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Thread: Gibson is Running Out of Time

  1. #36
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Actually... My main squeeze is just as described, minus ever having been a '55 of course. My best friend came by the day I made the final adjustments. He told me he was stuck in hard times and had to hock his guitar. I just handed it over to him and said "Here! I just finished this." He asked if I was sure and I told him I still had my two regulars for gigs and that THIS was the guitar I had that best suited him. He had it for a little over a year. He never got his old ax back. Then one day he brought it back to me. Pristine and just as I'd handed it to him. I knew he still didn't have a guitar so I told him he could hold onto it forever if he wanted to. He said "I'm pretty sure there's a guitar in my near future." I asked if he wanted to come and drink some beer while I tried it out at band practice, but he said he had some other things to do. He was depressed by nature. My flags were up, but it wasn't my business. He went and saw several other friends that night and by morning he was gone. But it's my loss, really. Not his. He would have hated this world and the way things have changed since then. That was twenty four years ago. I still play that guitar almost exclusively. Another friend of mine has taken to calling it "Dead mans wood". I like the name. It's dark with no clear implications. Like that guitar, and Scott.

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  2. #37
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I'd like that post, but it doesn't seem appropriate. Still, it's a great thing you did- helping out your friend. I've been there- having a friend call it quits . It's awful. The night before, I talked to him on the phone. We were going to see a basketball game the next night. I got a call the next morning telling me he was found hanging in his garage. It hit me so hard, I actually tossed my cookies. So, take this as 24 years late condolences.

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  3. #38
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    And "stories" like this (it seems trite calling them that) are why I get <EXTREMELY> (like, EXTRAORDINARILY) pissed off when someone suggests to me that my instruments are "just tools," "just things that are easily replaced," and the like. I even told my landlady I would absolutely and unequivocally NOT date a mutual acquaintance, as the two of us had just had this argument a few days prior...

    Chuck, I think all I can say is, "feels."

    Justin

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    Last edited by Justin Thomas; 02-21-2018 at 04:52 AM.
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  4. #39
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I feed the crows in my yard. Scott was about about a quarter Crow Indian (native American more properly). I keep shed feathers in the case. When they get ratty looking I toss them and replace them with new ones. Sometimes, even away from my home flock, crows sit in the trees and watch me. I like to imagine there's more to things than we understand. It's probably a foolish waste of time, but I miss him and there's got to be more to it than this. What we think we know.

    Thanks Dude, Justin. Honestly And condolences to you Dude. I understand. But probably best if I don't derail the thread any further. I've had a couple tonight and this might have been bad form.

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    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

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  5. #40
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    In the interest of not turning this into a downer thread, I'll stop. That said, phooey on your "bad form". This is, after all, the lobby!

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  6. #41
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    Thanks for that. I live in a city that would be considered a smaller market, so there aren't that many Gibsons distributed across retailers; not that I get out that much to the stores. I have no plans to spend big dollars on name-brand guitars, so I never take them down from the hanger in the store to try out. Consequently, declines in production quality ae not the sort of thing I would stumble onto.

    But you reminded me of something that I think bears noting. The last 25 years have seen the following developments:
    - more guitar manufacturers
    - more guitars being produced by those manufacturers (including Gibson)
    - more decentralization of production and assembly in order to meet importation or labelling restrictions (e.g., being able to say Made in the USA)
    - more restrictions on wood

    One of the things that any guitar-maker has to be able to assure is a reliable sustainable supply of the wood needed. Whether you're Mike Matthews buying up all the MN3005 chips that existed in 1993 in order to keep making Memory Man pedals, or Gibson buying up rosewood for fingerboards, a steady supply of raw materials is essential. But with so many companies in competition for many of the same raw materials, at the same time as import restrictions on endangered wood species start cropping up, there are bound to be corners cut in wood quality. And with so many competing companies, if your current employer treats you poorly, you can simply take your skill-set to another.

    When I had lunch with George Gruhn in 2009, he gave me his business card and pointed out the stats on the back of the card, where it lists the serial number range of all guitars produced by Martin from the company's start to the most recent date that could fit on the card. Martin numbers their instruments consecutively, such that year of manufacture can be inferred from the serial number. The last number produced between 1899 and 1990 is 503309. Between 1990 and 2004, they went to 1042558. So, in a 14 year span they pretty much doubled the number of instruments they had produced in the entire preceding 91 years. Some might see this as terrific news, with modern technology allowing more Martin guitars in the world. George was rather down on their quality, however.

