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!


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I can top your Euro 99 ( about US$ 134) guitars sold by a music-shop Grahame...

Living in Germany you’ll know the “Lidl” supermarkets, we have them in Holland too. Every now and then they have some special offer on computers/ fishing gear/ tools and yes: also on guitars (displayed between the vegetables, milk, eggs, meat etc).
About ½ a year ago they had an “offer” on what we are to believe to be Classical Guitars, costing Euro 70 (US$ 95). Later they sold “electric guitars” (amp included) for about Euro 100... (And they were sold !!!) Imagine mum and/or dad doing the grocery-shopping: “Need milk, sugar. coffee, beer and of course: a guitar...”

IMHO there’s nothing wrong with a supermarket selling guitars, as there’s also nothing wrong with selling guitars for less than Euro 100. That is: as long as these guitars are playable at the least! (And anyone selling “wall decoration shaped as a guitar” gets away with that too, as long as they don’t just call it “guitar”).
What is “wrong” is that consumers obviously are willing to buy things like guitars at a supermarket... But hey: ignorance isn’t a crime...(Most of the time it’s just costly)

I wonder what the real revenues will turn out to be in say another half year, when the bulk of these things will have been returned for repair, but hey: they cannot do that so it’ll be a re-fund... As long as consumers are aware of their consumer-rights...
That’s not to say that all cheap instruments must be “bad”, but I think that good cheap guitars are somewhat like “accidents do happen”.

Now to the other side of “our” market.

Read the following description and ask yourself what you would be willing to pay for this guitar:
“Rosette and Binding with high class black/white purfling; 1st class, 20 years seasoned, air-dried woods. Features: Solid Spruce top; Solid south american Rosewood body; Cedro neck; Ebony fingerboard; Gold tuners; Shellac-Finish and case included.”

What would this guitar (new) be worth???

And now the info I omitted:
“PAULINO BERNABE, born 1932 in Madrid, is one of the best and most popular luthiers of our time. Til 1969 he was the head of the either worldwide known factory of José Ramirez in Madrid. PAULINO BERNABE studied a couple of years classial guitar with Daniel Fortea in Madrid. 1973 he built the first 10-string guitar for Narcise Yepes. The guitars of PAULINO BERNABE have an exceptional status concerning tone, craftsmanship, woods and asthtetics. “

Now what would you be willing to pay?

I’m guessing that the almost “mystical characteristics” of the luthier will add to your willingness to pay more, but will it be the Euro 20,197.50 (US$ 27,468.60) that the WEBSHOP (!!!) is asking... (And this price is still ex taxes)

I think that the buyers of “your” Inovative Design instruments maybe shake their heads even harder at this price than you (and me) shake our heads over their choice.

(info from: The Euro does US$ 1.36 today)
Interesting discussion...
I'll throw this in as a Canadian example-albeit another 'wood' product altogether-- Bauer (skates, hockey sticks etc) had a shop in Cambridge Ontario producing popular quality hockey sticks. They shut it down and started producing their hockey sticks in China. Now they have a huge recall & lost face & confidence due to lead paint on the hockey sticks. They said they moved operations to China 'to be able to reach a price point that the market wanted'. There ya go. So long as consumers are shopping for lowest price without regard for personal safety, quality, durability, people will continue to find ways to make things cheaper and the gullible masses will gobble it all up- with no thought to the fact that maybe they have to buy more hockey sticks now, because they break faster,etc. But did the market literally 'ask' for a lower price. No- Bauer are just greedy and want more market share, without adding any more value to the product, in fact diminishing its value.
Back to guitars- I make hand built quality travel guitars and it always kills me that there are travel guitars on sale on ebay for 99 cents- yes 99 cents. I've read reviews-its usually impossible to ever get them up to tune- the tailpiece just bends then breaks, yet someone continues to make a profit from selling this useless crap, year after year.
In my opinion, until every product is priced with its true environmental cost built in, quality, safety will continue to go downhill along with ever more enticing low low prices. I totally understand where Frank was coming from in not bashing China, but have to say I'm with not with him all of the way. If China wants the worlds business in this age, then they need to estalish some real standards that make sense in the real world. If they cant get issues like lead paint resolved, which comes up time & time again, then Id have to say its up to governments to stop imports of this garbage. For example-banning painted products (including crappy guitars) from China 100% outright- unless subject to a lead testing regime. Will it happen... no. Free country & all that, everyone is posessed with a quick fix & a low price-its your 'right' to buy foreign crap. Bottom line, we & our consumer society are at fault.
I dont think there's much us luthiers can do under such a systemic failure, other than continue to pursue quality and cater to those who are sick of their lousy out of tune guitars or those that take the time to look at the true cost of products, in the interest of the safety and well being of themselves and ultimately the environment.

Add to the list the following with other products exported from China:

Use of lead based paint - not only has this affected toys but even motorcycles have been put on the recall list
drywall - homes in Florida (humid environment) have reported problems with odor and corrosion of copper pipes (to the point of failure). Investigation revealed use of fly ash with toxic/corrosive chemicals in the drywall mix.

magnet wire - I deal with electrical issues on a daily basis in my "real job". Anything that uses magnet wire (relays for example) is prone to early failure. My guess is poor quality control of the insulation of the wire. This has ramifications for pickups made with Chinese wire as well...

automotive fuses - fuses don't function at the required interruption rating and overheat/melt. Some cases of fire reported.

light bulbs - I've converted from incandescents to flourescents not so much for the environmental benefit, but mainly because I get tired of changing them when they fail after only 20 hours of use. My guess would be substandard tungsten wire.

milk - this only applies to the domestic market in China. A few years ago some milk suppliers added an industrial chemical to milk to give higher protein readings. Thousands of infants were sickened and hospitalized. Fortunately we don't have to worry about food products so much (yet?). Some chocolate products made it to the U.S. and were recalled.

Pet food - Thousands of confirmed cases in the U.S. of pet deaths due to similar "spiking" with chemicals to give better protein readings. This was just before the milk incident. If I recall it caused liver failure in pets.

toothpaste - Didn't affect any markets except consumers in Africa. Apparently high amounts of ethylene glycol were added to toothpaste, sickening the users.

Just to clarify, it's not my intent to bash, only to inform.....
Maybe you could have an apprentice take it on as an unpaid learning experience. Good lucky!
Well, as long as we're chasing toward the bottom I've seen acoustic guitars - supposedly playable - advertised just before Xmas at wallyworld here in the States for less than $60US. No idea where they were made as I just passed 'em by. And while I do agree with Mr. Ford's assertion that there have always been cheap instruments technology/engineering changes have allowed the lowest level quality instruments to be made by machine which has allowed on one hand a great deal of standardization which may have helped things like neck thickness and such but have also let those little annoying things like palm ripping frets which can only really be noted by a human to dominate. Also cheaper instruments used to actually use fairly good woods at time albiet not those prefered for tonal quality while now various plywoods are dominate with some having core stock of luan and other "cardboard" woods.

While I can't credit cheap guitars as having helped me learn to play I can credit them for providing some of my first "take it apart and see how it's put together experiences" although I never thought that the Teisco Del Rays and others that I parted out would ever be collector's items . And a few actually turned into playable instruments after I had shaved wood and cobbled parts from several together.



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