#1
When an American guitar company outsources a line of guitars, Fender-Squier or Gibson-Epiphone for example, does the parent company specify the same supplier for wood, paint, coatings and electronics, or does the manufacturing plant supply the materials from their own source. For example, does Fender buy all of the materials for a Squier SE Strat and then the particular manufactuing plants just build the guitars using those parts? Would an SE made in Korea or Indonesia or China use the same material supplier or would each plant use their own material source? Just curious.
#2
A lot of brands/models are farmed out to the Mega-factories like Samick, where they make a bunch of different brands under the same roof. Those places probably source all (or most) of their own materials, you wouldn't want to have 8 different wood suppliers for 8 different brands.

That's just a guess though, I have no idea how the smaller/dedicated factories do it.
#3
Quote by Roc8995
A lot of brands/models are farmed out to the Mega-factories like Samick, where they make a bunch of different brands under the same roof. Those places probably source all (or most) of their own materials, you wouldn't want to have 8 different wood suppliers for 8 different brands.

I don't know about that. I'm more inclined to believe that the instrument companies source the materials, and the factories just store & use them as needed.

I say this because of the kerfuffle Gibson got into over their sourcing of exotic woods for fingerboards, etc. Not only did their own documentation over their sourcing decisions get them in trouble, it was pointed out by other companies like Fender that they had no problems of that nature (at least not at THAT point in time).
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

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#4
Right, but Gibson was ordering that stuff only to their USA plant. They weren't using it on Epiphones as far as I can tell. Squier and Epiphone are built in the same factory (some models are anyway), so again I wonder if they're not just using the same pile of wood?
#5
Good point. I still think its up to the instrument companies, though. After all, it is THEY who have to maintain the records in case government agents come a-knockin' for proof of legality.

Plus, operating from a common source across company lines would make for treacherous inventory controls.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#6
True, but the whole Gibson CITES fiasco happened because the rosewood was considered not to be a "finished product." That suggests to me that a guitar with a rosewood board is treated very differently than a slab of rosewood. Wouldn't it be easier to get a CITES export certification from Samick, who surely must already be set up for such a thing, than to get an import certificate, send the wood to Samick, ensure that they keep the chain of custody (out of ebony on the Epi pile? grab some from the Hofner pile...) and then get another export certificate for the completed product? I guess it depends on how much you trust Samick, for one.

Just spitballing here. I have no insight into the actual process being used. I am sure there are a lot of lawyers involved, however it's done. Maybe Greg knows someone who can find out the real process.
#7
I'd be very surprised if most brands is doing anything but supplying specifications and inspecting of the production lines and final products. The responsibilites for everything else lies with the actual factory, anything else would destroy the whole idea. The outsourced products are outsourced for a reason.

For example, I'm pretty sure that World Musical Instruments usual neck construction (3-piece, side by side lamination) and material supplier translates into them using that for all the brands they produce, including Ltd, Schecter and PRS SE. Not doing that would increase cost, not only because of materials but it would also include re-training of the builders.
"Your signature can not be longer than 250 characters."

How you know you have too many guitars...

Apparently once also known as PonyFan #834553.
#8
Pretty sure that the OEM/CM factories will be sourcing the materials. With the higher output of instruments, they'll require far more stock than the hiring company. This will provide more buying power on the part of, say, FujiGen. Better buying power equals better profits. The reason Gibson, Fender et al use these factories is to reduce the amount of costs. FujiGen, Samick etc have been building in the region for decades and will have built a large network of their own suppliers. I'd go as far to say that hiring companies would be financially irresponsible to source their own material suppliers when a perfectly good framework is already in place.
#9
And yet we already know for a fact that the big instrument companies DO have their own employees in those foreign countries on the premises of suppliers inspecting and negotiating deals for wood for fingerboards and other detail pieces*- it can't cost appreciably more to have them look at body woods as well.

Besides, with the big boys- the Gibsons, Genders, Yamahas, etc.- they're already plenty large enough compared to the wood supply companies to negotiate on an equal footing.

To that, I'll add that I know that some companies definitely do buy their own stuff. Before Tacoma was bought by Fender, one of the things they did to keep their costs down and maintain QC was buy their own forest. (Spruce, I think.) It was one of their assets that most interested Fender in doing the acquisition.