    Like I implied, "quality" is commensurate with one's ability to secure the raw materials needed, and the skilled labour needed. Technology can assure you produce more faster with whatever materials and labour you have available, but it doesn't guarantee quality materials or attention to quality in the finished product.

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  7. #42
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Well if you can't get the traditional building materials you can always try to market alternatives using your good name as a value boost. Oh, wait !?!

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    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

    "A pedal, any kind, will not make a Guitar player more dangerous than he already is." J M Fahey

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "A shot gun delivers a force that exceeds the operational range of most systems, such as pumpkins." Antigua

  8. #43
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    The Martin numbers are interesting. I haven't played a Martin since the 1970s. I recently walked into the acoustic room at my local megastore and I was amazed that they had so many Martins hanging on the wall, as in my mind Martins were always a limited availability item. When I took one down I understood what had happened -- like most other companies, Martin seems to have been taken over by an MBA and the focus was now on quantity rather than quality.

    I agree with all of your points about more manufacturers, more units in production, decentralization, consumption of wood, etc. But I'm having trouble understanding where all of these new production guitars are going. Although the population has expanded in the last 50 years, commonly quoted stats tell us that guitar playing per capita is going down. Millennials just don't have guitar heroes and they don't want guitars, yet around the world the manufacturers keep producing them at full capacity. So where are all of these new production guitars going? Are they all being hoarded by middle-aged boomers? It's hard to imagine where they could be going otherwise. Maybe they're all in the warehouse at Guitar Center. But manufacturers can only engage in so much channel stuffing before they create a deflationary market, which seems to be what's going on now. If you're a company like Gibson, who tries to market their wares as an aspirational brand, then you're definitely paddling against the tide.

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  9. #44
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    Well if you can't get the traditional building materials you can always try to market alternatives using your good name as a value boost. Oh, wait !?!
    The Future according to CITES?

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  10. #45
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    Hey Bob,

    If I think of all my musician friends, yes, most of them own numerous budget to mid-level instruments, often saying they can't afford the one they "really want." So I can imagine many players are simply buying a lot of instruments, and I bet a lot languish in the closets of children and grandchildren... nearly every home I visit has at least one guitar that never gets played.

    While I doubt it can account for the bazillions seemingly being made, it might be a part of it. The other thing I wonder: how many of these new-production instruments end up being trashed because like so many things, they're priced to be disposable?

    Also, any GC I walk into has more instruments on the walls than any ten indy shops I know of combined. So even though the small shops are so few (and so are GC, comparatively), these warehouse stores and mail-order companies are stockpiling thousands of instruments in their inventories...

    Justin

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  11. #46
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    I don't have a problem with his policy about not giving management 5-day weekends. If the employees don't get 5-day weekends then it's reasonable to expect that management shouldn't get them either. There's nothing wrong with asking the managers to work as hard as the hourly employees.
    I read the Email and Juskiewicz was *perfect* in his answer.
    Only problem is he should have fired that poor employee with "attitude" at once.
    Doubly so because US work system allows it with little or no cost.

    Read the full note and that manager had *stolen* way more than his *yearly* holiday assignment one day at a time, and lying about his health problems, which he then admitted he couldnīt prove.

    If anything, Juskiewicz is a weak CEO.

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    If anything, Juskiewicz is a weak CEO.
    How you say "word up" in Argentinian Spanish?

    Here's the future: Gibson CHINA will acquire Gibson USA, for a nickel on the dollar.

    And Junk-o-wits will receive no more paycheck, benefits, privileges, pension nor golden parachute. Out on his ass, sitting in the gutter, blubbering about what a genius he is. About this last part, I could be wrong.

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  13. #48
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I have to admit, I was a little cautious in how I wrote that post about Henry J, as everyone hates Henry J and the prevailing trend in America is to be touchy-feely and to bash CEOs if they don't buy kittens for their workers. You just can't be PC unless you bash everyone who isn't united in sympathy to the workers' 'plight.'

