The market for musical instruments is nowhere near as high as it used to be. Between the state of our economy, and the decline in popularity of instrument-based music, among other things- people just don’t want to buy new stuff. Be it guitars, basses, drums, etc., the market isn’t what it used to be. My question is: Why aren’t manufacturers doing more to remedy this?
Kids play more Guitar Hero than play guitars. Rock music has slipped back into the underground, being reduced to video game background noise, with its future in doubt. Kids are buying DJ turntables, or software-based music processors to make music instead of instruments. If I were a guitar making company, I would be asking myself what I could do do keep my product relevant. Instead, it seems that most manufacturers are taking a “wait and see” approach to music trends. Is that a good thing for either the companies or the public? I can’t see a reason how it would be.
When people are gravitating away from your product en masse, is it really wise to charge upwards of $2000 for something that may not be worth that price? I would think that it would be counterproductive, but what do I know. For example, Gibson Guitars regularly charge over that price for most of their Les Paul line. This is despite numerous reports of inconsistent quality throughout the brand- and the admittance of the CEO that the prices were artificially inflated long ago, for the purpose of implying high quality. Other companies like BC Rich offer budget branded guitars from $200 and up, but they don’t realize that they are hurting their brand when people find the quality of these guitars is substandard. They do have higher priced, better quality guitars, but the low-end models may sour people on ever trying them. Gibson’s Asian made Epiphone guitars are their answer to someone wanting a lower priced copy of their guitars.
For the record, I myself own guitars made by both of these companies, so you can get a good guitar from them- and I’m not bashing their ability to produce quality instruments. But the quality/price ratio has become seriously out of whack, and has been getting worse. This is an industry-wide occurrence, and not limited to Gibson and BC Rich. FYI, I would never recommend someone buy a new guitar sight-unseen….ever. Play it before you buy it.
I’m also not sure why there are not countless music scholarships and grants given out by these companies. After all, if you give people incentive, you have a lifetime customer- which bolsters the industry. The same applies to giving heavy discounts to schools, youth groups, nursing homes, community centers- anything that can introduce a love of the instrument (and playing it!) to the public. If a kid has the option of buying a turntable for $200-$300, a low-quality guitar for the same, or $2000+ for a quality instrument, it’s not rocket science to see where they will go. In other words, make it easier to get your product into the hands of someone who may not otherwise consider it.
Instead of price and quality incentives, manufacturers seem to think they can use existing artists’ names to sell their instruments- and charge more as a result. The problem with this is, there are less well-known players in the public mainstream, and creates a finite source of inspiration to buy. How many kids know who Billy Gibbons or Jeff Beck are? Making your product readily available for an attainable price is just easier, and with a higher potential for benefit. And it’s not targeting a select demographic.
To make a long story short: Please, instrument manufacturers, help us help you. We want your products in the hands of some kid who could eventually entertain millions. Short term moneymaking is counterproductive to keeping the musical ball rolling, so make more opportunities for the world to create- and become the next generation of your customers. Thanks.