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johnguitar

 

Posts: 151
Joined: Jan. 10 2006
 

Made in the U.S.A. 

I have never been one to air my political views in public and truth be told I often find my self lost in terms of politics. There is too much information, too many conflicting sources and you just don’t know what is true anymore. However, in this case I feel more than justified in shouting from the rooftops. I came across an online music shop recently which shamelessly takes advantage of Granada’s good reputation for excellence in guitar-making. They use the name to make you feel or think that Granada’s name somehow speaks for the quality of their instruments; they sell no guitars from Granada. Of course this is not the first time this has happened. Perhaps the use of the name Andalucía in the same way or using Granada as a model name for a guitar seems a lesser evil but that has happened too. I am not talking about the old Japanese company that actually called itself Granada back in the 70s as I think they started using that name before it was so closely associated with fine guitars.

I guess I could let this go if it were the only crime these people were committing but upon perusing their website I see it full of Chinese-made guitars with Spanish names. In some cases they even claim “made in Spain” for a brand which freely admits to being manufactured in China. This too is nothing new but it is the worst kind of fraud. Let’s talk about this pandemic which has killed so many people and put so many others out of a job. I believe that all predictions of how bad it will be in the short to mid term are falling short. I will not go into what I think the causes are but there is no doubt that there is a causal relationship with runaway globalisation. Almost every corporation in Europe or the United States has been opening factories overseas and/or outsourcing all sorts of jobs and parts. Although in some cases these are supplemental installations it often involves the drastic reduction or elimination of the “home” workforce of these businesses. The ONLY reason for this is to put more money in the owners and the boards pockets. The fact that these corporations are extremely successful does NOT outweigh the negative effects of lost jobs back home but they are rewarded and praised by governments for their success and size. Responsible consumption is a thing now and we are starting to demand to know where our products come from and what are the hidden (and human) costs; these companies purposely hide the truth behind a smokescreen as they are legitimately registered in their home countries. In some cases they make a final addition or adjustment on U.S. soil and thereby be able to say “made in U.S.A.”
I mentioned the pandemic because of this globalisation but also because of the “bulldozer capitalism” (my definition being profits for the few trumping environment, working conditions, health and social welfare and even lives) especially in countries where nobody seems to be watching. Limitless expansion, tourism as a God-given right for everyone and a bigger and bigger divide between the extremely rich and the poor have all combined to see us invading the habitat of animals and the natural environment everywhere. If indeed the Covid virus came from illegal poaching and consumption of animals, it was surely someone who had no other way to make a living and found himself ranging further afield in his search for something to sell because of this invasion of nature. Well, you don’t need to look very far to find independent confirmation of this: We are destroying the environment and this pandemic is only one of the results. There will be more pandemics and things like global warming and food shortages will threaten us all.
So here is my suggestion for guitar players: I won’t ask all of you to examine everything you consume (although that might not be a bad idea) but I do propose that we investigate where our guitars come from and whether we are being told the truth. There are many well known companies (U.S. or Europe owned) producing guitars but which have their production in China or elsewhere. Firstly one can choose to object to that sort of job-stealing and not buy from them. Secondly those who lie or mislead and especially those who fiddle the tax laws and morality through loopholes or by importing the guitar and then making the saddle and nut and claiming “made in U.S.A.” can be avoided too. Now, if you want to buy a Chinese guitar because it is what you decide I have absolutely no problem with that, what bothers me is fraud and profiteering to the detriment of the working class.
Discuss.

_____________________________

John Ray
https://www.johnguitar.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2020 16:14:02
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2888
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

A very worthwhile topic of discussion, but I feel like this could easily devolve into a discussion of a certain professor, doctor, he who shall not be named... Simon, be wary

_____________________________

Andy Culpepper, luthier
http://www.andyculpepper.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2020 17:33:52
 
flyeogh

Posts: 723
Joined: Oct. 13 2004
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

quote:

So here is my suggestion for guitar players: I won’t ask all of you to examine everything you consume


I'd have thought that to examine everything you consume to be in reality very sound advice. I certainly do.

It is no different to ensuring wood used is sustainable. Or that child labour is not used.

Of course it is for each individual to determine what they judge as good or bad, and to what degree.

