Gibson Guitar Board: Made in Korea Epi's vs. Made in China Epi's - Gibson Guitar Board

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Made in Korea Epi's vs. Made in China Epi's

#1 User is offline   Supersonic 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 06:46 PM

Okay, I've asked about this a few times in other threads and I haven't gotten any response besides "they made 'em better". Why do people think that the MIK models are so much better? I find this debate (if you can call it that) very odd, so enlighten me.
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P93 Riviera
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#2 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 07:32 PM

I think, for the most part, this is just myth. This is common among guitar gearheads.

I think it might have been true when the stores had a particular korean stock, and the quality of the new stock from china AT THE TIME was less, but that does not take into account that the quality for BOTH the korean and chinese have had flutuations.

In addition to that, there have been certain slight spec changes that may have been liked or disliked, such as the bridge or the headstock shape. Gearheads almost always seem to think the ones we can't get are better than the ones readily available. More often then not, it creates a word of mouth that is more based on NOT having it to try out than actually comparing.

There are differences and there have been differences, but to be able to formulate an ACCURATE opinion on which is better and which is not requires more than korean or chinese made.

#3 User is offline   RTH 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 07:35 PM

Because the first few years of the Chinese guitars were very sketchy, and the Korean guitars were better at that point. It seems that the Chinese guitars have caught up in quality for the most part. The Korean Epiphones had their share of quality issues in the beginning as well, and I think people forget that.
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#4 User is offline   RTH 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 07:37 PM

stein [thumbup]
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#5 User is offline   steve_d 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 07:42 PM

I'll admit, I was one of "those gearheads" that thought the Korean made Epi's were much better. When I recently walked into Sam Ash and picked up my DR-500M, all that went away. I was amazed at the quality of the guitar. It now has a home [thumbup] . Guitars do flucuate in quality, even amongst the high dollar ones. I saw a Gibson jumbo siitng on a wall with the bridge separating from the body. Couldn't believe that guitar was on display. I've even started looking at other lesser known name guitars. Bottom line, it's all in the sound. If you like the way it looks, check out how it sounds. If it passes the sound test, you have a winner.

#6 User is offline   brad1 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 07:43 PM

View PostSupersonic101, on 17 March 2011 - 06:46 PM, said:

Okay, I've asked about this a few times in other threads and I haven't gotten any response besides "they made 'em better". Why do people think that the MIK models are so much better? I find this debate (if you can call it that) very odd, so enlighten me.

Well, that response you say you get back should tell you everything. Just because some people say "they made 'em better" means nothing.

I agree with stein. It's a myth. It is not true. You can not go by country alone. There are way too many factors involved: factory, model, year, etc.

I own both. And personally, I think my 2006 MIC G400 is made as good or better than my 1997 MIK Limited Editon Plus Top Les Paul.
My 2007 Dot is also MIC and is a great guitar. For that matter my 1997 Indonesian made SG Jr. is made very well also.
Life's Distractions/Pleasures:
2006 Epiphone Ebony G400, 1997 Epiphone Cherry SG Junior, 2007 Epiphone Cherry Dot, 1996 Fender Black MIM Traditional Stratocaster, 2008 VM Squier Olympic White SSH Telecaster,
2011 Jackson Gun Metal Gray JS32R Dinky (FR), 2014 Gibson Fireburst Satin SGJ14, 1985 George Washburn Dreadnought, 2005 Ibanez Trans-Blue Burst GSR200 FM Bass,
VOX AD30VT, Fender Super Champ XD, Orange Micro Terror, Acoustic B100 Bass Amp


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#7 User is offline   Supersonic 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 08:10 PM

Well thanks for the replies so far. I just didn't understand the whole deal about how the Korea ones were better. It seemed kinda silly. I can understand comparing USA made vs. overseas, but I never understood why some people think that their MIK Epi's are somehow superior. Good stuff though, at least I am finally getting opinions on this. [thumbup]
My Epiphone Guitars
Les Paul Standard
G400 Deluxe w/ Maestro Tremolo
P93 Riviera
Early 1970's 6830 acoustic

Other Stuff
Dean Playmate Acoustic/Electric Bass
Ovation Celebrity Acoustic/Electric
Madiera A-2 Acoustic
Trinity River squareneck Dobro
A-Style Mandolin
Various pedals, devices, and other sonic implements of destruction

Amps
Vintage 1974 Fender Deluxe Reverb "Silverface"
Vintage 1965 Silvertone 1482 15 watt combo
Roland Cube 30
Vox AC4-C1-BRG

#8 User is offline   budglo 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 08:27 PM

I had a MIK Dot about 10 yrs ago.Very unimpressed and the selector switch quit working shortly after.Didnt play the greatest even after a setup.Just bought a Dot Deluxe and it plays great and sounds awesome.I believe the electronics are much better too.

