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Who makes Epiphone guitars ? the people and places, far away

#1 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 09:31 PM

I see my Epiphone guitars have been made in Korea, China and Indonesia. I often wondered to myself "who made this guitar" ? That "someone" is a person who obviously cares a great deal that their work was top notch. I wonder if Epiphone would ever "profile" their employees ? I think it would be interesting to know a little about the persons that make the guitars we all love (and hate), their luthier skills, if they own and play a guitar or 2 they or their friends might have built (can a person making an Epiphone guitar in China afford said Epiphone if they were inclined to obtain a guitar ) ? Just thinking out loud. How about the inspectors and USA set up persons. I wonder how many Epiphones, as recieved from the overseas factories, can't actually be "set up" properly. I wonder what happens to those guitars (if any), and if so, how does the USA set up and inspection person "get back" to the manufacturer, that there was an problem or anomaly . I do love my Epiphones, keep it up inspector #7. [thumbup]

#2 User is offline   'Scales 

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 09:52 PM

not sure about China or Indo, but I'm fairly sure the Korean dude's name is Kim.

#3 User is offline   bigneil 

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 02:19 AM

I wonder if the workers are paid a fair wage? and what sort of a profit Gibson make on every sale of an epiphone guitar?
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#4 User is offline   bigneil 

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 02:27 AM

Here is a great article.
My link
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#5 User is offline   jonnyg 

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 04:16 AM

View Postcrust, on 13 October 2013 - 09:31 PM, said:

Just thinking out loud. How about the inspectors and USA set up persons. I wonder how many Epiphones, as recieved from the overseas factories, can't actually be "set up" properly.

Actually, set-up is the bane of my life, not just Epiphones but the majority of guitars I try. Recently I was looking for a LP type guitar. I had the choice of an Epi or a brand called Vintage (in the UK). Both had plusses or minuses but there was not a huge deal of difference between them regarding general construction, cosmetics or sound. The biggest factor was that they both REALLY NEEDED a decent set up and that represents an extra cost (to me) of about £50.00. I don't buy enough guitars to warrant buying set-up tools at the price they sell for in the UK, neither do I really have the time to learn how to do it. I went with the Vintage because it was £100.00 cheaper. Had the Epi been better set-up I would have gone with that despite the higher price. It can be done though, because the Indonesian made Epi Wilshire I bought was almost perfectly set-up.
I've seen the same poor set-ups on lower end MIM Fender's, Squiers, PRS SE models and even the mighty Gibson.

Apologies for this being a little off topic.

#6 User is offline   Versatile 

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 05:05 AM

Rightly or wrongly, my perception of current Epiphones...

A great name with 100yrs+ history

Drawing on decades of 'parallel' development and manufacture in the US alongside Gibson

Separated at some point for economic reasons to offer affordable instruments to those unable to afford US made items

Large batch production...economies of scale...lower wage workforce...

Often 'same shape' as an equivalent Gibson at a fraction of the sale price... [thumbup]

IMO less individual attention given to each instrument(of necessity due to high volume production)

In general well satisfied customers

Analagous with the 'other big brand' Fender with it's alternative factory locations...

Yes it would be good to 'personalise' the manufacturing process by featuring individual workers...

The world moves on apace...we are more used to global sourcing of components in electronics etc etc...

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#7 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 09:23 AM

View Postbigneil, on 14 October 2013 - 02:27 AM, said:

Here is a great article.
My link



yes it is [thumbup]

#8 User is offline   Lord Summerisle 

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 09:37 AM

View Postcrust, on 13 October 2013 - 09:31 PM, said:

I see my Epiphone guitars have been made in Korea, China and Indonesia. I often wondered to myself "who made this guitar" ?


I'm willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of any Epiphone guitar is made by one "person" - Mr. C.N.C. Machine.

Not that that's a bad thing - I'd imagine that it's pretty much the norm for most guitars outside of high-end Fender and Gibson Custom Shop offerings, and guitars made by artisan luthiers, etc.

#9 User is offline   Lord Summerisle 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 09:21 AM

View PostMidtowner, on 15 October 2013 - 05:50 AM, said:

from the post above.....


Sounds like blurb.

If Epiphone can turn out a mostly handmade guitar, in this case a Casino, which retails for only $599 and yet still allows sufficient profit margins for the manufacturer and its dealers...then people really are overpaying massively for instruments with more prestigious brand names.

