Are Korean made guitars good?


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Are Korean made guitars good? Korean made guitars are good in terms of price and overall quality. However, it wouldn’t hurt to practice due diligence as a buyer before taking the plunge as there are not-so-good ones as well. Research and ask for feedback from those who have purchased; better yet, test the guitar yourself before buying.

Consumer bias about state-of-origin does exist; we all can attest to that.

We generally have high regard for Italian leather goods, for example.

Or Belgian chocolates. German cars. Argyle diamonds from Australia. Japanese game consoles. French perfume.

And Korean ramyeon. Just kidding… or not.

But seriously speaking, one thing that not a lot of people realize about Korean consumer products is the prevalence of Korean made guitars. Typically, we imagine entertainment, skincare products, and even plastic surgery as top products and services in Korea.

Actually, Korea is quite known in the electronics, machinery, steel, automobiles, and ship industry. And because the United States is one of the country’s main trading partner, many American companies, such as guitar producers, build their base in Korea to manufacture their products.

But can guitar enthusiasts trust that Korean made guitars are as good as their US-made counterparts?

Why Korea?

It may come as a surprise to many, but Korea manufactures familiar guitar brands such as Fender Squire, Epiphone, Martin, Gretsch, and LTD.

Yes, these are brands that are associated with the west; you may be wondering why they are being manufactured in the Far East. And perhaps, some might wonder if the quality of guitars made in Korea—even though the brands are American—are on par with those actually made in the USA.

It’s a big shoe to fill for the said eastern Asian country; after all, many of the most well-known guitar brands, such as those mentioned above, were founded in the United States.

But as the cost of making guitars increased in the United States and consumers demanded more affordable instruments, manufacturers were compelled to explore cost-effective ways to produce guitars.

Although Korea’s guitar industry is not as developed as Japan’s, many of the guitars produced there have been touted as the next best thing. In some cases, Korean made guitars have even surpassed Japan in terms of quality!

When mainstream guitar production initially migrated there, it was as a cost-cutting measure to provide inexpensive guitars to Western nations, as it was in other countries.

As large-scale guitar manufacturing comes to an end, many of these brands have grown legions of admirers who testify to their excellence. Today, guitars made in Korea are regarded as high quality.

Are Guitars Manufactured in Korea Good?

So, the straight-up question is, are Korean made guitars good?

In a nutshell, US-made guitars are now considered premium instruments because only high-end collections are produced in the United States, while lower-end guitar manufacturing is outsourced to countries with lower labor costs.

With that said, here are the things that you must know about Korean made guitars:

● The General Quality

For the most part, Korean made guitars are great. Different manufacturers make some of the best guitars on the market in Korea. The country’s guitar production infrastructure is well-developed, and the quality is generally consistent. Companies have formed dual-ownership partnerships with factories to ensure that quality is a priority for the manufacturer.

South Korea mostly produces mid-range electric guitars that are often less expensive than those made in the United States, Mexico, and Japan, but more expensive than those made in China and Indonesia.

● The Build

Generally, Korean guitars are nicely built; maybe a little over-finished for some models, but that is a negligible detail. They use high-grade woods that can be easily sourced from nearby locations; for guitars with the same wood material made in the west, you can expect to pay more.

Korea seems to be consistent when it comes to build, typically heavy woods and thick finishes, but durable and good quality all in all.

● The Components (Hardware and Electronics)

The hardware in Korean made guitars are also great, but the electronics may be a hit or miss in some models. The trick here is to do your research before buying the product, or better yet, try it before you buy it.

But because of this common sentiment among the owners of Korean made guitars, manufacturers are upgrading the guitars to satisfy their clients.

Should You Go for Korean Made Guitars?

Well, we say don’t shy away from Korean made guitars!

To help you decide, here are the good, the bad, and the ugly (not really ugly in the sense of the word, but you get it):

● The Good

Of course, one thing that truly stands out about Korean made guitars versus those made in the United States or Japan is that they are a lot cheaper! And for the quality (depending on the range, they can be either decent or darn good!) and aesthetics, Korean made guitars give you the best bang for your buck!

● The Bad

There is a downside to taking the manufacturing business to a region with a much lower operating cost. In a country like Korea, low manufacturing costs attract companies who don’t want to invest a lot of their money in research, design, or development and just want to churn out guitars to sell to unwary buyers.

● The Ugly

The ugly thing is that there is this stigma about cheaper guitars being inferior. Specifically, guitars made in the Far East are deemed mediocre in quality and sound, and that’s what discourages many from exploring the otherwise promising guitar market in places like Korea.

The key here is to do research; maybe connect with those who have bought one from Korea and ask for their feedback.

It may also help to stick with brands that are well-known and reputable since they are most likely stricter with quality control.

To help you further, here’s an interesting comparison between a Korean made guitar and one that is made in the USA:

Final Thoughts: Quality Knows No Label

A country of manufacture is no guarantee of quality; it could be made in the Far East or South America, but the point is, if they cut corners, then the resulting product will be bad.

You can’t judge a guitar’s quality based on the manufacturing origin slapped on its body. You judge a guitar based on how it feels, how it plays, and how it sounds.

From how we see it, Korea is definitely capable of making high-quality instruments. They produce guitars based on the price and manufacturing specifications that “parent companies” give them.

The bottom line is that you should judge the instrument’s excellence by its own merits rather than by where it was created.