    The journalist who wrote that critical article sounded like a boss-hater. When I read that writeup I thought Henry J wasn't given a fair shake. The CEO's job isn't to be nice, it's to make return on investment for the stakeholders. I don't really care if the touchy-feely crowd feels dissed by that, he's doing his job, and being nice to them isn't part of his job description.

    There is a belief spreading in America that suggests that your job should always be something that you should enjoy. Historically speaking, that's never been the case for the majority of American workers. I can't imagine many hard laborers looking forward to work in steel foundries and factories because they enjoyed the tasks they had to perform, or their working conditions; they always did it for a paycheck. In the old days the workplace was never intended to be "fun," it was always a place that you went to suffer in exchange for money. If it were meant to be "fun" then they wouldn't call it "work," people would never look forward to quitting time, and people wouldn't be saying things like, "Honey, I have to go to work." Instead they'd be saying things like, "Honey, I'm excited to be going out to have some fun! Don't expect me home for supper, I'll be having so much fun that I may not even come home."

    Where did that idea that work is supposed to be fun come from, anyway? (rhetorical question)

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  14. #49
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsco View Post
    I paid $995 Canadian for my Les Paul back in 1976....if I did sell it(which I am not), I will never get another guitar like it again......and the money will be gone before the buyer got to the end of the street.....I go into our local music store and see Gibson's in the display cases for 4 and 5 grand......too expensive for the local musicians around here.....
    Inflation Calculator | Find US Dollar's Value from 1913-2018
    says that 1976 U$995 is U$4334 today.

    C$ were closer to U$ way back then socomparison basically holds, shouldnīt be more than 10% away, the point being that current price is basically right, the historical price.

    But ... but ...
    too expensive for the local musicians around here
    oh,... that ... well, that is also true ... they were also too expensive way back then

    a couple facts to put things in perspective:

    *** salaries have grown less than inflation. ***
    We collectively earn WAY less than way back then
    , the turning point being around 1973 (the oil embargo)


    Mind you, those stats reach only 2004, I bet we are worse in 2018, specially after tho 2008 crisis, bank rescues (guess who pays them), two or three money sinkhole wars, etc.

    So truth is: Gibsons cost always the same, **we** are poorer


    BUT: having "apparently same products" at low price, made in Asia or anywhere else , makes actually poor people **feel** rich.

    In the old days, if you were poor or simply not really committed, you bought a cheap off-brand instrument (Silvertone, Harmony, etc.)
    If you were middle or working class and you were serious about Music, you dsaved a little here and there, probably worked extra hours, and bough a *good* instrument anyway.
    Only you bought *one*, you chose and bought *one* LP or SG or 335 or Strat or Tele or Gretsch or Rick .... and kept it forever .

    Now everybody has 8 to 15 **fake/cheesy** guitars, which LOOK like the real thing, and of course, they are insatisfied so keep buying more and more of the cheap ones.

    Only good outcome is that thanks to CNC and quality control the cheap ones have gotten quite good.

    And if you think about it, why not?

    Making a solid electric guitar is no rocket science by any means, if you analyze well enough the good ones, you can copy them down to the last detail.
    And if you miss one, next batch can be corrected, on and on.

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  15. #50
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    I'm also a real stickler for the FEEL of an instrument; maybe after 21 years of playing the same guitar
    ......................
    Now, what I WON'T do, especially to a beginner, is tell someone to mail-order a guitar. Most of those asking me for help are beginner or intermediate players who know nothing about gear; they just want to play. They wouldn't know what to find fault with in a mail-order instrument, and unless you've already been playing a long time and have SOME sense of what you'll like out of the box, then they'd never learn without direct A/B comparison. ..... It's a fight to get young players to have some patience and just go TRY lots of guitars to see what they like, instead of just jumping on the first one they can afford. Sure, you can get a good guitar by mail, but if you want to try another, you have to wait a week or two to get another, by which time you forgot the first one... Rather than go in and try ten guitars. TYeah, you might find a good one, but the next one might be better, but without going in and trying it, you'll never know.
    Fully agree and thatīs why I asked my Son to wait for a PRO to walk in.
    Sound is part of it, another is how it feels and plays, and to decide on that the guy must already have good instruments and be experienced on them.