I wonder what the profit margins are on a Casino compared to, say, a G-400 or a Les Paul? Interesting that for the "handcrafted instrument" blurb he focused on the hollow-body design - which seems fair enough. But for solid bodies...? I simply can't believe that a G-400 is "mostly made by hand". Perhaps the clue is in the statement about re-issues.

I was very wrong about one thing, though.

View PostLord Summerisle, on 14 October 2013 - 09:37 AM, said:

I'd imagine that [CNC machine manufacturing] is pretty much the norm for most guitars outside of high-end Fender...Custom Shop offerings


It turns out that Fender Custom Shop bodies are, indeed, fashioned on a CNC machine. We know this because the company that made the machine references its Fender contract in its own promotional materials:

http://www.haas.co.u...er-guitars.html

Fender has been quite upfront about the use of CNC machines since the late 1990s. Lots of discourse on forums amongst Fender adherents about distinguishing CNC machine marks on American Fenders from CNC machine marks on Mexican Fenders etc, etc (people actually worry about this stuff)? http://www.strat-tal...-cnc-holes.html Still, the Epiphone guy whose interview you posted talks about "high end CNCs," too.

I'm not really criticizing the Epiphone statements - at the end of the day they exist primarily for marketing purposes rather than informational ones. It's nice to see that there is still the notion of craftsmanship in the creation of these products. However, the statements are a little ambiguous and not really that specific...and I simply can't believe that the average Epiphone new from Qingdao is a mostly handmade guitar in the most literal sense of that term. There simply couldn't be any profit in the business if that were the case.

#10 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 09:46 AM

Thank you for posting the interviews here [thumbup] , good reading, great guitars

#11 User is offline   bobf_Barbera 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 10:12 AM

A point of interest for me while reading the articles is that there are no photos of people making/assembling guitars. The few photos there are, are of individuals holding parts up in front of stacks of stock or some such.

Where are the wide angle photos of the factory floor?

What are they HIDING? What don't they want us to see?
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#12 User is offline   Versatile 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 10:23 AM

The Casino is an interesting case in point(almost an anagram :blink:)

Possibly Epi's most desirable and profitable guitar...with big mojo and history...

Drawing on the US made ES330...retailing in the UK for around £1600 or so

The Casino can be had for £400 to say £800 depending on 'historic' spec and factory location...

Compared to Epi 335 Dots 'dirt cheap' and very popular for £300 or less...

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#13 User is offline   bobf_Barbera 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:18 AM

View PostMidtowner, on 15 October 2013 - 10:47 AM, said:

The links above shows pics of 'working employees' in both of their chinese factories
It's japanese or chinese - though the pics are 'international' [lol]

http://www.ikebe-gak...r/EQ.html#stock

Second ^^ factory, opened around 2008/9, called Epiphone QingDao (EQ)

http://www.ikebe-gak...ry-tour/GQ.html

First ^^ factory, opened in 2002/3, called Gibson QingDao (GQ)


Those can't be the real pics. No chained employees ...
DISCLAIMER: If the post this is under appears to be my opinion or advice, ignore the post. My opinions aren't any better than anyone else's opinions and I'm not qualified to give advice. In fact, if I posted an opinion or offered advice it is likely because of boredom or temporary insanity. Occasionally I will post something that appears to be an opinion or advice, but in reality it is a thinly veiled quip or bit of sarcasm. There are times that demons, gremlins or even darker creatures use my ID and password to post here. I'm not sure how they get my password as I change it frequently. Thankfully this only happens rarely.

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#14 User is offline   RTH 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:19 AM

I never get tired of looking at those pics. And it looks to me that the process, other than shaping the guitar & neck, is all done by hand. Pretty cool. I have a nice big sanding divet on one of the horns of my Ltd Ed. '61 SG Special. Its not really noticable except in the right light, but it is surely proof of work done by hand and I like that. I suppose I could complain that the work isnt "hand crafted" enough on one hand, and on the other complain that there are too many inconsistencies. My only real complaint is the uneven fret leveling we have been seeing alot of from Epiphone Qingdao. But I'm sure they'll get better over time.
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#15 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:54 AM

