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Does it matter where it's made?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Cycleops, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. Cycleops


    Nov 13, 2019
    As a newcomer to basses and the hype that makers use to promote their brand I can't help thinking that those selling premium priced offerings particularly from the US are having a tougher time persuading us to buy their products. Does a US made instrument sound and feel five to ten times better than one made in the far east? And is the finish any better or worse?
    Chinese and far eastern makers are now producing products that are light years away from the ones they offered 25/30 years ago and quality seems comparable with top end Fenders and other US or Western brands. Do people like having the kudos of a non far eastern instrument despite being little real difference?
    What do you all think?
    NoSlapForYou, jamro217, Al T. and 2 others like this.
  2. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    There is little to no difference.
    As you said,the quality of foreign made basses has drastically increased over the last 30 some years.
    Primarily due to CNC advances.

    I tend to choose six string non traditional styles.
    Which tend to be lower in price overall.
    But not lower in quality.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  3. Manufacturers will deliberately use cheaper woods (not necessarily worse) and cheaper pickups & hardware on their far eastern product lines, both to keep costs down and to differentiate those from the US versions. The difference is getting smaller though, and the US ones certainly don't sound or play 5-10 times better. Joe Dart's main bass for years was a MIM Jazz bass with replacement pickups.
  4. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Supporting Member


    In the 70s & 80s, Far East = crap. Mostly. Exceptions abound.

    Today, Far East is often better than "made in USA". *cough* Gibson *cough* Again, exceptions abound.

    "High end" instruments are generally better made than "entry level" intruments, regardless of era, or place of manufacture.

    Again, depends what era, and if you're talking "high end" or "entry level".

    Mostly, the quality of the finish on the wood is pretty even, when comparing similar finishes on similar basses. Poly on wood is pretty hard to mess up. Nitro takes more care.

    Yes. As always, exceptions abound.

    I think you should choose your bass based on what feels good, looks good, and sounds good to you, not based on the headstock label, or where it was made.

    If you can't play before you pay, it's a crap shoot. Always. No exceptions. Ya payz ya money and ya takes ya chances. Obviously, with reputable dealers that have good return policies, your risks are greatly lessened. But, it's still a crap shoot buying a bass never having played it.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  5. jcopas


    Jan 22, 2018
    Deminishing returns effects everything, basses included. So just because it costs 5 times more doesn't mean 5 times better. Probably noticably better, even to layman, but I'm not sure how you would even quantity "5 times better" in bass guitars.
    dmt, Glenn Mac, Sean150 and 5 others like this.
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Over the years I've owned and played basses made in the U.S. (Fender, EBMM) Germany (Warwick), Indonesia (SBMM), Japan (Maya, Fender/Squier, Westone), England (Wal) and Italy (Eko). I can think of no characteristic beyond the country of origin being printed on the instrument that could be directly and exclusively attributed to, or gave even the slightest clue as to, where the things were made.
    TH63, TrustRod, LowRick and 2 others like this.
  7. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    I compared my Squier Jazz to my USA Jazz and the USA made one is not 10 times better however it is noticeably better in a lot of ways which is why I still own it.

    The more affordable entry level equipment has come a long way and it's great value for money.

    So I ask is it a fair comparison? wages, rent, insurance, electricity, materials, shipping and even tooling is a lot cheaper in say China than the USA.

    If the playing field was level would there be any difference in the price?
  8. sonic 7

    sonic 7 Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Queens, N.Y.C.
    Today it really doesn’t matter anymore where stuff is made. If it weren’t for far east and Indonesian manufacturing at least half of the gear we love wouldn’t even exist.
    DrMole, Glenn Mac, Blue57 and 7 others like this.
  9. Not until it breaks...
    basshawk21, rickwebb, zenrad and 2 others like this.
  10. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    As with anything, once you get more experience you’ll see the price difference related to tangible real world differences. There are just diminishing cost-to-improvement returns the higher in quality you go.

    When you start learning to paint, the idea of spending more than $3 for a paint brush is absurd. Then you get to the point where you laugh at people who use $3 paint brushes and think the quality is the same.

    Finally, China and Far East makers don’t have environmental regulations to concern themselves with. They have a lot more loop holes to get wood and to contaminate the atmosphere. If you’re familiar with OSHA in the US, they don’t quite have that in China - much cheaper. You can’t think “let china pollute their own atmosphere who cares” because we all share the same atmosphere. Pollution from China blows across oceans to pollute other places too - we’re all in the same place.

    This is an issue that affects all of us, but it’s easier to pretend it’s someone else’s responsibility and not do anything about it. Me included. When I need to remind myself to appreciate what I have, I just have to read about working in a factory in China.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    Hanuta06, Cycleops, dmt and 19 others like this.
  11. Bassmike62

    Bassmike62 Punch'n Ooomph Supporting Member

    I have a Squier VM70s Jazz bought new 2 years ago that could easily survive a blindfold test against an a US made Fender Jazz. I also have an American Special and an Aerodyne. The Squier holds its own.
  12. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Does a Ferrari drive and feel five to ten times better than a car made in Asia?
  13. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Personal choice. Where something is made doesn't matter to me at all.
  14. Alessandro Cruz

    Alessandro Cruz

    Jul 23, 2018

    It's a mix of factors. Brand vs Budget-Entry-High levels vs Market orientation.

    The word in question is QUALITY CONTROL. Not the place where it was manufactured.

    There's poor labor quality wherever you go around the world, even US or Japanese.

    Globalized times...
    Glenn Mac, 123Nil and IamGroot like this.
  15. lbbc


    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    I had a G&L Tribute and a USA G&L...not a lot of difference to me. Both are gone. I now have a Carvin PB4 (USA)... it's the only bass I own NOT because it's a U.S. made bass...I just like Carvins.
    OpposableThumbs, oren and LowRick like this.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    Does it matter where it's made?
    not any more.

    my chinese-made pieces are far better instruments than my pricey fender and my pricey custom-made. they are superior in every way. disclosure: i had to put a little time and a little money (parts) into them to make them 'superior'.

    also, i have better luck than the next person. :D
  17. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Where its made?
    No. Had a skyline DJ that was outstanding.
    How it's made as far as craftsmanship and component quality?
    Very much so.
    I have a 2019 MIM Steve Harris P Bass that is a fantastic example. It has top components and is assembled/fit very nicely. Yes it is 13#, WHICH IS BY DESIGN, and doesnt bother me. It is a mexican made beast of a bass.
    Glenn Mac and warwicktor like this.
  18. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    So far, most responses have confused non-domestic with 'budget', 'low cost' or 'entry-level'. IME, within a given quality grade there is little to distinguish one country of origin from another.
  19. TylerJ

    TylerJ Trying to find the elusive Brown Note Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2017
    I had a far East made ESP LTD 5 stringer awhile ago (I don't remember the model). Also had a USA EBMM 'Ray 5 at the same time.

    The difference between the two, while not "five times better" was nonetheless very noticeable. The feel of the neck on the LTD, the non-rounded fret edges, the sound of the pickups, all were inferior in quality to the 'Ray.

    That is not to say the bass was garbage, it wasn't.

    It just wasn't as good as the 'Ray (and I got it to have something that didn't sound like a 'Ray).

    Additionally, the quality of LTD basses could have improved--I'd be surprised if it hasn't in the 10-15 years since I had my LTD--but I have not had the opportunity to try one out as my local music stores do not stock them (including GC).

    YMMV, of course.
  20. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    Stiil no difference.
    You get it repaired at the same place as a domestic bass.

    And we all know they do break as much as a foreign bass.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    kodiakblair likes this.

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