Chinese custom-made guitar: Is it worth it?

By Carlo on Saturday, August 1st, 2020 in Gear. No Comments

Think you’re smarter than everyone else? Think you can buy a custom-made guitar that’s as well-made as one you’d buy from the US or from Europe…
You’re way off! And you’re not alone…

I got delivery on mine a few weeks ago and have to say that once the initial excitement and delight subsided, it’s hardly been out of the drawer since.  
Why is that, I hear you say? Work may have something to do with it, and rehearsals with the band I currently play in, oh, and sloth to a great extent, too…

Oh yes, looking after and improving a guitar isn’t a walk in the park. Changing the electronics, making sure it won’t short, replacing the frets, tuning it… You don’t just walk into being a luthier, you know!

And maybe I should have remembered that little pearl of wisdom before I embarked on this little adventure! There are hundreds of videos about it on Youtube (PRS made in China, and Chibson, Fake Gibson replica). And all they did was make me want a custom-made guitar with a low price-tag even more!

Before I carry on, let me be clear on one thing: I am totally against counterfeit goods! I think they are ethically wrong and really not worth the money you pay for them: for example, a Gibson made in China is a poor imitation of the original and will always pale in comparison to a US-made model.

The only person you’ll be fooling is yourself… and only yourself!

However, China-made guitars can be a good choice: if you want a low-cost custom-made guitar.

Here’s why: in my case, I’m convinced that had I ordered the model and specs I wanted from PRS, the guitar would have cost me at least $10.000… at the very least…. I’ve seen many a PRS model sell for way over that.
If truth be told, even though they make signature items for celebrities, I’m not sure if PRS even makes custom-made items for amateurs and private buyers like you and me…

As far as my purchase was concerned, my custom-made guitar cost me under $400… it’s a no-brainer!

Anyway, back to my guitar: what’s the bottom line?

Build and paint quality

This is where the guitar falls short – build quality is pretty mediocre.

It’s pretty damn heavy – a big, bulky block of wood!

By that I mean that unlike a PRS, the shape of mine isn’t adapted to how I play:

I hold the guitar quite high, and when I’m playing upright, the body digs into my ribs… it gets pretty painful after a while… and hitting the high notes is hard work.

Paintwork

Ok, so I asked for a Schecter Hollywood look…. And it’s got it… if you’re standing a mile away!

It’s clear the paintwork isn’t great (see photo above). It’s rather dark and doesn’t look even.

What does it sound like?

Now here I was pleasantly surprised (see video). Even if I do still plan to change the pickups, the sound it produces is pretty good (the bridge pickup in particular). So it’s not all bad…

Conclusion 

Would I buy this again? Er… Definitely not!

Even though I believe I’ll have a very nice guitar once I’ve made all the adjustments I want… I very much doubt it’ll ever be the guitar of my dreams. Of course, never say never…

The bottom line:

I’d say: a lot of hard work for little result.

Author: Carlo
Guitarist and Songwriter.

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