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A comment about Epiphone's commitment to quality What has changed in 20 years?

#1 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 07:16 PM

Reading the 1994 Epiphone catalog, I see in the "forward" that Mr. Rosenberg spoke of Epiphone musical instrument's that "stand for quality and value". That was almost 20 years ago. He also writes of "dedicated crafts people at our USA facilities in Bozeman, Montana and Nashville, Tennesee". Are these "facilities" still open? Are Epiphone guitars produced at Bozeman and Nashville any longer ? I see threads here about former USA produced Epiphone guitars (like the recent "Riviera" thread) and wonder why (even with Epiphone's global factory network) more Epiphones are not made in the USA. I have read that Epiphone is committed to Japanese style quality control methods such as Kaizan, Continuous Improvement and "Total Quality". Is Epiphone continuing to use these "manufacturing sciences" to continuously improve their products ? I'd like to know more about how, in the last 20 years, Epiphone has added "value" to it's products. Can these methods be used in the USA to produce high quality, affordable, "Made in USA" Epiphone guitar models ? Comments Epiphone ?

#2 User is offline   milod 

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 08:24 PM

Jim R - Epi1 - also noted they'd upgraded the pots and switches in the electrics. My Dot picked up at the store as it came off the truck seems pretty nice.

m

#3 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 08:36 PM

View PostPete.R, on 20 February 2011 - 07:36 PM, said:

Some Epis are still US made....

The facilities in Nashville, Memphis and Bozeman are building Gibson guitars....

I think the Epi quality has rised up in the last years.......
look at the newer models, they are equipped with Gibson pickups and better electronics
so the value has rised, too.

The High Quality US made 'Epis' actually seems to be Gibsons... :o

The affordable ones are the faded.... #-o

Gibsons 50s Tribute LPs, 60s Tribute LPs and 60s Tribute SGs are way below 1000$ [cool]

So what is missing.... [confused]



I can dig it, a nice tribute Gibson for 8-900 bucks, still love my Epi's though

#4 User is offline   bonzoboy 

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 09:38 PM

I have to say that I'm very impressed with the build quality of all 6 of my Epis and my John Lennon '65 Casino is the best made guitar of the 27 I own.A jamming buddy of mine bought a Gibson Les Paul Custom just over a year ago and has been plagued with problems with it since he bought especially with regard to tuning despite many trips back to the dealer while my Epi L.P. Trad. Pro has been absolutely flawless and a joy to play and cost $2,500 less than his.My daughter's boyfriend prefers my Epi G-400 Custom to his Gibson S.G. and says it's a superior guitar in every way especially in tone and playability.It seems that many people these days are leaning towards Epi rather than Gibson because you get better bang for the buck.
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#5 User is offline   denthevetteman78 

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 08:22 PM

Im very fussy with the finish quality and for my Epiphone LesPaul Standard Ebony,the finish is flawless. The only thing that went wrong was the pickups selector switch that died on me. Other than that there's nothing that could be better in a Gibson. I did swap my pickups for Gibson's one but the original's were just fine.
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#6 User is offline   BillyGibson 

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:49 AM

Equating today's quality with what was written about quality nearly 20 years ago is a tough comparison. There are
different standards and competitive environments today that weren't in the mix back then. For me, quality needs to be
measured by today's standards relative to todays market pressures, competitive environement and available technology.

I've come to rely less and less on marketing brochures and descriptions of products to help me in deciding what quality
is; because most of the time they are vague or inaccurate. And then I'm left to interpret it as to what I think they must mean.

We all demand the highest quality for the cheapest price. Quality and value are in the eye of the beholder.
We can all: see, hear, and feel for ourselves the quality and can decide for ourselves if it meets our standards. We expect
certain quality and certain price points.

Having said this, the committment to quality coming from their China facility is as good as it's been since moving production over
there. I recently had the opportunity to compare my '09 Std. Casino to an '89 Korean Sheraton. I would put its build quality as
good or better than the Korean quality of 20 years ago. This tells me, they still produce quality instruments in today's environment,
and still keep the prices in line.

#7 User is offline   bloozeguy 

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 09:31 AM

View PostBillyGibson, on 23 February 2011 - 06:49 AM, said:

Equating today's quality with what was written about quality nearly 20 years ago is a tough comparison. There are
different standards and competitive environments today that weren't in the mix back then. For me, quality needs to be
measured by today's standards relative to todays market pressures, competitive environement and available technology.

I've come to rely less and less on marketing brochures and descriptions of products to help me in deciding what quality
is; because most of the time they are vague or inaccurate. And then I'm left to interpret it as to what I think they must mean.

We all demand the highest quality for the cheapest price. Quality and value are in the eye of the beholder.
We can all: see, hear, and feel for ourselves the quality and can decide for ourselves if it meets our standards. We expect
certain quality and certain price points.