* part of what sunk Gibson and got them to the plea bargaining table were emails from Gibson buyers in Madagascar detailing what they thought of the quality of the product and the question of legality of buying from the sellers..plus the responses to ignore the legal issues and just buy the stuff if it was good quality.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#10
Looks like Danny's right - Epiphone is hiring a sourcing manager specifically for Epiphone, and they want someone with "experience in wood" (lol).
https://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/12057270

Strategic Sourcing Manager - Epiphone

Location: Nashville, TN

Gibson Brands, Inc., the world’s premier musical instrument manufacturer and the home of such preeminent brands as Gibson, Epiphone, Baldwin and Wurlitzer, is looking for a Strategic Sourcing Manager - Epiphone to join the Procurement and Supply Chain team. This position will be based out of Gibson’s World Headquarters, located in beautiful Nashville, TN – the heart of Music City.

POSITION SUMMARY:

The Strategic Sourcing Manager - Epiphone reports to the Vice President Procurement and Supply Chain and will team with Division, Finance and Legal management to carry out strategic objectives. The Strategic Sourcing Manager is responsible to develop and implement strategic initiatives and sourcing strategies to reduce spend, improve value, insure legal compliance and maintain sources of supply. The Strategic Sourcing Manager supports the Divisions and Finance for cost estimation and supplier development for existing and new projects.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES:

Supply Chain Strategy

Ensure alignment between the business strategy and the sourcing strategy.

Develop and implement sourcing strategies and communication plan.

Insures that contracts are consistent with company objectives.

Researches, locates sources, and negotiates best domestic and global value for products and services.

Negotiates with suppliers to secure appropriate cost, schedule, quality, payment and delivery terms.

Develop and execute action on plans to eliminate or minimize risk from the supply base.

Analytical Reporting

Set objectives to be achieved through the sourcing strategy and monitor achievement.

Prepare reports by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing information through multiple sources.

Prepare data for make versus buy decisions.

Supplier Management

Insures the effective selection, qualification, management, and performance of suppliers.

Works with AP staff to leverage company’s cash position in payment of supplier invoices.

Special Activities and Teams:

Participates in and manages cross functional activities and teams as a conduit for continuous improvement within all Divisions. Must be able to lead, influence and drive change.

Maintains a current knowledge of company products, manufacturing operations, and market trends.

Participates in New Product Introduction meetings from the earliest stages.

Desired Skills and Experience
EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE:

Master’s degree in business or supply chain management or a technical discipline preferred, bachelor’s degree required.

Certification in 6 Sigma preferred

Certification by ISM preferred

Must have eight years’ experience managing sourcing of a broad range of materials, supplies, and services in a manufacturing environment. Experience in wood or transportation strongly preferred.

Experience sourcing from international suppliers preferred.

Knowledge of automated supply chain management systems.

Excellent negotiation, interpersonal, and communication skills.

Ability to travel up to 25% of the time.



Apropos of nothing, the current Procurement head at Gibson previously worked for Ashley Furniture. Take from that what you will.
#11
Quote by Roc8995

Apropos of nothing, the current Procurement head at Gibson previously worked for Ashley Furniture. Take from that what you will.



If that person was getting wood for Ashley, he or she likely saw more wood than any 10 counterparts in the instrument biz put together.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the standards for selection were the same...
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#12
both gibson and fender have overseas suppliers set up in order to keep tabs on quality. they also order their own wood. my brother works over in china and has been to the factories where both are made. if you leave that kind of thing up to the chinese then you are asking for trouble. they have a lot of backdoor deals there as well as corruption which you read about all the time. it would be very unwise from a business standpoint for companies with big names and reps to just leave things willy nilly.
#13
I wondered how they would maintain quality and cosistency if they let the factories get their own wood. Would pickups being used on a Korean built Epiphone model be the same as the same model made in China? I would think to maintain a certain tone that they would use the same pickups in both factories.
#14
I'm also going with factories being in charge of their supplies. Jacksons made in India or by WMI in Indonesia have a very dark ebonized-looking rosewood fretboard. Now that most of mid-level guitars are made in Indonesia, but by Cort, fretboards are a much lighter color.
#15
Quote by dthmtl3
I'm also going with factories being in charge of their supplies. Jacksons made in India or by WMI in Indonesia have a very dark ebonized-looking rosewood fretboard. Now that most of mid-level guitars are made in Indonesia, but by Cort, fretboards are a much lighter color.


rosewood is often dyed to give it an even rich appearence. i'm sure that materials are sourced as locally as possible to cut down on expenses but that isn't always going to be the case.
#16
My impression, from what I have read and from working for an engineering contractor, is that the big contractor companies like Samick and Cort build to a client spec, so things like timber type and quality, finish and hardware could be included in the spec. For example, a Chinese-made version would have the same pickups as the Korean one, if that was in the spec. I'm guessing that the client might sometimes also supply the CNC software for cutting the timber and pickguards. You would expect the higher the price, the tighter the spec. The other side of that is that an importer brand might change contractors. I think Tanglewood did that a few years ago, but they still have the Cort look.
#17
Quote by Roc8995
Squier and Epiphone are built in the same factory (some models are anyway)....


