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I don't know whether to laugh or cry after seeing this today: the music shop that I do jobs for asked me to look this guitar over and "tidy it up a bit, so we can sell it" Look at the pictures, the black marker is where I've marked the high points on the frets. Check the fifth fret from left in the third picture, and the state of the bridge in the fourth picture. And bear in mind, this is a new instrument, straight out of the box. The shop price is €99.00, which won't buy you a Martin :-) , but must they sink this low? The thing isn't even remotely playable, buzzes and noteouts all the way up the fretboard, not to mention fretends you could use to shave with.
I told them in the shop I wouldn't touch the job, to make it even halfway playable would cost more than it sells for. I recommended that they use it for firewood, the BBQ season is just around the corner :-)
Junk like this is killing the market here, and what I find worst of all: The people buy these things!

Grahame

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More pics!

Grahame
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Yeah.. that's pretty bad. Can the shop return it to their distributor for credit? I have a similar relationship with two local shops, one of whom sells imported Deane acoustics, and they seem to have their fair share of boo-boos, as well. One of the reasons (other than Chinese "workmanship") seems to be that the instruments languish in storage for a while in Florida, getting over-humidified, before making their way out West here to Oregon. After some back-and-forth, we've worked out an agreement whereby they'll pay for work if it's under about $65 or so, but will accept the instrument back for credit if it's much over that. The shop is protected either way. More importantly, the bad instrument isn't in the hands of the customer. You're right... these "un-quality-controlled" instruments have the potential of killing the market. Good pics, by the way.
This is what I keep trying to tell parents NOT to buy there children. I've seen several "made in China" instruments with missing bridges that appear to have been stuck on with a rectangle of glue strip. It looks like something dispensed from a tape dispenser. The coverage is poor and the mechanical joint is terrible.
I have had a lot of people bring me those guitars sold on television here in the USA. So many headaches. Don't buy a guitar from a guy with a funny hat.
And I was thinking of adopting him as my new hero.
Grahame,

I refer to these fret edges as "hand rippers" and find that they are as much a nuisance as buzzing frets - especially for a budding guitarist. After all, most beginners first notice the aching finger tips before they notice the buzz and add that the fret edges that literally leave flesh on the neck and you've got an instrument that's a "waste of money" gift. But this seems to not only be a problem with Sino-lutherie as I've seen numerous fairly high end guitars over the past few years that could only be played in a classical position without blood letting! Keeps us in business but seems to be an overall lowering of qualityfor even the cheapest of instruments as compared with, for example, the early 1980s when I started doing music store set ups.

Rob
at least it's got a truss rod!!! haha

and SX is pretty popular for newbies over here.. didn't know they were that bad.
In my opinion, this "China bashing" simply isn't appropriate.

1. Junky cheap acoustic guitars aren't a new thing. When I first got going, we had those ridiculous all-hardwood American made ones with unplayable necks and no tone, molded plastic ones, even some with fiberboard bodies, the ones brought in from Tijuana, some of which sounded good, but fell apart, and some really European instruments. Later it was a flood of cheesy Japanese guitars, followed by Korean and Philippine made horrors. Now we have Chinese junk and even worse, some elaborately inlaid and expensive unplayable ones from southeast Asian sources.

2. Whose "fault" is it? Ours, of course. We support the market of junky products in every sector. Look at the home shopping channels, check out Walmart - the list of importers and sources is endless. Our economy is built on blind consumerism where celebrity endorsement replaces rational thought, where quantity trumps quality, and low price is the great motivator.

3. Trust me, there is no shortage of highly skilled craft in China. That culture has been around for millennia and all you have to do is take a look at their traditional wood carvings to understand how insanely good they are at it.

4. As China rises to the industrial level of the US, they need to sell LOTS of product, and they'll make just about anything we ask them to. So, when our importers go from one manufacturer to another trying to get guitars landed here for even lower prices every year, there are factories ready to take the orders.

5. Look at the stuff coming in with these brands: Eastman, Kentucky, Gold Star, Blueridge, Scott Cao, Hill, and lots of others, and you'll see the result of importers actually participating in the design and manufacturing process to get Chinese instruments that rival the quality of the better US made ones.

