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Would You Buy a Korean-made Fender or PRS ?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by PCollen, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Most Honored Senior Member

    May 7, 2014
    I think the lower end Martin acoustics are made in mexico.

  2. Jack FFR1846

    Jack FFR1846 Senior Stratmaster

    May 4, 2011
    Hopkinton, MA
    Plenty of really nice semi-hollows come out of Korea. I've had many, of various brand names. Very nice materials and play. It is, however easy enough to point out the deficiencies compared to a US model by looking it over closely. I've compared all of these to a PRS semi hollow and while they're all nice at under $300 used (probably under $500 new), it's obvious why the US PRS semi hollow is 10 times the amount.

  3. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    I agree with Yogi: This is about what the "customer" wants. The customer being the parent corporation that places the sizeable contract order. They can order something to be made in Korea for $ 48 per unit or $ 118 per unit and the quality tends to depend on how much value the "brand" brass decide they need or want.

    Sometimes the contractor provides more value for money than expected, and sometimes less. By now, of course any operation can produce a workmanlike hardtail guitar. And usually a trem guitar as well and sometimes a full scale bass even. When they fall down is usually amps, I find. Some guitars are nice enough, they just look wrong or phony to our eyes because we've tutored ourselves to expect something that looks and feels different. Or we expect a range of sounds that's voiced differently. But the days of abject, unmitigated disaster in the making of guitars is long behind us. Frankly, some of the worst guitars ever were made in the USA by companies like Harmony and Kay and so forth. But the mechanization has progressed so far, we could have guitars made in Guatemala or Myanmar some time soon.

    Generalizations are usually a mistake but Indonesia (Cortek) can crank out solid body Squiers just as readily as Korea and for less money. The sweet spot is in guitars requiring more experience and hand skills. So, Peerless and the folks assembling these PRSs. The increase in labor cost over the huge mechanized factory in Surabaya is still worth the tradeoff.
    Yogi likes this.

  4. Anon

    Anon Strat-Talker

    Jan 16, 2017
    I owned a Korean SE, 2004 single cut. It was a dust gatherer, until I traded it. It was just fine, but nothing special. At the time, I played a Chinese epiphone Lp that was much more playable. I traded both for an American Fender, that is my go to guitar. I miss the Chinese Epi, but not the Korean SE. Maybe I've just had bad luck with them.

  5. GitBox Newbie

    GitBox Newbie Strat-Talk Member

    Dec 18, 2014
    My Martin Backpacker was made in Mexico. So was my Taylor. 110. So that's at least two major guitar brands building guitars in Mexico.


    PAPADON Strat-Talker

    Jun 24, 2016
    Sand Land
    I've got a made in Korea Fender Special Edition Koa Tele that came stock with Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups that is every bit as good as my American Standard and in some ways even better.



  7. ashtray

    ashtray Strat-O-Master

    Mar 15, 2017
    Not surprising - Mexico has a bunch of locally sold acoustics and native acoustic stringed instruments. I wonder if there are any large scale production electric guitars made there besides Fender.

  8. tim gueguen

    tim gueguen Strat-Talker

    Sep 3, 2015
    For me Fenders are imports no matter where they come from.
    Rockape and Daveho like this.

  9. RevBillyG

    RevBillyG Strat-Talker

    Nov 6, 2016

    This is one of my favorite guitars to play. Dean Hardtail select. Some people think it's a PRS knock off. I think it's unmistakably Dean.

    But the quality of this guitar blew me away when I first saw it.

    My Les Pauls usually stay in their cases & I'm either playing this or one of my Korean made Mockingbirds with Les Paul style controls. They're also very well made.

    Easily worth twice what I paid for all of them.

    However, they don't hold a candle to my Les Pauls, my American made Mockingbird, my American made Hardtail.

    Playing through an amp or even recorded I don't think anyone can reliably distinguish the Korean guitar from it's American made counterpart.

    But there's no doubt in my mind I could blindfold anyone & they could tell which was which just by holding them. If I give them the Korean guitar first, they'll probably think they are holding the better of the two. But once I give them the American they'll know.

    If I let them play the Korean guitar first, same thing. It will probably score 9 or 10 out of 10. I'll let them play the American & it'll grade a 14 on that same scale.

    I think my Korean guitars are damn good guitars. But my Americans are gooder.

    Now, my MIJ Fotoflame, I couldn't tell the difference from my American Special. Not in feel, not playing it acoustically. Very resonant guitars, both of them. I just got a Classic Vibe. Figured I'd take a shot on one since they generally get great reviews here.

