Buying a mandolin or guitar in China
May 4, 2005 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Will be traveling in Shanghai, Nanjing, Shenzhen, and Beijing about a week from now. Any recommendations on where to find decent mandolins and guitars at good prices?
posted by ZenMasterThis to Shopping (4 answers total)
The stuff I looked at in Shanghai wasn't especially cheap (in fact I wondered how Chinese people could afford it), however, Ninghai Donglu is where you'll find the music stores.
posted by Wolof at 11:33 PM on May 4, 2005

I don't know if they exist outside of Hong Kong, but there were enough Tom Lee music stores in Hong Kong that I wouldn't be surprised if they can be found in other major Chinese cities. Prices were very reasonable, although prices were even better in Viet Nam.
posted by furtive at 5:34 AM on May 5, 2005

You're visiting like the three most expensive cities in China, and guitars are still a 'foreign' thing - don't expect any deals. However, if you're looking for traditional Chinese instruments, now's your chance. Also, don't forget to haggle. A lot. Haggle until you've almost left the store and you've heard the life story of the shopkeeper. Haggle until they drag you back in and agree to give you a discount 'to foster friendly international relations' or something. Haggle until you're ashamed of the deal you're getting, then haggle some more.
posted by sudasana at 6:01 AM on May 5, 2005

The Chinese-made guitars and mandolins that are marketed in the US under the "Johnson" brand name are not really great instruments - I have a Johnson resonator guitar that is OK, but that is because the European import agent for Johnson went to the factory in China to straighten them out. There are some quality violins being made in China, but most of the output is for import.

Guitars and - especially - quality mandolins are a much better buy in the US than in Europe, so save your money and eat lots of dumplings instead.
posted by zaelic at 11:07 AM on May 5, 2005

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