Which factory builds Squiers and Epiphones ....?
#18
Samick. Not sure which Epi models moved to their dedicated factory but Samick was/is making both at one point.
#19
Quote by Roc8995
Samick. Not sure which Epi models moved to their dedicated factory but Samick was/is making both at one point.


Yup. Not uncommon at all. The Korean-made Schecter models, and the Korean LTDs are made in the same factory. And they're actually quite obvious about it. Depending on which models you're looking at, certain Schecter and LTD guitars are identical in every way but headstock shape.
Guitars
Schecter Hellraiser C-1FR, C-1 Classic, Hellraiser Hybrid Solo-II, Special Edition E-1FR-S
Orange Rockerverb 50 212
Basses
Yamaha RBX374 and Washburn MB-6
#20
...I wonder about the smaller companies with overseas manufacture, though. Tradition (based in Fort Worth, TX) and Reverend (Detroit, MI) both make their guitars in Korea, and neither is particularly large. Dean Zelinsky's Private Label has all of their stuff made in Indonesia except for a few high-end USA models.

It wouldn't be surprising if companies like those used factory personnel to source their wood unless they have really streamlined operations. As in, before they set up their overseas manufacturing operations, they negotiated long-term deals with wood suppliers.

Reverend, for instance, used to be made in the USA, but now, production is 100% Korean. But they use Korina in all of their guitar bodies, so they probably don't need to have but a few contracts for wood.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#21
Quote by dannyalcatraz
...I wonder about the smaller companies with overseas manufacture, though. Tradition (based in Fort Worth, TX) and Reverend (Detroit, MI) both make their guitars in Korea, and neither is particularly large. Dean Zelinsky's Private Label has all of their stuff made in Indonesia except for a few high-end USA models.

It wouldn't be surprising if companies like those used factory personnel to source their wood unless they have really streamlined operations. As in, before they set up their overseas manufacturing operations, they negotiated long-term deals with wood suppliers.

Reverend, for instance, used to be made in the USA, but now, production is 100% Korean. But they use Korina in all of their guitar bodies, so they probably don't need to have but a few contracts for wood.


procurement is someones job. very likely that the wood is bought reasonably locally and that after the business end of things is done that it's someones job at the factory to take delivery and inspect the wood (as well as other parts). i've worked in a few factories that do overseas stuff as well and tha's how it's usually done. samples are sent for approval (parts and such). for the wood i'm guessing they have someone there that know what's up and takes care of that while reporting to headquarters. periodically a rep from the company stops in and checks things out. i'm sure that finished guitars are also checked on this end for quality as well.
#22
I know that all Reverends go through final setup, etc. in Detroit. I wouldn't be surprised that the other brands with foreign operations who are producing good axes do something similar, somewhere.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#23
Large Asian companies like WMI, Harmony, Cort, Samick would be foolish not to offer full service to whatever a smaller Western client needs. So sure, you if you're some giant Western conglomerate perhaps you can afford on-site staff, which evidently is no guarantee of quality or consistency. Otherwise, I'm sure they'll accomodate whatever needs a company has. Just specify your specs and they'll deliver. After all, they know their regional suppliers better than any foreigner would.

Quote by dannyalcatraz
...I wonder about the smaller companies with overseas manufacture, though. Tradition (based in Fort Worth, TX) and Reverend (Detroit, MI) both make their guitars in Korea, and neither is particularly large. Dean Zelinsky's Private Label has all of their stuff made in Indonesia except for a few high-end USA models.

It wouldn't be surprising if companies like those used factory personnel to source their wood unless they have really streamlined operations. As in, before they set up their overseas manufacturing operations, they negotiated long-term deals with wood suppliers.

Reverend, for instance, used to be made in the USA, but now, production is 100% Korean. But they use Korina in all of their guitar bodies, so they probably don't need to have but a few contracts for wood.
#24
Quote by Roc8995
Samick. Not sure which Epi models moved to their dedicated factory but Samick was/is making both at one point.


Worth noting that Samick is huge, and is not a factory. They own a number of factories. At one point, they were producing 75% of the world's guitars, with Cort a distant second. They also own chunks of other music companies, including high end piano manufacturers like Steinway, etc.

Epi has been produced all over Asia, including Japan, Korea, China and Indonesia. The Qindao factory produces the bulk of their guitars, but certainly not all.
#25
Quote by dannyalcatraz
I know that all Reverends go through final setup, etc. in Detroit. I wouldn't be surprised that the other brands with foreign operations who are producing good axes do something similar, somewhere.


