Chinese Guitars

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

33 replies
  1. cheyenne
    cheyenne says:

    i would like to see more about guitar factories in america and canada. i came to this page expecting to see about a factory closer to home, as i am searching for a job in this field. i hope you will start to look at our own half of the world more closely.

  2. david capraro
    david capraro says:

    I saw a chinese made hollow body bass electric at our music store and forgot the name. it looked awesome but want to research more about chinese basses. can you direct me to some “Brand Name” chinese manufacturers and help with suggestions, reviews, etc.?

    thanks a lot. i want a semi hollow body bass for the sixties rock i am playing now.

    • Stan Smith
      Stan Smith says:

      I would rather buy an older used guitar perhaps made in Japan than something shiny and new made in China. A Chinese made solid body guitar might look great but is the body real wood, a laminate or a fiberboard material that uses chemical resins to hold it together? A real wood body is more expensive but gives better sound that improves over the long run. Think carefully before buying. With the shiny bargain you get what you pay for.

      • Erik Swensrud
        Erik Swensrud says:

        You need to take a closer look at today’s Chinese made guitars! No longer are they plywood or poor quality. They are using real mahogany, rosewood and Canadian maple,alder and ash on most of the builds. Yes it’s TRUE most will need fret leveling and crowning and on alot of them they will need pots replaced, maybe hardware in some cases. If you spend about $400-500 what you’ll get is a good playing nice built guitar, below that price you’ll get a good body and neck and a great platform to build and modify!

    • Charles Charpentier
      Charles Charpentier says:

      I just bought a Jay Turser JT-133, which is a Chinese-made ES-335 copy. They sell new for about $350, but I got mine used for $225. Wow. I compared it to my old standby Ibanez Roadstar, and it kills the Ibanez in tone. I originally thought I might pick up the Peavey JF-3, which is also an ES-335 copy, but with a different head shape (and no-doubt also Chinese), but I stumbled across this Jay Turser first. I am very happy.

  3. Tim Weddle
    Tim Weddle says:

    Chinese guitars are really awesome, but if you find the bad supplier, you really will be in trouble., a good guy, honest, and good guitars.

    • Steve
      Steve says:

      No, basses can have 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, or more stnirgs (7 s, 9 s and other expanded scale basses are very uncommon though, and 8 s and 12 s with smaller octave stnirgs are also very uncommon less common than 12 string guitars, I’d say).Seriously though, this is the 6th time you’ve posted this same question, even though you’ve received a lot of good answers in your other topics = please, you don’t need to spam your question. Don’t mean to sound rude or anything, but it doesn’t really help you get an answer any faster.Look up these basses; they’re all very good instruments there is no best bass, it depends a lot on personal preference.Ibanez SR506, SR706, BTB576, BTB1306E (SR very nicely priced, BTB is more expensive)MusicMan Bongo 6 (VERY good bass, pretty pricey though)Warwick Thumb NT 6 (Another excellent bass, but fairly expensive)Schecter Custom 6, Stiletto Studio 6 (Like the Ibanez SR; good value, good price)Peavey Grind 6 (Another solid instrument that won’t cost too much)I hope that helps, and hope you find what you’re looking for. But you really don’t have to keep posting this question over and over, cuz you’ve already gotten a lot of good answers.Cheers!

  4. barry butcher
    barry butcher says:

    i have been dealing with chinese guitar companies for a couple of years and i must say that generally i have been able to build an e-mail relationship with most of the companies i have used.
    i only import on a small scale at the moment (only acoustics), which sometimes puts me down the pecking order at times, but i have recently had a bad experience with a company that at the moment i am not going to name and shame, but i will name them privately if you want to contact me on
    i am building a site where we can name the good one’s and shame the bad one’s. i have had a really naff shipment recently, where the company promised me the earth and sent me firewood. i have been trying to get a partial refund and got to the stage where i was asked for my bank details so that they could transfer some money back., but they are now refusing to answer my e-mails.
    if anyone is interested i can send you loads of nasty photo’s of the really horrible quality issues. and hopefully my experieneces will help others to steer clear of the cheats. funny thing is that i found this company on and the company are a verified gold supplier, which is a bit scarry.
    cheers, barry butcher UK

    • bob
      bob says:

      I have had experience with alibaba and have run into much of the same problems on trying to get my money back.I’ve been dealing with Chinese guitars for the last 8 years and have found only 2 sites with what seems to be a caring for reputation.First and probably my biggest is Trade tang.I buy regularly from them and have had no problems.The other is HiHa music,both can be googled.Tradetang is a representative of many chinese guitar companies .I had 1 of their companies default on a delivery and tradetang went to bat for me and got me my refund without too much hassle.HiHa is smaller but it seems their quality is better in most cases for the same items.I buy clones and sell them as clones,and their productis almost as good as some of the originals I own.They also provide free shipping to Canada and USA in most cases.I hope this helps anyone who can use the info.