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  16. #51
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    Inflation Calculator | Find US Dollar's Value from 1913-2018
    says that 1976 U$995 is U$4334 today.
    ...
    the turning point being around 1973 (the oil embargo).
    It's hard to get reliable indicators that compare wealth 50 years ago to wealth today because there isn't a constant standard of comparison. Back in the days when we had hard currency we didn't have the inflation problem. Back in the day and ounce of gold was enough to pay a man's living expenses for a month, or to buy him a really nice suit. And the value of the dollar was pegged to an ounce of gold (35:1) so that the value of the currency didn't fluctuate and there wasn't any real inflation. But when the US went off of the gold standard on August 15, 1971, the value of the dollar became determined by currency markets. The result was that the stability of the currency was gone, and the value of the currency only turned out to be as value as peoples' belief in the currency.

    Making comparisons between the time of hard currency and fiat currency is difficult, as there exists no common metric that has spanned the ages. Even the trusty Consumer Price Index isn't a stable metric, as the formula used to calculate the CPI has been changed time after time, to exclude things like the costs of food, energy and housing from the cost of living analysis.

    I think that the real numbers are worse than the official statistics and the plots would suggest.

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  17. #52
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    BUT: having "apparently same products" at low price, made in Asia or anywhere else , makes actually poor people **feel** rich.
    Well, that's part of the Big Plan with Globalization -- the use of inexpensive foreign manufacturing is intended to redistribute wealth from wealthy nations to poorer ones, and to substitute expensive goods with inexpensive goods in the wealthy nations to lull people into a state of complacency as their standard of living is quietly compromised. But that's a subject for another thread.

    The feeling of wealth that comes from buying a stable of inexpensive high-quality foreign instruments is real. As is the feeling of relief that comes with not having the bipolar joy/angst that goes with owning a valuable vintage instrument.

    I sold an old Gibson and oh, did I feel rich. I had enough money to buy a dozen high quality imported guitars and a slew of amps and still have a lot of money left over. People may not realize it, but owning a valuable guitar brings a feeling of responsibility and a bit of angst along with it. You obsess over it, and that obsession takes away from the joy of owning it. Now that an overly-valuable instrument is out of my life I have a wide choice of decent quality guitars and amps that cover more styles of music than I had before. And I'm having more fun. Part of the reason for that is because I'm now free of the worries that used to go with owning a valuable instrument. Now I can take a guitar out of the house without having to obsess over something happening to it. Instead of being an end in and of itself, the guitar has become a tool again, and the focus is returning to the music rather than to fussing about the instrument used to make the music. It's been a very liberating experience. High quality cheap guitars have made me feel happy in a way that I haven't felt in a long time.

    I'm in the process of divesting a lot of "desirable" gear. Unlike most people who aspire to own vintage gear, I already own a fair amount of it and I aspire to simplify my life by getting rid of it. The only exceptions will be those few cases in which the quality of a special instrument just can't be replaced with a cheaper one, a carved archtop being an example. The vintage solidbodies? All on their way out. Now I'm focusing on music rather than musical instruments, and I feel a lot better.


    Now everybody has 8 to 15 **fake/cheesy** guitars, which LOOK like the real thing, and of course, they are insatisfied so keep buying more and more of the cheap ones.
    I wouldn't call my Asian instruments fake or cheesy. They are actually professional-quality instruments that are surprisingly good, in spite of their price. In this era of automated production that requires machine-minutes instead of man-hours to build an instrument, it makes sense to buy cheaper machine-made instruments. The advent of CNC manufacturing has allowed me to own several guitars that I've always wanted, without having to spend a fortune.

    In the big scheme of things, I'm happier now than I was before. With the inexpensive guitars it's possible to cover a lot of musical bases without having to commit a disproportionate amount of resources. If you go this route the result is that you have money leftover to do other things. That can definitely make you feel rich, in more ways than one.

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    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

  18. #53
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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  19. #54
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Juan!?! Posting that video is hardly in keeping with your typical stance on the China/America circumstances. You typically post about the fabulous work environments, and more recently health care.?. This video you posted now pitches all that under the bus.

