Are Indonesian Made Guitars Any Good? (Surprising Findings)

Indonesia has become more and more involved in the guitar manufacturing industry in the previous two decades and has built a solid workforce and strong reputation for exporting good quality goods. A large number of brands continue to move their manufacturing plants to Indonesia and the majority of players that purchase Indonesian made guitars are happy with the quality of their products.

But there are some risks associated with Indonesian made guitars you should be aware of before you purchase one, and some things you can do to minimise your risk. These are explored throughout the rest of the article.

Answer To Whether Indonesian Made Guitars Are Any Good

There are thousands of very happy customers of Indonesian guitars around the world. Like any country that started a new industry, it took time for Indonesia to hone their guitar making skills, but the majority of Indonesian guitars play as well as, or better than those produced in other countries.

Many of the biggest instrument companies in the world have moved their manufacturing to Indonesia, and have skilled the workforce there to produce a high quantity of high-quality guitars.

Given the advances in guitar making technology, a low-cost guitar made in Indonesia will usually be of similar quality to a mid-cost guitar from the 1990s.

Factors That Contribute to Guitar Quality

Workforce Skill

Much of the guitar manufacturing process has been taken over by CNC machines that can produce large amounts of wood, in a very specific way, very reliably, 24/7.

Previous to CNC machines there could be huge variability in an instrument based on how well it was cut. But CNC machines create basically a perfect cut every time.

In many ways, guitar making is now more about assembly than the craft of guitar making. The traditional guitar craftsman is usually based in the USA or Europe and produce small quantities of very high-quality guitars.

Quality Control

How much work companies put into the quality of guitars makes a big difference to the quality of guitars we then get from shops and retailers and this some something the Indonesian factories have honed over the years.

Quality of Wood

The premium quality guitar wood is not utilised in the large mass-produced factories, and many of the materials used in cheap guitars are cheaply available in high quantities, so you would expect in most cases that

Workshop Humidity

The humidity of a workshop has an impact on the guitar being made in the workshop, but this is controlled by the factories to an adequate standard so as not to ruin the guitars being made, or be a significant influencing factor.

Quality Of Components

How good the pickups are, and the tuning pegs and other guitar components also have an impact on overall guitar quality and the quality of these components in guitars does vary with the price you pay.

So though many guitars out of Indonesia will have cheap components fitted, there are many guitar manufacturers (Ibanez, Jackson) etc that make guitars in Indonesia but fit them with high-quality components.

Production Anomalies

It is also important to be aware of production anomalies that take place in any production process at scale. You often hear stories of people who bought a cheap guitar, and it was the best guitar ever and played and sounded better than many premium guitars.

Any also from people who bought a premium guitar and found them worse than cheaper guitars. There is are some occasional ‘standouts’ and some occasional ‘lemons’ that occur in any manufacturing process.

So if someone is talking about how bad their Indonesian guitar is/was, keep this in mind. By and large, if you talk to people that have owned multiple Indonesian guitars, and to guitar technicians that have worked on my Indonesian guitars, they often comment that on average they are quite good for the price you pay.

As a result of the above-discussed components, the quality of Indonesian guitars will be much less influenced by the skill of the Indonesian workers and much more about how much the brand decides to invest in each of the other components of the process.

Why Are So Many Guitars Made In Indonesia?

In a word, cost.

All companies are trying to maximize profit, and the main way they can do this is by increasing the prices of their instruments or reducing the cost of making those instruments. Companies are often doing both.

The production of guitars in Indonesia is an attempt to reduce costs.

The amount of money it takes to produce a guitar in Indonesia is much cheap than that of the USA for example is primarily because the price of labour is much cheaper in Indonesia, as well as other things like rent for factories and price of components.

But the cheap cost of labour is the key driver.

When guitar production first left the USA it was initially established in places like Japan and then Korea, because labour costs were cheaper.

But as those countries have developed further, the bulk of mass-produced instruments has moved to other countries where the labour is still cheaper, such as Indonesia and China.

How Do Indonesian Guitars Compare To Guitars Made In Other Countries?

Guitars made in first world countries such as the USA, Australia, and throughout Europe tend to be the highest quality guitars. This is due to the money invested in skilled labour and high-quality materials.

South Korea and Japan tend to be the next line of countries that produce the highest quality guitars. This can be attributed to a few things including how long they have been involved in the guitar industry (decades), the skill of their workforce, and level of quality assurance.

They things are often associated with an increase in price, so it is rare that beginner level instruments are made in these countries now.

Indonesia and Mexico tend to come up next in the discussions of quality in mass production of cheaper guitars, both acoustic and electric.

And last but not least, China and other Central Asian countries (Vietnam) etc are often seen as producing the lowest quality of instruments, usually because of the crazy high volumes they produce.

By no means am I saying you won’t get a good instrument manufactured in these countries, but the overall quality is expected to be lower than those produced in other countries.

Are Indonesian Made Guitars Cheaper Than Other Guitars?

