#1
This topic has been discussed before. but I've been thinking about it recently and I would like to hear your opinions on the matter.

I'm moreso thinking about the economic and moral aspect of the argument, rather than the objective quality aspect. Obviously we're dealing with mass production here, independent luthiers aren't bound by these issues so geography isn't relevant in their case.

On one hand you have products from the US, EU, Japan & Korea, who all (to the extent of my knowledge) have regular and decent labor laws. Then you have China, Indonesia & Vietnam, who aren't as developed.

As a consumer, should I care where my products are made, and if so, why, exactly? It's often said that the latter group makes $0.15 on the dollar, or something like that. Horrendous, where we live, but how much is that compared to other jobs in their country, and how much things cost in their country? Are they actually being payed unfairly by their own economic standards?

It's no secret that I love Ibanez, I love their designs and innovations - but to the extent of my knowlege, all of their non-Prestige guitars come from Indonesia and China now. I own two Indonesian Ibanezes, and one older Korean Ibanez. My Indonesian S420 feels the best out of all of them, and I'm happy with it. In this case, since the quality is acceptable to me, is it still okay for me to be okay with it, knowing that it came from Indonesia?

This isn't rhetorical, I really don't know what lines should be drawn or where they should be drawn. Where do I land balancing my budget vs. quality vs. poor working conditions? And for that matter, how do I know that the working conditions in the factories these guitars come from are actually unfair, just because the countries the factories are located in are still developing?

I'm interested in the Laney IRT on a "on paper" level. However I'm apprehensive about buying a Chinese amp. As the consumer, I don't really know where the cost cutting has taken place. Most Chinese products I've encountered are exemplifications of maximum cost cutting. They use cheap labor to assemble cheap components and cheap build quality. However, sometimes that's not the case. As 311 and AcousticMirror can attest to, the Peavey Vypyr (Tube 60 at least) is a Chinese amp that uses quality components, is built cleanly, and has decent (not great, but not Bugera) build quality. That's another unknown factor and another gamble concerning labor that I don't know. It would be nice to know the specifics of labor treatment and component quality of any given product, to make a more informed decision.

I like gear very much, I want to be proud of the gear I play - I would feel bad enjoying a piece of gear I know was made by someone who was being treated unfairly.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this or what exactly I'm asking, but I'd like some kind of discussion/opinions, so maybe I can have something new to add to my thought stew.
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#2
A really long-term perspective is that by buying from a 3rd world country, you are giving the workers there opportunity to receive training in a skill they will definitely not receive otherwise.

Like Cathbard, I'm also a proponent of the thought that manufacturing quality takes time to develop. Countries like China and Indonesia are at stages where their manufacturing quality is where Japan was 30 years ago... pretty poor... but as the industry develops, the quality improves. If you did not provide support to these countries, the people there'll never get the opportunity to receive the training necessary to drive improvements in their economy.

If you've actually played Indonesia made Ibanez from the 90s, you'd know how much they've improved. I still think MII Ibanez still has suspect quality issues, however, its leap-years ahead of what they used to produce.
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#3
I buy 80 percent of my shit used. Also where do you think the parts come from in the first place.
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#4
Quote by ragingkitty
A really long-term perspective is that by buying from a 3rd world country, you are giving the workers there opportunity to receive training in a skill they will definitely not receive otherwise.

...

Very nice point. Do you think these new age skill sets will re-ignite the old school/traditional crafts they excelled in generations ago?
#5
You have to be careful and it helps to have a little inside knowledge.

Some factories in Korea for example build guitars for a dozen manufacturers. Their quality will probably be higher than a stand alone contract builder.

Worst would be the Behrigner/Bugera facility in China. They own the plant and can't get it right.
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#6
If we buy from a poor country, said country gets richer. Workers become a more valuable resource and conditions improve. Don't buy from them and they stay undeveloped.
Whether they will be better off or not in the big picture one way or the other is another question entirely with deep incalculable variables.
So bottom line; If you buy or not will it help or harm? I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know what the outcome will be. Things have a habit of introducing unintended consequences. I'll concern myself with knowable concerns - namely, what's the best value for money and what can I afford? Those questions I have a shot at answering.
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#7
it's not our responsibility to buy MIC goods so they can further develop.

buy what you like and fits your price range.