#9 User is offline   TehBeast 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 09:32 PM

I still think MIJ Epis are the best [biggrin]
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#10 User is offline   StewartB 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 10:13 PM

View PostSupersonic101, on 17 March 2011 - 08:10 PM, said:

Well thanks for the replies so far. I just didn't understand the whole deal about how the Korea ones were better. It seemed kinda silly. I can understand comparing USA made vs. overseas, but I never understood why some people think that their MIK Epi's are somehow superior. Good stuff though, at least I am finally getting opinions on this. [thumbup]


Stein has summed it up pretty well. My belief is that the supposed superiority of MIK is mostly "urban myth". By giving away my age, I can say that when I was a kid, the expression "Made in Japan" meant that whether it was a kid's toy, a radio, or a car, the item was poorly made and would break down and fail.

That was partly true because back then Japan had become industrialised after the war and it took them some time to get their production lines, supply chains, and people skills up to a level matching the US or Europe. Nowadays "Made in Japan" means top quality and most of us would walk barefoot over broken glass to get a "Made in Japan" Epi.

Times changed and Korea became the new Japan with the same early quality control problems, and now (since maybe 2001) China is becoming the new Japan. Just like Japan they have to get their production lines and skills up to standard.

To answer your question, I would say that a MIK Epi from perhaps 1990 to maybe 2001 was definitely a better guitar tham a MIC Epi from perhaps pre-2002. This has all changed because the Chinese factories are now up to speed and any problem you see in your new MIC Epi is likely to be caused by the EPI "bean counters" who decide how much can be paid for the tuners, pickups, and bridges. They set the price points.

I have a 2009 MIC Epi Dot. Sure enough, I upgraded the bridhe, nut and most other parts the "bean counters" gave me, but the guitar is well made, solid, plays well, and will outlast me.

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#11 User is offline   Supersonic 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 10:30 PM

I really appreciate all of the responses. So basically what I am getting from this is that people that say their Epi's that are MIK are better are just pretty much full of ...ya know. I just honestly didn't understand if there was some difference that I was missing out on with my Chinese Epi's. I kinda thought the whole MIK being better thing didn't make any sense to begin with, but I just wanted to get some opinions to see if I was missing out on something by having my MIC Epi's. Thanks to everyone that replied. [smile]
My Epiphone Guitars
Les Paul Standard
G400 Deluxe w/ Maestro Tremolo
P93 Riviera
Early 1970's 6830 acoustic

Other Stuff
Dean Playmate Acoustic/Electric Bass
Ovation Celebrity Acoustic/Electric
Madiera A-2 Acoustic
Trinity River squareneck Dobro
A-Style Mandolin
Various pedals, devices, and other sonic implements of destruction

Amps
Vintage 1974 Fender Deluxe Reverb "Silverface"
Vintage 1965 Silvertone 1482 15 watt combo
Roland Cube 30
Vox AC4-C1-BRG

#12 User is offline   eggs 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 10:49 PM

Just a thought...

Big Bros.Gibby gives (or at least used to give???) production quality awards to various plants... e.g Saein was awarded best quality in, I think, 1997 & 1998.