Some do, many don't. Schecter inspects and sets their guitars up in Burbank before they go out to distribution. I'm not sure what Line 6 does; I got my most recent JTV-89F fresh out of the box with the alternate tuning and model selection knobs reversed (those silly Koreans!), but it was in tune and the setup was excellent when I pulled it out of the box. I live close enough to Line 6 that I was able to have them fix it while I waited.

I think Kurt at Rondo just pulls the boxes out of the container, puts them into his tin building and ships them (with the exception of the custom orders). That's just my impression, and I won't swear to that. Surprisingly, most come pretty well set up direct from the factory.
#26
Quote by dspellman


Epi has been produced all over Asia, including Japan, Korea, China and Indonesia..


Epis still are produced at all of those locations

#27
Just some (older) information about the Samick-factory.....

In the early 1990’s Korean manufacturing giant Samick began moving its production base to Indonesia. Today, Samick, at its production compound outside Bogor, 90 miles south of Jakarta, produces about 90% of the guitars made in Indonesia under various names including Gibson and Fender models. As a rule of thumb, Indonesian made guitars are generally the lowest price models with the better ones coming from Korea.

What attracted firms like Samick, Yamaha, and Kawai to invest in Indonesia was a combination of a stable workforce, nearby access to 80% of the materials that go into pianos and guitars, a stable currency linked to the U.S. dollar, and most-favored nation status with the U.S., a designation that allows Indonesian-produced products to come into the U.S. free of all duties.

Samick is the world’s largest producer of stringed instruments and has a huge presence in Indonesia producing half a million copies annually (total guitar production in Indonesia was 600,000 in 2002). It is a major manufacturer for a number of well-known brands, including low-end models for Fender and Gibson brands.

The rising standard of living in Korea in the 90's led to increased wage and production costs, and the musical instrument industry began to look to new, lower-cost markets. In 1992, Samick opened a $30 million, 430,000-square-meter plant in Bogor, Indonesia. This large-scale plant was initially comprised of six wood processing mills, a sawmill, a veneer board mill, seasoning facilities, and various other additional facilities on approximately 40000 acres. The new subsidiary, PT Samick Indonesia, began operation in 1993.

The Indonesian subsidiary gradually took over production of the company's entry-level instruments, beginning with acoustic guitars in 1993. By 1995, the facility had gained sufficient expertise to begin production of electric guitars as well, followed by upright pianos in 1996 and grand piano production in 1998. By the beginning of the new century, the Bogor site was producing some 15,000 pianos and 500,000 guitars each year, while Samick focused its Korean manufacturing capacity on higher end products. These, however, often featured wooden components produced by the Bogor plant. So you are likely to get Indonesian input on any Samick produced guitar made at any of its factories in the world.

Local Indonesian plywood such as Pine (Pinus spp), Agathis, Nyatoh (Palaquium spp), Meranti (Shorea spp) are used in the production of the back part of acoustic guitars with and average consumption of 4,800M³ per year and solid wood of Mahagony (Swietenia spp.) for electric guitars. They normally use local Makassar Ebony (Diospyros spp.) and imported Spruce (Picea spp) or Alder (Alnus spp) for top board of acoustic guitar. One company utilizes Spruce (Picea spp) at about 357 M³ per year for the front/top board of acoustic guitars which come in from their other manufacturing facilities in Taiwan. Occasionally, based on requests, imported veneers are used for coating the top part of acoustic guitars, including the rosettes, mostly Cherry (Prunus spp), Oak (Quercus spp). Local wood Sonokeling (Polyathia spp.) and imported U.S. or Canadian Maple (Acer spp) wood are particularly used for the neck of both guitar types. An average consumption of U.S. and Canadian Maple (Acer spp) lumber for guitars is about 1,474 M³ per year. ((USDA GAIN Report 2002))

The Samick facility in Indonesia could best be described as a small city. The walled compound covers 50 acres and has four million square feet of manufacturing space in 11 buildings. That manufacturing space is large enough to house 88 football fields. The plant even has two restaurants, housing for visiting Korean engineers, tennis courts, and a driving range. Samick put up its first factory in Indonesia in 1993, investing about $30 million to begin producing acoustic guitars. Since then, myriad new investments and products have followed. In 1995 the company began producing electric guitars. Twelve months later a line was established for upright pianos. And in 1998 Samick produced the first grand piano ever built in Indonesia.