    Blindfolded & being handed this guitar first I think most people would grade it a 6 or 7. If I were to hand them my Fotoflame or American Special they'd grade them both 9 or ten.

    Granted this is my only Chinese guitar. I think it's better than the MIM I bought in '94. On par with the first Pacifica I bought around '03, it was made in Korea.

    I've got an Indonesian made Pacifica now. It's on par with my Classic Vibe. Maybe a little bit better.
    Uncle Bob and wildhawk like this.

  10. cmgstrat1

    cmgstrat1 New Member!

    Apr 20, 2017
    North Augusta, SC
    tHIS IS A
    This is a very incisive and informational video demo, however it has to be based on a 2016 or older PRS. A statement was made that nowhere is Paul Reed Smith on the Korean guitar, however in 2017, they changed that. The headstock actually does have the Paul Reed Smith signature and upgrades have been done to the electronics per Paul RS's spec's and instructions delivered personally to the factory. Figured maple veneer on top of a mahogany body as stated, but the finish is clearly superior to the older models. No doubt the american made is a superior product, but it is not the quality of labor, it is components, etc. Anyway, I just ordered a 2017 and am really looking forward to it's delivery. I have a MIM Strat, but that is a discussion for another day. Overall a well done presentation!
    Mississippi_Kid likes this.

  11. avri70

    avri70 Strat-Talker

    May 29, 2014
    planet earth
    I have a prs se one and its the guitar that i use when practicing new chords or runs because it plays sooooo easy :)

  12. ProSonicLive

    ProSonicLive Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 4, 2016
    honestly, Id play a brick tied to a stick if it played well.
    RevBillyG likes this.

  13. balston11

    balston11 Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 8, 2013
    Preston UK
    I have played several SEs all good guitars couldn't fault them for the price. My son has a Telecaster lite ash from Korea easily as good as any mexican standard probably better, my Burns Shadow and Marquee are Korean and excellent guitars.
    As an aside I sold some cases to a guy who has several USA PRSs guitars who said he tried an S2 usa made that he said was indistinguishable from an SE

  14. martynrss2

    martynrss2 Strat-Talker

    Feb 9, 2010
    I've played a couple of SE's in store. The 245 I spent the most amount of time with, was an excellent guitar. Not just for the price, an excellent guitar full stop. Compared to the LP studio I played, it was definitely better, and cheaper price wise. I have a LP Traditional, and I wouldn't say the PRS was at that level. Probably in between that and the Studio.

    My friend got an extra feni one for snabdilute steal. Honestly probably one of the best guitar deals I've ever seen. He was getting an instrument whose quality round rival many 1k plus guitars for about a third if the price.

    As said above, country of origin doesn't matter. It's all diwn to the factories and the end goal involved.

  15. Stark

    Stark Ghost of Johnny Thunders Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 16, 2011
    Richmond Annex, CA
    My Flying V was made in Unsung, Korea 19 years ago. A few of you guys have jammed with it at the Roguestocks. Nobody had any complaints on fit, finish, feel or sound except Kelly/heltershelton, because he favors heavy strings and high action and I go 009-042 as low as I can go without fretting out.

    Dont_Fret_None likes this.

  16. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Oct 10, 2009
    Absolutely agree about World Musical Factory. Top notch facility.

    My Schecter Solo 6 Custom came out of that factory and it puts most Les Pauls to shame when it comes to build quality. And the comfort factor and play-ability is no contest.

    Solo 6 2.jpg Solo 6 1.jpg
    wildhawk and Stark like this.

  17. Uncle Fiesta

    Uncle Fiesta Senior Stratmaster

    I have a PRS SE Custom 24 which as I'm sure you all know is made by WMI, and I absolutely love it. Indeed if I had to sell all the others and keep just one, this would be the one.

    I would quite happily buy a Korean Fender (as long as it was South Korean, obviously).

  18. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster

    I am not biased...I've played USA guitars that didn't do it for me, and imports that were excellent. And as long as the weight and balance are OK, I can make the instrument conform to my needs pretty easily.
    Fuzzpop, RevBillyG and Yogi like this.

  19. johnnymg

    johnnymg Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 5, 2015
    Central Coast Ca

    I sure wish there was an SE with a thick neck. I would snatch one of those up for sure!

  20. jeff h

    jeff h Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 13, 2017
    Korean made Fender and Korean made Schecter. Both excellent guitars. Notice the family resemblance?