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> Guitar Quality Control, Are we really getting the best from our favourite brands?
Becca
post Apr 3 2014, 01:57 AM
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Now we are getting somewhere with this. I admit that there was a touch of mischief in the way I posed this question. I think TeoWulf was the first to suspect ,so well done that man. However I did want to see how this forum handles itself even when someone, ahem, drops a boulder in the pond. What I learned was this site is not only fun but has musos on here who are thoughtful and articulate and who love a good debate. Mudbone really picked the ball up when he pointed out the low cost of manufacturing pups compared to the mark up. Kenny, the irrepressible, told us the lengths he had to go to on one of his guitars to improve the shielding. This is part of what I want to get at. We slog to buy the best we can afford to do the job we love. If we were builders and our tools were not made to the highest standard that manufacturer would be out of business pretty darn quick. I admire Ken for being able to do the extra finishing work on his guitar that it needed. It just makes me cross that it hadn't come from the factory adequately shielded.
I mentioned my old USA Fender Strat . It was a ltd edition reissue in a lovely Antigua finish. Kind of like a pearl grey sunburst if you don't know it. It had a micro tilt neck so it was possibly a '72 reissue? It cost hundreds of pounds more than the standard Strats hanging next it in the Fender dealership in Ealing. It also weighed a ton. I gradually became aware of how noisy it was as said before, but also lots of finishing issues. The scratch plate was bowed outwards from the body. The slot for the five way was left rough cut. Turning down the the tone knobs increased the buzzing and operating the switch varied from a bit of crackle to thumps and bangs. I had to take a can of WD40 into the orchestra pit every session! The dealer tried to tell me it was "authentic Fender" but in the end used the TINY argument on me (tough, it's now yours)!
By raising these sort of issues here, amongst musicians who routinely help each other out and who can discuss the hind legs off a donkey we may be able to bring issues that have plagued us , all of us, for years out into the sunlight. Perhaps get companies to raise their game a bit in response. Hell, even Gibson now offer coil split and phase shift on the Les Paul. It took them until 2012 and undoubtedly in response to PRS eating into their sales but it shows that mountains can move. Eventually.
A friend has a Mexican Fretless P bass that is pretty much unplayable. Bought new from Fender dealer on web. He also got the TINY retort. Worryingly this was only in 2012.


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Todd Simpson
post Apr 3 2014, 02:56 AM
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This is the most helpful and supportive and consistently positive forum anywhere smile.gif I don't think our posts here however are going to sway vendors like Fender/Gibson back to quality days of yore, but at least we can all share our experience and help each other smile.gif

I too miss the quality of certain brands such as IBANEZ for example. For instance, the RG5xx original series (made in japan) are still on par with bouttique guitars costing wads more and still are IMHO (except for the pickups of course but even those were better than what they are offering currently).

Over the years as these companies have grown, the quality has steadily declined IMHO for all instruments except the very very very top of the line. Arguments can be made for and against, of course, with good examples on both sides so it simply is what it is. Companies want to sell more units, do more production, quality starts to suffer except for the "Custom Shop" models, and so the story goes.

I think this is partially why we have seen an EXPLOSION of very small boutique vendors like SKEVERSON and others making killer instruments by hand. You don't have to be a Rock Star to get on the waiting list, but you do have to be willing to wait smile.gif Anyone can now plop down several thousand dollars and wait a year or so for the guitar of your dreams smile.gif Or go find a good RG550, 560, 565 in decent shape smile.gif



