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Rant about an underdog guitar industry


ksdaddy

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Okay, the preamble to this rant is that I'm not trying to sell something here. It's just a rant brought on by the average guitar consumers perception of a product.

 

I've owned a handful of guitars made in India. India is obviously not known for their guitars. I don't know if they ever will be. The ones I've owned were enigmas to say the least. They have structural issues that just shouldn't BE in this day and age; they have problems that other companies faced and either skirted or fixed decades ago. It's like they are isolated to the point where they're learning the craft from scratch. Shifting headblocks in bolt-on neck situations like 60s Fender acoustics and early Japanese Epiphones, stuff like that. You'd think they'd know better.

 

Yeah, the names are goofy. Not sure what the Indian mindset is. Givson, Gibtone, Hobner, Yemaha.... really? But then I thought "Bollywood" and it all came together.

 

Having owned a couple Hobner archtops that were actually GOOD guitars, very light, resonant, superb fretwork, I know firsthand that they can make a good guitar. I almost think some tooling/molds (or whatever) was sent down there from Germany. At the same time, contradicting my positive findings, the details in finishing the guitars is horrible. You can see filler everywhere, rough spots in the finish touched up with brownish paint, sloppy heel shaping, etc. And that's not even addressing the hardware! I've had Russian guitars with better tuners. The hardware is cheesy beyond cheesy, to the point where I just leave them alone, they're SO cheesy I feel it a disservice to UNcheese them.

 

So we have here a country of over a billion people and yet you almost never see guitars from them. And when you do find one, you have the contradiction of a guitar that looks like it was made by nearsighted trainees with dull tools and the sun in their eyes but yet the guitars WORK and aren't bad at all!

 

Like I said, I've had maybe a half dozen Indian guitars and one I actually should have kept (we all sing that song sometimes).

 

So 6 months ago or so, a guy had a Givson solid body on ebay. He tried to sell it a couple times with no luck and I finally offered him $75 shipped, which he took. It needed a little work, nothing major. The switches are crappy and I should just go to Radio Shack and buy two new ones for $3 each. The neck, while butt ugly, plays wonderfully, at least as good as any Korean Fender I've owned, and superior to most Chinese Fenders. The body is a mystery wood but has a really nice finish on it. The pickups? Ehhh. Depends on how you judge them. Try comparing them to a Strat or LP and you will find a lot wrong with them. Think of it as an old Teisco or Norma and you'd be raving about it. The roller bridge isn't great, as the rollers aren't sized very well and there's not enough break angle behind them (en route to the tremolo) to give a very clear tone. If you hold down on the strings behind the rollers, it sounds 3x better.

 

So it's not a Strat. I know that. But I've been selling guitars on ebay since 1999 in all price ranges, conditions, states of disrepair and all levels of desirability. Once in a while I clean out unused stuff. I'm fickle and impulsive so I always have guitars that I bought on impulse and they go away on another impulse. It's just my way. So I put the Givson on ebay a couple months ago, opening bid of $110, buy it now for $140. No sale. Relisted it $80/$100, no sale. Relisted it $200 or b/o, no sale. Relisted it $100 or b/o, no sale. Relisted it with a $1.00 opening bid and a $100 reserve, it ended at $5.50. Relisted it with the same terms, it ended at $12.50.

 

$12.50? Really? Seriously?

 

I'm pissed to the point it's NOT for sale; I'll just stuff it in a corner somewhere and use it when I'm in the mood for a blue Indian surf guitar. I just cannot understand how people could repeatedly put such a low value on a guitar that has just as much merit as any $200 Chinese guitar. Sour grapes? No. I could burn that guitar in the parking lot and sprinkle the ashes on my Raisin Bran and never miss it. It's just the insult of the whole thing.

 

David Lindley and Ry Cooder would play this thing and make a joyous noise. I gave Dave a Goya solid body back in '84, maybe I'll hand this one to him too.

 

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Sorry bro. You bought a guitar that the other guy hadda hella time sellin and if you hadn't bought it it would still be not bought. So yer kinda the only guy that will buy that thing.

 

There is no money, none, in cheap guitars.* There is no satisfaction outside of owning it and the whole gee whiz look at this thing that someone else couldn't wait to get rid of! And that lasts what? Week or two? I'm surprised that people keep doing it, but there it is. I honestly, after trying a couple, might give you a hunnert bucks for every guitar in that country in a pile on fire.**

 

rct

 

* I own, record with, and love dearly a Squier Hello Kitty.

 

** Not hatin, just sayin.

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Yep, just rooting for the underdog as usual.

 

In 1986 I bought this for $50 with hardshell case. Everybody laughed at me. They don't laugh anymore.

 

hopf8.jpg

 

Cheap guitars are weird. What we think of as garbage sometimes becomes desirable. I had a '63 Danelectro in high school, thought it was a cheesy piece of crap. Price it now!

 

Traveling Wilburys guitars. Ugh.

 

Gretsch Americana. I could have bought the Alien cow abduction one from MF for $49. Try to buy one.

 

I buy many newer cheap guitars locally, off local facebook pages and word of mouth. Teenagers need something to smoke that weekend and I keep cash on me. I pick up Squiers and such on the cheap. I just do it for sport, much like you'd buy a scratch ticket. Typical scenario is the Samick Strat I bought for $25, cleaned the stickers off it and sold it on ebay for $40. Woo! Better put that down payment on that condo in Boca! Once in awhile I do great, like the Squier Showmaster I got for $20 and sold for $100. That doesn't happen often.

 

It's just fun. I have a good time. I would keep some cheapies kicking around but EVERY FRIGGIN ONE LOOKS LIKE A STRAT!!!!

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It sounds like you have a great hobby, and you have fun doing it.

 

I say buy all of the $25 guitars you can. At the worst you just break even, it makes you happy restoring and fixing them up. You never know, you might flip it to a kid/individual who thinks it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

 

I relate to what you're doing with the buying and selling in that I try to pick up something at least once a month. I mostly end up flipping it right away, but it's more about the experience and a potential profit. Even if it's only a couple of bucks. After you have poked around with that specific piece of gear you know why you either like or don't like it, and that's half the struggle.

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I hate to say it, but from the description of the guitar you give, it doesn't exactly sound like a 100 dollar guitar.

 

Can't win them all. And you have had, and DONE some winners lately. And it is OK to loose one here and there.

 

It's OK to accept if you bought a guitar for 75 bucks that's worth $12.50. Forgive yourself. You're still a good guy.

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025-3-1.jpg092-1-1.jpg

 

I may be the exception, but I have 2 guitars that were made in India, and I think they are very well built.

I have a 2008 VM Squier Olympic SSH Telecaster, and a 2011 Jackson JS32R Dinky (FR). Both were made in India, and both are made of Indian Red Cedar. I paid less for these than any of my other guitars. And yet they are two of my favorite to play.

 

Of course, these are American Brands made in India, and not Indian Brands. So that may be a significant difference. I think you are really talking about Indian owned companies. And I have no experience with any of those.

 

But, both of my guitars are very well made. The Floyd on the Jackson works great and the strings stay in tune. And I love my Tele. Sounds fantastic.

If I ever found another guitar that I liked, made in India, I would seriously consider buying it. [thumbup]

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