Chinese Guitars

July 31, 2006

I came across this fascinating video of a guitar factory in China.

Some interesting data points. One such factory, the Pearl River Guitar Factory, employs 600 workers and they produce over 60,000 acoustic guitars and several thousand electric guitars each month.

Aofa Factory is another of what appears to be hundreds of guitar factories located in China.

Why are there so many guitar factories in China?

George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars offered this perspective:

The really important player on the scene today in the low end and intermediate price bracket is Mainland China. Whereas Yamaha and other makers have produced guitars in Taiwan for quite some time, Mainland Chinese guitars were always noted as being of extremely low quality.

In the past few years, however, that situation has changed dramatically. In the past ten years, China has moved rapidly toward entrepreneurial private ownership of business. The new leadership has pushed this process quickly. China now permits foreign ownership of factories and businesses as well as encouraging Chinese citizens both from Mainland China and Taiwan to set up their own ventures. Just as the Koreans were able to progress from very low-end student models with crude workmanship to remarkably sophisticated guitars more quickly than the Japanese had, the Chinese now have all the advantages of the prior experience of Americans, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian ventures.

In addition it should be noted that while Chinese labor is remarkably inexpensive, with an average annual income in China today of under $1,000, Chinese labor is by no means unskilled. China has a very high literacy rate and its workers are skilled and motivated.

In the past the world has had areas with cheap labor and other areas with skilled labor. China is a major force to reckon with because it offers cheap skilled labor. The Chinese today are producing instruments in many different settings, ranging from small workshops specializing in handcrafted instruments on up to huge industrial complexes with the latest automated technology.

Cheap skilled labor.

The pictures below are from the Taylor Guitar Factory. I guess I will have to travel a bit further if they move their factory to China.

Taylor Guitar Factory

Taylor Guitar Factory

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