Having said this, the committment to quality coming from their China facility is as good as it's been since moving production over
there. I recently had the opportunity to compare my '09 Std. Casino to an '89 Korean Sheraton. I would put its build quality as
good or better than the Korean quality of 20 years ago. This tells me, they still produce quality instruments in today's environment,
and still keep the prices in line.
You specify the Chinese-made guitars. Can the same be said for the Indonesian-made models? Anyone?

#8 User is offline   BillyGibson 

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:17 AM

View Postbloozeguy, on 24 February 2011 - 09:31 AM, said:

You specify the Chinese-made guitars. Can the same be said for the Indonesian-made models? Anyone?


I couldn't think of the city where they're made over in China. It's the Qingdao facility. From the
time I started buying Epi's four years ago, I can see the improvement the folks in this plant have made.

My only Indonesian experience is with my EJ200. It's impeccable. And now I've learned, it's also a solid
top. It's a 2010 and I verified by looking at the sound hole under the fretboard where the wood is a bit
bare. However, I bought it 10 months before they got around to updating the description, so I thought it
was "select" laminated spruce. I would have been ticked if it were ther other way around.

Thoughts enter my mind randomly, so now I'm thinking about other aspect in Crust's title - "Innovation".
It seems Epi's niche is making Gibson reproductions. They've been doing this since the 50's when Gibson
bought the company for $20,000. And they were made side by side up in Kalamazoo. They were made so well
the only way to tell them apart was the headstock. Epi continues to follow that tradition, except they are
made on the other side of the planet. So, not much has changed there. Why should it? We all like affordable
"classics". But we're still discriminating enough to recognize quality or not when we get a chance to hold one.
Then we can decide it if it's worth parting with our money to buy it.

#9 User is offline   disaster 

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 05:01 PM

I bought a new epi SG last year. The quality of the SG is very good. I have the Custom Shop/Limited Edition version made in China. I'm told the CS/LE only means it has a different color than the standard SG. I'm not so sure. I bought a Prophecy SG GX on-line that had noticably lower quality. Finish problems on both the paint and the hardware. The bridge & stop tail were completely mis-installed. I was quite disappointed with it and returned it. The CS/LE is MUCH better. It plays the same, sounds the same, costs much less, & looks better (I think). I also tried the Les Paul Standard, Plus Top, Plus Top (something or other), and the Ultra & Ultra IIs. I found the quality on all of them lacking, mostly finish problems.

In the end I think the Epi products suffer from being "budget" priced guitars. I recommend very choosey when shopping for one.

If you REALLY want a quality "budget" priced guitar check out the PRS SE models. I'm completely impressed with them. PRS didn't offer an SG knock off but if they did I'd probably have bought one. I plan on picking up an SE Single Cut or Tremonti as soon as the budget allows. They are VERY impressive guitars at any price.

Good Luck.

#10 User is offline   sexygibson 

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 07:02 AM

This thread could open up a huge can of worms but I'll add my 2 cents. First, theres no way Epi could produce an " affordable " U.S.A. made guitar. Sure, they could do something along the lines of the Gibbt Faded models but that exactly why its not gonna happen. Epi is Gibsons budget, overseas built line and thats what it will remain. Now that being said, I do think Epi offers some nice alternatives to the cheaper Gibby line. I personally would rather have a high end Epi such as a Tribute or Anniversary model as opposed to the Gibby Faded line. I think you're getting alot more guitar for the money. I don't think you're getting a " real " Gibby until you get into the Studio line imho.
On another note, the Epi Elitist line was a nice a guitar as you can find. Why Gibson EVER discontinued them I will never understand.

#11 User is offline   jonnyg 

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 09:10 AM

View Postbloozeguy, on 24 February 2011 - 09:31 AM, said:

You specify the Chinese-made guitars. Can the same be said for the Indonesian-made models? Anyone?

I can't speak for all the Indonesian made guitars but the Wilshire I bought a good while back is very good. A few very minor adjustments were needed to get it right for me but it was very playable out of the box. I recently bought a Mexican Fender Strat at almost twice the price of the Wilshire and, although it is nicely put together, it needed (and I mean NEEDED) a pro setup before it came up to the playability of the Wilshire.

#12 User is offline   sexygibson 

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 10:35 AM

View PostPete.R, on 05 March 2011 - 07:11 AM, said:

Aren't the Tribute 60s and 50s affordable....?
If Gibson can do it, Epi should be able too.

But I agree to prefer the High End Epis to Low End Gibbos, too.


Yes, the Tribute line is affordable but I don't care for the P-90s in those models. I have considered getting one of the SGs and butchering it by routing it out and installing humbuckers but I just don't see the cost sense in it.

