#159295  by mikelawson
 Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:24 am
You will have to go way further back than 10-15 years ago to not find made in China stamped on everything. Gibson opened a dedicated Epiphone plant 15 years ago last October. Before that, nearly every import model was being made by Samick in South Korea. Before Samick, it was the FujiGen or Fernandes, or Guyatone, or Matsumoku or any one of the many Japanese makers. And now Samick owns a giant factory in Indonesia making guitars, where a friend of mine was sent from Nashville to help them get their game more together making instruments for the multitude of guitar brands that have guitars made by them. With import guitars, the brand can largely be an illusion, when they are one day making strat copies for Squire and the next week making Washburn LP style guitars, and the next week running Ibanez, or Epiphone.

When I worked for Gibson in the early 1990s, there was always a pallet full of boxes to ship back to Samick, that contained Ibanez, Fender, Washburn, just about every make you can think of (along with some brands we never heard of) that had been mistakenly stuck in an Epiphone box and shipped to the Nashville distribution center. Before China, we didn't have a lot of options in the recording world we have now, like a wide array of recording microphones at affordable prices, many of which actually sound really good. We could probably get into all kinds of political discussions about how this happened, and I don't really want to go down that rabbit hole.

The Phreds are very functional and playable "props" that let people who want to get out a little bit of the Jerry magic through their own hands. They will always be what they are. I don't resent them being made in China or wherever. Fred was smart to fill a need that no other "manufacturer" was going to touch. Took a lot of balls to pay for a container of guitars to be made and shipped to LA for him to tweak and fulfill. Again, to me, it's like the Star Trek convention... you can have replica uniforms and props from the actual materials used to make them, copied to perfection, supporting a local seamstress or prop making hobbyist, or you can order a costume uniform and a toy communicator that looks the part. Either way, you both love Star Trek and went to the convention to geek out on meeting the Captain. I am nearly 50. It took this long in life to be able to afford replicas that cost $4-5k. And I am not even buying the top end Alembic Furthur or tribute models, which are $12-15k. Very, very few people are ever going to buy those, or even the "lower" end replicas made here by hand. So, good for Phred, and good for the people who get a little touch of the OBEL/UGB and body shape along their way.