QUOTE (Becca @ Apr 2 2014, 08:57 PM) *
Now we are getting somewhere with this. I admit that there was a touch of mischief in the way I posed this question. I think TeoWulf was the first to suspect ,so well done that man. However I did want to see how this forum handles itself even when someone, ahem, drops a boulder in the pond. What I learned was this site is not only fun but has musos on here who are thoughtful and articulate and who love a good debate. Mudbone really picked the ball up when he pointed out the low cost of manufacturing pups compared to the mark up. Kenny, the irrepressible, told us the lengths he had to go to on one of his guitars to improve the shielding. This is part of what I want to get at. We slog to buy the best we can afford to do the job we love. If we were builders and our tools were not made to the highest standard that manufacturer would be out of business pretty darn quick. I admire Ken for being able to do the extra finishing work on his guitar that it needed. It just makes me cross that it hadn't come from the factory adequately shielded.
I mentioned my old USA Fender Strat . It was a ltd edition reissue in a lovely Antigua finish. Kind of like a pearl grey sunburst if you don't know it. It had a micro tilt neck so it was possibly a '72 reissue? It cost hundreds of pounds more than the standard Strats hanging next it in the Fender dealership in Ealing. It also weighed a ton. I gradually became aware of how noisy it was as said before, but also lots of finishing issues. The scratch plate was bowed outwards from the body. The slot for the five way was left rough cut. Turning down the the tone knobs increased the buzzing and operating the switch varied from a bit of crackle to thumps and bangs. I had to take a can of WD40 into the orchestra pit every session! The dealer tried to tell me it was "authentic Fender" but in the end used the TINY argument on me (tough, it's now yours)!
By raising these sort of issues here, amongst musicians who routinely help each other out and who can discuss the hind legs off a donkey we may be able to bring issues that have plagued us , all of us, for years out into the sunlight. Perhaps get companies to raise their game a bit in response. Hell, even Gibson now offer coil split and phase shift on the Les Paul. It took them until 2012 and undoubtedly in response to PRS eating into their sales but it shows that mountains can move. Eventually.
A friend has a Mexican Fretless P bass that is pretty much unplayable. Bought new from Fender dealer on web. He also got the TINY retort. Worryingly this was only in 2012.



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klasaine
post Apr 3 2014, 06:00 AM
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Yeah, that'd be great!
Quality control for almost everything that's even remotely mass manufactured seems to be in decline. Everything is disposable. I started buying guitars in the mid 70s and I got some real 'dogs' from both fender and Gibson. Most gretsch guitars - even in the 50s - weren't good for much other than firewood. The goods ones were GREAT but the bad ones were legion. Early on I started replacing pickups, bridges and tuners - everybody did (remember - 70s, the beginning of the replacement pickup era), it's just what you did.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't know any better. I've grown up in the era of decling quality.
In the 36 years that I've been buying (lots of) guitars I've probably only bought 5 'new' ones. I'm into used and cheap and tweak to my taste and needs. To be honest I can't fathom spending what i see some folks pay for any (new) high - end solidbody electric. Its a couple of hunks of lumber and a 7th grade electronics project. No value judgment but I ain't gonna do it.

I know that many would say, "but Kenny [that's for you Becca wink.gif] wouldn't you love a perfectly set up with perfect intonation and a beautifully finished ________ brand guitar?" No. I learned how to play and learned to love guitar on a POS sears silvertone acoustic and then another pos boat oar of a usa Fender Telecaster. I wouldn't know what to do with a really high end Axe.

Conversely, at least with Fender, the $179.00 entry level electric of today completely blows away the entry level, no name electrics available when I started. Which was about $69 US (currently adjusting for inflation = $289.00). Also, and this is Leo's genius - even the biggest hunk of junk $79.00 Squier affinity Hello Kitty Strat still 'sounds and feels' uniquely like a Stratocaster. Not too mention you can fix and set up a Fender with tools and materials from about any hardware store in the world (again, the Fender ethic). *I think you asked why aren't all Fenders shielded in the control cavity? Because it takes a little of the top end sparkle away. I don't necessarily feel that that much reverence for history is all that necessary (a '57 wasn't shielded yada yada) but many others completely and vehemently disagree. Different tastes, different requirements.
*Fender did start putting Humbuckers in Teles in 1972. The Tele 'deluxe' and that particular humbucker, the WRHB wide range humbucker, is VERY quiet and the originals are great sounding, much sought after pickups. It was designed by Seth Lover, famed inventor of the Gibson PAF. It isn't Fender's fault that 'most' guitar players dig standard strat and tele pkups. Depending on the model(s) you choose there are plenty of Fenders with good shielding, humbuckers, 'noiseless' singles, etc. to choose from. Though past and current taste still seems to suggest that a standard issue Tele or Strat is what most folks are looking for.

As to what the bigger companies should do? Fast and cheap seems to working for the share holders. I don't like or agree with that particular business model but I don't think it's about to change any time soon and as Todd said there's a ton of boutique and semi-boutique builders out there to choose from. Boutique amps, guitars, effects - some say it's a renaissance for elec guit players right now ... ? Also, the used market, at least in the USA, is pretty depressed right now. You can get some great high end and vintage gear at very good prices.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Apr 4 2014, 01:43 AM


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PosterBoy
post Apr 3 2014, 06:23 AM
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I think someone needs a hug!

