1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Quality Control at Fender and Gibson?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jmlee, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    So a couple of days ago I wandered into my local Long & McQuade outlet and thought I'd have a casual peek at some of the new gear from Fender and Gibson. That day I looked at: (i) a Fender American Deluxe Dimension Bass IV HH with sharp fret ends sticking out so far they'd cut your hands, and (ii) a remarkably ugly, black unbound Gibson ES-335 bass with a host of finish defects, the worst being a near-complete miss where the neck meets the top of the body. Neither of these instruments are cheap and both are (I think) U.S.-made. Nonetheless, my experience with them lines up with what I recently also saw with a Gibson Midtown bass and a Fender American Deluxe 5 Jazz: amazingly poor attention to detail that never should have escaped QC. It's possible that I just have really bad luck looking at instruments, or that they save the "special" ones for us here in the hinterlands of Canada, but I have to wonder what's going on. My sampling of a wide range of other maker's interesting instruments (Ibanez, Warwick, Yamaha, G&L, etc.) just doesn't show the same issues. What gives?
  2. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    It's called "target RMA rate" and it is not zero.
  3. Geri O

    Geri O

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I'm not interested in commenting on this thread one way or the other, I just had to tell JMLEE what an awesome sig line he has!

    Geri O
  4. hsech

    hsech I'm not old, I'm just seasoned. Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    Looking at sales volume and resale value of both Fender USA and Gibson USA I wouldn't perceive quality control to be an issue.
  5. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    As someone who owns Fenders and has owned Gibsons, I find both makes to be "try-before-you-buy" sort of operations.
  6. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
  7. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    I am not trying to defend Fender, necessarily, but the fret ends sticking out could be a byproduct of climatic conditions having changed from where the bass was made vs. where it is, currently.
  8. Same here, although I've been through about a dozen Fenders, and only 3 Gibsons. The Fenders, I've had only one with zero issues. And I've owned MIAs, MIMs, and MIJs. Most also had multiple issues. The Gibsons I had 2 good, 1 with issues. I suck at math, but IME Gibson is winning.

    As for the basses in your local Long & McQuade, well... I haven't a clue what a Long & McQuade is, but if it's anything like a GC, it's no place to judge quality control. The basses under $500 fly off the shelves, while the more expensive ones sit around unattended sometimes for years. I've picked up lots of MMs and Warwicks that were practically unplayable (as have most people here). They make squiers feel like dream basses.

    Yeah... das all.
  9. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    +1. But I wonder how much climate plays the scapegoat when the real issue is that the fret ends weren't dressed very well in the first place. I definitely think that some economy basses see little done to the fret ends beyond being cut to length. A lot of pricier basses appear to just get filed flush with the fingerboard, with little or no attention to rounding the ends. (On my 4-94, the frets could stick out an eighth of an inch and they still wouldn't be sharp because of the nice work done on them.)

    I do think Gibson is capable of turning out some truly horrible finishes. I got a good laugh at a Gibson factory tour video I watched the other day. One of the guys they introduced was a final inspection/qc guy that had been there for nineteen years. I guess his eyesight isn't what it used to be...
  10. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Only very theoretically. It is far more likely that the wood wasn't properly aged, dried or otherwise treated before making the fretboard and has shrunk afterwards. Same thing with wide neck pocket gaps. No, it's not that the manufacturers measure badly.

    The OP seems to be in the US so it's probably neither rainforest nor the north pole.
  11. Halifax is in Nova Scotia, Canada. Not quite the North Pole, but it's definitely a big climatic jump from the Fender and Gibson factories.
  12. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
  13. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    Well first, just ignore Gibson. Secondly, fret sprout is common this time of year, especially on maple boards (for whatever reason). Rest assured, it didn't leave the factory that way. Wood shrinks in dry conditions, frets don't.

    Fret sprout can happen to any bass if the conditions are right (uber-dry). It's happened to me with expensive basses like Roscoe, Warrior, and also on 30+ year old basses.

    Additionally, if Fender is sending their blems and 2nd's up to Canuckdia, that seems fair to me. (Relax, just joking! (I love hockey 'til the day I die!")
  14. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Sure we could blame it on weather if it was happening to all basses the OP is speaking of, but he named other brands who don't seem to have this problem. I'll be completely honest, I think there are too many superior brands with better design and quality to get hung up on the brand names and made in America mystique that people often do. For the record though, love the Squier CV and VM basses :)
  15. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    It all depends on the wood, and no two pieces, even if they are cut adjacent to one another from the same log, are the same, really. I have felt/seen this on some Alembic basses, for another brand. Also, basses with bound necks usually do not show this, another thing to allow for.

    As mentioned above, fret sprout is not endemic to any particular brand or [DEL]social[/DEL] price rank. Wood moves a lot more than metal. Not that this is the only reason for rough fret ends, as workmanship certainly does count for some of it.
  16. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    If you fix your fret sprout when it occurs (dry season), then it won't return during next year's dry season.

    Maybe in what season instruments are originally built (dry, humid) can affect whether or not there will be fret sprout later. Wood is going to expand and contract no matter what. If the guitar was built in dry conditions originally, it may never have fret sprout. Could explain why some guitars seem "immune" to it?
  17. huckleberry1


    Jul 1, 2013
    Mesquite, Texas
    I really believe you just found by coincidence some humidity issued instruments.
    +1 on jmlee's sig!
  18. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Is your Templar the same as that of the automobile company?
  19. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Long & McQuaid up here would be roughly equivalent to Guitar Centre stateside. I don't think the two basses in question were here long, they're very recent models. Halifax has wet British-style winters mostly (same latitude as mid-Maine and right on the ocean) and only rare forced air heating, so fret sprout via dehydration isn't a big problem--noting of course that only the one instrument had it. I'm pretty sure both of the instruments got past QC with major problems. For more than $1500 each, I don't think that's on.
  20. An avatar with attitude! I was disappointed when the 96' Fender J Commemorative I bought at that time when one of the jack's solder points came undone after 3 or so months of playing. I babied the thing, so it wasn't from any rough handling. This was a ltd. edition bass specially made to commemorate Fender's 50th, and the soldering was shabbily done. Easily fixed, and it's got killer tone, love that guitar, but I thought at the time that the QC standards had perhaps slipped a bit especially in that case (MIA ltd. edition only 500 made).