Quote by ragingkitty
Countries like China and Indonesia are at stages where their manufacturing quality is where Japan was 30 years ago... pretty poor...

how many 80's MIJ guitars do you own kitty?

what exactly are you basing that on?

you're starting to sound like flibble.
#8
Quote by gregs1020
it's not our responsibility to buy MIC goods so they can further develop.


No, it's not. There's no mandate for anyone to buy MIC or MII just so the country can develop. In fact, I'm against such measures to benefit others for the sake of benefit.

I'm highlighting that transfer of skills and know-how is a commonly accepted outcome / benefit of a less develop country providing manufacturing capabilities to companies from more developed countries.


Quote by gregs1020
how many 80's MIJ guitars do you own kitty?


Actually greg, I'm not making specific mention towards guitars, just manufacturing capabilities as a whole. Maybe 80s is a little late, we can say 60s or 70s... MIJ (as a whole) products from then weren't exactly the epitome of quality. We can also look at Taiwan and Korea. Made in Taiwan and Made in Korea didn't exactly spell quality in the 80s to early 90s, but they tell a different story today.

Maybe my comment came out more socialist than I intended it to... but what I'm saying is that if the shoe fits, wear it. If one is inclined to think of the people making the products, one can always soothe one's conscience with the "I'm helping them" progress argument, while ignoring the possibility that a pedal was made using child-labour.

I don't pretend to the whole hip "I'm making the world a better place attitude". All my guitars are MIA or MIJ. So are my amps, and effects. I don't go out of my way to buy MII, MIM, MIK or whatever. If the gear sounds good, plays good, and looks like it'll last... its origin of manufacture couldn't bother me less. Yet at the same time, my cab is made in korea i think, I'm not the least bothered.

The thing is... purchases should be made on the basis of quality and suitability. If a country can't get it's shit together to improve the quality of products it puts out, it deserves to have that industry fail miserably.

For several years, I've violently objective to people buying or playing Ibanez's MII guitars, because of utterly horrid manufacturing quality. However, I must admit that in the last 5 years, the quality of manufacture has improved notably, although I don't think the MII guitars are anything more than average on the whole.

Similarly today, I don't think I'd buy a MIC guitar, but I have seen improvements in quality of some MIC products in general over the last years, that have changed the MIC label from being "absolutely repulsive" to "might be worth some considering".
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Last edited by ragingkitty at Apr 14, 2013,
#9
Quote by ragingkitty
Actually greg, I'm not making specific mention towards guitars, just manufacturing capabilities as a whole. Maybe 80s is a little late, we can say 60s or 70s... MIJ (as a whole) products from then weren't exactly the epitome of quality.

well kitty this is a guitar forum so most people will infer that you are speaking of guitars.

thanks for clarifying.
Last edited by gregs1020 at Apr 14, 2013,
#10
Quote by gregs1020
well kitty this is a guitar forum so most people will infer that you are speaking of guitars.

thanks for clarifying.


True, but again, we are talking about a topic that isn't exactly all-guitar oriented.

I think one thing that would work in this context is

"Tri it. Laik it? Bai it"
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#11
but i despise vast generalizations like that which i bolded and i completely disagree.

the countries that bought goods from japan in the 60s and 70s got what they paid for. those companies contracted japanese factories to make "stuff" to their specs. japan did that, sold them, and exported them.

"made in japan" used to have a stigma to it as being negative. that always cracked me up. ask for a cheap product then bitch when you get one?

same goes for china today. people blame the country for making cheap goods when that is what was asked of them.
#12
Quote by gregs1020
but i despise vast generalizations like that which i bolded and i completely disagree.


Fair enuff... conceptually I can see where you're coming from. Practically, I'm really not prepared to hunt down exact examples for an online post. Haha I'm usually paid to conduct research. So for the sake of argument, lets just say I took a short cut.

Quote by gregs1020
the countries that bought goods from japan in the 60s and 70s got what they paid for. those companies contracted japanese factories to make "stuff" to their specs. japan did that, sold them, and exported them.