  5. camilo
    camilo says:

    attn : Barry Butcher

    I’m interested in you list of bad companies. I will send you a mail for that. Thx in adavance to you.

    By my side, I have had a very bad experience and a tremendous deception with a Korean ofshore factory established in China. I’m in this business since 1975. in the seventies I used to have my own original guitar line made in Japan, this business has continued during 11 years with no one problem of quality or else, everything was very fluid and highly efficient and dynamic.

    More than 2 years ago because time has changed and after Japan everything moved to Taiwan and some in India and Indonesia, then to Korea and now to China.I was not trusting China yet, so I contacted a Korean factory, (I’m inclined to mane them but contrary to them I’m a gentleman. This factory has had its time of glory when was building Epiphone guitars and stopped when Gibson opened its own factory in china. I did not know they closed their factory in Korea and just kept their head office there, but anyway they advised me they moved the factory in China and if I agree, I answered that I do not care if the quality is similar to their korean one. So after I asked them if they accept to build my original guitar line, they agree, so then I send to them a prototype, all drawings and specifications sheet, as I’m skilled in this business, of course everything was taking in account all technical problems of manufacturing etc, so I’ve sent all, 2 weeks after no news, of course I’ve sent to them a mail at least to tell me if they received the parcel, their answer was : “YES. Regards” that’s all !! but “Yes” is not not enough as a reply of business, I resent a mail : “Ok, but pls give some opinions about the protos, reply if some points are not clear etc”…….2weeks after : we now checking with our production manager. regards……..3 weeks later : Hi pls give some news, did you progress ? Laconic answer : “Yes”…OK “Yes” but tell me more !!!…2 weeks or more their answer : “Would you pls send specifications sheet”…….???????? “what specifications sheets ????? you got all and you confirmed having eerything, the parcel was sent under tracking” answer : “YES we got all”….I finaly started to scratch my head, asking myself if they were not trying to fu*** me (sorry) I decided to ask a chinese friend having a music trade comp to call them and menace them to visit them…they react (things were during from 8 months ago) : “we have meeting at the factory with production manager to see if we can build your guitars” …….???? what ?? after nearly one year you are not able to say something constructive ??? …so final incredible answer (I still don’t believe it) : “OUR GUYS ARE NOT CAPABLE TO BUILD YOUR GUITARS. REGARDS”…..GOD!! you spend one year to tell me that your guys are unskilled ?? but I do not care about your guys, I asked you if you have a CNC, you said yes, and on another hand, you should at least tell me that you resend back to me my protos, drawings etc!!!!!!! I was forced to call my chinese friend again to visit their factory and collect all my things if they do not send it by express right now to him…under the menace they shipped the parcel immediatly. What’s a bad dream !! they have lost a business of about 10000 guitars a year. pls note that my guitars even they have an original design they nevertheless are in the trend and I personnaly built many in my workshop. I promised myself, at the next opportunity I see them exhibiting in a show, I will agress them publically as a shit of factory, not serious, not professional not even courteous and if they are not capable to build guitars, best thing is to close the factory instead to continue to induce other people in error.

    So If somebody here knows a good chinese factory, serious and skilled, I will be pleased to have a source. Thx in advance to all here.

    • Mike Permantier
      Mike Permantier says:

      Dear Sir, I am not affiliated with a manufacturer or do I, I am a luthier and a collector mostly old Greco and Ibanez. I have bought new and used Ibanez, the MIJ guitars are great and all of the “middle end” MIC,Ibanez from China seem to be next to flawless on the other hand Epi’s made in
      China seem to have very little Quality Control. The answer seems to be that IBANEZ has great QC and others vary. I’m thinking of iporting some “Godman”(brand) Guitars. What do you know if anything about them. Let me know if you do. I don’t know who builds Ibanez but they are nicely built and play great a totaly under rated guitar, Good luck my friend!

  6. bryan
    bryan says:

    i experience alot of imports, in china i know who can make the best for the least price, and as always you have to tell them what you want to give you what you want..

  7. Seth Tyrssen
    Seth Tyrssen says:

    Why be too much of a “gentleman” to name the bad ones??? I’m considering getting into having my own designs made in China, but would really like to know who the GOOD ones are. I’d rather pay for quality than risk buying “firewood.”