There is no definitive answer to whether guitars made in Indonesia are cheaper than other guitars, as some reasonably priced models are also made there as well.

But on large, the guitars made in Indonesia, along with the guitars made from China, are likely to be most of the entry-level guitars available on the market.

Though as Indonesia builds its guitar manufacturing industry, more and more brands (e.g. Jackson, PRS) are making more and more premium guitars there.

Where About in Indonesia Are Guitars Made?

There are a variety of locations in Indonesia where guitar manufacturers have set up their production facilities. I’ve listed a few below just for reference.

Oz Guitars

Zo Guitars produce a variety of instruments for companies such as Fender, Jam Industries (Washburn etc.) and D’Angelico Guitars. The Oz Guitars factory is located at Jl.bina Marga Rt.02/05 Desa Sanja Kecamatan Citeureup Kabupaten Bogor, 16810, Jawa Barat, Indonesia.

Yamaha Music Industries

The Yamaha factory in Indonesia produces a range of instruments including Electric Guitars and is located at Kawasan Industri MM 2100, Block Ee/3, Bekasi, Jawa Barat, Indonesia, 17520.

Samick

The Samick factory produces a range of instruments including pianos and guitars and makes instruments for a variety of brands. The Samick Indonesia factory is located at Kawasan Industri MM 2100, Block Ee/3, Bekasi, Jawa Barat, Indonesia, 17520.

You can see from the three examples provided that Jawa Barat is where many of these musical instrument factories are located in Indonesia, Jawa Barat is the Indonesian name for West Java, and is one of the most population-dense regions of Indonesia, explaining why it is the logical location for manufacturing facilities due to its workforce access.

Which Guitars Are Made in Indonesia?

Many brands make a variety of guitars in different locations based on varying factors of where they have better access to certain skills, materials and production schedules.

But common known brands that make, or source some of their guitars in Indonesia include:

  • Jackson
  • Chapman
  • Faith
  • Fender
  • Samick
  • PRS
  • Ibanez
  • Yamaha
  • and many more….

Are Indonesian Acoustic Guitars Better Quality Than Indonesian Electric Guitars?

Factories in Indonesia manufacture and range of both Electric and Acoustic guitars of varying price levels.

The difference between high-quality electric guitars and cheaper electric guitars is usually the electronics and components that are fitted to the guitar.

These components, high quality or low quality could be fitted by someone with the same skill set.

Compared to the difference between a high-quality acoustic guitar and cheaper acoustic guitar, which is partly about the wood used, but also to a degree about the degree of craftsmanship that has worked on the guitar assembly.

As a result, guitar manufacturers could more reliably create a high-quality electric guitar, with the same low-cost labour that they could with high-quality acoustic guitars.

So – though Indonesia does produce a variety of quality acoustic and electric guitars, there is strong evidence that the overall standard of electric guitars exported will be higher than that of acoustic guitars.

Indonesian Guitar FAQ’s

Are Indonesian Made Guitars Better Than Chinese Made Guitars?

Guitars made in Indonesia and China are likely to be of similar quality. The advent of CMC machines that can machine cut all the required wood for a guitar has greatly reduced the level of skill required in guitar factories.

As a result, the results from guitar factories in both Indonesia and China are likely to be quite similar. Both countries have now been making guitars for decades, so there is considering skill in the local workforce.

Guitars Made in Indonesia Va Guitars Made in China

There is not likely to be a big difference in quality between guitars made in China and Indonesia. They will typically be using similar quality components, assembled in the same way, by a similarly skilled workforce.

Both countries produce a large number of guitars which for the most part of reasonable quality for the end price.

Are Indonesian Made Guitars Better Than Mexico Made Guitars?

Mexican made guitars and Indonesian made guitars are overall of similar quality.

Though Mexican guitar would have been advanced a few decades ago, Indonesia has since had considerably more experience producing a considerably high number of instruments, and most guitar players report a similar level of satisfaction with both Indonesian and Mexican made guitars.

Are Yamaha Guitars Made in Indonesian?

Yamaha has a manufacturing plant in Indonesia and does make guitars there. They are likely to have a variety of other manufacturing locations in multiple countries, but yes, Yamaha guitars are made in Indonesia.

Are There Any Risks Buying an Indonesian Guitar?

The risks in buying an Indonesian guitar are not that much different than buying any guitar.

If you understand that most guitars are produced at mass scales (unless you are paying big dollars for a handmade instrument), there is always a risk that certain instruments may experience disruptions in production, but still make it through the quality assurance process and end up with the retailers for sale.

The best way to minimize the risk of you buying a poor quality guitar is to go to a guitar store, and manually play the guitar you are thinking of buying, before purchasing it. In this way, you can make sure you are happy with the quality of the instrument you are buying.

If you have to or want to buy online, just make sure the retailers you are planning to buy from has a generous and proven process or manage returns, if you are unhappy with the quality of the product you receive.