Other Guitars

A Bleak Outlook For The Music Industry

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Kids aren't inspired to play instruments as much as they were when we were kids. If the music on the radio was still guitar, bass and real drums oriented the musical instrument retail business would still be thriving. The Gibson and FMIC model of producing thousands of guitars a year is not sustainable when the interest in learning guitar by the next generation is dwindling.

Personally I probably have all the guitars I will ever own in my life and of course I say "probably" because you never know. I am very happy with what I have now and even though I'm a huge fan of guitars, bass and drums I have built my collection over the years around the way I play and have realized that any future instrument purchase would fall under a luxury item as opposed to a tool of the trade.

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Someone would buy Gibson I would think. I just hope it wouldn't be a company just looking to use the name with production moving to Asia. Guitar Center seems to be in perpetual financial dire straights. You always hear "GC is going bankrupt and out of business" but they always seem to hang on.

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Someone would buy Gibson I would think. I just hope it wouldn't be a company just looking to use the name with production moving to Asia. Guitar Center seems to be in perpetual financial dire straights. You always hear "GC is going bankrupt and out of business" but they always seem to hang on.

– Gretschadelphia

So, from where does all of the debt of these guitar manufacturers and retailers arise? Is it that they are being acquired by other companies who have leveraged them and used the borrowed funds to invest in other related companies? They all seem to be pretty highly leveraged.

I wonder whether Martin Guitars has this issue? I doubt that Rickenbacker does because they have owned their own property and factory for decades.

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It's amazing that Martin and Rickenbacker have stayed independent. Bravo!

But all the observations above are correct. -- including the main one of culture a demography(?) ... Baby boomer guitar heads like me are aging out of it and there are just fewer behind us, and fewer of those are guitar heads.

I was a big vintage dude in the 1975-2000 era, had tons of fun and cool stuff but am not a collector (you know I never keep anything) and never had more than 8 at a time. Still are a few oddball pieces I would like but not at the prices they listed for.

Most I ever paid for a guitar was $3250 for an original owner Gibson CF-100E. I do wonder how the Japanese dudes are going to deal w/ all their stuff and big collector/dealer types like Gary who must have 6 or 8 clean Tennessseans for $5.5K that no one buys. But again that's the used market and here we are talking new.

Still I hope Gibson survives and not bought by some Chinese company.

Anyway, get em and play while you can.

.

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Bevete is gonna eat a lot of "$100K" guitars.

Things change. There hasn't been much of a market for brass instruments or accordions for years, either. High end stereos have disappeared, too. The pop stuff kids now listen to stuff generated (or copied from older music) on computer, and they listen to it thru earbuds or on tiny, tinny Bluetooth speakers.

The industry has changed as well, tho musicians are still mostly underpaid.

As to Gibson---they have bought up a few other music companies over the years, like Baldwin and Epiphone, and pumped a bit of cash into moving their operation to Nashville after leaving Kalamazoo. They come up with things like robot tuners that backfire and costs them money. It's hard to increase sales when the market is dwindling.

Guitar Center gobbled up Musician's Friend, Woodwind/Brasswind, and others. Then the bubble burst. All of them borrowed money when interest rates were high compounding their problems. Stock market fluctuations, politics, and myriad other issues all add into the troubles.

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Things change... when I was growing up every family had a piano in the house- usually in the living room where someone in the household navigated the keys with varying degrees of skill. Right now, unless I miss my guess, I am the only guy on the block with a "real" piano in the house, and that's really because I make a good chunk of my living with one. Oddly, it's more a piece of large, dark furniture than a much-loved centerpiece and even I am thinking of moving it out (I use one of my less-noisy digital ones for practice). Pianos, once the staple of family entertainment and the reason for a novel architectural feature in a lot of North American homes, are now niche instruments. Digital ones, which a lot of folks thought would take the place of the rather heavy and noise-some "real" ones really have not stepped up. Why is that? Companies who thought they had the answer have failed or simply closed their doors, leaving what's left of the market to names like Yamaha, Steinway, Kawai and a few others.

(By the way- anyone remember the Hammond organ? Leslie speakers?)

I

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KIds are still playing music, it's just becoming more computer-based and less guitar-based. Two of my three kids are musical. One plays guitar (yay) and the other does music that is entirely computer-based. I don't care much for it stylistically as it's rap/hip-hop/EDM style stuff, but he spends an easy 10-15 hours a week at it collaborating with several other like-minded types, and his stuff sounds quite legit for that genre.

None of that one's equipment was made by Gibson or came from Guitar Center -or any music store for that matter.

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Guitar aficionados howl in protest when they hear predictions about the demise of various Baby Boomer crazes. There is a reasonable inevitability that the interest in guitars will fade as musical tastes evolve into the next big thing.

Guitar driven bands are still plentiful, but computer made music is so much easier and cheaper. My sister, for example, had a career as a studio musician and played with everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Moody Blues. Lots of the gigs she used to get are now handled far more economically by synthesizers.

She has a few guilt pangs about teaching college level music courses, training players for jobs that no longer exist. As my old Pappy used to say, "You can't step in the same stream twice. Hell, you can't even step in the same stream ONCE."

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I would also add that the market is saturated with used instruments, as well. I'm not sure as many people care about having a brand new Instrument.

