The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:37 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:09 pm

But I get it. I've been down this road here before, Mr no evil seems to kind of seem to ask for advice about stuff and then it turns into some kind of soapbox about how things are too expensive these days and dadgum it if it ain't all just a bunch of humbug.
Dude, what the hell. Can we cut the agro crap.

The eagle eye observer will note that this was a threat about (checks notes) "the psychology of GASing for a Gibson." No advice of any kind was being solicited. This was an explicit, self identified soap box. Others seemed to have gotten that and shared their thoughts on the matter.

The consensus seems to be that Gibson has had (and may continue to have) qc issues. Lots of folks seem to share that view based on their experiences. And that's also my first hand, direct experience- your personal trust of the firm notwithstanding.


BTW. Here's your cheaper equivalent Tokai ES198 TB https://reverb.com/item/ ... t=34798753
Unless the Japanese standard of living is too low for you.

If the topic didn't interest you, it's so easy to not chime in.

You are very knowledgeable, and I've appreciated your insights in the past, they've taught me a lot. I honestly think the wires have gotten crossed.

I really don't believe this forum needs to be so... catty?

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:22 pm

Nevets wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:44 am
seenoevil II wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:54 pm

Self expression, symbolism, conforming or flouting cultural associations, aesthetic preferences, status indicators, rewarding oneself, the thrill of horse trading, it goes on and on.
Another one that's getting under my skin lately is the desire to make up for the "one that got away". That great guitar you never should have sold, or that amazing deal you let slip through your fingers. You're right, the list of motivations, and for me anyway, subsequent justifications, just goes on and on.

I'm with you too on not wanting to be so fixated on gear. I like guitars but I don't want to have a huge collection. I don't want "guitar collector/hoarder" to be any part of my identity. I would love to be one of those guys who is happy with just one guitar (like Doug Martsch - his one guitar isn't even particularly cool!)

But while I'd like to have just one instrument that satisfied me, I question that too. What really is the harm in having a Jazzmaster and a Strat? Where does the line get drawn? I watched a bunch of those Five Watt World videos on gear minimalism and "what do you really need?", but I'm not sure I buy into his ideas. It seems to me to just be GAS of a different sort. The quest for that "one" guitar or piece of gear that's going to allow you to sell off all the stuff clogging your closets. I'm guilty of thinking this way too.
All of this. I'm still haunted by a Starfire II I hesitated on.

Yeah, my first ever favorite guitarist was Jonny Greenwood and his tele plus, so the whole instrument monogamy still got encoded early. My next favorite guitarist was Pete Townsend, so go figure.

Wanting one very special guitar maybe a way of wanting to be very special yourself. When you use one instrument for everything over years, the guitar stops being so important in itself and becomes a symbol of the player.

Trigger, Joe Strummer's Tele, Nick Zinners strat, Ian McCay's SG. The list goes on and on.

It's a terribly romantic idea. Having one very nice guitar and no others. That's the way it seemed to be back in the day for many players.

Having so many cheap options is a mixed blessing. In one hand it puts functioning instruments in so many more people's hands. But it also sets up this whole mess we're talking about here.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by postchrist » Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:07 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:09 pm
For anyone who says that Gibson is just marketing and the name, show me the ES-335 equivalent that costs less. You'll have to figure in the difference between American labor and Chinese, so if you want to talk Eastman or some bullshit then do the math to make the labor costs the same. You'll pretty quickly find that Gibson actually uses their economy of scale to make the instruments pretty reasonably priced.

And no, your Epiphone isn't going to be the same, because those are made cheaper and use foreign labor.
well obviously if your standard for “es-335 equivalent” involves following the exact recipe that givson owns and makes sure nobody else can use, then yeah, good luck. if it’s “show me a semi hollow electric guitar that is as nice as an es-335” then i guess there’s lots to talk about? i also don’t know whether it could bite me in the ass to say this(probably just paranoid lmao), but anyone that doesn’t have direct access to the brand is paying a very very sizable premium(i know every brand does this, but not to this extent). beyond that, rumors among their ex-employees are that the total cost of manufacturing the instruments is about half of what employees still have to pay... so you can imagine just how inflated their profit margins really are.
Last edited by postchrist on Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by mbene085 » Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:22 pm

postchrist wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:07 pm
also, american labor kinda sucks, lol, or at least is not inherently better than “foreign labor”. the difference between a mexican and american tele has everything to do with materials and nothing to do with labor.
I've never felt that anyone on this board has argued that American labour makes for better guitars. Just that American labour makes for expensive guitars, and American jobs.

