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"Made in America" or "Made in Europe" with Chinese parts?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Nohrellas, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Nohrellas


    May 11, 2016
    I found a company making basses and guitars here in Europe at a very affordable pricepoint, around 500€. When I looked closer, especially at their Les Paul model, I noticed a bolt-on neck. And all of the bodies were made out of basswood, both characteristics of "kit guitars" from china from my experience. I decided to contact them and they told me that they buy no-name hardware and pickups but select them to ensure proper function and quality, the bodies and necks are imported, I would assume from china, they shield the entire instrument and install the hardware and electronics, apply a clear coat finish and they level the frets, adjust the nut and set up the instruments.

    In general I see nothing wrong with that, however the "made in X" (I'm not here to name and shame anyone, I won't name the company or which country they're from) kinda feels weird to me. Most users here are from the USA, so I'm asking you, if someone was essentially buying kit guitars, or all the parts that make one, and just assembling them in the USA with all the steps I mentioned, would you say it's right to call it a "made in America" instrument?
    Ghastly likes this.
  2. blacktocomm


    Feb 19, 2013
    Nope. Assembled in America is definitely not the same as made in America imo.
  3. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    The same is partially or wholly true of almost every consumer product we use, sign of the times. If you want a low priced guitar, they have to cut cost someplace. At least local assembly produces local jobs, it's better than nothing. The quality of the Chinese parts is pretty spotty, but not for long, guitar manufacturing is 1950's technology, any reasonably advanced economy can produce them.
    pudgychef and andruca like this.
  4. Nohrellas


    May 11, 2016
    I'm not saying they can't be good instruments, for all I know they may be excellent. I just have a problem with the "made in Europe" or "made in America" label when it's applied to an all Chinese product that is simply assembled here.
    Ghastly and Gilmourisgod like this.
  5. packrat

    packrat Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2017
    There's a whole spectrum here. It's unlikely that the wire or pots or resistors used in almost anything US made is made there, so then you end up with a spectrum where there aren't any bright lines. I consider that if the manufacturing isn't under direct specific quality control (not just good enough) of the place where the instrument is "made" then something shonky is going on. Good manufacturers (e.g. Dingwall) are very open about what they're doing with the basses with an overseas component.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Nothing is entirely made in a single country anymore. Even with simple products, say a wrench, the grease may come from USA, the steel from Poland, vanadium from Canada, springs from China...
    There also are companies based in a country that do all their manufacturing in another and sell mostly in a third one.
  7. Nohrellas


    May 11, 2016
    I'm fully ware of that, which is why I tried my best to talk about this specific case in detail. I wouldn't have started this thread if they didn't advertise them in that way or if, let's say, only the hardware and electronics + pickups were imported. But the entire thing being essentially made in China and then just assembled here doesn't really sit right with me.
    charlie monroe likes this.
  8. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I don't know what percentage of the parts for Honda's and Toyotas are made in the US, Im guessing it's not that high a %. American manufacturers play games with the Made in America label all the time, not just the Europeans. I see your point, but that particular ship sailed a long time ago, and it's not coming back for American manufacturing, at least not for something as simple as guitar parts. Minus a modern preamp, carbon fiber rods, or some other more recent innovation there's just nothing on the average bass that couldnt have been made in the 50's, technically most instruments are total Dinosaurs. When I was a teenaged aspiring bassist in the mid 70's, most instruments under $300 were crap imports, poorly made and indifferently finished (sounds like a CBS Fender!) Now you can get a damn nice entry level bass for $200, but it will be made in Indonesia.
    MobileHolmes and JRA like this.
  9. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    There is another way to look at it. You will find basses entirely made in Europe. They will be 2000 though, not 500. Social security doesn't pay itself.
    FantasticFour and enzodm like this.
  10. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    I recently saw a thing about a new canadian guitar company (I forget if they had basses) that was pretty cagey about this sort of thing. Essentially, their model was like the lakland skylines (some degree of parts manufacturing over seas and final assembly/set up in house), but their website was not at all clear about it. Given their prices, it was pretty clear they werent' manufacturing start to finish in Canada. I don't really care one way or another, but I think people should be clear about origins.