Saying that, you can go on many of the big guitar forums and hear people talk about the lack of quality control in Gibson, and how years ago some of the guitars they are putting out wouldn't even go out as 2nds or acknowledged to having blemishes and these retail at a 2K+.

Fender seem to do a lot better and also even their entryish level Squire Classic Vibe and Vintage Modified ranges are praised and have a quality that years ago you could never have got for the price.

There are now a lot more choices if you want to avoid some of the bigger production brands, with many builders making custom clones for a custom shop price and assemblers who buy the parts from companies like Muskraft, Warmoth USAGC etc (and a lot of them have very good relationships with these companies and get the quality pieces to their own specifications) and do the finishing work to a very high standard and get you the guitar of your dreams at a very reasonable price.

We've got so much choice in this generation, it's hard to bitch about being a guitarist, I think we are very lucky.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 4 2014, 09:37 AM
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I think that the opinions are basically unanimous on the matter - the more they sell, the lower the standards go. Economical factors have driven producers to come up with the most sought after solution - minimum input for maximum profit.

If you classify customers based on pro and non pro players you will have a lot less pro players, I mean A LOT less. THEN from the non pro players, you get another classification - people who understand and learn about what they want and know how to choose an instrument and people who don't care about that and they just want an affordable guitar.

I am curious to see the proportions between the two aforementioned, but I tend to guess that the latter has greater numbers smile.gif In conclusion, if the business works, why worry?


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Becca
post Apr 4 2014, 05:56 PM
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Some very good points made again. Kenny nails it with his comments about mass production and a general decline in standards. Surely though the point of mass production is to bring down the cost so paying some people to sort out finishing details wouldnt be that much of an issue. The extra money they charge for special or limited editions should warrant a better standard of finish. I dont own a PRS but a friend does and it is staggeringly beautiful and well made. Parker fly owners always seem very pleased too. Yes,I know we are talking about very high end instruments here But names like Gibson and Fender who sell you a four figure guitar should produce a consistent standard. If we all do as Poster Boy suggests and just be grateful these companies deign to let us give them wads of money then things will just get worse.
Kenny is also correct about the entry level guitars of yesterday. Shocking, sometimes literally. My very first guitar that my folks bought me was a Woolworths KAY guitar and Audition amp. I am amazed I ever took it further when I think of how bad that POS was. Todds Ibanez I agree with. I know the model and it was a very capable guitar. The only Ibanez I ever owned was a Lawsuit Gold Top. Nice to play but the PAF copies were rubbish. All midrange and a tendency to be microphonic. Actually,I wouldnt mind one again with decent pups smile.gif Or a 70 's Ovation Preacher.
SKEVERSON is a new on me Todd. Have you got one? Please post some pics I would love to see it.
Cosmin Lupo explains the economics of it all very well. I just think if enough of us express disatisfaction with it. then they have to listen.

dont they?


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klasaine
post Apr 4 2014, 06:38 PM
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The four and five thousand dollar Gibsons are still pretty great quality.
The custom shop Fenders that are $2500 to $3000 are also of superior quality so in a way I guess they do directly compete with USA made PRS, Suhr, Sadowsky, etc. But in the spirit of this thread I too feel that you shouldn't have to spend 3 grand to get a great axe.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Apr 5 2014, 04:30 PM


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PosterBoy
post Apr 5 2014, 12:19 PM
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QUOTE (Becca @ Apr 4 2014, 05:56 PM) *
Some very good points made again. Kenny nails it with his comments about mass production and a general decline in standards. Surely though the point of mass production is to bring down the cost so paying some people to sort out finishing details wouldnt be that much of an issue. The extra money they charge for special or limited editions should warrant a better standard of finish. I dont own a PRS but a friend does and it is staggeringly beautiful and well made. Parker fly owners always seem very pleased too. Yes,I know we are talking about very high end instruments here But names like Gibson and Fender who sell you a four figure guitar should produce a consistent standard. If we all do as Poster Boy suggests and just be grateful these companies deign to let us give them wads of money then things will just get worse.
Kenny is also correct about the entry level guitars of yesterday. Shocking, sometimes literally. My very first guitar that my folks bought me was a Woolworths KAY guitar and Audition amp. I am amazed I ever took it further when I think of how bad that POS was. Todds Ibanez I agree with. I know the model and it was a very capable guitar. The only Ibanez I ever owned was a Lawsuit Gold Top. Nice to play but the PAF copies were rubbish. All midrange and a tendency to be microphonic. Actually,I wouldnt mind one again with decent pups smile.gif Or a 70 's Ovation Preacher.
SKEVERSON is a new on me Todd. Have you got one? Please post some pics I would love to see it.
Cosmin Lupo explains the economics of it all very well. I just think if enough of us express disatisfaction with it. then they have to listen.

dont they?


