruments - first quality all the way. I also have a Gretsch 5123B that I think was made in Korea. I may have other instruments that I love which may have been manufactured in the Far East. I have to admit to drooling over a number of offerings on Ali Baba that I have seen online - although i have not pulled the trigger on anything as of yet. I might, I might not, I am undecided.

    So this begs the question and a POLL - where do you draw the line when it comes to purchasing an instrument you know was manufactured in the Far East?
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  2. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    central coast
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    I support small luthiers here in the US. I'd rather have a few good instruments made by people I can talk to on the phone or in person than a collection of instruments made on an assembly line somewhere else. Thankfully I'm in a position where I can afford to do that and don't begrudge others who are on tight budgets. But given a choice of one $5K small luthier bass or 10 $500 overseas instruments, I'd take the single instrument assuming it did what I needed it to do. So ymmv.
  3. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I voted based on my past track record. I have only purchased basses sold in the US. I have basses made in the US, Canada, Korea, China and Indonesia. I don't really have an issue with buying directly from a foreign vendor; I just have never done it.

    Where do I draw the line? Counterfeiting. IMO, it is one thing to buy a bass that looks just like a jazz bass and says "ACME" on the non-Fender-shaped headstock. If that same bass was a non-Fender but had a Fender headstock and Fender logo...well, for me, that is the line. If a company has a copyright, trademark, or patent on something, then the rule of law should be respected.
    groucho and BassHappy like this.
  4. Jack MN

    Jack MN

    Nov 29, 2014
    I wouldn't buy direct from someone overseas because if I had any problems (like my "top quality" guitar turned out to be junk) I'd have no recourse. But if I can play it and if it sounds good and seems well made, I don't care where it's made.
  5. GBassNorth

    GBassNorth Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    Four simple rules cover my bass habits...

    1). I won't buy direct from any company outside the 48 contiguous states - too much hassle if things go wrong.
    2). I won't spend more than $1000 on a bass made in the Far East - this is the global home for almost every brands bargain bass, if I'm gonna spend more it will be on the USA or European version.
    3). I won't spend more than $5000 on any bass regardless of where its made - I have better things to spend my money on.
    4). I will never pay full or non discounted prices for a new bass - I will typically go out of my way to find a mint condition used one instead. My goal is to buy it for about what I can sell it for.

    These 4 rules have served me well and not limited my bass habits in any way.
    Samifon, mrb327 and BassHappy like this.
  6. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Since nearly everything produced in China is a direct knockoff of American or European design to a greater or lesser extent, the distinction between "copy" and "counterfeit " is a murky matter of degree at best. Is it just the fake label that should irk us, or the systematic gutting of the American blue collar middle class we have all participated in by our pursuit of the cheapest possible consumer goods? Look around your house or apartment at the number and variety of cheaply imported goods, including the clothing you wear, and spare a thought for the legions of displaced American garment and manufacturing workers who used to make them. Fake bass guitars are a miniscule drop in the bucket in this ocean of merchandise. That seems to leave us purely to the dictates of our own conscience, and NOBODY on this forum should slam anybody else for making a different decision about buying a particular consumer item while giving themselves a pass on all the rest.
  7. blowinblue

    blowinblue Kind of not blue. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    My sentiments, exactly. :)

    M. M.
  8. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    If it says "Made in China" or wherever it is made on it, it's not trying to pass itself off as something it isn't, and it's for sale in a legitimate retail shop, then it's fair game. Ibanez, Epiphone, Fender, Squier and probably others are like that. I wouldn't buy a fake Ric, for example, and I wouldn't buy anything direct from the far east.
  9. My first go around with bass was in the 80's. In those days, the opinion was that the American stuff was the best there was and the Japanese stuff was CLEARLY inferior...but still really good. Boy, were were wrong about that idea. Today, my number one bass is another Charvel 4B, which is as close to the 2B I had then as I could find. That thing is a beast and is a better crafted instruments than most of the American made stuff today, and quite a lot better than the lower tier stuff made today, even though their prices tend to be depressed versus their quality.