Being married into a spanish family and living in Spain I'd ask you to consider a flamenco guitar sourced in Spain. Unless of course you can afford one from one of the excellent luthiers here

_____________________________

nigel (el raton de Watford - now Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2020 17:55:49
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2125
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

John,

I think that most Chinese made guitars that sell for $300 are recognized by their price, as opposed to $3,000 guitars made from various sources.

Most Chinese guitars are just filling the market with knock-offs that would not sell except for their cheap prices. Then if something happens to them Just Throw Them Away and buy another one.

However, there are/were a number of USA, European and Japanese companies that see a good deal and have decided to sell their products through Chinese manufactures, so this has complicated the guitar market and added a lot of competition to the lower end market.

In some cases this is not good, and perhaps for another thing, these lower end instruments may give the first time player an introduction to a higher level guitar in the future.

So, what to do about it? Perhaps to allow the market to find its own level, and for the better builders to keep building better guitars to establish their own trade/reputation.

In the end I don't think any mis-labeled Chinese guitar will make much difference to the greater market value.

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2020 18:17:55
 
RobF

Posts: 607
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

You’re preaching to the choir when it comes to me, John. I once posted something similar on here, about how guitarists sometimes use the prices of factory guitars as bargaining chips to beat down the prices of legitimate makers and it didn’t go over so well. Mind you, perhaps suggesting that people who do such things deserve to get punched in the nose wasn’t very politic, but I didn’t think I was being *that* unreasonable.

My takeaway was that the average consumer simply doesn’t care, as long as the price is right (meaning cheaper than it should be). The quality of some recent Chinese product doesn’t help matters either, because some of these guitars can punch way above their price points. I’ve recently came across a couple which were really quite impressive. That misrepresentation is also occurring just adds to the mix.

I’m beginning to think that, while there will always be individual makers willing to maintain the craft, the renaissance of building that is currently being experienced can’t be sustained. As the supply of makers diminishes, the demand will be satisfied by the factories and all the implications towards labour and the environment will apply. As has happened in the past, the cycle will be accompanied by an increase in prices and a fall in quality, sometimes drastic and will repeat when disappointment in the state of affairs leads to the resurgence of a market for individual makers. Wash, rinse, and repeat....

I guess the concept also applies to manufacturing cycles beyond the world of guitar making. I bought a fridge from a big box store a couple of years ago and it took three tries to get one delivered that worked. Even still, the one I finally accepted was damaged but they almost gave it to me to get me out of their hair.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2020 19:08:28
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2125
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to RobF

quote:

The quality of some recent Chinese product doesn’t help matters either, because some of these guitars can punch way above their price points. I’ve recently came across a couple which were really quite impressive. That misrepresentation is also occurring just adds to the mix.


I grew up in an age of Japan guitars that some better makers were complaining about the price not being fair. Actually a few guitar makers decided to quit the business because of it.

As for me, I decided to quite trying to compete with the Japanese prices and build the very best I could, until one day the Japanese started buying my guitars. It can happen folks, so it's best to allow things to level out with quality seeking its own level of competence and quit complaining about things being unfair.

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2020 22:38:26
 
RobF

Posts: 607
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to Tom Blackshear

I’m not so much complaining about fairness as pointing out the market dynamic at play. It’s the same story as when the big chains move into a town and undercut the local stores until they start to fail. Then they buy them up, and once the job is done, the selection drops to a shadow of what it was and prices jump dramatically. Same thing happens with food chains, drug stores, hardware stores, the list goes on...

But we end up with the world we create. I’d rather support the smaller businesses because I like reasonable prices and good selections, something that disappears pretty quickly once the market gets cornered by the big players.

I was whining on here some time ago because I was smarting over a customer who really wanted to buy one of my guitars, if only I would drop the price to below what he had paid for his factory guitar, which was nowhere near of the same quality. His justification was that he had just put a $250,000 down payment on his new house so money was tight. He also scratched the top of a brand new pristine classical I showed him, even after repeated warnings by me to please watch his thumb. I had literally just finished French Polishing the thing. So, yeah, sometimes I complain, lol.

The guitar he wanted is now residing in Paris, and its new owner loves it. Before that, it spent some time in Andalucía and its quality resulted in two commissions from gitano players there, with a possible third in the works. It was a good guitar.

Plus, I never said I was going to punch anyone in the nose, I simply suggested to Norcalluthier that he do so (knowing full well that he is of the strength of character not to).