    I know, it's complicated. The real fault is with the US government being in the pockets of large corporations and the top 1% eating the American economy for every meal and shitting money. But that doesn't detract from your prior posts on the matter that seem to imply that Americans simply aren't stepping up to the hard work at hand being the fundamental problem. I know you're aware and paying more attention than most. And I know that BOTH things are true. In the end...

    The meek shall inherit the earth. Unfortunately their numbers will be low due to disease and toxins. And the actual earth will be a wasted shell. But in the "end" what else could happen? The fight for species survival is why China is killing itself and us simultaneously. When there are only "people", resources are only enough and race is mute... We are all meek.

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    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

    "A pedal, any kind, will not make a Guitar player more dangerous than he already is." J M Fahey

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

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  20. #55
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    OK, I guess the Globalization Hijack is going to happen in this thread after all. That's a *GREAT* video, Juan. Worth every one of the 80 minutes that it took to watch it.

    I particularly liked the Presidential speech in the segment that begins at 9:15, where the President spoke in favor of China's entry into the WTO:

    "If you believe in a future of greater openness and freedom for the people of China, you ought to be for this agreement. If you believe in a future of greater prosperity for the American people, you certainly should be for this agreement. If you believe in a future of peace and security for Asia and the world, then you should be for this agreement. This is the right thing to do. It's a historic opportunity, and a profound American responsibility.
    ...
    Economically this agreement is the equivalent of a one way street. It requires China to open it's markets, with a fifth of the world's population, potentially the biggest markets in the world. For the first time China will agree to play by the same open trading rules we do -- never happened before. For the first time our companies will be able to sell and distribute products in China made by workers here in America."
    You have to wonder if the President and the Congress actually believed what they were saying and they were just clueless, or if the dog and pony show was just a world-class example of sophistry. Considering that they've done nothing to change things after everyone has realized that things didn't work out the way we were told they'd work out, I guess that's a rhetorical question.

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    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

  21. #56
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    Juan!?! Posting that video is hardly in keeping with your typical stance on the China/America circumstances. You typically post about the fabulous work environments, and more recently health care.?. This video you posted now pitches all that under the bus.
    Not really
    Split it in three:

    * About ultra modern China growing fabulously , having Worldīs best and largest Factories by now, plus incredible advances in Health care, city building, infrastructure, wealth, etc. ... I have linked to videos accurately showing that.

    * about *how* they got there: *heavily/obsessively* Industrializing, plus doing all the tricks available in Economy: heavily subsidizing Exports, aggressively keeping Currency value artificially low, building a huge commercial fleet and the largest Container transport system (I live in the old Buenos Aires port, surrounded by immense container parking spaces, and the two most abbundant ones are COSCO and China Shipping) , etc., all that is very well shown in this video, and thatīs why I posted it.
    It also shows how US Politicians not only did not lift a finger to stop it, most of them (or at least the most powerful ones) must have profited from that, at least through Party Donations, but I guess many were partners in the "new business"
    You noticed it:
    I know, it's complicated. The real fault is with the US government being in the pockets of large corporations and the top 1% eating the American economy for every meal and shitting money.
    Yes, thatīs the main point.

    But that doesn't detract from your prior posts on the matter that seem to imply that Americans simply aren't stepping up to the hard work at hand being the fundamental problem. I know you're aware and paying more attention than most. And I know that BOTH things are true.
    Oh, I donīt blame American *people* , quite the opposite, they are the *victims*..
    They are being led by the nose ring.
    IF they knew whatīs going on, there might even be a Revolution ... but it wonīt happen with brains constantly fed crap and lies.
    Yet a lot of people knows "something is wrong", they live surrounded by it ... why do you think so many people voted TV actor and Business-Con-Man Trump?
    You focus on relatively minor but conflictive matters such as Womenīs Rights, Gun Control, verbally fighting N. Korea, etc. , but masses did not vote him for *that* !!!!!
    Just listen to what he said and promised in the political Rallies: he promised Jobs !!!! denouncing commercial treaties!!!! reopening Factories and mines!!!! buying American!!!!! blocking/expelling foreigners who take American Jobs!!!!
    Will he do that? no ... or very little .... but thatīs not the point, which is actually an X-Ray of what American masses want and need.
    When a too small shoe crushes your feet, you know something is very wrong, no matter how they sugarcoat it.
    Maybe you donīt how or why, but the foot pain is real.