    Today all my basses are imported. I have a couple Chinese made Thunderbirds and an Indonesian Sterling SUB SB4. There are American basses made now I'd like to own, but there are several overseas made ones that I want, too....and I'm always on the lookout for Japanese made stuff from the 80's.
  10. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    None of the above. I only own German-made instruments, and I didn't buy any of them in America.

    However, I have no patriotism - the only reason to buy an American/European-made instrument over one from China/Indonesia/Japan/Malaysia/North Korea is that the American/European models are generally the top range of instruments.
  11. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    @Gilmourisgod: You make good points here, even if IMO you presented them with more Fox-News style spin than is necessary. I think there is a pretty clear line between "copy" and "counterfeit." A copy looks very similar but has clearly visible differences that it doesn't take an expert to see. A "counterfeit" identifies itself as a brand it isn't and might even say "Made in the USA" on it when it isn't. But, to make matters worse, there are "legal copies" and "illegal copies," which is a distinction made by governments and lawyers. Whether the distinction between "counterfeit," "legal copy," and "illegal copy" is important is a matter that is between an individual, governments, and lawyers - your priorities and values aren't really my concern, so long as they don't affect me. And vice-versa. I really do think you should believe what you believe. My best friend has some really horrible and outdated (never should have been) values and opinions. It hasn't affected our friendship; I just ignore the stupid $#[email protected] that comes out of his mouth. From his point of view, I'm sure he does the same with me.

    @GBassNorth: Those are good, simple rules. Give me the other four rules so that I can date you teenage daughter. :) Your rules point towards priorities that are different than mine. Resale value isn't a consideration for me, as I rarely sell. My absolute top price is far lower than yours, because I would rather have more basses than more expensive basses (even though I have some nice stuff), and I don't value the difference between a $1500 bass and a $5000 bass. My top price for an import is higher than yours - a nice bass is a nice bass. I appreciate your viewpoint though; given your purchasing goals, I'm sure those rules work well.
  12. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    This is a forum with members from many countries - I would think the answer would vary a lot depending on your nationality; non-US citizens may not put the same value on "Made in USA". ;)
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  13. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    central coast
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Since that looks like a Cayman in your profile pic, I know where some of your money is going :D
  14. dincz


    Sep 25, 2010
    Czech Republic
    International date line?
  15. Hey WV

    Without getting into the subject matter of your post - I must say I applaud your ability to embrace another person's point of view. After all - the dictionary definition of bigotry is: intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself - NOT that anyone here on TB would ever be guilty of that, of course.

    Suffice it to say - I find your ability in that regard admirable, refreshing and downright inspiring. It's something I strive for but fail miserably at - a great percentage of the time....
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
    blindrabbit likes this.
  16. The surface area of the earth is 197 million square miles. The surface area of North America is 9.5 million square miles (4.8%).
    The population of the earth is 7.1 billion. The population of North America is about 350 million (4.9%).

    Outside of the USA is a really big place... The options for this poll are biased towards the minority.
  17. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Thanks for the kind words. I fail a lot of the time too.
  18. xabicho

    xabicho Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2009
    Temecula, California
    Roger Guitars
    Few good luthiers from Europe and Far East:

    Jerzy Drozd
    Paul Lariat


    Personally I owned an STR, JCR and an ARIA basses all of them amazing instruments. Amazing luthiers, even a Marcus Miller 4 string made in Japan has a neck that is comparable with the custom shops. Where to draw the line is a difficult question, even in the same continent we have EL basses from a luthier from Brazil that are comparable with Fodera's so for me it is not really relevant where the bass is made as long as there is a good luthier that knows how to create a piece of art it does not matter the price or country.
  19. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Agreed, but I believe TalkBass is an American institution sitting somewhat in "international waters." The poll being biased doesn't mean you can't have valid input. How does country-of-origin affect your bass purchases?
  20. Hey Jughead (nice name)

    I am going to tell you something that I am not sure you know.

    Guess what?

    Bass players are in the minority too...

    One Thumb.jpeg
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
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