Gibson heading towards default

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Dredg, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade Unhindered by Talent

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    Just about every single thing you have said is nothing more than opinion. "No one wants them anymore" "They build poopy guitars" "[Random shredder] is more viable as signature artists than Slash."

    Full disclosure: I have bought numerous top end Gibson out of the Custom Shop over the last 10 years. The quality has been top notch on each one of them. And, I just picked up an outstanding Keb Mo signature model a few months ago, because he is the kinda guy I love to listen to - Mastadon and djent don't do anything for me.

    Gibson is failing because they aren't moving as many guitars anymore. There a zillion on the used market at every possible price point. That is what happens when you are an industry leader for 80 years. People have bought them, sold them, bought others, moved on, etc. It is hard to compete against yourself in a flooded market. It is simple. I don't know how they are going to fix it, but that's not my problem. If they make something I like, I will buy it.
     
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  2. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    Oh please, are you really pulling the Lebowski defense on my criticism of their weakened reputation, well documented QC issues, and irrelevant artist roster?

    Here's a tip - Just because something is subjective, doesn't mean all arguments are equally valid, and it doesn't mean I can't support my positions more effectively or more completely than you can support yours, so why don't you try addressing what I'm saying instead of trying to pull this "That's just your opinion, man" bullshit on me?

    I've repeated this it feels like 100 times, but apparently too many words in a post prevents anyone from actually reading what I'm saying, so let me give you the shortest possible bullet points as to why Gibson are failing:

    1 - Aging artist roster with no well supported young blood
    2 - Terrible subsidiary management leading to the almost total irrelevance of Steinberger, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Tobias, Dobro, Baldwin and Kramer
    3 - Overreliance on a market of aging baby boomers who are either dying, or buying fewer guitars as they get older
    4 - Unwillingness to diversify their product lines, even via subsidiary expansion to retain the "traditional" Gibson image.
    5 - Lack of technical innovation called for by players, in favour of innovations widely dismissed or mocked by players
    6 - Confusing product stack with no clear definitions between quality levels or specific ranges
    7 - Bad website design (No guitar company has the best website, but PRS, Ibanez, Jackson and Fender all have much easier to navigate online presence)
    8 - Wood seizures under the Lacey Act
    9 - Poor response to those wood seizures (Richlite is a fine material, but when Taylor started using streaked Ebony they marketed it and now maccassar and pale moon ebony is very marketable. When CITES killed rosewood boards, every manufacturer moved to Maple or Ebony.)
    10 - Extremely weak attempts at visual design (I loved the Zoot Suit SG, but for the same reason everyone else hated it - it looked tacky as hell
    11 - Weak quality control.
    12 - Stronger competition in the marketplace
    13 - Shrinking marketplace
    14 - Greater likelihood of players buying used.

    I include the last 3 because they are, absolutely, factors in why Gibson aren't a billion dollar company, although that raises it's own questions regarding how they thought they were going to finance $520,000,000 in loans.

    Ultimately, I will shed no tears when Gibson folds on this debt and gets purchased by someone else. They absolutely can't do a worse job, and even if that somehow happened, all it would mean to most players and people, is the continuation of a long process.
     
  3. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade Unhindered by Talent

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    Pssst. We all know that you aren't going to shed a tear. You have been celebrating their demise it like you lost your virginity to every model at Victoria's Secret simultaneously.

    1-14 are all still your opinion.
     
  4. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    You're right, they are, and I've supported those opinions far better than you have so far.

    Are you going to sit there and repeat that meaningless statement over and over or are you actually going to provide some useful commentary on why you disagree with what I've said? I ask, because that's kind of necessary unless you really don't understand the fundamental problem with the "lebowski defense".
     
  5. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade Unhindered by Talent

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    Look, mate. I am probably old enough to be your dad. I have never seen the movie, but I have heard of it... pop culture references aren't really my area of expertise. And what is the point of systematically going through your list on 14 opinions with rebuttals? You are championing their demise like you have something to gain from an American institution going down the drain. I'd rather see them fix their mess and continue making excellent instruments. Gibson is a luxury brand in trouble. They are paying the price of a rapidly shrinking middle class with less money to spend on new gear - especially when there are 4500 used Les Pauls on Reverb right now. It is hard to compete with yourself when there are hundred of thousands of your instruments already in the market place.
     
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  6. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    people act like this is the first time Gibsons been in trouble.
    They nearly went under 2 other times before this and were rescued with varying degrees of success.
    Selling off their mismanaged acquisitions and then having someone else buy the core brand might be the best thing that could happen to them.
     
  7. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    You're looking at this as is it is only a sales issue, but the economy has gone downhill since they issued these bonds, so it is probably more difficult and more expensive to raise money today than it was at that time. So they may well be selling less today, but their issues with refinancing their debt are more involved than merely sales.


    Simple: Gibson does not promote them; they may as well not exist. Not the best business decision IMO, but it has nothing to do with people not wanting them. They simply don't know about them.