What's the current situation with those awards?
Stuart

1998 Epiphone (Unsung) Ripper Bass - 'Crazy Chester'
1999 Epiphone (Samick) 'fenderish' Nighthawk - 'The Vulture'
1999 Epiphone (Samick) Sheraton- 'Honey'
2000 Epiphone (Samick Indonesia) AJ-100- 'Big Red'
2000(?) Lobo Mini G- 'The Mystery Midget'
1998 Epiphone Electar Tube 30 Combo
1999 Epiphone Regent Bass 50 Combo
Vox AC4TV Head & V112TV Cabinet
Yamaha P70 Electric Piano
Tascam DP-03 Portastudio


Recently Separated:
1995 Epiphone (Samick) Non Reverse Thunderbird Bass - 'The Weirdbird'
1997 Epiphone (Samick) Les Paul Junior - 'Junior' - Signed by The Man Himself
2007 Epiphone (QingDao) G400 Flame Top-'QingDao Lass' - Too young, but oh so pretty!
1981 Ibanez AR100BS Artist- 'Baby'
1981 Ibanez Ragtime Special w/ Barcus Berry Underbridge PUP
1994 Fender (MIJ) Telecaster - 'The Black Sheep'
Marshall G80RCD 80 watt Combo - I just needed some valves!


Lust List:
A mid 1990s 'Blondie' Rivoli Bass with a Big Fat Mudbucker

#13 User is offline   charlie brown 

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:14 PM

IF my "Inspried by Texan" and P-93 Riviera LE are any indication,
China's production, is doing just fine! In fact, it seems to get
better, all the time. Those guitars (my only "Chinese" instruments,
to date) are outstanding. Especially, given the price point. Can they
be improved? Sure..ANY guitar can be improved, even Big Brother Gibby's!
Prior to Pleking," ALL my Epiphones had better fret work (out of the box)
than any of my Gibsons, old or new (Except, my Gibson "Lucille" and 1980
LP Custom...they were/are, wonderful!) But, with all Gibson's being "Plek'd"
that's doesn't seem to be a problem, anymore. Or, at least, much less of one.

CB

#14 User is offline   bobouz 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 01:10 AM

The only models I can speak to are the hollow & semi-hollow Epis from Korea & China. The Chinese made instruments I've observed have generally had an appearance of using downgraded wood (lately getting a little better). Tops & backs in particular haven't looked much like maple, with almost none of grain pattern one would expect to see. Most Korean made hollowbody Epis show beautiful wood grain. Also in the case of the Sheraton II, the neck specs were down graded (away from the five-piece neck). Yes it's true, the build quality of Korean instruments would vary from factory to factory, but the Peerless factory in particular was consistently top notch (and they're still at it: check out their website). Finally, a number of current higher line Epi hollowbody models are still being made in Korea, and the workmanship remains excellent. I personally just picked up a new Korean made Valensi Riviera. The top & back display a lot of birdseye, and it's workmanship is pretty darn close to my Elitist Casino. All of this is not to say that China can't build a great instrument, but at this point I still prefer what has and continues to come out of Korea.
Gibsons: '22 "A" Mandolin / '66 ES 125T / '90 Tennessean / '00 J-100 Xtra
'02 J-45 Rosewood / '02 SG Faded-moon / '06 ES 335 / '09 ES 339
'10 ES 330L / '11 ES 335-P90s / '12 LP Tribute / '12 ES 330 VOS
'12 LP Special / '12 J-185 / '13 LG2 American Eagle / '14 J-15
Epis: '66 FT45n Cortez / '00 AIUSA-JLH 1964 Sheraton / '04 Peerless Casino
'05 Paul McCartney 1964 Texan / '09 Elitist Casino / '10 Valensi Riviera
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#15 User is offline   bigneil 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 02:04 AM

My only experience of Korean Vs Chinese are my 94 g400 and my new 09 les paul. both are well built guitars with all the essential bits in all the right places, and i am proud to own both. However, the MIK g400 still has all its stock electronics and hardware (except for the pups) the bridge works properly, and helps give the guitar plenty of sustain and are still nice and shiny, the tuners do a good job of keeping the strings in tune. The MIC Les paul again the bridge works properly but the stop bar has lost its shiny lustre after only a few years, the stock electrics are ok but the pots do not have a smooth feel to them, The tuners do NOT keep the guitar in tune very well, and the frets are rough and scratchy.

I suspect there is little or no difference in the quality of the woods or the construction, but that the hardware is cheaper and nastier on the newer MIC guitars. I can not say whether the frets were rough and scratchy on the G400 when it was new.