    As to the OP, I'm sure that on some level, most american or european instrument has something chinese in it (do we really know where magnets and wire in pickups are sourced from? The screws?). At some level, that's just life, but I think when bodies and necks are imported, that is different
  11. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    There are regulation that govern what you can claim in terms of the country of origin.

    Regulations vary, the European Union has their requirements. There is Made in, Assmbled in.

    In the USA: Complying with the Made in USA Standard.

    Of course, smaller companies do what they want and it takes a complaint to provoke action by the authorities. They declare bankruptcy and start up a new buisness.
    yodedude2, Lvjoebass and wintremute like this.
  12. Why does it matter if the semi skilled factory worker who loads body blanks into a thicknessor or CNC cutter wakes up in the US or not ? As G.I.G rightly says guitars are a production line product,it was St Leo's dream to take building from craftsmen and place it in the hands of factory workers.

    Makes no difference if those hands start the day eating rice,beans or cheerios
  13. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I believe that was settled in the US when Martin had the Seagull* line of guitars assembled in America from imported parts. I knew a couple of people who had tham and they sounded good, and they had a "made in USA" label on them. It didn't take long for the whining to start and not much longer before the name disappeared.

    I saw the same thing in r/c hobbies a few years ago. A big name maker was calling their electronic speed controls made in the USA and a consumer took exception to the fact that the components were mostly made in the Pacific rim and assembled in the US. End result was a bunch of lawyers got big checks, consumers got a discount coupon good on future purchases and the company had to change the silkscreen on their boards so as not to mislead the public.

    *Sigma was the name, not Seagull, sorry.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    Lvjoebass likes this.
  14. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Fair enough. The neck and body are probably less important than some of the machined parts for skill involved. For more or less irrational reasons though, I feel like an american neck and body with chinese hardware assembled in the US is more "American" than a chinese neck and body with American hardware.
    Lvjoebass and JGbassman like this.
  15. packrat

    packrat Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2017
    It depends on whether quality control on all that is near the process where it's cheaper to correct things or a lot further away.

  16. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I recently got a Hammersmith 5. Assembled in Canada using overseas body and neck and top notch electronics and parts.

    I couldn't be happier with it. Plays like a dream. Sounds fantastic. Fit and finish are outstanding.
    pcake, /\/\3phist0, Lvjoebass and 5 others like this.
  17. Hounddog409


    Oct 27, 2015
    Actually the Toyota (I think Corolla) was named the most American car made. Most parts sourced in the US, assembled in US, etc.

    The Ford F-150 was second.

    Both have over 90% parts sourced/produced in the US.

    There are rules in place that must be followed to be able to advertise "made in America". You can view the FTC rules on line. Most companies will not risk the fines if caught playing games.

    Not that this means much to topic, just thought it interesting the most American car was a Toyota.
    yodedude2, Lvjoebass and MobileHolmes like this.
  18. Dead right. QC is the key. In the business model the OP mentions it lies with the assembly team.
  19. packrat

    packrat Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2017
    Not wholly, there's limited actions they can take so far away from the pointy manufacturing parts. There's a wide range of possible thresholds for good enough they could set given sunk cost of shipping the bits Over.
  20. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    In my book, it's about how you handle it as a company.
    I mean - let's take boutique pedals. They come with a housing that's chinese, the plastic parts of the knobs are chinese and if you take them apart, most of the innards are chinese as well. But I would not go as far as calling that a chinese product which was assembled in the US or EU - i'd call it the genuine thing.

    If there are people who take pride in their jobs and their product involved in building the basses you mentioned - fully aware that there will be basses with higher quality on the market - but maybe not at that price level -
    and these people try to ensure their product is of the highest possible standard with the components at hand,
    I would very much prefer their product to a similar looking one that was completely made in china, by someone working by a plan who might neither really know what he or she is doing, nor really care.
    This product would still not be on the same level as one that is made entirely (or as close to that as possible) in the US or EU for someone who prefers to shop local, but absolutely on an elevated level, set apart from the other chinese instruments.
    Gizmot likes this.

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