SE Customs Now Manufactured in Indonesia?

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by jdag, Feb 21, 2018.

  1. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 New Member

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    I know it won’t effect the fanboys (PRS apologists) on here but if that’s true the SE line in general is going to take a sales hit from knowledgeable guitarists. The kids will still buy them because of the name and the fact they don’t know any better. Unless of course they pass on the savings to the customer, which they won’t. I suppose that’s good news for Chapman, Gretsch and all the other brands that use WMI.
     
  2. shimmilou

    shimmilou Established in 1963

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    Awesome Steve! You should do a NGD thread, with some pics and your thoughts on the guitar.

    I can't say enough good things about mine, fantastic guitar! It looks like the Indonesian made guitars are every bit as good as the Korean made. PRS hits another home run. :cool:
     
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  3. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 New Member

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    Is Prs paying you to spread this propaganda? You seem to always need to make this point.
     
    #163 CyFan4036, Jul 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  4. TheAtomicDJ

    TheAtomicDJ New Member

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    Hello all... first of all this is my first post on the forum, so nice to meet ya!!

    Disclaimer: The post might be a bit long, but it contains my recent experience with both Korean and Indonesian made PRS SE Custom 24. Due to PRS Forums limitations the post will not fit into just one message, so I'm splitting it up on consecutive parts.

    PART 1

    I don't have a long experience with PRS Guitars but I can post my very recent first-hand experience with this "Korean Vs. Indonesian SE" debate, simply because I just bought my first PRS SE Custom 24 a bit more than a month ago, and due to certain "issues" described below I had access to both a "World Musical Korean" and "Cor-Tek Indonesian" units.

    Before describing my experience I can provide my answer right away: "I didn't notice any significant differences between the Indonesian and Korean units, and that's for both the good and the bad. In a nutshell I think you can get either a great unit or a unit with issues regardless of where it's manufactured", so my advice when buying a PRS SE would be to base your purchase decision on the model, color, etc., and not necessarily if it's Korean or Indonesian. Also try to test it first on your local store, but if you can't then buy from Sweetwater.

    I based my decision of getting a PRS SE Custom 24 based on the dozens of reviews that I read that said that the guitar was great, with great value for the price range, and because these guitars would usually come "ready to play" just out of the box. Pairing these reviews with the great inspection that Sweetwater usually does on guitars this was a no-brainer decision. I must say that I played a few of these guitars at two local Guitar Center stores, and even with the "beat-up no setup" conditions that Guitar Center guitars are, the tone and playability were great to me.
     
    #164 TheAtomicDJ, Jul 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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  5. TheAtomicDJ

    TheAtomicDJ New Member

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    PART 2

    First Unit Ordered: Zebrawood PRS SE Custom 24 from Sweetwater, Serial # CTIA21286 (2019) made in Indonesia by Cor-Tek.

    From the pictures I loved the color and finish on this one, and when I received it I fell in love with it, as the pictures can't do justice on how great it looks when you have it in your hands. First thing I did was to check the neck relief and string action height and compare it to PRS Factory recommended settings, and these were pretty much in range. Playability was very good, although there was a bit of fret buzz on the Low E and A strings, between the 1st and 5th frets.

    Unfortunately I quickly noticed two major issues: The pickup switcher would almost cut all the sound when placed on the neck pickup position. The second issue was that the volume pot was completely bent to one side, like it would not rotate evenly but wobbling from side to side. The tone pot was perfect.
     
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  6. TheAtomicDJ

    TheAtomicDJ New Member

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    PART 3

    As you know Sweetwater's customer support was great so there was no issue getting a return label to send it back. At that point I read this "Indonesian Vs. Korean" post for the first time, so for my replacement I decided to change the finish to one that was still made in Korea.

    Second Unit ordered: PRS SE Custom 24 Natural Rosewood finish (Sweetwater Exclusive), Serial # T03311 (2019) made in Korea by World Musical.

    Similarly to the other one, this guitar looks much much better in your hands than in pictures, so from the looks perspective I was still happy (although the Zebrawood looks much better in my opinion).

    Due to the experience with the previous one the first things that I tested was the pickup switcher and the volume pot, and both things were working perfectly, so I was growing enthusiastic about my purchase. Unfortunately when I started playing it I noticed that the string action was extremely high, and even with such a high action I would also get very noticeable fret buzz on the Low E and A strings on the first frets.
     