Personally, I think it is very cool that Epiphone has a factory dedicated to making only Epiphone guitars. I do like them all, all the models that are exclusively Epiphone's own as well as Gibson "copies". I'd also like to see some brand new models, something radical (but not as radical as a "map" or "airstream" guitar) [biggrin] . Where are some new designs ? How about a nice "thinline" classical or a semihollow, something like a Telecaster with an F hole, or something along the lines of a BC Rich...well not exactly, but where are the new features (not robot tuners) and 21st century designs, 7 and 8 strings ? I'd like a triple neck LP, 12, 6 and mandolin, made of "semi" solid wood (one "F" hole at each body)with proper switching options for drone and sympathetic tones. And, a custom crocodile hide case to put it in. Now, that would be cool. Do you think the Epiphone "Custom Shop" could live up to it's name's reputation and make something like that ?[thumbup] How about a double or triple neck lap/pedal steel guitar, that could also be a "custom shop" instrument...why not [smile] [mellow] [thumbup] [confused] ?

#16 User is offline   RTH 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 12:15 PM

View Postcrust, on 15 October 2013 - 11:54 AM, said:

Personally, I think it is very cool that Epiphone has a factory dedicated to making only Epiphone guitars. I do like them all, all the models that are exclusively Epiphone's own as well as Gibson "copies". I'd also like to see some brand new models, something radical (but not as radical as a "map" or "airstream" guitar) [biggrin] . Where are some new designs ? How about a nice "thinline" classical or a semihollow, something like a Telecaster with an F hole, or something along the lines of a BC Rich...well not exactly, but where are the new features (not robot tuners) and 21st century designs, 7 and 8 strings ? I'd like a triple neck LP, 12, 6 and mandolin, made of "semi" solid wood (one "F" hole at each body)with proper switching options for drone and sympathetic tones. And, a custom crocodile hide case to put it in. Now, that would be cool. [thumbup]


They already did a BC Rich - Rich Bi#ch design back in the early 1980's. It was wildly unpopular and I would love to list it in the wiki if only I could figure out what the actual name of it was. :-k
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#17 User is offline   rct 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 12:40 PM

View PostRTH, on 15 October 2013 - 12:15 PM, said:

They already did a BC Rich - Rich Bi#ch design back in the early 1980's. It was wildly unpopular and I would love to list it in the wiki if only I could figure out what the actual name of it was. :-k


We had one in our shop, it was metallic red. This would have been in the 1982ish time, somewhere around there. I don't remember what it was called, and I don't remember seeing any more after that one. They did not make many of them, BCRich themselves started making Rico guitars, entry level low priced versions of their expensive Yankee guitars. The Ricos we got sold well. I should have bought one. The BC is for Bernie Rico.

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#18 User is offline   rct 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 12:51 PM

View Postrct, on 15 October 2013 - 12:40 PM, said:

We had one in our shop, it was metallic red. This would have been in the 1982ish time, somewhere around there. I don't remember what it was called, and I don't remember seeing any more after that one. They did not make many of them, BCRich themselves started making Rico guitars, entry level low priced versions of their expensive Yankee guitars. The Ricos we got sold well. I should have bought one. The BC is for Bernie Rico.

rct


I just wanted to point out that it was a long time ago. I may have seen that Epiphone after 1985 or so, but I don't really remember. The Ricos, for sure, very early 80's. The Epi, now that I think about it, I could misremember, I could not. Not sure.

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#19 User is offline   RTH 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 01:09 PM

View Postrct, on 15 October 2013 - 12:51 PM, said:

I just wanted to point out that it was a long time ago. I may have seen that Epiphone after 1985 or so, but I don't really remember. The Ricos, for sure, very early 80's. The Epi, now that I think about it, I could misremember, I could not. Not sure.

rct


I've seen pics of them in black too. I'm guessing that the year they were made was probably 1983, the same year they made the 1140 Flying V. One of these days I'll figure out what they were called.
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#20 User is offline   rct 

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 01:23 PM

View PostRTH, on 15 October 2013 - 01:09 PM, said:

I've seen pics of them in black too. I'm guessing that the year they were made was probably 1983, the same year they made the 1140 Flying V. One of these days I'll figure out what they were called.


Well, Bernie is long gone, no? Prolly nobody left at Epiphone from back then either, so call it whatever you want!

rct

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