Finally, Tom, I’m not sure if it was intended, but I’ve always treated you with deference and respect on the Foro, and for you to suggest that I should aspire for my guitars to compete with factory instruments is, frankly, a bit much. Of course, maybe that’s not what you meant, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve misunderstood people on here.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 21 2020 23:53:51
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 871
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

This has been going on for years! Made in Spain - was added to guitars that was set up in a Spanish factory but built in China. Hand made is another thing that adds value. Just a name also adds value. I remember hearing the stories of some Spanish builders putting their labels in guitars that have come from Spanish factories just to sell to tourists.

It's the same every where with various things of provenance. The only way to escape this kind of thing is to have some kind of provenance control like Champagne.

_____________________________

Classical and Flamenco Guitars www.EdenGuitars.co.uk
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2020 10:28:10
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2125
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to RobF

quote:

Finally, Tom, I’m not sure if it was intended, but I’ve always treated you with deference and respect on the Foro, and for you to suggest that I should aspire for my guitars to compete with factory instruments is, frankly, a bit much. Of course, maybe that’s not what you meant, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve misunderstood people on here.


As for me, I decided to quite trying to compete with the Japanese prices and build the very best I could, (which meant that I charged more for a better guitar and built more Spanish style flamencos than the Japanese).

I can sometimes write posts in such a way that you could get a double meaning but I assure you that no disrespect was intended.

And if someone asked me to drop my price, there would be two things I'd say: Yes, I could drop it a little and then I could buy you a Dr. Pepper :-)

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2020 16:46:17
 
RobF

Posts: 607
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to Tom Blackshear

No problem, Tom, and no offence taken. I realized after I went to bed that I was letting my nose get out of joint for no reason.

The thing about when someone scratches up a new guitar is they often don’t seem to understand that they’re either causing extra work or, if the repair isn’t done, lost income. The ones who don’t get it don’t even offer to buy you a coffee after (or Dr. pepper). There are some buyers who don’t mind the odd scratch, but there’s some who do, and my prices are ridiculously low to start with. I’m also not the fastest French Polisher out there, it takes me about three weeks to get a guitar done, albeit not continuous work, and scratch repair can sometimes lead to a top refinish, so it’s not always trivial.

Speaking of French Polish, I’m going to try spraying tint for the first time in the next week or so. A friend of mine from Georgia, Jack, built a guitar based on the Reyes pattern last year and then brought it to Granada, where he finished it in the shop of a luthier there. It came out looking and sounding spectacular. It raised the bar for me; I was supposed to be in Granada right now doing the same thing and two different people in Sacromonte have offered me space in their homes to do finish work, but this COVID crisis has put a lid on all those plans - for this year, at least.

The reason I mention Jack is apparently he had a few phone conversations with you about the plan while he was building the guitar. It came out real nice.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2020 18:05:22
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11760
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

quote:

Discuss


Your post is very general, a rant that goes all over the place. While it’s dead on true in some specific cases, it’s absolutely false in MANY others. To be fair it would be fine to name a Specific Co. or individuals that are engaged in questionable activity and have profit margins that reflect their greed and evil harm done with actual numbers, names and addresses. To speak so broadly and generally is just doing nothing, and takes us to direction of conspiracy land “NWO” capitalist lizard controlling people are making guitars in China and selling them to us for $5000 and laughing down at us from their high castles.

Honestly, the cheap guitars are simply filling a market zone that bothers the not so famous makers that are targeting slightly above this line. My answer would be just push your prices UP and go for a different market. Many luthiers complain about the middle market famous makers who enjoy success (talking Conde Ramirez etc) but should be INSTEAD riding on that success rather than compete against it. By that I mean “if you like Conde, you will LOVE my guitar.....it’s got xyz IDENTICAL features that everybody loves, yet a more competitive value and bla bla bla special features”....but it seems most luthiers are too proud to engage in this type of marketing. I don’t get why, it is not dishonest nor shameful to compare and feel comfortable in a certain market price zone. I find it strange Blackshear is one of the few makers that seems to have no problem with this. “Here I built a Rodriquez for you, it’s great and I tuned it to sound like a conde”...it’s brilliant.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2020 18:26:47
 
RobF

Posts: 607
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

My answer would be just push your prices UP and go for a different market.


That actually is a totally valid point and one that has been made to me on more than one occasion by my first teacher.