    I'm not sure their business model is what's failing, and I doubt they'll end up defaulting on their current debt. They definitely need to address the issues with how they treat their employees and employee morale. They need to continue innovating, but focus on "real world" innovation rather than boardroom innovation. They need to better market to the younger players. They need to reconsider the price points of some of their guitars. But I think most of that (aside from the employee issues) are more minor tweaks than going back to the drawing board.


    Debt isn't necessarily a bad thing in business. By combining the investors' money with additional borrowed money, the business is generally able to achieve a higher return on investment after servicing the debt than with the invested capital alone. This is called leverage because the debt acts as a lever to increase the results over the invested capital.

    I haven't looked into Gibson's finances, but they may very well be over leveraged. Or the debt market may suck right now for privately held businesses. Or their sales may be down too much year over year. Or whatever. But Gibson won't be the first, nor the last, company to raise money via junk bonds and/or be purchased by another player in their market.


    They do online, but I'm not so sure they do IRL. At least I haven't heard much about it from players I know IRL.

    But as I mentioned earlier in this thread, I've played a number of Gibsons over the past two years or so and I've only encountered minor finish issues. Things that shouldn't exist at the price points, but not particularly big deals in and of themselves.

    Based on this, I'm not sure there really is such a QC problem at Gibson. Maybe it's there and I haven't come across it, but with as many as I've played lately, I should have run across several duds by now and I haven't.

    I think the bigger issue (aside from the employee issues) was adding robot tuners to the 2016 line (or was it 2015?) and raising prices, only to have that poor decision fail and have to revert back to what was more or less their 2015 lineup.
     
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  8. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    They invested a lot of money into those robo tuners. an absurd amount of money.
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    There are also 4500 used Strats, though, and 4500 used RG's. IDK, maybe Fender and Ibanez are in the same sort of trouble.

    I think this thread has turned a couple of times into the "I told you so" versus "I disagree with you, but don't care to explain why" posterchild-thread. If Gibson was reading this thread, maybe something said here would matter, but I doubt it, so I doubt it.

    If Gibson does go under, just expect whatever other brand to run into some unforseen financial issues, then the folks who are not gloating in here can pop up in that thread to gloat about brand x failing.

    I think it's reasonable to say that their habit of dumping inexplicable amounts of capital into weird R&D that has ended up not improving sales is going to catch up with them sooner or later.
     
  10. Sumsar

    Sumsar SS.org Regular

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    To long didn't read the whole thread, just a couple of pages.

    Some people talk about the possibility that if Gibson vanish then other companies can make 1:1 copies without getting sued.

    Quick question on American copyright law: How long does copyright last over there? Surely the guys that came up with the Les Paul, SG and others are long gone, so how is it that the copyrights don't die with them or otherwise run out after say 50 years or something like that?

    Totally different I know, but on medicine I think the copyright/patent last for 15 years, so after that period everyone can make cheap copies of the product, which ofc benefits the consumer / patient / countries with free healthcare and medicine. The 15 years is apparently enough to make companies invest money in developing medicine.

    TLDR: how the hell can Gibson uphold copyright for a 50+ year old design?
     
  11. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    Things pass into public domain weirdly. Depending on what the thing is and if the copyright can be renewed. They could have as long as 120 years unless there is no one to defend the copyright.
     
  12. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Ha ha, well patents have a time limit, but, practically speaking, in order to renew a trademark, something just has to be not as old as Mickey Mouse, because, you might not believe this, but look it up, Disney is the main motivating factor in lobbying trademark law in the USA. Since Gibson's electric guitars are all newer than Mickey Mouse, there is little-to-no practical chance that they will ever go into public domain unless Gibson willfully gives them up.

    Now, for someone to get sued over a trademark, someone does have to sue them. Theoretically, if Gibson simply vanished, then there would be no one to enforce that trademark, but, again, practically speaking, that is impossible, since it's a huge intellectual property, and someone will certainly take ownership of it.

    I mean, it would be like if google allowed their domain ownership to expire, so just any Joe Schmo could purchase it...

    https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2492974,00.asp

    Wait, what? Holy crap! I guess anything is possible!
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  13. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    You guys are discussing the wrong issues here.

    Copyrights are temporary and last 75 years after the author's death.

    But what Gibson has isn't a copyright, it's a Trademark (Or rather, multiple trademarks, covering Logo, certain uses of the term Les Paul, certain body shapes, headstock shapes etc), owned by Gibson as a business and immortal as long as the business does two things:

    1 - Exists
    2 - Continues to defend it's trademark legally.

    If Gibson went completely under, the first circumstance wouldn't be satisfied and it's trademarks would lapse immediately.
    If the trademarks were purchased by another company, that company would bear the legal responsibility to protect them in order to maintain their right to use them, which if they didn't see the benefit in doing so to the same extent Gibson does, may open the door to a great deal of copycattery and a "gold rush" on what parts of Gibson's IP were now enough of a Gray area to build products in. (Both in terms of guitars and other merchandise).

    This sort of stuff is why Fender are powerless to stop anyone producing a stratocaster copy if they want to - Fender has trademarks on the Stratocaster name, but they didn't protect the body shape well enough during the early years of japanese and chinese import copies, so when they eventually sued some of those companies, they lost.