Focusing on what "musical performance" you get per dollar doesn't factor that into the equation. There's nothing wrong with believing in supporting American manufacturing jobs, and there's nothing wrong with believing in spending as little money as you can to get an enjoyable guitar. They are equally valid for completely different reasons.
postchrist wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:07 pm
underpaid workers don’t somehow produce superior quality goods by way of just being american.
A quick google suggests that the average Gibson employee earns $53,500 per year, or $26 per hour. A similarly cursory googling tells me that the average early career American manufacturing worker makes about $14.50, and a mid-career worker with 5-9 years of experience earns an average of $16.23.

So, no. Gibson doesn't seem to have "underpaid workers", it seems if anything that they are paying significantly higher than average American manufacturing jobs, which are few and far between these days. It almost sounds as though they have "well-paid" employees who might be expected to be motivated enough to make something well.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by postchrist » Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:25 pm

“average salary” at a company that’s likely fairly top-heavy doesn’t mean much, imo. i’ve had a lot of personal experiences with employees and ex-employees of the company and have seldom heard good things. for that matter, i’m not at all concerned with what anyone is being paid beyond those that are actually producing the instruments.

did some more digging, glassdoor points to their laborers making roughly $14-17/hr. that’s absolutely underpaid, imo, but you can disagree with that.

all fair points on american labor. i think i initially mosubderstood.. the only point in larry’s message that i disagree with on that front is that an epiphone will be inherently “different” based on the country of manufacture. that i absolutely disagree with.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:51 pm

seenoevil II wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:37 pm
BTW. Here's your cheaper equivalent Tokai ES198 TB https://reverb.com/item/ ... t=34798753
Unless the Japanese standard of living is too low for you.
Not trying to be catty, brother, it's just that you keep insisting that things are equivalent when they are not in fact equivalent.

For instance, your Tokai guitar has a polyurethane finish whereas a Gibson always has nitrocellulose. Which one is better? I can't say. I can tell you that nitrocellulose is much more expensive of a finish to apply, though:

The difference in the two are night and day. Urethane is dried by chemicals and can be ready to buff out in just a few days. Nitro needs to air dry to release its solvent and it’s usually a good bet it will take about thirty days to dry.

So again, not trying to bust your balls or anything, but the fact is that Gibson is using a much more expensive manufacturing process on these guitars because it's not like the finish isn't one of the most expensive parts of guitar construction.

Now, you might make a point about brand recognition here also... I mean, you can't tell me that a legendary guitar maker like Gibson isn't going to command a higher price in the marketplace over a knockoff from a company that is not at all held in particularly high regard like Tokai. I mean, who hasn't grown up watching all the great guitar legends on their Tokai guitars and dreams of one day having their own... right?

But even if that doesn't have any meaning, the fact is, the Gibson is absolutely made in a more expensive and elaborate fashion and the price reflects that to a degree.

Whatever, though. I'm not trying to tell you that you should buy a Gibson or a Tokai or just stay with your Epiphone. I don't care what you do. I just get irritated at the constant lazy thinking about how you can totally get a much better guitar than a Gibson, but whenever you spec things to be the same, it just doesn't quite ever add up that a Gibson is really all that bad of a value, really.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by postchrist » Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:15 pm

@larry - i didn’t actually realize until just now looking that the heritage h-535 is in fact cheaper than the real thing... in my opinion, a far better value for what amounts to roughly the same specs, but i understand wanting the right name on the headstock, and that $200 difference in the cost isn’t exactly a huge jump. that said, with the quality i’ve seen out of heritage i wouldn’t be surprised if a lot more money goes into the process on their end. i could be wrong on that front, of course.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:00 pm

postchrist wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:25 pm
“average salary” at a company that’s likely fairly top-heavy doesn’t mean much, imo. i’ve had a lot of personal experiences with employees and ex-

all fair points on american labor. i think i initially mosubderstood.. the only point in larry’s message that i disagree with on that front is that an epiphone will be inherently “different” based on the country of manufacture. that i absolutely disagree with.
I have never said that they are different based on the country of manufacture, I say that at least in some cases they are different because Gibson makes them be different.

The example I am using is the 3 ply vs 5 ply on the ES-330 and the Casino. That doesn't have to be different, Gibson could use the same exact wood in both cases, but they don't. They manufacture them differently because they charge different amounts for them.