#13 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 10:46 AM

OK, I understand that Epiphone has invested in their "overseas" manufacturing plants. I wonder what type of manufacturing and quality control measures are in place there so that "continuous improvement" and "value" is built into every Epiphone guitar. "Lean Manufacturing" and procurement methods, shipping, labeling, customer complaints, rework, scrap, material review for improved methods, on time delivery, what has Epiphone done to improve these, and reduce cost to the consumer ?

#14 User is offline   milod 

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 11:10 AM

Personally I think the Dot may be one of the best bargains in guitardom.

I've played other Epis recently and my observation is that they've been exceptional for the money - and that's not just the high end models, either.

The problem I see is where one's perspective might be. I'm considering guitars over almost a 50-year time period and there have been some ups and downs for every company, it seems to me. So...

I've never played a PRS. I don't particularly care for "board" guitars with the exception of my own early mid-70s Guild S100c that seems to be an exceptional instrument of SG style. But back then when I bought (sold and swapped) guitars generally as though they were jellybeans, I couldn't find a Gibson dealer with anything I was interested in. Nowadays, I can't afford that price range. The Epis I have meet my needs and checkbook almost perfectly, so...

m

#15 User is offline   mud guy 

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 02:50 PM

View Postjonnyg, on 05 March 2011 - 09:10 AM, said:

I can't speak for all the Indonesian made guitars but the Wilshire I bought a good while back is very good. A few very minor adjustments were needed to get it right for me but it was very playable out of the box. I recently bought a Mexican Fender Strat at almost twice the price of the Wilshire and, although it is nicely put together, it needed (and I mean NEEDED) a pro setup before it came up to the playability of the Wilshire.

My friend had the same experience with his mexi tele.
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#16 User is offline   Bender 4 Life 

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 10:06 PM

I bought one of the early Chinese '56 Gold Tops, and it was such a disaster when it arrived that I secretly decided I was done with NEW Epis.
Then I got a call that the G400 SG LPC3 i'd been wanting had come in, but, it was Chinese.....I had 2 to choose from in a "visible guitar gallery" and one of them looked REALLY nice.....
I took a chance and pulled the trigger......
I must say that the quality increase between the GT and LPC3 has skyrocketed !! The guitar that arrived last Thursday is absolutely flawless, and a total JOY to play/feel & hear.......it's on par with my new Gibby SG Std.

I'm definitely no longer "gunshy" about Chinese Epis.
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#17 User is offline   Red 333 

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 01:26 PM

Anything mass produced using both a lot of hand labor and natural materials is going to be hit or miss, especially when its manufactured to be sold inexpensively. Those who have gotten poorly made guitars from Epiphone's Chinese factories and those that got great guitars are both right. Both exist, though I think the good far, far out weighs the bad. If I bought sight unseen from an online retailer, and got one of the poor examples, I wouldn't hesitate to have the company swap it for another, because chances are you'd get a better one (though it's possible the retailer got a whole bad batch).

On average, though, Epiphone's are very well made (and seem to be getting even better), and a very good value. Some are truly excellent.

Red 333

#18 User is offline   crust 

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 01:52 PM

One comment I have about USA made Epiphone guitars. I see the USA made Wilshire is available (in 2 colors). They do look like extremely nice electric guitars. At $2499.00 I don't think I'll be getting one too soon. Maybe if it had a trem-tone whammy bar like the new import ones for $449.00. I'd like to see one for about $1000.00, USA made. It is good to know that USA made Epiphone guitars are available(if not out of my price range). Is Epiphone making any other guitars, besides the Wilshire, in the USA ?

#19 User is offline   tartanbeastie 

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 10:28 AM

The best epiphone i ever owned or played was the Del Rey, despite what some folk believe this was not a les paul double cut. Everything about it oozed class and quality. I was a fool for trading it.
Regarding comments suggesting cheaper gibsons are inferior and not real gibsons, I have a Gibson SG Faded special and that was bought not on price but because i prefer the stripped down basic look of it and also it has the sound and tone I want. I didnt want an SG with all the bling.
I understand Gibsons reason for using epi to produce the lower priced instruments but i also find it insulting to epiphone who are more than capable of producing fantastic guitars. I would still love to see epiphone and gibson ranges seperate and different. Effectively stopping epi from being gibson clones.
"Still in this catch 22.. what am I supposed to do..?"

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#20 User is offline   Supersonic 

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 03:27 AM

I've been lucky I guess because I have had no major problems with my Epi's. Just one thing though (and I know it's a minor detail): do something about the "e" on the pick guard on the semi-hollow bodies!! I mean come on, a sticker? Really??
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Les Paul Standard
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Early 1970's 6830 acoustic

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Ovation Celebrity Acoustic/Electric
Madiera A-2 Acoustic
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A-Style Mandolin
Various pedals, devices, and other sonic implements of destruction

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