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  • Writer's pictureBruce Bennett

Someone Asked me....

I have a shop on Reverb where I sell guitars that are either handmade or trade ins for my handmade gear or someone just wants to sell some things they no longer need.

the shop is called "Hot Rods Guitar shop"... my current guitar Brand name is "HARD ROAD™" Guitars, and yes, I have a couple listings up for them.

Someone asked me Why was I not lowering my prices to be more in line with the current "buyers market" or taking offers.

the answer is very simple. My pricing is, and always has been, determined by how much the materials cost, and how many hours I had to work to construct that particular piece. and the costs of any special custom details that may or may not have to be "farmed out" in order to maintain the level of quality I strive to uphold in my handmade pieces.

no matter what someone offers me, If I can't afford to cover all costs PLUS pay my bills and eat afterward. AND build a 2nd one.. so I can repeat the entire process... then I priced it too low. and I won't be able to continue in my chosen field of occupation.


Now to me, this should be an obvious answer... but apparently not to the rest of the world, who have been fooled into thinking that all guitars are cheap objects created equally and they all sound and play the same because they are created in an Asian factory with CNC machines and they all use the best possible materials...

This kind of thinking draws nothing a snarky smile from me because that is a flawless example of just how badly folks have been fooled by pretty, shiny guitars from Asia.

One of the biggest issues I see and read on the internet today is:

my Squier/Epiphone sound just as good as a Fender/Gibson..


Please let me tell you in zero uncertain terms and with the utmost respect that this is .. to quote George Orwell.. WRONGTHINK.

the world, lets call him JIM JONES. has handed you a glass of Kool-aid and you chugged it down without a 2nd thought if you Honestly think that your Epiphone Les Paul sounds "as good" as a Gibson version...

the MAIN reason why guitars have such vastly different prices EVEN though they all have the same types of parts... is the Labor rate under which they were made.

The reason this matters is because the musical instrument known as the guitar, be it electric or acoustic. is one very tedious and precisely built device that requires more money in labor than it does in parts. MANHOURS COST! and it doesn't matter if your talking about the wood work or the metal or pickups or electronics ...its ALL carries some amount of MANHOURS!

Which is why we moved the manufacturing from a high labor rate country (for example, the U.S.A.) to a country with dirt cheap labor rates ( Korea, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc etc)


Anyone who has done this little exorcise, will know that I'm Not making this up.

Go to Allparts, WD music supply, Guitar Fetish, Warmouth. and price a standard Strat or Tele as if you plan to build one in the next 2 weeks. price ALL the parts... body and neck included. NOTE WHERE the pieces were manufactured.

Once your done, and have 4 separate prices for this exorcise, then go back and cherry pick the cheapest parts from each company with a eye for quality of the wood work. this should result in a 5th price. then repeat that one more time, but with an eye for the cheapest final price tag. this will be your 6th price for your comparison... the pattern should emerge clearly.

Only then will you have an idea about what a guitar ACTUALLY should cost. WITHOUT the labor.

If you live in the USA, then you won't be able to compensate for the ultra low Asian Labor rates. simply because you don't live there... so if your being realistic, you MUST add a labor rate that represents standard USA rates, which for example, Gibson is currently offering 22.00 per hr starting pay.

and factor in about 100 hours of labor to build a Strat or Tele from scratch. this number never really changes unless you suddenly have cheaper labor rates. which is the entire point to this exorcise. the prices of the parts don't change that much. but the labor pricing controls the overall end MSRP and MAP prices and that is a huge difference.


if your going to compare guitars, at least compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges... comparing American made Guitars to Asian made guitars.. is just wrong on several levels. and to do so, shows those of us who know... just how unknowledgeable you are about your hobby. think of it as "mooning" everyone around you. and no one will ever forget it.


All that said.. If your coming at this from the position of a weekend warrior musician who just needs a cheap guitar to play bar gigs... Well, that is a horse of a very different color. the end use matters, but the value differences are real and should not just be ignored.

its still wise to understand exactly why USA Made Vs Asian Made is seriously different.


I live in Tennessee and I pay bills and tax rates found here just like anyone in the USA would.

its IMPOSSIBLE to compete with Asian made goods while Living here in the USA. and everyone in THIS country who buys Asian products, Automatically becomes a Traitor to the country where you earn your living.

Yes! that IS a Harsh statement, and you don't have to like it. but it IS Foreign Trade Economics 101.. and they USED to teach that in public school.

America, go back to the old ideas

Credit card bad...

Layaway good...

Learn how to save up and pay as you can afford it.

Purchase American made goods and keep your own job safe.


Asian made products are always meant to be thrown away, so they never hold their value. buying them is a waste of your money. that is why you ultra-rarely ever see a

vintage Asian made guitar for $5K.. but Gibsons and Fenders for $5K are being bought and sold daily.

In 1989 I purchased a Rickenbacker Suzanna Hoff 350 SH model for $1638.38

it went to $12000. in 1998 and they still bring $5K now.. a smart purchase anyone would say, right?


but because the Asians aren't buying anything made here, means the money we send them.. is Never coming back.

God Bless America once again

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