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Things change... when I was growing up every family had a piano in the house- usually in the living room where someone in the household navigated the keys with varying degrees of skill. Right now, unless I miss my guess, I am the only guy on the block with a "real" piano in the house, and that's really because I make a good chunk of my living with one. Oddly, it's more a piece of large, dark furniture than a much-loved centerpiece and even I am thinking of moving it out (I use one of my less-noisy digital ones for practice). Pianos, once the staple of family entertainment and the reason for a novel architectural feature in a lot of North American homes, are now niche instruments. Digital ones, which a lot of folks thought would take the place of the rather heavy and noise-some "real" ones really have not stepped up. Why is that? Companies who thought they had the answer have failed or simply closed their doors, leaving what's left of the market to names like Yamaha, Steinway, Kawai and a few others.

(By the way- anyone remember the Hammond organ? Leslie speakers?)

I

– Kevin Frye

Hammond had gone out of business yet the price of some of their used organs and Leslies went up. People still buy vintage tone wheel Hammonds. Then, a Japanese company acquired the name and started building new ones (tho without the vaunted tonewheels). Hammond organ/Leslie speaker is one of the top 3 keyboard sounds in rock and roll/jazz/gospel and other genres---the others are acoustic and electric pianos. Synths came and went aside from those that emulate something else. Every keyoard player has a "Hammond" sound in his rig. Even some guitarists try to emulate Hammond tones with guitar pedals, too.

Can you tell that I'm primarily a keyboard player?

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Thread derails here: ** I'm a Hammond and Leslie fan for sure..Had a C3, M3 spinet, a 122 and 145, etc and it's still a great sound. But those beasts were made/desigend to be placed in the church, audtorium, etc. and stay there. Athough durable they weren't meant to be roaded around although plenty of bands with roadies, etc. still do. Then just like early solid state amps sounded bad, but got better -- early attempts to portable-ize the Haamond sound weren't that great, but have gotten really so good that even most all the pros leave the tonewheel beasts at home and go out with any of a few good clones. Just like lots of guitarists leave vintage amps at home and tour with recent gear, or upgrade their Mexicaster for some better pickups and that's good enough.

Although I didn't like the Hammond sound when used in hard rock, Jon Lord nailed it here -- he had the style and sound down pretty early on.


Still I think it's having an effect -- the price of all but a few viintage amps have come down some because of cheaper, lighter, new stuff. And the old guy factor -- who really wants to lug a Super Reverb around, etc. So Hammond prices have also come down some.... even B-3s. M-3's are now $100, M-2's are free. Apparently the Hammond M3 was the best selling spinet organ from 1955-65, also known as the golden era for electric guitars and amps.

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I went to a clone myself---old man, bad back. It's not the true Hammond sound, but not bad either. Having lugged a B-3 and a 145 around, I much prefer toting my BX-3 and little PA. Instead of a Leslie, a Korg RT-20 suffices. It's all lighter, and louder, if need be.

Spinets like the Ms and Ls didn't quite match the sound of the Bs, Cs, and Ds---fewer drawbars and fewer keys. My BX-3 cost me $450 and weighs 45 pounds as opposed to $4500 and 450 pounds for the B and Leslie. DC, you're right about the early portable Hammonds. The X-77 was a full size, but the X-5 and others were just solid state units that just didn't have the tone wheel sound.

By the way, Jon Lord only used a Leslie for the early "Hush" era. He went to PR-40 cabs after that for more wattage as Leslies aren't really unidirectional but omnidirectional. It's very rare to find a sound guy that can mike them properly. Greg Rolie of Santana wound up getting Twin Reverbs to power his Leslies in order to keep up with Carlos.

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I think guitar playing is cyclical like anything else. With that being said there's a lot more "firewood" now then there ever has been - there's more guitars in existence than will ever be played.

The good ones will stick around, the bad ones won't.

Speaking of which, Robin guitars is looking for partners to start back up. Boutique guitars that have a rep stand a better chance of surviving. Lower end stuff will always have a place, but the market is too saturated.

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It's also mismanagement. Look at what Gibson invested in; robot guitars, inverted V's and overpriced replica's. Guitars no-one wants and/or can not afford.

Fender has confused abundance with choice. A million variations of every model.

Choice paradox

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The biggest factor is demographics. How many boomers there are, plus what they chose to do for fun and entertainment. It's a numbers game. I see it whenever I try to sell instruments. Lots of older guys like me buying and selling. Younger folks active and interested in the same things ... there, but in much smaller numbers.

By our passage through life, we created huge markets for certain things. And as we leave, things change.

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Things change... when I was growing up every family had a piano in the house-

Your post and example, Kevin Frye, was spot on.

Bottom line is cultures moves on. Piano had a good long run...rock and roll not a long run but a good run. Kick ass guitars and Marshall amps are really now a thing of the past and older folks (and businesses) should accept that.

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And yet the ukulele is rising . . .

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And lest anyone think the run of the guitar in general has been short, remember that in its basic form (6 - 18 strings, frets general shape and soundhole position) it can be traced to 14th Century Spain. You can go to a luthier and buy a brand new 6 string guitar that is essentially unchanged from the one your great great great great great great uncle played on the streets of Seville while Columbus was negotiating his deal with the King and Queen.

Here's a Dutch painting from the 1600s. She could be anyone's daughter today.


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