I don’t really have any problems with competing against other makers or factories because my instruments are my own creations and can stand on their own merit. I just tend to get a little chuffed when people try out a guitar, treat it casually as part of their horse-trading strategy, and then end up scratching it in the process. I actually did raise my prices, specifically in hopes that it would send the message to potential buyers to be more careful with my property, but it hasn’t helped. It’s just one of my pet peeves. I’ve also come to accept that I’m lousy at self-promotion. It’s just not one of my strong suits.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2020 19:24:26
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2837
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

John-

You point to a very specific crime, fraud: representing something made in one place as having been made somewhere else. Then you point to some sketchy practices, like using the name of Granada to give a false impression, exploiting loopholes in labeling laws, etc.

Leaving aside the environmental damage wreaked by the combination of capitalism and consumerism, the effects of globalising the economy are varied, and like everything else, oversimplified in political discourse.

In what follows I'm not advocating for or against globalism. I agree that much of "globalisation" is simply the exploitation of cheaper labor. The cheapness of the labor arises from a variety of causes. Perhaps most of the causes are some form of injustice.

But things are complex.

I'm typing this on an 8-year old Mac Mini. Like almost all of Apple's products it was designed in California, produced in China. Focusing on just this computer, I doubt that enough were sold in China to offset the cost of producing them there. A U.S. trade deficit for this particular product resulted, and jobs were created in China, not the USA.

On the other hand, here in Austin Apple employs 7,000 people. Late last year they broke ground on a second $1-billion campus near the first one. The plan is for Apple to employ 22,000 people in Austin within the next two or three years, making it the largest single employer in this high tech city of 2-million. These jobs pay very well.

Just about the only Apple product made in the USA is produced here--the high end desk top model. But the supply chain is complex. Many of the components are not available from U.S. suppliers. President Trump was here recently, with a 50-motorcycle-cop advance guard and 20-SUV motorcade. The few people who turned out to witness his procession were not very complimentary. He toured the "Apple" factory, and touted its opening as the product of his policy of returning jobs to the USA. Apparently nobody told him, or else he tried to conceal the fact, that the factory has been here for several years, and it belongs to Foxconn, the same Chinese company that produces iPhones, etc. in China.

The number of Apple factory jobs here is utterly insignificant compared to the non-manufacturing staff, who work mainly in support and logistics.

The fact is that U.S. workers have prospered mightily from the sales of those objects made in China. But most of the money that pays them doesn't come from China, so it doesn't offset the "trade deficit." There are other economic effects. In ten years the value of my house has increased 60% due to the influx of high tech workers, many employed by Apple. However, the middle class prosperity generated by globalism is concentrated in just a few places. The rest of the country is left out.

How do we calculate whether manufacturing Apple products in China is detrimental to U.S. workers, or is it beneficial? Would the increased cost of making them in the USA raise the price enough to significantly cut sales and force a big reduction in the number of non-manufacturing employees in the USA?

I don't know the answer. I just point out that the terms of the political debate have little to do with the actual reality of the economy. Does it ever?

Politics is not about facts. It is about what people can be made to believe. What people can be made to believe depends very strongly upon their economic condition and how they see the trend of their social status. These factors are very unevenly distributed across the USA. During our visits last fall the contrast between Andalucia and Barcelona was striking. In Italy and England the divide is between north and south. Add in Scotland and Wales to get the diversity of Britain. In Germany the split is between east and west. In Russia, Moscow and Saint Petersburg are practically a different country from Siberia.....Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore: very different worlds with much of their cultures in common. All of these places have economic and social divisions that are ripe for political exploitation.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2020 20:43:56
 
ernandez R

Posts: 152
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

Richard,
If I dare paraphrase your excellent comment:
Capitalism is not democracy.

Jeff,
Can't disagree with all you have written upthread and applaud your keeping a guitar store in these days, but to play devil's advocate I must ask,
How many American luthier hand built guitars are hanging on the wall of your shop?

HR

_____________________________

I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy,
doesn't have to be fast,
should have some meat on the bones,
can be raw or well done,
as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.

www.instagram.com/threeriversguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 22 2020 21:11:51
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2837
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to ernandez R

To be effective political rhetoric must be both simple minded and emotional.

Among the most dangerous politicians are those who believe their own political rhetoric, and have little or no conceptual framework beyond it.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 23 2020 0:38:03
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1653
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

To be effective political rhetoric must be both simple minded and emotional.