    * now on the interpretation on why this happened (and keeps/will happen in the future) I donīt care much on what the Video says.
    It does have an agenda, in fact they show the Politicians backing it , itīs twisted, half Truth, half not that much, or to be more precise they simply donīt mention IMPORTANT facts.
    They heavily charge all fault on "Evil Communists" .... who would not have gotten inside USA if the doors had not been wide open (by Americans) and they had not been warmly invited (by Americans):
    In fact Chinese Industry started with massive US investments and could grow only by unrestrained access to HUGE US market, the largest in the World.

    But now Chinese have their own money, and donīt *really* need USA any ore.
    At least, itīs not a matter of Life and Death any more.
    Most Oil Countries accept Yuan now instead of Dollars, we Argentines are accepting Yuan to pay for soybeans, our main Export, and using them to pay for Chinese railroads, Port updating, our own Oil and lots of other stuff.

    Back to the main thread: why pay 2000U$ for a Chinese made "Gibson" if we can get the same, paid in Yuan, from the same factory in China for the equivalent of 400U$?
    The US middleman is being phased out, and then what?


    As of Bill Clintonīs words (yes, HE let "the Enemy inside the gates" ... not that the Republicans didnīt enthusiastically back him)
    For the first time our companies will be able to sell and distribute products in China made by workers here in America."
    well, we all know how that all actually ended.

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    There are parallels between the US guitar industry and the British ceramics industry. In the 70s there was a lot of excitement over large export orders for power station equipment (from the GEC plant), kilns and specialist ceramics manufacturing equipment. Ceramics companies got paid to send teams of experts over to the Far East to train workers and establish production plants. Plenty of money was coming into the are in the UK that used to be the centre of production - the Staffordshire Potteries. UK companies had full employment, had domestic and export orders for products, and there were practically zero imports.

    Once production was fully established the UK companies realized initially that it was cheaper to import ceramics than to make them here. Sometimes packaging or rebranding goods and selling them without actually telling customers that such items were made in Indonesia or elsewhere. My father's company even stamped up imported goods as "Made in England". Legitimate, in that they stamped each item and re-fired it then packaged it up. The country of origin being defined as 'the last country where a major finishing operation was carried out'. So the companies were still making money.

    That is, until imports came in directly and flooded the market, causing shutdowns, mergers, layoffs and redundancy.

    What was perhaps never realized at the time was we were manufacturing the very competition that would be the ultimate end of an industry in the UK. Short-term gains, long-term losses.

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  23. #58
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Yes, Juan focused above on the US aspect in keeping with the spirit of the video (which I still need to finish, I'm only 40 min. in). Siting that much of China's manufacturing prowess was funded by the US. Which is true at face value. But the problem is global and the US isn't the only country responsible, just the most vulnerable to the effects. I've often said here that I don't blame China, per se. Well.. Of course I do, because it's a willing and aware participant in supplanting the well being of entire economies for the benefit of themselves and any who would conspire with them. Still, if our economy was as China's was some thirty years ago and we found it possible to work with foreign governments and business moguls to eat off another countries plate, well I'm sure we would do it. We just haven't been that desperate, yet. Once we are thoroughly downtrodden and virtually valueless perhaps we WILL do what China has. A changing of the guard so to speak. But that may be centuries off and there's nothing good about it to look forward to. I know it's a dog eat dog world. Survival of the fittest, a fool and his money, never give a sucker an even break, etc. And I tend to be a pacifist, but I see the whole practice of corporations, once taking advantage of China and now working is concert with them as they are empowered by the theft of other economies as particularly lacking in humanity. And China's roll is nothing short of insectile. Like a giant, pestilent ant colony running over and consuming all in it's path. And America stood still instead of getting out of the damn way. That would have been easy enough once upon a time, but not so much now that we're half consumed and dying. I use to wonder what we, the American people, would ultimately do about the problem. Now I just watch to see how it rolls out and what's going to happen to us. I mean, you can't just go all Fight Club on the matter and start blowing up buildings with soap. And you can't get any foothold on an effective course of action for lack of support or awareness. The frustration is, and has been maddening for me for a long time.

