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Unread 11-27-2003, 02:52 PM   #16
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There have been some very good points made about this. I would like to add that I agree that the "cheaper" line of guitars are being built much better today, than in years past. I remember 24 years ago when I started playing, the cheap line was a KAY GUITAR! Anyone ever played a KAY guitar?? Let me put it this way......they should change their company name from KAY to CRAP! Because I even remember trying out their higher priced guitars and they STILL sounded horrible! That had to be the worst company that EVER produced a guitar in my opinion! I really don't know WHERE they got their materials from.....but they were the cheapest of the cheap I can tell you that!


Newbies today have it so much better! They actually have a selection of lower grade guitars that don't have strings a mile off the fretboard, neck bowed and the finish looking about as cheap as a prostitute! All of that said, I will agree that there is room for improvement in this area and the high dollar guitar area. As far as the high dollar guitars go, I am thinking of getting a used PRS Mcarty! I really don't think they are all that bad as Cheshire Cat paints them!(If they were totally a horrid guitar I don't think anybody would buy them!) Now I DO believe they overprice their new guitars WAY too much! But for what I can get one used on ebay, it makes it worthwhile for me! As far as other companies overpricing their supposedly handmade guitars, they do it also. This is one thing I think needs to be changed with this high dollar stuff......charge what it is worth....not for hype!

As far as cheap instruments go, they have gotten pretty reasonable in price, but sometimes their quality control is way shabby! They really don't have to use "high grade" parts to make a decent guitar! A lot of the lower end stuff could be made to play decently and not cost an arm and a leg, if they would hire more people on the quality control end to make sure that everything that goes out the door is up to specs! This is usually done in the high grade guitars, but is left wanting in the lower end stuff!
If companies just paid somebody who knew what to watch out for before something shipped, they could produce a decent guitar at a very affordable price....because the only investment might be in that man that inspects the guitars and catches mistakes. This could save them money on returned merchandise in the long run.....just my two cents!

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Unread 11-27-2003, 03:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Quote:
Major Tom said:
Perhaps the thread should be titled "Production vs Handmade Guitars".
rainer123 then asked:
Shall I change it?
No. It really gets down to whether the guitar is totally CNC or handmade, or some point in between. That's the big distinction, because that is the main modal operator of whether cost-cutting will start kicking in in a big way. IOW, a Luthier wouldn't dare dream of any cost-cutting practices, because he will not reduce his work load appreciably, and will turn out inferior products. He only has the Quality card to play.

In the guitar world, CNC machines open the door to cost-cutting.

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I am thinking of getting a used PRS Mcarty! I really don't think they are all that bad as Cheshire Cat paints them!(If they were totally a horrid guitar I don't think anybody would buy them!) Now I DO believe they overprice their new guitars WAY too much! But for what I can get one used on ebay, it makes it worthwhile for me!
Yeah, PRS is a perfectly fine production guitar, but way over-priced. However, they are not as well made as a Gibson LP for one key reason. They use that ridiculous wrap around bridge, where Gibson uses the higher quality T.O.M. bridge and tailpiece. To be perfectly frank, a PRS guitar, to me, isn't worth the $1K worth of upgrades it would require for me to play it.

And let's not forget the Heel from Hell!!!! The only reason I can think of for that HFH being there is because the CNC machine needs a place to grip the neck blank. If you can think of a good reason, that's not pure conjecture or flight of fancy, but an actual sound construction or acoustic reason, let me know.

For the money, I would get a Quicksilver instead, in a heartbeat!! Check out the total absense of a heel on the back! Totally clean! Total fret access!

BTW, I included the schematics of a duplicarver to give you an idea of what it looks like. If you'll notice, it's a far cry from a huge $200K automated machine. Like I said, nothing wrong with CNC's, but they are not some sort of speciality jig or router used by Luthiers, as opined by some members on here. A duplicarver is.

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Last edited by CheshireCat; 11-27-2003 at 05:29 PM.
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Unread 11-27-2003, 04:46 PM   #18
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I don't know if any CNC's have any final sanding capabilities or not The ones we had at Hamilton Fixture did not as far as I know; if they did we never used it, that was either done on a flat-bed sander or by hand. I never operated or programmed one, we had experts to do that. Not sure if wood sanding would lend itself to a vector-based machine like a CNC...I dunno, that's a good question.