    Also - ArtDecade - I'm sorry that you're so old, but more sorry that after all these years, you've never had someone explain to you that when someone explains their opinions in detail and backs them up, you showing up and just repeating "That's your opinion" doesn't constitute a counterargument, a rebuttal, or anything other than a petulant whine on your behalf.

    All you've done is act as if something being subjective makes my subjective opinion worthless and your subjective opinion gospel. It doesn't work that way - make your arguments and/or counter mine, or this isn't a discussion - it's just you trying to assert authority you don't have.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  14. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade Unhindered by Talent

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    Well, sonny, I am sorry that you think your opinions are facts. No one wants to get into discussion with you about what hip young guitar you rate that will sell 3 signature guitars before being replaced by the next one. Quite simply, Gibson needs to pay down their debts. Their revenues have gone from around 300 to 400 million bucks to well over a billion in a few years. Short term debt is now being called in. That said, Gibson tried to get around this via increasing their sales and getting in bed with Guitar Center, but the slowing economy screwed the plans up. The next option is to sell off the brands they aren't using properly and stop trying to diversify into markets that they don't understand. As long as they didn't overpay, they should be able to sort themselves out eventually - and they won't have to steal any of Schecter's players in the process.
     
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Trademark is supposed to be for logos, and copyright for everything else, but big companies in the USA always manage to blur the lines. Gibson has claimed that their guitar shapes are trademarks, even though those are guitar shapes and not company logos. Other companies have tried to make similar claims about the headstock of a guitar, but I do not believe anyone else has tried to trademark their guitar shape.

    FWIW, this is one of many reasons why I have a certain level of disrespect toward Gibson's corporate policies. Why do these rules only apply to them? Also, why is the shape of a guitar with a single cutaway able to be claimed by them and no one else? Did they invent the single cutaway? If so, why is it not a copyright issue? Is the Gibson logo a guitar with a single cutaway? Also, do they have trademarked logos for each of their guitar shapes? It's an interpretation of the law that just reeks of bullshit and "we have more money than you, so we can hire attorneys to make you pay"-attitude.
     
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  16. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade Unhindered by Talent

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    It is the dance of the lawyers. And, Gibson has enough of them to outlast everyone else in the ballroom. It is not right - and shouldn't be legal - but that is where we are in the courts.
     
  17. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    And, on the other hand, guitar builders should try to focus on their own designs rather than rip other's designs, but, you know that there are a number of builders in China who would not hesitate to build a Les Paul shaped guitar with a Gibson logo on it and sell it on eBay as if it were a real Gibson. Meanwhile Tom Anderson, a highly reputable builder, or Paul Reed Smith, or Ken Parker, etc. etc., builds a single cutaway style of their own designs, that, subjectively to me, looks nothing like a Les Paul and would never be confused for a Les Paul by anyone who knows the difference between any two electric solidbody guitars, and they all get sued by Gibson for Trademark infringement. So, Gibson starts going after bigger and bigger fish, until PRS out-lawyer-ed them and won a case, and the entire income stream came falling apart at the seams. Unable to sue the real culprits in China and unable to continue suing other US manufacturers and luthiers, Gibson lost a stream of income for sure.
    So, Gibson had to do something to get people's attention with a new innovation. I think that's where the emperor's clothes finally were realized to be nonexistent. Firebird X, robot tuners, wider fretboards, Gibson was desperately batting at thin air.

    What do customers want?

    Well, I think everybody knows. The people with the money want another 59 Les Paul Reissue. The people without money want as close as they can get to a 59 Les Paul Reissue or a salt-of-0the-Earth-level Explorer that can function as a workhorse guitar, that won't cost them a kidney.
     
  18. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    I'm truly impressed that you're this devoted to your hypocrisy, wild assumptions about me and my signature model preferences, and that you're also still too blind to notice you're doing all the things you think you're criticising me for.

    FWIW, I have next to no interest in anyone getting a signature model. They're very rarely all that exciting. The M80M is great, the Charvel Govan is great also, and at a push I'd suggest that Mattias Eklundh's Caparisons were the victims of a company that had problems with obtaining wider distribution. Other than that, I couldn't give a stuff about Tosin's next hyped up set of pickups or sinfully ugly guitar, and I'd much rather things just played well.

    Now with that said, if you're really so disinterested in discussing anything I've actually said, could you at least take your glib, pretentious attitude somewhere else, instead of demanding people take you seriously in this thread despite your evident lack of desire to contribute?

    Especially when you appear to be talking COMPLETE shit about their revenue - http://www.hoovers.com/company-info...ncial.GIBSON_BRANDS_INC.b1826f5356393af3.html

    According to this it's gone down by $80 million since 2013 alone and even in 2013 they didn't make even a quarter of your supposed "well over a billion".
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  19. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade Unhindered by Talent

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    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  20. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    So we have two sources that disagree with each other.

    That said, holy shit dude - "People who cry about others being pretentious and glib just need to aspire more."

    I think you should aspire to write sentences that actually mean things instead of just endlessly repeating platitudes to hide your absolute lack of a cogent argument.
     

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