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A good look at the production line.


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Working at MBCI between 95 and 2k, I did time on different production lines and special hand made custom pieces.

if you've seen meta roofing and trim to include gutters and downspouts that channel water downward from the roof, you might have seen my handywork.


This is the deal;

If you spend most of the day producing similar production profiles, you get to crank out massive amounts of products to be shipped out the door.

But once you change things, it gets painfully slow because you have to program beyond the normal tweaking to make it happen.

Your progress slows down because you spend a lot of time programming and changing your schedule, especially when it comes to meeting orders that pop out of nowhere.


The two most important things to look at when it comes to cranking out wooden products;

1. The spiraling cost of hardwoods.

2. Paying for expensive labor in time-consuming special tasking and customized details.


The late 70's saw the depletion of local woodstocks.

You then saw the cost rise because of regional and hemispheric transport of first neighboring stocks, and eventually everything in North and South America.

Mahogany only grows in the tropics, which complicates things.

Where you first saw whole-piece bodies, you began to see bodies made out of several pieces which was less costly.

This is where you also began to see former mainstream material turn into custom production and pricing.


Look at it from this perspective, one whole piece of 15x18x2 would be priced based on how much in the way of laminates and smaller whole pieces could be milled out of the same piece.

Thats a whole lot of 1mm thick cubic laminate coverage.


This is where I bought a 6ft long chunk of phillipine mahogany in korea(1990), that cost me less than $15.

I got two guitars and one bass blank out of that monstrous piece of wood.


That same chunk of wood would easily cost more than $300 once it reached an American guitar factory at the time.


Now, we get woodstocks from all sorts of places in tropical southeastern asia.


Now you know why the imports are so cheap.

Regional imports are cheaper to send compared to intercontinental imports.

The wages in the third world are pretty low compared to what we see here.


When I was stationed in Korea from 1989 to 1991, I never spent more than $134 on any guitar and case.

1. The first one was a neck-through-body Strat.

2. The second and third were mahogany laminated strats, not bad considering that maple grows mostly in North America.

3. The fourth was a cardboard strat that only cost me $80.

4. The fifth was a thin tele that I only wanted so that I could gut the hardware. Cheap.

5. I also got a 50w amp for $169.

My two Katusa's took me downtown into Seoul to the one shopping district where guitars were made.

It was one tall building, and I paid 1,000W, about $7 for a humbucker.

- I ended giving away a lot of equipment, pedals, and guitars.



You have a certain globality to the mix when you consider that the resources were in part from America in the form of neck blanks sent to Southeast Asia.

Our employees here were paid.

Our companies made a profit before even seeing the finished product.

It gets sent over there and each neck, body and hardware gets converted into a product that is bought everywhere.

No matter what part of the process you see, everyone wins.

The products are made to our specifications.


A good percentage is then sent to the greatest domestic market known to mankind, these 300-odd million Americans whose prosperity is due in part to some 75% coming from the sale of domestic goods, both common and specialized.


Its hard to criticize a global market that has been in place since at least 10,000 years, and is still producing in such a way to benefit everyone involved.

To criticize a system that we designed goes beyond willful ignorance, it makes fools of us all.

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I can say that I fashioned a hybrid Paulish-Strat body out of the first piece, slapped a strat neck on it, hot-wired a pickup to it, plugged it in, and the sound was better than its original body.

The second I tried to fashion a tele-based body but ran out of time as the invasion of Kuwait had me in a hurry to get relocated at my base some distance away, leaving me an unused Bass Slab that I kept.

That last piece I brought home after becoming disabled, one of many to come.

After Hurrican Georges hit PR, one of the municipal bulldozers came in while my father-in-law was away.

When he finally came home he found out the bulldozer tore his old shop and dragged everything, including the bass slab, into the nearby draw.

So, I can say from experience that switching components will change your overall tone.

Having done it a few times, I can say that it will change, sometimes to your liking, sometimes not.

I do wish I had kept the first one though.

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