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I think it really comes down to if you like it or not. I have the same bass you have and with in days of getting it I sold my '99 Korean T-Bird, because the SB blew it away. It's one of the few basses I've bought that played great right off the shelf.

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The build and overall quality of our instruments from the Epiphone factories is the same; regardless in which factory the instrument has been built.


Adjective: Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.




The reason that people are hung up on Chinese quality is because there were many QC issues for the first few years, as there were when Epiphone moved to Japan and Korea as well. Also, because of the internet and the "age of information", these complaints are much more visible and accessible to everyone.


The build and overall quality of the T-Bird being the same from factory to factory may be true, but is not necessarily true for all Epiphones. Although no major specifications have been changed, Epiphone seems to be moving away from their laminated bodies to solid wood, as well as they have upgraded the electronics (most notably the active electronics/preamps) in many models with or around the time of the move to China. So far these are good changes.


With the early QC issues, rampant counterfeiting and a general disdain for China, it may be some time before people accept these guitars and realize that the build quality is starting to surpass that of the Korean guitars. Also keep in mind that as parts and materials become more expensive, suppliers and manufacturers will often sacrifice the quality of materials to keep prices affordable. This doesnt mean that Epiphone is intentionally buying subpar parts for their guitars, but does imply that the manufacturers of those parts may be cutting costs in that manner. I see this on a yearly basis in my own line of work.


Fret wire is a good example of these cost-cutting measures. Epiphone will claim that they use the same fretwire that they always have...and this may be true. But I can tell you from personal experience that the fretwire on the early Korean guitars is superior to that of the later Korean guitars. But the general build quality of the later Korean guitars surpasses that of the early builds as one would expect, due to experience and just gaining momentum in a new facility.


Of course, "Mr. Customer Service Rep" isnt allowed to tell you any of this, so I'm not really sure why he chimed in in the first place. Because, you know, all Epiphones are built equal and there has never been a fluctuation in quality from factory to factory. Ever.


My suggestion to you is to go over that bass inside and out...especially if its an early chinese model. And even if it is, it may be perfect. Sometimes bad batches of parts go out on a guitar and sometimes they let the new guy do the soldering. Its not a perfect system and every guitar demands a thorough inspection by the end-user regardless of where it was manufactured.


Anyway, in short, there was a time when the Koreans were better than the early Chinese models. Those days are pretty much gone. A lot of people say that the Chinese guitars are now better.

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I cannot speak to Chinese made Epiphones, but I have a Chinese made Ibanez, and it is every bit as good quality as the other guitars I own. There are differences, of course, but as far as quality of assembly, finish consistency and quality, and precision of the parts, it's as good as any. You can argue with the electronic components, but if you don't like 'em, you can change 'em. If the neck doesn't fit right or if there's a big flaw in the finish, you can't change those kinds of things. I doubt you will find those problems in current Chinese made instruments.


What is happening is what has happened to US, Japanese, and now Korean makers. They got really good, then got undercut by another country with cheaper labor and marginally acceptable quality. The Chinese are finding themselves undercut by sweat shops in other Asian countries and by factories further inland in China. So, we are about to see the same cycle all over again. Twenty years from now, we are all going to be searching for those legendary guitars built in the golden era of luthiers in southeast China. For now, people think they are not as good as Korean or Japanese guitars, just as Japanese guitars were thought of as second rate in the 1970s. It is just an endless cycle. I suppose the same will happen with Mexican made Fender guitars as well. I have one of those, too, and it is just as high a quality as any other for my purposes. Oddly enough, the instrument I have the most issues with is a Korean made Epi, but it was well used when I got it, so who knows how many gallons of beer were poured on it by the previous owner. It had a whole lot of beer spatter crust to get off of it when I got it, so this is not a reflection of Epiphone's build quality.


The moral of the story is check out the guitar you want, never mind where it was made. If you like it and the price fits, it is perfectly fine.

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wow, lots of info for newbie like me here =).. thanx very much guys. So far, my "chinese" thunderbird has been superb. Both reply by RTH and Gaolee really open my eyes about this issue. hope to learn more from u guys

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