Yup. Whatever Hitler’s other delusions, there were some things he had a firm grasp of. Some recent politicians (who I suppose had better rename nameless) seem to have been using Mein Kampf a textbook. For instance:

quote:

It belongs to the genius of a great leader to make even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category, because in weak and uncertain characters the knowledge of having different enemies can only too readily lead to the beginning of doubt in their own right.

Once the wavering mass sees itself in a struggle against too many enemies, objectivity will put in an appearance, throwing open the question whether all others are really wrong and only their own people or their own movement are in the right.

And this brings about the first paralysis of their own power. Hence a multiplicity of different adversaries must always be combined so that in the eyes of the masses of one’s own supporters the struggle is directed against only one enemy.


quote:

It is a mistake to make propaganda many-sided, like scientific instruction for instance.

The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out.


quote:

All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be exerted in this direction.

The more modest its intellectual ballast, the more exclusively it takes into consideration the emotions of the masses, the more effective it will be. And this is the best proof of the soundness or unsoundness of a propaganda campaign, and not success in pleasing a few scholars and young æsthetes.


And much more.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 23 2020 16:59:42
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2995
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

John,

Your comment about the perceived negative effects of globalization was interesting, and much of it is held by many people today, including President Trump. I will leave it up to the luthiers on the Foro to address the question of how one competes in a world of Chinese-made guitars and cheaper models posing as "hand-made" and those in which the provenance is shady.

Your complaints about globalization are many, however, and it would take too long to adequately address each. Nevertheless, I would like to take on your contention that what you call "bulldozer capitalism," with corporations establishing offices and plants in lesser-developed countries, leads to a significant loss of jobs in the United States and exploitation of workers in the countries in which they operate.

The first point I would make is that most economists conclude that establishing offices overseas and "outsourcing" of US jobs has not resulted in the massive loss of jobs in the US that detractors like to point out. Some jobs have been lost, but because globalization works both ways, the US has gained jobs, and the jobs gained have largely been in export-related businesses that generally pay a higher wage than manufacturing jobs that produce for domestic consumption. By far, the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US has been due to automation, not "off-shoring."

The second point is that Capitalism and globalization, for the most part, have not resulted in exploitation of workers in lesser-developed countries in which US corporations operate. Multinational companies would be exploiting workers in these countries if they paid wages below the national average of the country in question for similar work. There are several studies that demonstrate this is not the case. If the wages received are actually higher than those available in alternative jobs, even if low according to the critics (and reflective of the poverty in the poor countries), it would be hard to make the case that the multinationals are exploiting the workers they are hiring.

Several empirical studies confirm that multinational corporations pay what economists call a "wage premium" that exceeds the going rate for alternative but similar work in-country by an average ten percent and sometimes more. A University of Michigan economist has reviewed the available evidence from a number of studies in Bangladeshi export processing zones, in Mexico, in Shanghai, in Indonesia, and in Vietnam, and they overwhelmingly report the existence of such wage premiums.

A case can be made that this wage premium has led to domestic manufacturers and producers in these countries raising their wages to meet the competition for workers, a net plus. Nevertheless, multinational corporations cannot raise wages beyond a certain point or they will create an imbalance in the economies of these countries.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 23 2020 17:14:16
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2125
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:


Politics is not about facts. It is about what people can be made to believe.


Isn't that the truth. But isn't it also true about many other things that are advertised as being something, when they are not.

Guitars are no different when you advertise a guitar as being the best in the world when it cost $200.

The market is always going to present this stuff..........which suggest buyer beware.

My suggestion concerning this scenario is put together a company that acts like a central library, which gives information about good guitars and their makers who have a track record of accomplishment for excellent work..........say, from mid to higher prices, so that new buyers have a chance to become acquainted with them.

Forget the real cheap stuff and concentrate on $3000 models and up to where many people can buy them with their credit cards, etc.

I'm sure this has already been done, to some extent, but perhaps it should be done again, on a wider scale.

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 23 2020 19:28:08
 
ernandez R

Posts: 152
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

I wrote this late last nigh but held off hitting OK so I could make sure it was safe to send.


Richard,

Can't sleep, it's past midnight and foot neropathy is in fire. Thought I would give a reply to your comment a go.

I'm afraid it requires a simple minded populace to be susceptible to the demagogue and based of current polling I'm afraid in America it is between 30 and 40%. This is not good, and when tied into your second point, that there is a 10-20% who have no conceptual frame work besides there economic interest support and enrich what has to be called a ecofascist relationship.