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    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

    "A pedal, any kind, will not make a Guitar player more dangerous than he already is." J M Fahey

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "A shot gun delivers a force that exceeds the operational range of most systems, such as pumpkins." Antigua

  24. #59
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    And, in keeping with the subject of Gibson... My hope is that something like what happened with Fender will take place. That is, close and already invested parties may get involved and influence what happens next. Ideally something more in keeping with original ideals. MMmmmm. Sky pie.

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    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

    "A pedal, any kind, will not make a Guitar player more dangerous than he already is." J M Fahey

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "A shot gun delivers a force that exceeds the operational range of most systems, such as pumpkins." Antigua

  25. #60
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    I responded to the Washington Post article a few months ago about the "death of the electric guitar", noting that: 1) guitars are not consummables that are thrown in the trash once not in fashion or used anymore, 2) such instruments generally become part of the immense resale market, and 3) because of this you shouldn't judge the health of the electric guitar (as opposed to the guitar industry) by retail sales of new instruments. The autor replied and pretty well conceded all points.

    And, all foolish business acquisitions (Stanton, Philips) aside, that means that if you turn out a product that can be re-used and resold for decades, customers are not going to buy every single new item you produce, because they can get the same quality for less on Craigslist. In other words, already-produced products from the same manufacturer are regularly displacing new products, making ramping up production senseless.

    I think revitalizing the Epiphone line was a smart thing to do, and I even think making Epi Les Pauls was a somewhat smart thing. But Gibson should have probably limited the models available. So, if you want slab body, you buy Epi, but if you want carved top, that's going to have to require a Gibson. But that's not what they did. They ended up competing with themselves, when they were producing Epis that compared favorably with Gibsons and saw Gibson quality drop a little.

    This is a decent comment on the Gibson bankruptcy threat, and explains some key things well.


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  26. #61
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Nice video. Thanks for posting that. It's very well produced, and it does a good job of explaining a complex finance problem in a 10 minute video. It's not perfect, but it is really good. It does a good job of explaining some of the complex finance issues to someone who might not be aware of the complex nature of the problem. I haven't looked at the video on YouTube, so I don't know if anyone's posted corrections in the comments. He did make a couple of minor mistakes.

    FWIW as I mentioned in Post #3 it is my understanding that that $145M that comes due in in late July is not a conventional bank loan, it's a type of balloon payment that becomes due if and only if Gibson becomes non-performing on collateralized bond payments. The banks do this so that the banks won't be last in line at BK. I can see how someone who doesn't know how to pronounce Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization might misunderstand that.

    IMO the real problem at Gibson was one of greed. Henry J might have a Harvard MBA but that doesn't make him bulletproof. Wall Street has had plenty of Harvard MBAs run good companies in the ground when they let their egos take them on an M&A binge that turned out to build a house of cards. I'm having trouble understanding how someone as smart as Henry J could leverage a company at 8.75% at a time when the cost of borrowing has been pushed to the zero-bound by QE. Maybe his Harvard MBA overrode his common sense.

    I think that leveraging plays into the declining quality of the Gibson guitars. Gibson Brands was heavily leveraged after they paid huge sums of money for non-performing brands like TEAC. With only one cash cow in the stable (Gibson Guitars) they had to milk it to pay the bills. So they ramped-up production at Gibson and focused on volume rather than quality. They produced lots of guitars. So many that they had warehouses full of guitars that weren't selling. It finally occurred to them that they had to liquidate that stockpile to generate fast cash with the loan deadlines looming in the immediate future, so they responded with the CME Blowout Sales.