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  7. TheAtomicDJ

    TheAtomicDJ New Member

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    PART 4

    I took out my action ruler and feeler gauges to do the comparison with the PRS factory recommended settings, and in this case I confirmed that both were way out of PRS specs:

    - Neck relief was 0.017 in, where PRS spec is 0.010 in
    - String action was 0.083 in, where PRS spec is 0.062 in

    I'm not a guitar tech or anything, but I do have all the required tools and knowledge to perform a basic setup on a guitar, so I started with the neck relief with the goal of getting it to 0.010 in, check the action again, and then start working backwards up to the point that playability was good for me with low or no fret buzz. I followed the recommendation of PRS to be gentle on the truss rod, so I did progressive small quarter or less turns on it, wait a few hours to let the wood adapt, measure and repeat. To my surprise after doing progressive small increments to the truss rod for a couple of days I couldn't even get to the PRS spec of 0.010 in before I reached the limit of the truss rod. The closest I could get was around 0.012 in at which point the truss rod nut would not rotate any further.
     
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  8. TheAtomicDJ

    TheAtomicDJ New Member

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    PART 5

    At that point I decided to take it to a local guitar tech (not Guitar Center) with experience on PRS Guitars to request a professional setup, as I didn't want to mess up anything myself. Before taking it to him I took it back to the initial neck relief that it had when I received it (0.017 in). The guitar tech told me that he was going to do the same progressive adjustments to the truss rod first, and then he would work on the action and intonation, but he said that he would do it throughout the course of the day to give the wood time, so I could come back at the end of the day. So I did, and unfortunately he told me that unfortunately the truss rod on this unit was not working properly, as he could only get it to 0.012 in and at that point it reached the max on the truss rod rotation. He told me that I should send it back, as he also noticed that the pickups on this one were showing "microphonics" (pickup would grab way to much environment sound) when playing the guitar with a loud amp, so the tone would turn very muddy. I didn't notice this at home since I don't play very loud (wife and kids).

    Again... no issues with the great guys at Sweetwater, so a new return label was received and the guitar is back on it's way to them. :(

    Comparing both Indonesian and Korean I could say that manufacturing-wise they look pretty much the same. I only noticed slight differences like how the accessories are packed (tremolo bar, cable, truss rod key, etc), but on the guitar's finish, feel and tone both look pretty much the same to me. Again... I'm not a PRS expert.

    I'm going for a new replacement, but since this time I don't have the Indonesian Vs. Korean concern anymore, I opted to select another unit of my original pick the Zebrawood model, as I like that one much better. This time though, I'm opting to pay Sweetwater for their professional setup, asking to set it up according to PRS Specs, but making sure there's no fret buzz, I also asked them to set it up with a new set of Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings (9 to 42), as those are my preferred strings. I'm crossing my fingers that since they'll do the full setup they'll make sure that there's no other issues on the unit I selected.

    Hope that helps... I'll update this post when I get my new unit within a few days.
     
  9. Spalty Sam

    Spalty Sam New Member

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    Interesting comparison. Thanks for the in depth review. I have an Indonesian PRS. For me, an intermediate hobbyist who at this time plays for enjoyment and not money...this guitar is at the top of my price list. I paid $721 for it. $778 out the door with a setup and new strings.
     
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  10. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

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    The word on the streets at NAMM this past January was that there was a power struggle at WMI...a big struggle at the ownership level that split the company. Tons of drama was rumored but there’s ZERO official news or reports about anything, so don’t take my word for it. Regardless, Cor-Tek is huge and also rumored to be part of the WMI ownership group so there’s no reason why they couldn’t do a great job. With production in Korea, Indonesia, and China, they certainly seem to have the labor resources to do what PRS needs.
     
  11. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 New Member

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    Holy crap! Two defective guitars in a row...makes you wonder. I hope your new one turns out better. You may find that your 9’s feel different on a 25” scale. I’ve mostly been a Strat and Tele player until recently so I went with 10’s on the short scale of the Prs to help compensate.
     
  12. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    The rumours I heard - and not just from PRS perspective but also from the perspective of numerous other 'brands' that use WMI and/or CorTek was more to do with the raising the minimum wage in Korea. Not saying that before this, the workers were 'slave' workers and still got paid minimum wage or more but raising Minimum Wage has a knock on effect throughout the pay structure. Those that were on a wage above minimum, would also expect to benefit - if they were paid 'double minimum wage before, they may expect a pay rise as well and that sizeable jump in the minimum wages pushed up the cost to make guitars in Korea. I believe that some are still using WMI in Korea but not for their 'entry' models.