Now to get this thread back on the train to John Rays complaint, is this combination of the misinformed, I call them low information voters, and those blinded by their own economic interest, is this how we get three hundred dollar guitars mismarked as being manufactured in Spain? Well of course. Sadly those who purchase them don't know the difference and those selling them don't care. All the sudden John's mismarked factory guitar has become an allegory for most of what ails the world.

We cant blame the factory worker building the cheap guitar, he needs to eat and support his family...

I don't know. Like Ricardo mentions uptread some one needs a $300 guitar or they won't have one. I become an elitist if I cant step down from my soap box, head to the loo, look myself in the mirror, and recall my mother saying to me as a teenager who after offending two Portuguese for not speaking English ," don't forget where you come from".

And this leads to another problem: our world of I've got mine so screw you. This is my father God bless him. He worked vary hard, milking cows, cleaning swimming pools, bartender, Ferrier, cabinet maker; only he got lucky his mother left him a small pice of unincorporated property next to a run down golf course. My father was no fool but he has no care for the Hispanic community, Mexican emigrant children in cages, or the down trodden in general. I remember eating Wheat Chex for dinner because it was all the food we had in the house. We kids thought it was great. It wasn't until later that we learned we were small and weak children because there wasn't enough to eat; fill up on beans my father would say. But what do you say to a man who has forgeton his hungry roots, who votes for the demagogue not because he likes him but because he is the one who will make him the most money.

I know this is just one story but it is a common thread that weaves itself into a net most can't see is trapping them.

I'm afraid the realty of or current situation is soon going to make it painfully obvious. This evening discussing with the Boss the economic future of our hospitality business I made a prediction: we are headed for an economic correction that will land all of us somewhere between the Great Depression and worse. I pray I'm wrong. History though is never wrong and she points her finger and lays low those whom forget Her tale.

I could pity the small music shop owner if our own small town business wasn't going to founder. Who knows, perhaps it will take a revolution, pitchforks and mobs, the Gitano and his like and kind demanding their due; does it needn't be so messy, will it be bloody, or can humanity find a balance, where a craftsmen can build a guitar or two each month and sell each for enough to make more then bread on the table and a leak free roof for his partner and their children, for a fresh bucket of whole milk, and yes, even a box of Wheat Chex.

When I'm feeling good I see a simple humanity, nothing to brag about, no new car, no carpet or fancy drapes, but the sun setting, refracting through glasses of deep red wine, an old man strumming his scratched top guitar under the patio roof, a few of the young dancing, their elders seated keeping time with their palms and foot tapping, laughing here and there, the guitar player smiling, a voice rings out as a man stands up, his lament as old as time as is his joy, his voice kin to the forge and anvil, all fire ringing into the nite and our future.

It's simple really but for the greed of man, the hunger to take, to care not who is crushed in the name of profit. But what of us, the proles hooked of cheap garments and footwear built by the sweat and blood of countries without our freedoms. We are like hereon junkies. Can you give up those products of child labor, would you offer them at least a livening wage by paying full price for your running shoes, or better yet trade them your middle class livelihood for a quesanart blender; It's not simple is it?

And then there is the three hundred dollar guitar made wherever and sold as being built in Spain. And what about the factory guitars made in Spain, how much you want to bet those factories are staffed by emigrant labor. I know just like the US, Spain too looks the other way as these workers flood in from the south.

The world is out of balance. I'm one man pushing this ball of dung uphill only in it is not my offspring but something else entirely, in my youth it was an enthusiasm to change the world, perhaps now it is only regrets, a ball filled with failures. I feel tired. If I stop pushing who will help me compleat this task? Will I be run over by my own ideals, will my hope for humanity crush the dream, or am I blind to my brothers and sisters, those who came before and those willing to take on such a task.

So this is where you find me. At my bench, my nightly half glass of Pinot, and a guitar I built with my own hands laying in my lap. The sun has gone down but I know she will arise in the am. I'll play some and sip my glass, sure I'll never be that tocar of old but some might yet dance to my string scratching, and I know tomorrow will come, that the robins will sing up the sun, just as sure as a youth will make this world better then I have, and this young man will pick up my guitar long after I have passed and he to will make ladies dance and men sing into a better future.