PRS guitars - they rock, but yes, they are expensive, always have been too rich for my po' blood, when there are so many alternatives available for way less. I do like the wrap around pre-compensated tailpiece though - elegant, simple without rough edges, nooks and crannies to accumulate sweaty dirt and sludge, screws to get rusty, etc. Gibson and others have used those over the years on LP juniors, etc. I used to have a Melody Maker with a similar 1 pc. bridge - they work great and look good too. Just my opinion. Never really thought about the strange heel thing, kinda klunky looking now that you point it out; only reason I could think of other than your suggestion is that its an attempt to add some rigidity to that area...

On this day of thanksgiving, I think I will have to give a special nod to the plethora of quality, inexpensive guitars that are available to us today, and cheap goods in general that provide the wonderful standard of living (albeit a little too materialistic) that we enjoy on a daily basis.
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Unread 11-27-2003, 06:11 PM   #19
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I do like the wrap around pre-compensated tailpiece though - elegant, simple without rough edges, nooks and crannies to accumulate sweaty dirt and sludge, screws to get rusty, etc. Gibson and others have used those over the years on LP juniors, etc. I used to have a Melody Maker with a similar 1 pc. bridge - they work great and look good too. Just my opinion.
Well, romantic notion, but the cost-cutting benefits are profound. Understand, the PRS wraparound has no moving parts, apart from two readily available hex screws. So, in essense, the bridge is only one piece of metal, and is no different than a Gibson stop tailpiece. It's also rather simple (simplistic?) in design - basically just a stop tailpiece with the little string channels milled into the top, and two threaded holes for the hex screws tapped into the ends. A T.O.M. bridge, OTOM (new acronym), has 19 pieces. Same with the Tele and Strat bridges. There's a payoff for the more sophisticated design.

With a PRS wraparound, you cannot individually intonate all six strings. You can only intonate the E strings by virtue of the hex screws, and then hope the middle four strings come close. With a TOM, all strings can be individually intonated.

See, guitars are not well tempered. They are even tempered. The difference being that guitars are not in tune with themselves the same way a piano is after it has been professionally tuned. At best, the guitar's tuning is an approximation. So, when PRS uses a lesser bridge design, that is not as nearly conducive to good, proper intonation as the LP, Strat, and Tele bridges, that loss of accuracy get's lost in the malaise of even temperance.

Some might argue that that approximation, and just being a bit off in tuning is actually characteristic of the guitar, makes up part of the guitars sonic signature, and adds a certain quality of authenticity and charm to the guitars sound and presence. These are the same people who think Strats are supposed to have a 60 cycle hum.

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Never really thought about the strange heel thing, kinda klunky looking now that you point it out; only reason I could think of other than your suggestion is that its an attempt to add some rigidity to that area...
Interesting concept, and I'm sure that that argument has been made, tho, if you look at the Quicksilver pics, that is definitely not the case. Those bolt-ins are very solid indeed. Also, SG's work perfectly fine without that HFH.

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On this day of thanksgiving, I think I will have to give a special nod to the plethora of quality, inexpensive guitars that are available to us today, and cheap goods in general that provide the wonderful standard of living (albeit a little too materialistic) that we enjoy on a daily basis.
You're really playing that "standard of living" card for all it's worth, aren't you!?!

Well, either way, I definitely share your sentiments. I am very thankful for all of my blessings, and that includes this wonderful forum!!

Okay!! Turkey-Time!!!!

Chesh
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Unread 11-27-2003, 06:19 PM   #20
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Enjoy your Turkey, I'm now under the influence of triptophane (is that the right word?) from my dinner...
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Unread 11-27-2003, 06:25 PM   #21
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Tryptophane, and, yeah, that's the stuff. One of the best all natural drugs ever!

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Unread 11-28-2003, 07:10 PM   #22
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While I would agree that a product advertised as 'hand made' shouldn't be made on a CNC machine it is kind of hard to draw a really specific line: does 'hand made' exclude the use of power tools of any kind?

CNC machines are just tools. As such they can contribute to the production of quality items, or not, depending on how they are used.

If the wooden blanks themselves were carefully prepared and selected for direction of grain and all those things then it's not going to make much difference whether it then is cut 'by hand' (whatever that means: do you have to have really sharp fingernails or something?) or by the CNC machine. If, on the other hand, any old bit of wood is used then the results will obviously be rather variable.

Sure, the CNC machine may not sense little variations in different blocks of wood, but how would a human being deal with those difference if they are required to turn out guitars that are all the same shape? Either way you still have to start with a block of wood and begin cutting bits off hoping there isn't a flaw inside somewhere.