    Rather than companies, like PRS, raise their prices of their 'imported' models which would make them compete in a different price bracket - SE's as expensive as S2's for example or cut the quality down to keep them at the same price, it made sense to move the construction where they could still be made to 'spec' but at a price that kept them in the same price bracket. Raising wages across the board doesn't just affect the factory workers making the guitars but also the cost of materials - harvesting wood and getting that to the factories for example.

    I don't know how true that is but PRS weren't the only ones who have moved the bulk of their import guitar manufacture out of WMI and across to CorTek. I don't know if ALL PRS guitars have moved - the Roasted Maple neck European only guitars were made in Korea by WMI as it says on the back of the Headstock (go to Anderton's website and check if you want evidence) so I am not entirely sure of exactly what is happening and what stories are true...
     
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  13. shimmilou

    shimmilou Established in 1963

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    Sorry to hear about your troubles Atomic. :(

    Anxious for your NGD once resolved (and I'm sure it will be ;) )
     
  14. Victek

    Victek New Member

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. Good idea having Sweetwater do a pro setup on the next one; it should make sure that everything is as it should be. I look forward to your next report.
     
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  15. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 New Member

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    It kind of makes a person feel bad for the workers there. As soon as they get a liveable wage the product gets pulled for cheaper production costs elsewhere.
     
  16. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    It maybe that the 'bulk' of the guitars are moved out but WMI are still making Guitars - they made the Roasted Neck PRS SE line for Europe and are still making some of Chapman Guitars too I believe. I don't know about Ibanez and Schecter, where their lines are made as both have used WMI.

    What we need to live in the places we do though is a lot different for them. I don't mean it negatively but if our weekly grocery bill for example to feed our families for a week is enough to feed their families for a couple of months just because the price of things is significantly lower, a liveable wage can be that much lower over there.

    Its perspective and what we may consider a low wage because the cost of food, drink, amenities etc that we have to pay could be enough for them to live comfortably. £50 here won't buy a lot but that could feed and clothe a family for a week if the costs are that much lower. Taken home £200 a month may sound incredibly low when a loaf of bread costs over £1 here but if it costs them 2p for example, £200 could be a lot of money to them. We see something like this but on a much lower scale where the cost to live in London or New York is a lot higher than living out of these big places. A salary in the middle of the countryside may well be liveable on there but you couldn't live in New York or London on that.
     
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  17. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 New Member

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    I get that and I've been to Korea a few times...it isn't as much cheaper to live there relative to exchange rates as say Thailand or Vietnam. It's not just this example, it's manufacturing as a whole. Completely driven by accountants acting like a virus...consume and move on.
     
  18. TheAtomicDJ

    TheAtomicDJ New Member

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    Thanks all for your comments so far. I'm truly looking forward for the "3rd time's charm moment". Finger's crossed.

    I do believe that this has been a matter of bad luck so far, as I'm positive the Cor-Tek (Cort) factory should have all that's needed to continue the legacy of thousands of happy PRS SE customers. My other guitar is an EVH Wolfgang Standard, which I believe are also manufactured at the same Cort factory, and this guitar has been superb since day one. Nicely crafted, great performance, and no issues so far on the two years that I've owned it.

    On the other hand I bought an Ibanez Jem Jr a couple of years ago which are also manufactured in Indonesia. I'm not sure if those are manufactured by Cort, but what I can say is that in general the guitar finish and tone were very very good, but the "Ibanez Floating Tremolo" (not an official Floyd Rose) was a piece of #%@, as no matter what string stretching and Floyd-tuning technique you would use, it was literally impossible to keep that thing in tune for more than a few minutes. Needless to say I didn't keep that one and got a refund.
     
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  19. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    The Achilles heel of all 5 of my SE’s has been the nut. Please make sure they attend to that in set up. That will affect your intonation and the ability of the guitar to stay in tune.
     
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  20. shimmilou

    shimmilou Established in 1963

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    I've been fortunate with nuts so far. Out of 7 SEs that I still have, and 3 others that are gone now, no nut issue on any of them, although now I routinely lube the nut slots right off the bat. So far, I'm 3 for 3 on setting the vibrato bridge mount screws even, proper lubing of critical points, and locking tuners, to get solid tuning stability. The rest have been stop tail, so I suppose the nuts have been less critical than on those that are equipped with vibrato.

    I've only had one nut issue on 13 PRS that I've owned, and that was an S2. The G slot had a piece stuck in the slot (burr). Once removed it was fine also.

    The real "nut" issue I have is that maybe I'm a nut for buying so many guitars. o_O
     
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