    Mark made an interesting point about used instruments getting in the way of used instrument sales:
    ... if you turn out a product that can be re-used and resold for decades, customers are not going to buy every single new item you produce, because they can get the same quality for less on Craigslist. In other words, already-produced products from the same manufacturer are regularly displacing new products, making ramping up production senseless.
    Gibson had an angle to play on that idea. Remember that Gibson had huge pricing power for a while. They'd mark up their guitars 20% every year and they did that over a period of several years. At that rate The Rule of 72 tells us that the prices will double in 4 years. By engaging in these sorts of price hikes Gibson had a definite advantage over the used market. Normally a manufacturer has to price their widgets according to the price that can be demanded in the new market, and they don't price their new widgets based upon the used widget market. By continually increasing their prices Gibson was able to create a very comfortable profit margin in the new instruments, such that they became immune to the pricing of the used market. By pricing new Gibsons as high as they did, they pulled up the value of used Gibsons to the point that the cost of producing a new instrument was less than the value of that instrument on the used market. This enabled Gibson to sell into either channel and still make a profit. During the CME Blowout, CME was selling brand-new Gibson guitars to the public at prices that were lower than the wholesale prices for the same instruments as new, AND lower than the price of that same instrument on the used market. Everyone was furious. Dealers had the manufacturer selling new guitars to the public via CME for less money than it cost the dealers to buy them. Gibson was even selling those new instruments for less than the cost of a USED instrument in the secondary market. The result is that nobody could sell their used guitars because you could buy a brand new one for less.

    Gibson has been screwing everyone, their dealership network included.

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    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

  27. #62
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I just saw a headline on Bloomberg entitled, "Bandlab buys Cakewalk from Gibson." No details are available yet, but it looks like the asset liquidation is in process.

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    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

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  28. #63
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Nothing is being said about the sale of Cakewalk at Gibson.com. If you look on the Gibson site their "Featured News" story is about Jeff Beck being a "Legend of the Les Paul."

    Gibson

    The latest update about Cakewalk that I could retrieve from Gibson/Cakewalk was dated in November 2017 when Gibson announced that they would stop development of Cakewalk to pursue other acquisition interests.

    GIBSON BRANDS ANNOUCEMENT REGARDING CAKEWALK, INC.

    The only useful information seems to be on the BandLab Technologies blog:

    https://blog.bandlab.com/cakewalk-press-release/

    Everyone seems to be tight-lipped about how much money changed hands.

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    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

  29. #64
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    Whatever was going on at CME did not appear to be generalized across the continent. Certainly we in Canada saw no such price reductions.

    As for Gibson's acquisitions, now required to be selloffs, I have often wondered how much business schools these days engender the notion in their graduates that "successful" businesses can only be those that aim towards being empires, rather than enterprises that are able to provide a good product or service, at a fair price, with decent compensation for staff, and good community rapport, for a long time. My buddy RG Keen often likes to refer to what he calls "MBA disease", when discussing questionable management decisions.

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  30. #65
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hammer View Post
    Whatever was going on at CME did not appear to be generalized across the continent. Certainly we in Canada saw no such price reductions.
    The CME "Floor Model" sale was conducted via one outlet and only one outlet, Chicago Music Exchange, who owns Reverb. No other dealers were allowed in on the deal, and that's one reason that all of the other dealers were PO'd -- CME got to sell all of Gibson's liquidated inventory at prices below what other dealers had to pay for the same instruments. Nobody else was invited.

    CME has been poaching on the territory of your local guitar store by shipping guitars all over the world during this sale, including Canada and the EC.

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  31. #66
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    Mystery solved.

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  32. #67
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    More downward spiral:

    Gibson lays off the staff in the custom shop.

    https://www.nashvillepost.com/busine...le-custom-shop

    Heritage employees are fired and others quit as the company moves to CNC production:

    http://wwmt.com/news/local/14-herita...-new-direction

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    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

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  33. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post

    Heritage employees are fired and others quit as the company moves to CNC production:

    14 Heritage Guitar Workers off the job as company heads in new direction | WWMT
    management says the new direction will elevate the company, while the fired workers disagree.

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  34. #69
    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Any purposeful change at any company is always described as beneficial to the company.

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    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  35. #70
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    So they had kept significant production inside USA, and using skilled USA hands, instead of subcontrating most in Asia and CNC producing the rest?
    Well, in my book Henry Juskiewicz is a PATRIOT.
    He didnīt take the anti-American management decisions **everybody else** did.
    So he *tried* to keep traditional quality and materials by importing same wood type as had been used since forever, getting tangled in legal barbed wire because of that?
    Same consideration.
    Of course, "no good deed goes unpunished" and that explains his current situation.

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