Established in 1958, Samick Musical Instruments Co. Ltd. has over 50 years of experience manufacturing high quality musical instruments. With a manufacturing capability of more than a half million guitars per year in factories located in Korea, Indonesia, China and the United States, Samick also ranks as the world’s leading stringed instrument producer.
In 2006, Samick moved its American corporate headquarters to Gallatin, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville. A brand new two-story, 14,000-square foot Adams Federal Colonial-style building was constructed alongside a 200,000-square foot warehouse, used for piano manufacturing, as well as piano and guitar warehousing and service.
The craftsmanship developed over the years has made Samick one of the largest and most knowledgeable producers of musical instruments in the world today. Samick's pianos are sold under the Samick name as well as under a variety of brand names, including William Knabe & Co., Seiler, Pramberger, and Samick Digital. The company sells its guitars under its own brand names, including Samick, Greg Bennett Signature series, and Silvertone.
1960's Samick Bass
You may be playing an instrument made by the Samick factory and do not know it. With a manufacturing capability of more than one million guitars per year in factories in Korea, Indonesia, China, and the United States, Samick also ranks as the world's leading stringed instrument producer.
Additionally, this manufacturer produces a full range of pianos, electric and acoustic guitars, basses, banjos, autoharps, harmonicas, and other instruments. It also operates a dedicated Upright Piano and Piano Action plant, as well as its own sawmill and woodworking facility in Korea, a smaller factory in California, and a plant in Harbin, China that produces wooden guitar and piano parts.
Samick was started in 1958 with the goal of enriching human life through music, the universal language. Hyo Ick Lee founded the company as an importer of Baldwin pianos to Korea. Within two years Samick began building their own upright pianos, using imported parts.
In 1965, during the Folk Music years and the British Invasion years, when every kid wanted a guitar, Samick began production of acoustic guitars for the Korean market as well as for export to fulfill the demand for cheap Asian-made guitars that overwhelmed the market during this decade.
Samick's goal was toward a higher quality market. The company continued to improve its piano manufacturing techniques, and in 1970 its production abilities had developed sufficiently for it to launch its first grand pianos.
During this same period, the company began to step up the quality of its guitar production. Samick formed a joint venture with Texas-based International Music Company (also known as the Hondo Guitar Company).
Hondo II SD Curlee:
The new company introduced modern U.S. production methods to the Korean market, while taking advantage of the low-wage level in Korea to offer inexpensive, entry-level guitars. Hondo initially produced a line of classical and folk guitars. By 1974 the company’s electric guitars had gained a level of quality and became one of the largest selling entry level brands. Hondo added banjos and autoharps to their product line up. By the end of this decade Hondo was selling nearly 800,000 instruments per year.
In 1971 Samick introduced a line of harmonicas.
And in 1973 Samick was diversified in its production and changed its name to the Samick Musical Instruments Mfg. Co. Samick's thrust was the export market, especially the United States. To facilitate this, a branch office was opened in 1978 in Los Angeles California.
The lower production costs of Korean-manufactured instrument made them attractive to entry level buyers. This was especially true in the piano market since costs of US made pianos had escalated. In fact in 1979, Samick was building the Schumann piano brand for US households. During these years, the Korean musical instrument industry had caught up to its primary competition, Japan, and due to lower construction cost had surpassed them.
In 1979 Samick had developed new automated production facilities that reduced the need for skilled employees and increased production with the benefit of maintaining quality standards.
By 1982 Samick opened a branch office in Germany to introduce their brand to the European market. That same year they established a full U.S. subsidiary known as Samick Music Corporation. In 1988 Samick went public, listing shares on the Seoul stock exchange.
That same year they purchased the Kohler and Campbell piano brand. The company had claimed the number one spot for grand piano sales by the end of 1995.
Faced with economic issues in Korea and most of Asia, in 1996 the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
The company had become too diversified with investments in furniture, computers, industrial equipment and the fishing industry; they were unable to make a profit and had a debt of nearly $10 million.
Samick's prominence as a musical instrument manufacturer was a key factor that saved the company from going under. The company was able to rid themselves of non-profitable business ventures and most of its debt to the point they were able to begin reporting profits. In 2000 the company had a contract with OEM (original equipment manufacturers) for $50 million to supply grand pianos to Baldwin pianos. They gained another plus when the acquired Knabe pianos that same year.
In 2002 a consortium of Korean businessmen acquired Samick and retired all of its debt. Kim Jong-sup became president and announced the goal of becoming the Worlds Top Piano Brand. By April 2003, Samick with a revenue growth of nearly 30 percent, it pushed past the $200 million mark.
With the launch of a new line of high-end Knabe-branded pianos, Samick was prepared to claim a place among the world's leading quality piano makers in the new century.
Since the days of "lawsuit" guitars, Gibson and Fender both made the decision, if you can beat ‘em, join ‘em. Both companies have outsourced manufacturing of their "shadow" brands; Epiphone and Squier, to Asian manufacturers. It is difficult to determine where these brands originated. But it is a good guess that many of the superior, high-end guitars from were made by Samick in accordance with Gibson or Fender standards of quality.
The Squier brand was developed in 1982 and early on all production was based in Japan. The first Squier guitars to emerge from Korea started as early as 1986. You can determine if your Squier was made by Samick was through its serial number that began with an "S" or "S9" followed by six digits. Samick began production of Squiers in 1989.
DeArmond guitars were based on Guild electric guitars that were no longer in production. The DeArmonds made in Korea were produced by Samick and perhaps Cort.
They are excellent quality instruments that come with reproductions of DeArmond 2K or Goldtone pickups.
Your DeArmond will have a sticker on the back of the head stock noting if it was made in Korea or Indonesia. In 1983 Epiphones were mainly manufactured in Korea.
By 1986 Gibson Guitars was acquired by Harvard MBAs, Henry Juszkiewicz, David Berryman and Gary Zebrowski, bought Gibson/Epiphone from ECL/Norlin. The new owners recognized the importance of the Epiphone brand and how the company could be pushed to match the success of other Asian guitar brands.
One method of determining if your Epiphone guitar was made by Samick is its serial number. There may or may not be a factory code. There may be no factory designator for some models made in 1993 and earlier years.