"made in japan" used to have a stigma to it as being negative. that always cracked me up. ask for a cheap product then bitch when you get one?


I know where you're coming from, but in this context, without the past experience, I don't think Japan would have so much experience in mechanized manufacturing today.

Quote by gregs1020
same goes for china today. people blame the country for making cheap goods when that is what was asked of them.


Well on the other hand, cheap manufacturing practices aside, China still has pretty shady approaches to "under-speced" or "undisclosed spec" manufacturing today. Example include baby milk formula, cooking oil. With such shady practices, it's hard not to naturally question what has been done or done to a product, even if it is from a different industry.

Granted, people do unfairly blame China for being a cheap manufacturer even though that's what they want from it. There's also another side where you're not even getting what you paid for.

If I paid a buck for a burger, I expect a burger that's worth a dollar... not a burger that's worth a quarter. I think in this case, its the latter which is more worrying.

On the other hand, if someone were to complain about not getting a 100 watt head, when he paid for a 10 SS practice POS, I think that's always worth a laugh.
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Last edited by ragingkitty at Apr 14, 2013,
#13
Quote by ragingkitty
Well on the other hand, cheap manufacturing practices aside, China still has pretty shady approaches

you could have stopped right there.

agreed.
#14
I try to avoid buying from places that surround their factories with suicide nets and fences topped with inward-pointing razor wire. Just sayin'.
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#16
Quote by Cathbard
If we buy from a poor country, said country gets richer. Workers become a more valuable resource and conditions improve. Don't buy from them and they stay undeveloped.
Whether they will be better off or not in the big picture one way or the other is another question entirely with deep incalculable variables.
So bottom line; If you buy or not will it help or harm? I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know what the outcome will be. Things have a habit of introducing unintended consequences. I'll concern myself with knowable concerns - namely, what's the best value for money and what can I afford? Those questions I have a shot at answering.


yeah

i know oxfam always said not to stop buying (just using an example here) nike trainers because that'd do more harm than good.

fwiw i'm not sure i'd put korea in the "top" bracket. don't quote me on this, but the cort factory (allegedly!) doesn't have the best track record on workers' rights, I think...

Quote by gregs1020

same goes for china today. people blame the country for making cheap goods when that is what was asked of them.


+1

any time i say i think MIJ is superior to, say, MIC or something like that, I'm absolutely not saying I think japanese people can make guitars better than chinese people... it's that the chinese people aren't being allowed to.

Which is why people playing the racism card annoys me.

Quote by ragingkitty

Well on the other hand, cheap manufacturing practices aside, China still has pretty shady approaches to "under-speced" or "undisclosed spec" manufacturing today.


also +1

All in my opinion
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#17
So I suppose all I can reasonably worry about is "Is it good?" and "Is it good for the money?"?
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#18
Quote by Offworld92
So I suppose all I can reasonably worry about is "Is it good?" and "Is it good for the money?"?


Buy what you can afford, makes you happy every time you fire it up, and has the best chance of flying panties.
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Last edited by ragingkitty at Apr 15, 2013,
#19
A lot of the time, stuff "made in the US" is simply assembled. The components, boards, parts etc all come from bordering slave labour.
#20
Why are people assuming MIC guitars are made in terrible conditions? How do you know that? Have you ever visited the factory?

I don't care about where my guitar was made. If it feels and sounds good, it's good.
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#21
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Why are people assuming MIC guitars are made in terrible conditions? How do you know that? Have you ever visited the factory?




oops, that's where they make ipads and iphones.


my bad. no idea on the guitar factory.
#22
Quote by Offworld92
So I suppose all I can reasonably worry about is "Is it good?" and "Is it good for the money?"?


i wouldn't say that... it definitely doesn't hurt to keep all those other things in mind. Just you can sometimes do more harrm than good, that's all.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
Why are people assuming MIC guitars are made in terrible conditions? How do you know that? Have you ever visited the factory?


nope.

But i agree, wondering if people working in a country with an iffy record (at best) on human rights might not be working in ideal union-approved western conditions is little better than a conspiracy theory.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?