Once again, it ain't the maker, it's the buyer. There will always be junk available, and, unfortunately, customers for it, whether they are cheapskates, overly acquisitive, uninformed, ill-advised or just plain duped. . .
Hi Frank
I didn't want to bash the chinese, I know they can do good work. Here in Germany you can buy Cort and Walden for example, great guitars for around €200-250. One of my pro customers has a chinese Guild that is a really good guitar, better than some Taylors I've played. My personal acoustic instruments are a T.Burton 6-string, and a Cort 12-string, both made in China, and together they cost €400. I've tuned them with a fussy setup and fretdress, and replaced the nut and saddle with bone, and they are both fine guitars.
But the point I'm trying to make is that you can't just keep making things cheaper and cheaper to serve the market.
It's a downward spiral that's got to be stopped somehow. Sometimes you have to say stop! Here and no further. I hear people in the music shops who think that €50 is too expensive for a guitar. You can't help people like that, they're just cheap. If all the music shops just said sorry, the cheapest guitar we have costs €200, maybe not as many people would buy guitars. But in the long run, the idea that a guitar is a musical instrument that has it's price, and not a can of beans for 65c, would lead to more quality awareness.
In the long run, selling cr*p for €99 is going to boomerang back on the shop that sold it: In the shop that I do work for, it's already started: The first guitars from this series are coming back after a few months with seperated bridges, twisted necks and lifting frets etc. The shop sends them to me. So I tell them it's gonna cost €60 to glue the bridge back on, or €70 for a fretdress and setup: you can imagine how that goes down by people who thought they were going to get a playable guitar for €99. The thing is, if they'd glued the bridges properly, maybe strengthened with 2 screws hidden under MOTS dots, (which Takamine and many others have always done), and done a quick fretdress, it'd have only cost a few pennies more with the economies of scale in mass production. OK,still a cr*p guitar, no tone, no dynamics, lousy finish, but playable
We've got to start fighting back somehow: how do I sell a refret for €200, or a setup for €70, or all the other work that guitars need, to someone who only paid €99 for the whole guitar? (And thought that was a lot of money for "just" a guitar) And they're the same people who happily pay hundreds for the latest i-phone or X-box, or some other useless gizmo that'll be outdated in a few months.....
We have to improve quality awareness, and make it clear to these people that a minimum of playability is essential especially when it's the first guitar, and under a certain price it just ain't possible, despite lower wages in China or India or wherever. The novice players of today are the potential customers from tomorrow, but most of them give up after getting bloody fingers trying to play these junk instruments. It's a shame, I have the feeling (at least from knowledge of the German market), that we (as an industry), are busy cutting our own throats.
So, thanks for listening, I just had to get that off my chest :-)
By the way, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for all you've taught me over the years, your website is a goldmine of great information. The information there has helped me numerous times when I was stuck with a job, and wasn't sure how to get the job finished. You've saved my bacon more times than you can imagine!

Grahame
hey gram looks like great opportunity to show this shop your stuff and repair this guitar by level crown and polishing the frets to play decently enough here you can name your price with the shop I am almost positive of it
Strangely enough this discussion brings to mind "Tank Man", you know, the guy who stood by himself in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square to protest the government in a pro-democracy march. Of course nobody really knows what happened to "Tank Man" although it's widely believed he was executed. Fast forward twenty years, where SX guitar factory workers toil 60~70 hours a week for $1/hour, probably live in company housing, spend half their income on food, the list goes on and on. If only "Tank Man" could see his SX guitar brethren now :)
In my opinion, the issue boils down to education. The only people in the industry that seem to be putting much effort into educating entry level buyers are the manufactures of lower or poor quality instruments.

A lot of the people that I talk to about purchasing a guitar don't have any idea that one guitar isn't pretty much like another. They are often surprised to find that a decent guitar may cost hundreds of dollars and completely astounded to hear about guitars costing thousands. They just simply haven't been exposed to these ideas.

When I was a kid, my grade school (1st grade through 5th grade, for those of us not in the U.S.) used to have periodic "Assemblies" which usually included someone or other playing an instrument of some sort. Now I understand that this was the school systems way of introducing the children to different instruments in an effort to maintain the schools' music program. The point is that they didn't just play them, they talked about their history and their use. They explained how they played them and how the instrument worked, the different types available and even quality. I never saw a guitar in one of these Assemblies. When I entered Middle school. I learned to play the trumpet. Why? I knew about it.

When I started to learn the guitar, it never crossed my mind that one guitar wasn't pretty much like another. I had certainly never heard anything to make me think any differently. I made a very poor choice for my first guitar purchase because it looked OK to me and it was something I could afford in the moment. It was a "dime store" Harmony and was possibly the worst "serious" guitar I've ever seen. I bought it because I wanted a guitar and I didn't know any better. There wasn't any reason that I would have known. I was ignorant of my ignorance.

The local music stores certainly weren't doing anything to get information out to entry level buyers of guitars. Ironically, the Harmony was purchased two doors away from one of the local music shops. For a bit more money, I could have purchased one of their old beat up junkers. It wouldn't have been much but it would have been much better than what I got. In the end, I never did buy a guitar from them. I always had this idea that they weren't too "up" on guitars and I ended up traveling 100 miles to buy my first good guitar from another shop that impressed me with their knowledge.

Most of the guitar players I know were already playing before they really started to learn about quality in guitars and most started on a piece of junk. Thank God for junk guitars. I believe that the market would be much smaller were it not for all the people that started out on trash because it was all they had. I'm sure they are all playing better guitars now. Don't get me wrong, I don't like unplayable junk either and I do everything I can to convince the parents of potential players and the potential players of the benefits of purchasing something decent. With out help, most, if not all, will end up choosing between cheap/bad and nothing at all because they have no reason to understand why they should pay more.

I'm not saying that people should know all the nuances of a fine guitar but, as it is, most people enter this sphere with no information at all. Why would they know that guitars are not the same. How could they recognize that they can help protect some of their investment by purchasing a better guitar. If dealers want to sell better guitars, they need to help people understand why they want to pay for them. and they need to start doing it before the buyer is aware they may want to buy one. Lower price will almost always win over higher price unless the buyer has a good reason pay more and it is the sellers responsibility to help them understand what that reason is.

I don't like these trash guitars but I don't have a problem telling a parent that is concerned that it is a passing whim in their child to go ahead and get one, as long as they understand that it reduces the chances their child will stick with it and that it is disposable with no practical return on investment and not practical path for repair. In the end, I think it's better for a kid to try on an piece of junk than not try at all bit I do everything I can to convince them to purchase better in the interest of giving their kid a chance.

I'll pass the soap on to the next person now.

Ned

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