Good Article on Innovation - Gibson and Fender

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by gtmm, May 10, 2018.

  1. gtmm

    gtmm Junior Member

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    Corkscrewhair, mudfinger, ehb and 4 others like this.

  2. Malikon

    Malikon Henshin! V.I.P. Member

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    "In other words, while Gibson was dismissing and name-calling their customers, Fender was actually listening to their customers."

    ...something this forum has pointed out for at least 5 years now, if not longer.

    Good article thanks for posting it.
     
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  3. rockstar232007

    rockstar232007 Senior Member

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    Yep.

    Instead of looking for "trends"/"marketing-curves", Fender was busy actually listening to their customers demands, and delivering.

    Henry was too busy trying to be the next "Steve Jobs", by trying to push HIS version "innovation".

    Not to mention the who "Lifestyle" fiasco.
     

  4. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi V.I.P. Member

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    That article can be distilled down to a very simple idea. Fender listened, Gibson (Henry J) did not. Fender asked what did people want. Gibson (Henry J) tried to tell them what they want.

    Death by arrogance.
     

  5. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    The problem with "innovation" in a vacuum, is that what you wind up with is a gee-whiz solution in search of a problem. To what guitar player question was Firebird X the answer? None whatsoever. How many players asked for robotuners? Judging by pre-2015 G-force sales, damn few.
     
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  6. Bill Hicklin

    Bill Hicklin Senior Member

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    Long tradition. Leo Fender asked musicians (mostly country) what they wanted, put his gear in their hands and when they got back from the tour asked them what they liked and didn't like and how it could be better.
     

  7. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi V.I.P. Member

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    Exactly.
     
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  8. Deviljho

    Deviljho Member

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    The eventual new ownership from Gibson should take a page or few from Fender when it comes to the modern-day musician. Fender honours the artists of yore, but they periodically post new videos of current artists promoting their new guitars. They put iconic models into the hands of starting musicians at affordable price points, and they've embraced the social media aspect when it comes to learning how to play.

    Gibson expects to push expensive, yet iconic guitars onto newer musicians, but they don't have the faces for it. Then they try to introduce new technology (I'm all for robo-tuners) onto their aging clientele...but that isn't what they want. I really think Gibson can profit and prosper if they go to newer artists, endorse them, and ask them exactly what it is that they're looking for in an instrument in 2018. You can still cater to traditionalist, while creating a market for new musicians, and implement the new innovating tech and specs accordingly.
     

  9. rockstar232007

    rockstar232007 Senior Member

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    All I know is, if Gibson got back to building amps, and could produce something similar to the original GA-40, I'd be all over it!

    Why Henry ever thought it was a good idea to discontinue amp-production is beyond me?

    ...oh, wait!
     
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  10. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    The most important thought in that article to my mind:

    HJ's inability to listen to customers and deliver desired product is a direct result of ignoring this business commandment. And it is a commandment. Even as a district manager for a Fortune 100 wholesale-and-retail petrochemical company, I made it a point to spend some of each workweek behind a register, or doing stocking on the sales-floor, both avenues of gathering information about customer attitudes and insights.

    It's great to create new demand, but it's more important to assign priority to nascent customer demand. Keep your ear to the ground, and deliver what is wanted.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018

  11. OldBenKenobi

    OldBenKenobi Senior Member

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    I can understand Henry's mad desire to innovate for innovation's sake. I can understand him wanting to build Gibson into a brand larger than its instruments. I can understand it even if I disagree with it.

    But I cannot for the life of me understand why the fuck they have been pushing so many butt ugly designs out.

    This isn't even a "you're just a traditionalist who only wants the same six finishes!" post. No, I like non-traditional designs when they look great. And some of them did. The Les Paul Standard Limited Edition model with ebony fretboard, bound headstock, white plastics and bold colors like Manhattan Midnight Blue and Pacific Reef Flame was an incredible looking guitar.

    It just seems that for every really good looking model they put out ten ugly ones. Barbie-pink plastics, weird inlays, mismatched colors/textures and the most bizarre, garish finishes possible.

    It ranges from the merely disappointing, such as the very badass aluminum AL13 "The Element" (stupid titles is another problem) that is ruined by a very unfortunate brown rosewood fretboard instead of a much more appropriate ebony or richlite board, to the inexplicable, such as the Firebird X which breaks every rule and guideline of design that there is, a level of hideousness that probably did more to sink that guitar than the electronics (I can't imagine it being so ridiculed if it had the appearance of a normal Firebird).

    There are fundamental principles of design that are very important, the most important of which is harmony (every element has to look like it belongs), and Gibson has been shitting all over them and cranking out one ridiculous looking guitar after the other.
     