You misunderstood me I'm not saying we should be grateful to companies to give them wads of money for poor quality, I'm saying there is so much choice now, you can easily choose to not to buy from those companies and go elsewhere for the quality control we want!


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 5 2014, 04:40 PM
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QUOTE (Becca @ Apr 4 2014, 04:56 PM) *
Some very good points made again. Kenny nails it with his comments about mass production and a general decline in standards. Surely though the point of mass production is to bring down the cost so paying some people to sort out finishing details wouldnt be that much of an issue. The extra money they charge for special or limited editions should warrant a better standard of finish. I dont own a PRS but a friend does and it is staggeringly beautiful and well made. Parker fly owners always seem very pleased too. Yes,I know we are talking about very high end instruments here But names like Gibson and Fender who sell you a four figure guitar should produce a consistent standard. If we all do as Poster Boy suggests and just be grateful these companies deign to let us give them wads of money then things will just get worse.
Kenny is also correct about the entry level guitars of yesterday. Shocking, sometimes literally. My very first guitar that my folks bought me was a Woolworths KAY guitar and Audition amp. I am amazed I ever took it further when I think of how bad that POS was. Todds Ibanez I agree with. I know the model and it was a very capable guitar. The only Ibanez I ever owned was a Lawsuit Gold Top. Nice to play but the PAF copies were rubbish. All midrange and a tendency to be microphonic. Actually,I wouldnt mind one again with decent pups smile.gif Or a 70 's Ovation Preacher.
SKEVERSON is a new on me Todd. Have you got one? Please post some pics I would love to see it.
Cosmin Lupo explains the economics of it all very well. I just think if enough of us express disatisfaction with it. then they have to listen.

dont they?


Thanks man - It's sad that I am right tho... I frankly don't think that things will change to the greater good tho - economy is not going that great and resources are scarce, in comparison to what they were 20-30 years ago. Us humans.. we don't know how to treat nature so that it will always give us what we need. We destroy it, so wood will be far less available in the years to come..


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klasaine
post Apr 5 2014, 04:58 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Apr 5 2014, 08:40 AM) *
Thanks man - It's sad that I am right tho... I frankly don't think that things will change to the greater good tho - economy is not going that great and resources are scarce, in comparison to what they were 20-30 years ago. Us humans.. we don't know how to treat nature so that it will always give us what we need. We destroy it, so wood will be far less available in the years to come..


Sadly, you are right brother Cosmin. And it is one of the reasons I hold on to several of the guitars (and amps and even some pedals) I don't really play or 'need' anymore. They're USA made real wood guitars ... which, even when they're (in actuality) pieces of crap, continue to increase in value (even during the crisis).

*The 'hot ticket' right now - Japanese made Fenders (and even Squiers) especially 80s and 90s models (but also the new ones). They generally don't sell the Japanese Fenders in the states (mostly mexican, malaysian, korean, chinese) but maybe you Europeans have access - ?


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PosterBoy
post Apr 5 2014, 05:02 PM
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You can get the Japanese stuff through http://www.ishibashi.co.jp/


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 5 2014, 05:02 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Apr 5 2014, 03:58 PM) *
Sadly, you are right brother Cosmin. And it is one of the reasons I hold on to several of the guitars (and amps and even some pedals) I don't really play or 'need' anymore. They're USA made real wood guitars ... which, even when they're (in actuality) pieces of crap, continue to increase in value (even during the crisis).

*The 'hot ticket' right now - Japanese made Fenders (and even Squiers) especially 80s and 90s models (but also the new ones). They generally don't sell the Japanese Fenders in the states (mostly mexican, malaysian, korean, chinese) but maybe you Europeans have access - ?


That's one reason for which I keep my JEM smile.gif It's a real guitar, made out of real wood, back in 1989!