_____________________________

I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy,
doesn't have to be fast,
should have some meat on the bones,
can be raw or well done,
as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.

www.instagram.com/threeriversguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 23 2020 19:39:27
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2125
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

I find it strange Blackshear is one of the few makers that seems to have no problem with this. “Here I built a Rodriquez for you, it’s great and I tuned it to sound like a conde”...it’s brilliant.


I have to admit, that was funny :-) Actually, Dan Zeff just sold one of my Miguel Rodriguez bench copies, 1997, and the purchaser told me that it sounded like an excellent Rodriguez.

_____________________________

Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 23 2020 20:06:58
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2837
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to BarkellWH

quote:

ORIGINAL: BarkellWH

The second point is that Capitalism and globalization, for the most part, have not resulted in exploitation of workers in lesser-developed countries in which US corporations operate. Multinational companies would be exploiting workers in these countries if they paid wages below the national average of the country in question for similar work. There are several studies that demonstrate this is not the case. If the wages received are actually higher than those available in alternative jobs, even if low according to the critics (and reflective of the poverty in the poor countries), it would be hard to make the case that the multinationals are exploiting the workers they are hiring.

Several empirical studies confirm that multinational corporations pay what economists call a "wage premium" that exceeds the going rate for alternative but similar work in-country by an average ten percent and sometimes more. A University of Michigan economist has reviewed the available evidence from a number of studies in Bangladeshi export processing zones, in Mexico, in Shanghai, in Indonesia, and in Vietnam, and they overwhelmingly report the existence of such wage premiums.

A case can be made that this wage premium has led to domestic manufacturers and producers in these countries raising their wages to meet the competition for workers, a net plus. Nevertheless, multinational corporations cannot raise wages beyond a certain point or they will create an imbalance in the economies of these countries.

Bill


Points well made, and with which I largely agree.

My comment about exploitation was rooted in a couple of personal experiences.

The families of both of my parents have been involved in agriculture in south Texas. They got started over a period from shortly after the Civil War to a little after WW II. The scale of their operations expanded greatly in the 20th century as demand for their products boomed.

The cotton business is high risk, potentially high profit. Risk from insect plagues was eliminated by chemical warfare, though with serious side effects. To bring a crop to maturity there is heavy investment in insecticides, fertilizer, cultivation, weed suppression and irrigation.

The greatest risk now occurs at harvest time. One rain shower after the bolls have opened, but before the cotton is harvested, can cut the value of the crop in half in a few minutes. The cotton is stained, and processing the wetted cotton results in much shorter fibers. It eliminates profit and can result in heavy loss.

My personal experience dates from childhood during WW II. Due to a general lack of farm labor the Bracero program was inaugurated to allow temporary importation of Mexican farm workers during seasonal periods of high labor demand. My family imported hundred of workers to pick cotton. The need was urgent and the timing was critical.

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley there were many farm working American families. They harvested winter vegetables in Texas, but they didn't work locally in the cotton harvest. In the summer they and many of their wives and children migrated to the northern Midwest to harvest vegetables. In the off season they returned to Texas and subsisted on their savings, on the winter vegetable harvest in Texas and on the rather low payments from the unemployment system.

In contrast, the Mexican braceros brought in to harvest cotton were housed in very poorly constructed and essentially unfurnished barracks. They were separated from their families. They were paid a small fraction of the wages earned by the American workers when they moved north every year. They worked in the blazing Texas heat, while the Americans enjoyed the milder summers of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Still, after dark, when it cooled off a little with the light breeze from the Gulf of Mexico, the braceros gathered around campfires, cooked flour tortillas on the cut out tops of oil drums, got out their guitars, laughed and sang.

At age 8 or 9 I was attracted by the music. I had grown up with Spanish as a second language. I edged a little closer to the campfires, and eventually was accepted. I made some friends. Partly no doubt because I was the grandson or nephew of the Jefe.

Even at that age I was quite conscious of the difference between the poverty and hardship of the braceros and the relatively better conditions for their American farm working cousins. Growing up in the rigidly stratified societies of the military and the racist south, I took it for granted, not that the braceros deserved less because of some inherent inferiority, but because that was just the way of the world. Some groups were less fortunate than others.

In my early 20s I negotiated bracero arrangements with contractors in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon for one of my uncles. He spoke no Spanish, and was strongly prejudiced against Mexicans. His workers were treated no worse than average, perhaps due to the views of his wife, my mother's sister.