Use of a CNC for high quality work is more than possible if approached with the right attitude (which would include discarding flawed pieces the same as you would using any other carving method).

If it's O.K. to use a (power) router to, say, make the spaces for the pickups, then why not cut the body with a CNC machine in the first place?

Now if you happen to feel that no current guitar manufacturers are using CNC machines in a way that produces quality results then fine, but that doesn't mean they can't be used to help make quality guitars. (Just as there are some really bad hand made things around.)

Thanks,

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Unread 11-28-2003, 08:39 PM   #23
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Good points nnnnnn

I don't know where one would draw the distiction of handmade either - To build something like a guitar without the benefit of power tools seems kinda silly. Maybe if the builder made the tools himself (?). Before CNC machines, there were NC machines (numerically controlled), which did not have a computer interface for ease of programming, I think they used punch cards or something for the instruction set and were time consuming to program by hand - does that count? What if a guitar manufacturer wanted to make "handmade" quality instruments, and also wanted to employ a lot of handicapped people - would it be okay to use a computer controlled machine in the process, as an accomodation for certain employees' disabilities, and still call it a hand-made product? What if a small shop luthier were in some accident and suffered a permanent disability, and the insurance settlement paid for a small CNC machine to perform some of the functions he was no longer able to do? He's still making the same guitars out of the same woods to the same standards....

I guess it would be the Marketing Dept.'s call whether to use the term "handmade" or not, since completed guitars can't be spit out of a machine and the process in even the most modern and automated shop requires a lot of human control, and manual operations. I think pretty much any guitar maker could justify (at least to themselves) using the term handmade.

Bottom line is I guess, a guitar either meets your desires, needs, and budget or it doesn't. Why would anyone care what tools were used to make it unless you are Amish?

Last edited by Major Tom; 11-28-2003 at 08:47 PM.
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Unread 11-28-2003, 09:07 PM   #24
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This is a great discussion, and by the way (from the chemist), it's tryptophan (no e at the end). It's an amino acid.

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Unread 11-28-2003, 09:11 PM   #25
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Lightbulb

Does this chemist friend of yours have it available in pill form?

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Unread 11-28-2003, 09:30 PM   #26
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Here's the point for me: if you can't point out on a finished, high-end CNC'd guitar vs. a high-end handmade guitar specific differences in quality, looks, and differences in tone, then the practicality of buying a hand-made guitar just isn't there for me. Guitars DO NOT sell for what they list! To me, the techniques in which the guitar was made do not matter as long as the guitar does not show any particular disadvantage for being a CNC'd guitar. I choose guitars by criteria other than handmade vs. CNC'd, and if the final handmade product doesn't reflect an advantage over a CNC'd guitar that I may like better, there is absolutely no reason that I should turn down the CNC'd guitar.

I honestly do not understand why it matters as much as some people make it to be. If it has a genuine effect on the quality of the guitar, great! However, that particular element of manufacture does not ultimately sway my decision of the guitar, the guitar itself does.
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Unread 11-29-2003, 10:32 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Shredcheddar
Guitars DO NOT sell for what they list!
But they do sell within a certain range of what they list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shredcheddar
However, that particular element of manufacture does not ultimately sway my decision of the guitar, the guitar itself does.
Although the finished product does ultimately affect your purchasing decision, the way the guitar is manufactured directly affects the finished product. (Although I do agree with you that the way a guitar is made doesn't matter if one hand-made guitar doesn't show any advantage over a CNC'd guitar.)

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Originally Posted by Major Tom
I don't know where one would draw the distiction of handmade either
I think the guitar should no longer be considered hand-made when the level of supervision and control needed to create the instrument becomes low enough that it no longer requires constant supervision by a master luthier.
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Unread 11-29-2003, 11:37 AM   #28
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I think the guitar should no longer be considered hand-made when the level of supervision and control needed to create the instrument becomes low enough that it no longer requires constant supervision by a master luthier.
Even when its still hands that are doing the work? I think your definition would be for a "Luthier Made" instrument. I think if the methods and tools used were really important to a buyer, you would have to ask the mfr. if a master luthier performed or supervised every single step in the process.
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Unread 11-29-2003, 11:59 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Major Tom
Even when its still hands that are doing the work? I think your definition would be for a "Luthier Made" instrument.
I guess it would be. So should this thread be called "Production vs. Luthier-Made Guitars"?
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Unread 11-29-2003, 07:06 PM   #30
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Yeah, I think you hit it- but not a lot of sense in renaming a horse after he's already dead...
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