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klasaine
post Apr 5 2014, 05:13 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Apr 5 2014, 09:02 AM) *
That's one reason for which I keep my JEM smile.gif It's a real guitar, made out of real wood, back in 1989!


Absolutely!

@Posterboy ... a new Japanese made Strat from Ishibashi is on average $750.00 US (77, 400 yen). If you know, what's the shipping price for that and is there any 'duty' or tax charges?

This post has been edited by klasaine: Apr 5 2014, 05:23 PM


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Todd Simpson
post Apr 5 2014, 06:21 PM
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And why I still have my ancient Ibanez RG560 and RG7620. Both are MIJ ibanez guitars from the "Golden Age" of ibby. I rarely hold on to gear for very long but I've had both of these guitars for about 10 years and they were already old/used when I bought them. They just don't build like this at the mid range anymore. You gotta spend crazy money to get an ibby this good now.


QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Apr 5 2014, 12:02 PM) *
That's one reason for which I keep my JEM smile.gif It's a real guitar, made out of real wood, back in 1989!


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klasaine
post Apr 5 2014, 06:35 PM
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I bought this guitar new in 1979 for $175.00 (with hardshell case).
At the time it was considered a 'cheap copy'.

Attached Image

You can't even get a Gibson 335 of this quality for less than $3500.00


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 6 2014, 06:09 PM
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Hehe smile.gif Todd and Ken, it's great to hold on to a piece of gear that you know, deep down inside, it will be valuable regardless of the age, situation or whatnot.

I think that the true value of gear, kind of shows up after it's actual production period - it's just like with famous painters or writers, they become famous after they are dead smile.gif


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Becca
post Apr 6 2014, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Apr 5 2014, 11:19 AM) *
You misunderstood me I'm not saying we should be grateful to companies to give them wads of money for poor quality, I'm saying there is so much choice now, you can easily choose to not to buy from those companies and go elsewhere for the quality control we want!

Sorry, PB. reading it back I do get what you mean. When I started playing way back in the Triassic, the beginners guitars were truly awful.My friends daughter asked me recently about a good starter guitar and just a cursory bit of research threw up an amazing choice of perfectly adequate guitars for less than £300. Vintage in particular seem great value for money. My fella has a black VRS100 (I think) which has a set neck, whammy bar, locking tuners and Wilkinson hardware. I think it was about £250 or so. I know someone with a Yamaha Pacifica which cost peanuts but is certainly giggable.
Lots of choice out there as you quite rightly say.


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Becca
post Apr 6 2014, 09:08 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Apr 5 2014, 05:35 PM) *
I bought this guitar new in 1979 for $175.00 (with hardshell case).
At the time it was considered a 'cheap copy'.

Attached Image

You can't even get a Gibson 335 of this quality for less than $3500.00


Oh Dawkins!! That is lovely. I cant make out who made it, is it a Columbus? I knew a guy who played in the Buddy Holly stage show and NEVER took his Gibson on. Always used the Columbus but with Gibson pickups. No one ever noticed.


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PosterBoy
post Apr 6 2014, 09:11 PM
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I've a japanese made Burny FLG-90 (LP clone) from around 1982 I spent €1K on it a few years ago, can't get a Gibson of the same quality 2nd hand for that price.

The 335 style guitar Eastman are making in China is getting very good reviews.

This post has been edited by PosterBoy: Apr 6 2014, 09:37 PM


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klasaine
post Apr 6 2014, 10:35 PM
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QUOTE (Becca @ Apr 6 2014, 01:08 PM) *
Oh Dawkins!! That is lovely. I cant make out who made it, is it a Columbus? I knew a guy who played in the Buddy Holly stage show and NEVER took his Gibson on. Always used the Columbus but with Gibson pickups. No one ever noticed.


It's an Ibanez 'artist', model # (most probably) 2629.

The Burnys, Greco and Max (Slash's first LP) Gibson LP copies are highly sought after these days. They are fantastic instruments. Now regarded to be superior to their Gibson counterparts, other than the 'historic' and custom shop models. Many of these actually have a fake Gibson headstock logo.
*Also, there's a ton of non-Fenders out there with Fender logo stickers on them. I have one. The body is an '83 standard strat but the neck is a repro ... I put a sticker on it. IMO it's looks best that way. You can usually buy Fender logo stickers at swap meets.


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