  8. John
    John says:

    To test the water I recently purchased a Chinese Ibanez ART120. My first Chinese guitar. I can not fault the build quality. Excellent value. I’m really pleased with the sound from the active pick ups. If the Chinese can maintain this standard of production they will become world leaders.

  9. Spence
    Spence says:

    Is this the same Gibson that was caught with embargoed wood?
    I own a Yamaha SBG 2000. It’s every bit as good as high end Gibsons. AfterI purchased mine the guy I bought it from (an LP die hard) went and bought one due to the SBG being as good as his older vintage Pauls I paid two grand for it and I would have had to pony up another 800 to 1000 to get a good LP.
    Gibson is overpriced and players who want a Gibson will buy a Gibson,
    lawsuit guitars gimme a break.
    This what happens when you go global pricey products get knocked off. If my fading memory recalls The Good Ol USA pushed the global economy angle hard and now is losing at it.
    But thanks for being a busy body, no worries where I live. Think I’ll order a cheap Chinese Gibson clone, best of luck enforcing American trade laws around the globe. No one and no country owes the USA any deference anymore, God Guns, Greed and Country nice place.

  10. nikto
    nikto says:

    I recently purchased an extraordinarily good 335-type Chinese “clone” semihollow electric guitar for an astonishingly low price from an online company.
    It was so cheap, I feel I could definitely afford to “throw back” a little more cash, if I were sure it were going to go to the actual luthiers who built the guitar.

    I think it would be a neat idea to set up a *voluntary* Paypal-based “tip” system for the actual luthiers whose hands do the actual work on the guitars.

    That way, people who can’t afford to, or choose not to, wouldn’t have to pay any more money after purchase.
    But it would then be an opportunity for those who want to express their appreciation by giving a “tip” for the luthiers (not the factory owners, unless they are the same people).
    They could have Paypal-type account numbers on a removable inside sticker card for the 2 or 3 workers who made the instrument.

    I would gladly send another $20 or $30 or even $40 bucks out in appreciation.

    It would enhance the income of the worker-class somewhat, I would think, since so many shockingly-good instruments are coming from China these days for super-low prices. Some folks, like me, could afford to add a little to the meagre pay those highly-productive workers are now getting.

  11. syd thornton
    syd thornton says:

    ordered gibson lp copy from a-hewping finaly recieved it .but to my horror the neck had a 5% twist to the right i took it to a guitar repair shop but unable to repair it after $110.00 more in expenses i might as well throw it in the garbage bin. dhgate notified seller but he ignored the problem. so i got a $80.00 us rebate but im still $350 out of pocket. so be careful of david from a-hewping they use dhgate to sell there guitars
    syd thornton australia

  12. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    I had a very good experience with MUSICUNLIMITED thru DHGATE. They made 2 guitars for me. One was a KOA, and it is awesome. The other one is fine, as well. They placed my name on the headstocks, and all worked out very well. These guitars were dreds. Both sound great, I dealt with “Tillie”, and she made sure everything I wanted was done, and inspected before shipping to make sure. All the abalone was perfect, Bone nuts and bridges installed. Tree of life inabolone on fretboard. I am happy with both guitars, but your mileage may vary.


  13. Michael Davis
    Michael Davis says:

    Hiha Music ( / is a total scam site. Don’t go near these people. I bought some guitars from and got some absolutely worthless garbage. Don’t go near Trade Tang or hihamusic. They are extremely dishonest sellers.

    I bought some guitars from two sellers on Trade Tang ( They sent pictures of some guitars, Fender, and Gibson, both stating that the guitars in the pictures were the exact guitars that they would send. In fact the pictures showed real Fender and Gibson guitars. When the guitars arrived they were absolute fake rubbish. There was shocking fret buzz all over that was so bad it went through the amp. The fretboards were not level and they were all glossy and shiny. There was blemishes all over the wood and the pick ups were loose and some didn’t even work (The sound of the ones that did work were really bad). They were absolutely worthless guitars. Don’t waste you money with any guitar sellers on this site. Especially those that direct you away from Trade Tang to their own sites (e.g. All guitar sellers on are scammers. They know nothing about guitars and will send any garbage just to get your money. If you can not afford a real Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker, Ibanez etc. guitar then you definitely can not afford to throw away your money buying anything from these extremely dishonest criminals. You will definitely regret it. If you do buy anything from these low-life people, and you get their garbage guitar (and that’s what you will get), you can remember this and remember that you were warned.
    The same goes for DH Gate ( The same scammers on Trade Tang also use DH Gate to scam naive Westerners.

  14. Joseph Arthur
    Joseph Arthur says:

    I am looking for a top quality guitar manufacturer for a proprietary brand, not a copy or a knock-off. Can anyone make a recommendation


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