Eventually the Bracero program ended in 1964, in part due to the movement led by Cesar Chavez. They worked to unionize and improve the conditions of the migrant farm workers of the West. These people, though migrant, lived in the USA year round. Many were U.S. citizens. The braceros undercut their wages.

Since there was no available resident labor, and Mexico was much poorer then, come cotton harvest time Mexicans poured across the Texas border even after the Bracero progam ended. They overwhelmed the Border Patrol. Without the minimal protections of the Bracero program, many were treated worse than before: even worse housing, lower wages, longer hours.

One summer during that period a visitor from the northeastern USA and I drove along the edge of a cotton field belonging to one of my uncles. Mexican immigrants were picking cotton in the blazing sun. At each corner of the 200-acre field was a man with a shotgun. The visitor commented on the cruelty of working the laborers at gunpoint. I replied, "The shotguns are not for the pickers. You couldn't keep them away if you tried. The shotguns are to remind the Border Patrol not to cross the property line without a warrant."

The Border Patrol didn't bother to swear out warrants. It took longer for them to get from the courthouse to the fields than it took to move the workers.

I was in my mid-thirties before I realized how different south Texas was from most of the rest of the USA.

According to an interpretation of Bill's definition, the Mexicans were being exploited. They were paid lower wages and subjected to worse working conditions than people doing comparable work in the same country--the USA. From the viewpoint of Chavez' movement they were taking U.S. jobs and undercutting U.S. wages.

My extended family were among the first to adopt mechanical cotton harvesters. Though not quite as effective as skilled humans, on balance they were cheaper, and they were legal so you didn't have to rely upon friends at the courthouse.

The second experience came when working with the first high tech company in Austin. It was a local startup, a merger of two even smaller outfits. I worked for one of the five founders, so I heard a bit about what went on at the top. The company expanded very rapidly. One year its revenue was $20-million. Two years later it was $100-million. The sudden increase in profit was invested in acquisitions. Among them was a medium size company that manufactured electronic components and subassemblies in the Chicago area.

In the 1960s maquiladoras were getting started. These are factories, mainly along Mexico's northern border, where American companies hire Mexicans to make stuff. The majority of the Mexican workers were women. Up to that point there were essentially no factory jobs for Mexican women, in fact there were few jobs of any kind for them.

The company that I worked for set up a maquiladora in Nuevo Laredo to make flyback transformers for TV sets. In those days TV set manufacturing was still mainly in the USA. According to Bill's definition the women may or many not have been exploited laborers. They were paid wages above those of the few other Mexican women with jobs--but less than men in factory jobs.

It wasn't part of my responsibility, but I knew the American in charge of setting up and running the maquiladora. When he learned of my Border background he began informally consulting with me about how to handle the political situation. None of the company founders, their Austin lawyers, bankers, etc. had applicable experience. I put him in contact with people i knew. Agreements were negotiated and sizable bribes changed hands. I'm not sure when the current anti-bribery laws were passed, but even today they are far less than 100% effective.

So how were the Mexican women exploited? They were exploited by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (only a Latin American could name something with such scalding irony), which ruled Mexico for 73 years after the Revolution. We propped up the PRI with our bribes. Dick Reavis, a friend years ago, wrote "Conversations with Moctezuma." In it he compared the PRI to the Aztec Empire. Each ran on a system of tribute. A share of the bribe to the Mayor of Nuevo Laredo went to the Governor of Tamaulipas, a share of that went to the PRI elite. The system went all the way down to the traffic cop on the corner and all the way up to the Presidente de la Repubiica.

Like the Chinese Communist Party, the PRI was both an engine of economic progress in some places, and an agent of repression everywhere in the country. By supporting the PRI we were exploiting the Mexicans, in my opinion.

So I think Bill is right, according to his definition. My definition is just a little different.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 24 2020 0:16:23
 
ernandez R

Posts: 152
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Made in the U.S.A. (in reply to johnguitar

John,
I have to apologize, some how I confused you with Jeff who owns the guitar store in Las Vegas.

Would like to blame it on the pain meds I'm on at the moment but... ;)

At least it was an interesting thread and had us all thinking and perhaps learning as well.

A hat tip to AC for pointing this out

HR

_____________________________

I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy,
doesn't have to be fast,
should have some meat on the bones,
can be raw or well done,
as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.

www.instagram.com/threeriversguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 24 2020 23:40:19
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