The company's Indonesian factory has 3,000 workers who have been with the company for an average of eight years. All but one of the team of 16 factory managers has been with the factory since it first opened. "We're not talking about assembling toys or stitching together sneakers," notes Samick Indonesia Managing Director S.M. Park. "The musical instruments we craft are highly complex, extremely difficult to produce, and require a workforce with great skills." Worker turnover spells disaster for manufacturers like Samick that produce complex products backed by long-term warranties. "In China it's very common to lose half of your factory workers every year," Park adds. "They are very quick to seize on higher wages and move to factories that have better amenities. Many factories even have to guarantee housing or they can't keep the workers." Workers in Indonesia, he says, are much less prone to move from job to job. "Our customers wonder why we are able to put a satin finish on our pianos like no one else. The reason is basic: The manager who runs our finishing department has been with us since we opened and knows all the problems you can encounter with finishes. He also has a team of workers who understand the problems as well." ((entrepreneur.com Jan 2008))
#28
Quote by miketar
When an American guitar company outsources a line of guitars, Fender-Squier or Gibson-Epiphone for example, does the parent company specify the same supplier for wood, paint, coatings and electronics, or does the manufacturing plant supply the materials from their own source.


The answer is that it's some of each. For the most part, you can pick quality levels you want to maintain, but they handle the suppliers. It's very rare that you'll get to specify suppliers, and this is true of manufacturers anywhere.

Woods mostly come from the same sources worldwide. "Honduras" Mahogany (that specific species), for example, was replanted throughout Asia years ago and with the original sources largely shut down, Asia (Fiji, etc.) is where you buy it now, whether you're Gibson or Samick. "Old growth" is really a misnomer tossed around by guitarists who don't know any better; mahogany grows pretty quickly and guitars are only a very small portion of the mahogany market. Lightweight mahogany is more a matter of selection than growth. Chinese maple is actually some of the best figured maple in the world, though figured maple can be sourced in the US easily enough. Ebony sourcing is a PIA, and there are youtube vids from Taylor that talk about that. There's none in the US and poaching has killed huge acreage of endangered animal habitat, so there are major international and local laws in place governing it.
#29
Quote by paruwi
Just some (older) information about the Samick-factory.....


That's just the Indonesian part. And that sounds like Indonesian Chamber of Commerce press releases.

Indonesia, btw, gets a generally bad rap regarding the ...uh... enthusiasm of its workers. Thus the unsubtle dig at Chinese workers who abandon the plant in search of better wages and the promotion of the longevity of Indonesian workers.

Nik at Ceriatone knows the local phrase that's specifically descriptive regarding Indonesian workers, but "laid back" is probably optimistic. He's been keen to point out that it's a misconception, but one that's often made businesses reconsider locating there.
#30
Quote by dspellman

Indonesia, btw, gets a generally bad rap regarding the ...uh... enthusiasm of its workers. Thus the unsubtle dig at Chinese workers who abandon the plant in search of better wages and the promotion of the longevity of Indonesian workers.

Nik at Ceriatone knows the local phrase that's specifically descriptive regarding Indonesian workers, but "laid back" is probably optimistic. He's been keen to point out that it's a misconception, but one that's often made businesses reconsider locating there.


That doesn't sound like a good problem to have in a manufacturing plant. So what were the reasons all these companies decided to open factories in Indonesia?
#31
Indonesia is a major source of woods used in instrument building, and labor is cheap. That's a powerful combo.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#32
So these plants would more than likely make the pickups and other hardware rather than buying them from another company and just installing them?
#33
I'm thinking the pickups and hardware are sourced from specialized manufacturers on almost all but the lowest end cheapies.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#34
Quote by dannyalcatraz
I'm thinking the pickups and hardware are sourced from specialized manufacturers on almost all but the lowest end cheapies.


this is most likely the case. Ping makes a ton of hardware so i'd be willing to bet that they or a couple of other suppliers make most of the hardware for asian guitars and a fair amound of US ones as well. it's more cost efficient. this is done in the US as well.
#35
Quote by dannyalcatraz
I'm thinking the pickups and hardware are sourced from specialized manufacturers on almost all but the lowest end cheapies.


I'd agree. Pickups are often wound onsite, but the bits and pieces certainly come from standardized manufacturers. I know that even the most expensive Gibson uses a lot of hardware (and pickup parts) that are ultimately from Asian production.
#36
Quote by dspellman
I'd agree. Pickups are often wound onsite, but the bits and pieces certainly come from standardized manufacturers. I know that even the most expensive Gibson uses a lot of hardware (and pickup parts) that are ultimately from Asian production.


magnets certainly are sourced. making magnets is a very specialzed process and it wouldn't be economical to do them in house. (we have a magnet producer in our area, been to it for a job and it's fascinating)