  12. SpawnedX

    SpawnedX Senior Member

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    I really think Gibson needs to STOP catering to the traditionalist. Stop catering to an aging market that pretty much has said over and over again that they don't care if Gibson goes under because they already have the Gibson they want. That and they are aging into the knocking on death's door range. This is not a sustainable consumer group, sorry. Sure offer a Gibson USA built to traditional spec and the Custom and the historic, but that's it, stop trying to find a million different versions to appeal to them and start appealing to people my age who are just entering into the point in life where high end guitars are affordable now to us.

    I have a 2017 Standard because of the asymmetrical 60s inspired profile, the compound radius fretboard, the push-pull pots for coil splitting, bypass and out of phase. I wish it had the apex carve on the headstock.

    You want to stay viable, start accepting that the metal shredding crowd is the fastest growing genre of guitar music and attracting the largest growing group of new guitarists.

    If you perfect the robo-tuner...there is zero logical argument for it not being embraced in the future. Because someone is stuck in their ways is not logical. If my 2015 didn't try to retune itself during a show, it would still be on there, fix this by simply offering a mechanical switch to lock the system out even if buttons accidentally get pressed. 1 strum, 10 seconds, fully tuned...damn how inconvenient.
     
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  13. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    I think there's room to cater to both traditionalists and younger players. I think HJ misjudged where that line lies.

    I certainly agree with OBK's point about design aesthetics. Even if the Firebird X had none of the electronica crap, I still wouldn't buy it, because it just looks plain wonky. Ditto the rainbow-finished LPs/SGs ... and the fact they had to use plywood to pull that look off.

    Innovating is a fine line to walk -- not enough, and you're seen as stodgy; too much, and you risk being silly. The last ten years under HJ has seen that line crossed too much, imo.
     

  14. Malikon

    Malikon Henshin! V.I.P. Member

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    I've said that for years.

    However Gibson has made a point of ignoring the metal community. They look down their nose at it and do not want to be known for making "metal guitars."

    ...which is really stupid because they're the ones playing a ton of guitar.

    95% of my students over the past 20 years have been people who want to play Metal.


    Schecter, ESP, Ibanez, Jackson, BC Rich, Dean....are they having money problems? Nope,..lots of kids and metal players are snatching up those guitars.

    They should've signed Metallica (for example) 25 years ago and pimped the shit out of some Signature V's and Explorers.

    Henry and Gibson dropped the ball so hard it cracked the floor tile.
     

  15. SpawnedX

    SpawnedX Senior Member

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    Exactly. I see the same thing with my guitar students. If I bring out my Les Paul they don't even care. Bring out my Eclipse with an 81/85 set and they all ask if they can play it and tell me how they want to get one, etc. It's obvious that Gibson can easily appeal to this market, it's not like the Eclipse look is radically different. Gibson just isn't offering the features they want, in a price range they are comfortable with and most importantly the artists they love aren't playing them.
     

  16. Malikon

    Malikon Henshin! V.I.P. Member

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    according to Metallica and both guitarists for Mastodon, working with Gibson is a nightmare.

    Maybe that's why groups avoid them?

    Maybe that's why Gibson has pimped Slash and Zakk Wylde for 35 years.

    ...oh yeah, Wylde left them too.


    Lately watching JMetal videos I'm struck that almost every single guitarist is playing a PRS. :hmm:
     

  17. Deviljho

    Deviljho Member

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    Babymetal is the current darling of overseas metal. If Gibson was smart, they'd lure Ohmura away from ESP and provide him with whatever spec'ed out model he wants. Or find a new up-and-coming band now that so many eyes are paying attention to that group. As the girls age, the fanbase will too, and that's an entirely new consumer base to embrace.

    Bonamassa, Slash, Page, are legends. But there's a reason why those guitars sit around in shops or transfer hands amongst the same group of fans. Where's the younger consumer?
     
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  18. SpawnedX

    SpawnedX Senior Member

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    Actually I find that many youngsters still look up to Slash for inspiration, but since all his models are way out of most people's price ranges it is doing nothing for Gibson.
     

  19. Deviljho

    Deviljho Member

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    Oh yeah, no doubt. Slash is a big influence of mine as well, and many in my age group love the guy. But you walk into any big-chain guitar shop, you'll see a couple models of his guitars. Epiphone or Gibson. And while that's cool and all, and they obviously sell, there aren't very many young players who need a Rossa, an Anaconda, a Snakepit, and a Goldtop Slash signature. They're aimed directly at the "SLASH FAN", which makes business sense.

    But what about modern day players? If they play a Gibson, why can't I get their model? Where is the special edition pickups or effects? Even with Gib/Epi marketing, you never see ads directed at youth. Unlike Fender, who has all the marketing sticks ticked off (tattooes, cool haircut, unique colour or model, young). Instead, I'm seeing Joe Perry's 800-year old smile. It's all for better or for worse, but it's a cause for concern on their end.
     

  20. SpawnedX

    SpawnedX Senior Member

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    Sadly their Epiphone line is smarter with that than they are. Matt Heafy and Lee Malia signature models, now those are guys the kids know.
     

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