It doesn't surprise me to think that Heritage prices their guitars under Gibson.

Probably the best example I can come up with is the Eastman ES-335 equivalent and the Gibson. Those seem to hew to the very same specs, and there is no arguing that Eastman makes great guitars.

But while you might think that $15-17 is very much underpaying Gibson factory workers, I seem to be reading that Chinese factory wages hit $3.60 an hour in 2017, they are probably higher now, Eastman workers are probably paid more than average factory workers.

Leaving alone the concept of why one would complain about $15-17 being too little (I've worked for less) and yet turn around and support a company paying $4 an hour aside, the fact is that the Eastman costs around $2200 new despite being made with $4 an hour labor and the Gibson ES-335 is $800 more despite being made with labor that is 4-5 times as much.

I mean, do the math there. You can only come up with a couple of things, first, that it seems like we have three companies that agree that an ES-335 type guitar can only profitably be sold for above $2k, the Tokai is selling for around $2200 but using a less labor intensive finish process but expensive Japanese labor, the Eastman sells for about $2200 using expensive finishing process but $4 an hour Chinese labor, and the Gibson sells for $3000 despite using both the expensive finish process and American labor that is as expensive as the Japanese. Oh, and Heritage uses the expensive finish, expensive labor and they compete on price a couple hundred less because they have to.

So Gibson doesn't seem all that overpriced compared to their direct competition here.

Secondly, Epiphone has been getting better over the years, but they don't manufacture the guitars to the same specs as Gibson because Gibson doesn't want that. They look the same... I mean, a Squier and a Fender look the same, also, but aren't made to the same specs. There's nothing surprising about that.

That being said, though, it seems like these lines are blurring... G&L makes basically the same guitars, you either pay for the American or foreign labor. Epiphone and Gibson are closer in quality than they have ever been, clearly Gibson feels that they will allow Epiphone to compete directly more than previously. Fender used to make the Mexican Fenders considerably worse in quality than the American ones, but based on the Player series Jazz bass I have, those days are over and the guitars are roughly the same.

So, shit, people, buy whatever you want. No shortage of good guitars out there. But the lazy thinking that Gibson just charges a lot of money based on their fading brand value and nothing more is just preposterous.
Last edited by Larry Mal on Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by MrFingers » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:34 am

And then you have Guild who are basically humiliating Gibson with their Newark Street Collection Starfires at 1/3rd the price (including case), with better consistency across the range, using Korean labour.

Image

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by postchrist » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:18 am

the guild is a great example^ and as you detach from the idea of owning a 335 and broaden it to “a semi-hollow body electric” your options really open up.

larry, my takeaways here - i don’t particularly care what people will pay, what competition directs, etc... i’ve seen the insanity of their price inflation firsthand and want nothing to do with it. the market doesn’t change the fact that they’ll charge you $3k for a mediocre guitar that costs them *significantly* less to make, just because they can, and i personally just don’t like that. i also don’t “support” eastman, or heritage, or mass manufacturers in general... all my gear gets bought used and then i don’t ever have to deal with these questions of ethical consumption in anything other than the hypothetical.

as for $14-17 being too little, i don’t know what you want me to say. $14-17 is table scraps. any job involving the process of making musical instruments likely involves hard labor, tedious effort, and requires a good degree of skill, as well as personal(physical) risk... but even if it didn’t, ~$30,000 a year(working full time) is not a comfortable living. i don’t know what else to say about that and don’t want to derail things too far.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by seenoevil II » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:39 am

MrFingers wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:34 am
And then you have Guild who are basically humiliating Gibson with their Newark Street Collection Starfires at 1/3rd the price (including case), with better consistency across the range, using Korean labour.

Image
I have a Newark Street x-175 I picked up for ch-cheap. It's really really nice. Alas, I don't think it's gonna work out for us because of pick up choices (although I'm still exploring replacement options). I think I'd swap it in a trade for a starfire 3,4 or 5 like this one. See if those minihumbuckers are more my season.

Used, a MIA guild from era is much cheaper than a gibson from the same time. I do not know what they cost new however. I'm sure I could find that somewhere though I imagine that they were comparable if a bit cheaper.

I'm not saying a gibson ought to be cheap, I'm just saying that they've been known to manipulate their prices by large amounts with the stated purpose of garnering appeal as a luxury brand. Also, just look at their pricing over the past 5 years and how it's swung wildly. Sure, those prices are lower now, but it's still a massive turn off to know that, beyond a certain point, the prices are just made up.