But Basically, i have to change some of the components on the LP before it can be used as a reliable guitar...the G400 is a perfectly reliable guitar as stock.

This is only my experience of two different models of guitar, in order to obtain a real picture of guitar quality we need to compare thousands of instruments from all different years and see if a pattern starts to emerge.
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#16 User is offline   eggs 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 05:15 AM

View Postbigneil, on 18 March 2011 - 02:04 AM, said:

in order to obtain a real picture of guitar quality we need to compare thousands of instruments from all different years and see if a pattern starts to emerge.


OK... if you insist [flapper]
Stuart

1998 Epiphone (Unsung) Ripper Bass - 'Crazy Chester'
1999 Epiphone (Samick) 'fenderish' Nighthawk - 'The Vulture'
1999 Epiphone (Samick) Sheraton- 'Honey'
2000 Epiphone (Samick Indonesia) AJ-100- 'Big Red'
2000(?) Lobo Mini G- 'The Mystery Midget'
1998 Epiphone Electar Tube 30 Combo
1999 Epiphone Regent Bass 50 Combo
Vox AC4TV Head & V112TV Cabinet
Yamaha P70 Electric Piano
Tascam DP-03 Portastudio


Recently Separated:
1995 Epiphone (Samick) Non Reverse Thunderbird Bass - 'The Weirdbird'
1997 Epiphone (Samick) Les Paul Junior - 'Junior' - Signed by The Man Himself
2007 Epiphone (QingDao) G400 Flame Top-'QingDao Lass' - Too young, but oh so pretty!
1981 Ibanez AR100BS Artist- 'Baby'
1981 Ibanez Ragtime Special w/ Barcus Berry Underbridge PUP
1994 Fender (MIJ) Telecaster - 'The Black Sheep'
Marshall G80RCD 80 watt Combo - I just needed some valves!


Lust List:
A mid 1990s 'Blondie' Rivoli Bass with a Big Fat Mudbucker

#17 User is offline   BillyGibson 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 05:16 AM

I now chuckle at the comparison. I recently had the opportunity
to trade my '09 Casino for an '89 MIK Sheraton II. The person actually
wanted some additional cash on top of it. Needless to say, I passed.
Later on, he emailed me and said, he was willing to forget the cash.
I said, no again.

I've owned Epi's since '07 and all have been great instruments. The hardware
pots, construction have all been top notch. Maybe a little work here and there
on the nut and some usual adjustments that any new guitar needs.

The only Korean Epi I am on the hunt for is a Sheraton. And that's only because I
want a 5 piece neck vs. the current Chinese one that uses a scarf joint. But, that's
only a preference and not a comment about quality.

#18 User is offline   RTH 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 06:56 AM

I can honestly say that my preference for MIK Epiphones revolves mostly around models that are no longer in production.

I'm not entirely convinced about the electronics quality being better or worse either. The Korean models had their fair share of crappy electronics. Anyone familiar with the Vantage or Tech-II pickups will know what I mean. I also own two EBMs and an Expert-6 bass. The pots on evey one of them are scratchy and the pickups have no mids. I find this especially disappointing with the Expert-6, as it is one of, if not the most expensive bass ever made by Epiphone. Also, and again, on every single one of them, the screw holes for the battery covers are too close to the edge of the route and no longer hold the screws properly. But aside from that, the rest of the construction quality is excellent.

On the other hand, my Chinese PR4-E seems perfect in every way, especially for a $200 player pack...but I have nothing to really compare it to. I mean, tonaly it is crud because its a thin-bodied, mini-jumbo lam guitar. But I knew that when I bought it and I wasnt looking for tone. But the construction is great. The neck feels great, the frets are perfect, the electronics work like they are supposed to and it has really, really low action. And as a bonus, it has a bound fretboard. It is really a lot more than you would expect out of a player pack.
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#19 User is offline   karine_plays 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:18 AM

Where's Peter with his "beating a dead horse" gif? Oh well, I'll do it this time ...

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#20 User is offline   RTH 

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:21 AM

View Postkarine_plays, on 18 March 2011 - 07:18 AM, said:

Where's Peter with his "beating a dead horse" gif? Oh well, I'll do it this time ...



I thought that was just for the Gibson vs. Epiphone threads. [biggrin]
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