I kinda wish fender would take another stab at the starcaster, but really reissue it from in the states, with the two firms' approachs to pricing and manufacturing, it'd be interesting to see where it's price would land in 2020... and also I'd just like get one. But, fender's obnoxious character means that they'd reissue with a floyd rose and other "improvements."

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by gishuk » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:45 am

I love my original Starcaster and if they made a reissue with a Floyd I'd actually be tempted :D

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by mbene085 » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:20 am

seenoevil II wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:39 am
Also, just look at their pricing over the past 5 years and how it's swung wildly. Sure, those prices are lower now, but it's still a massive turn off to know that, beyond a certain point, the prices are just made up.
Every company's price for everything is "made up" - everything is priced as high as they think they can get away with given supply and demand. That's the free market in action.

In the 5 years since I last bought a new Fender, their prices have gone up completely unjustifiably. I bought a TVL JM for $1500 CAD. The exchange rate was literally identical to today's. That same guitar is now $1860, a 24% hike over 5 years. There has not been a 24% rise in the cost of materials or labour, nor 24% inflation in 5 years. They're just jacking up prices because they can.

Don't pretend that's a Gibson thing.

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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by postchrist » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:43 am

i don’t think anyone is pretending it’s just a gibson thing, for me it’s much more an argument for buying everything used. that said, there are brands that don’t *totally* screw you with their profit margins, though probably just because they can’t and not out of some ceo’s generosity and kind-heartedness.

being annoyed that a company with rights over certain designs and specs will charge you out the ass for something they could stand to make a lot less on isn’t a bad take, imo... but at least we’re talking guitars and not essential commodities.
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Re: The Psychology of GASing for a Gibson (es-335)

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:50 am

postchrist wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:18 am
the guild is a great example^ and as you detach from the idea of owning a 335 and broaden it to “a semi-hollow body electric” your options really open up.

larry, my takeaways here - i don’t particularly care what people will pay, what competition directs, etc... i’ve seen the insanity of their price inflation firsthand and want nothing to do with it. the market doesn’t change the fact that they’ll charge you $3k for a mediocre guitar that costs them *significantly* less to make, just because they can, and i personally just don’t like that. i also don’t “support” eastman, or heritage, or mass manufacturers in general... all my gear gets bought used and then i don’t ever have to deal with these questions of ethical consumption in anything other than the hypothetical.

as for $14-17 being too little, i don’t know what you want me to say. $14-17 is table scraps. any job involving the process of making musical instruments likely involves hard labor, tedious effort, and requires a good degree of skill, as well as personal(physical) risk... but even if it didn’t, ~$30,000 a year(working full time) is not a comfortable living. i don’t know what else to say about that and don’t want to derail things too far.
My thoughts are that Guild is priced kind of low at this point because they need to recoup their investment pretty quickly and re-re-re-establish themselves. I'm a big fan of Guild, and of that guitar in general. In fact, my buddy owns one of those because I guided him to it. But the company is in flux, and Guild does not have a brand name that inspires a lot of confidence at this point. I am sure that Cordoba is pricing Guild low at the moment to gain interest in the brand.

As far as $14-17 being too low, sure, I agree with that. The only part I am mystified about is why people begrudge Gibson even that while turning around and praising Epiphone and shit. I guarantee you that Epiphone workers aren't getting paid the same as Gibson workers because that's why Gibson moved Epiphone out of the United States in the first place, first to Japan to take advantage of cheaper skilled labor then, then to other Pac Rim nations always in search of the same thing.

I mean, my morals are pretty consistent here, I don't buy guitars that aren't made in the States. I prefer to keep my money employing my own people. I don't like that Gibson's factory doesn't pay more, but I also kind of get it, since they are competing against people making $4 an hour in China. That fucking sucks, and I wish there was more done to protect and invest in American workers like Gibson employees so that they could earn more. But at least I can know that I'm not contributing to the impoverishment of my own people by continually attacking them and gleefully supporting cheaper overseas labor.

Regardless, if you want to buy an ES-335 type guitar that is made by people who all make $50-60k a year, that is out there. And it costs a lot more than what Gibson charges. By all means, commission an ES-335 from someone and find out what that costs. Come back to me with the price and I'll wait to find out that it costs the same as what Epiphone charges or what the ludicrously named Newark St. line from Guild costs.
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