Posted 17 August 2010 - 12:13 PM
You made some very good and valid points Deej.
I know one of the things my friends (and bandmates) joke about are the Studio finishes and prices. I mean it's absolutely crazy!
So let say you decide to buy a Studio, because it's the cheapest way to get a Gibson Les Paul and you always wanted an LP right? So you start to check them out.
Faded Brown Mahogany or Faded Red Mahogany, ok, they're ok looking. No binding so the aesthetic quality is gone, but hey the price is $799. and that's not bad for a "real" LP. But you think, Hmm, I'd rather have one in black or maybe in white. Besides the Red and Brown ones only come with a Gigbag (Lame) and you have to upgrade the paintjob to get a hardcase, (again, Lame.)
So now the price just jumped to $1,320.
To make the Studio guitar white, black, wine red, satin ebony, or fireburst adds another $520. to the price.
Yes to make the guitar white somehow warrants a $520. increase? Who do they think they're kidding? What a slap in the face for the "fans" of Gibson. I could buy the Faded Brown or Red Studio and get any decent luthier to make it white or black for way less then $520. dollars.
Plus say you pay the $1,320. for the Studio in another color. How long before it starts to sink in that you just paid Thirteen Hundred Dollars (plus tax) on a STUDIO! No binding or cosmetics. You paid over $1,300. for Gibsons barebones "starter" LP.
And since you paid so much for a Studio you might as well save up more and go for the LP Standard Traditional that comes with a hardshell case for $2,189. (plus tax) Ok now we're starting to have an LP that looks like an LP, as long as you only want Gold or Black as your color choices.
But then what's this? Plastic Tuners? There's plastic tuners on a $2,200. guitar? Is this bizarro world? Plastic tuners break, plastic breaks down due to heat and just age. Even the best plastics break down, it's fact. So now first thing you've got to do with your $2,200. guitar is freaking buy some real metal tuners.
It's like madness, you jump from model to model and there's always something missing that's on another model.
Like that Standard Traditional Pro? Awesome. Hope you like plain tops, Slash wanna-be pickups and 3 color options, but at least you get metal tuners this time.
Like the Standard Tradtional Plus? Crap we're back to plastic tuners and burst finishes that don't have the teardrop shape to them, just an outline of color around the bodys front.
Like that Standard Pro? Hope you like weight relieved semi-hollow guitars, and locking jacks. (that's gotta be fun when your cord locks to your guitar. What happens when some drunk fool trips on your cord? Does it break? Yank parts out of the guitar? Or is it locked in so tight it will just yank you around instead?) But hey we get some metal tuners, but again no teardrop shape to the burst finish, again just an outline around the front of the body.
Like the Supreme? Hope you like cherry sunburst, because that's the only color you get?
The Custom I can't say anything about, those are really beautiful guitars in every color offered. Price being around $4,000. is a real killer though. But they are beautiful and amazing guitars. I've played some very nice ones in my time.
I just wish they'd make one line of Modern Standards, with metal tuners, nice burst finishes in multiple colors, and that be it. Not all this Plus, Pro, Tradtional, nonsense.
So are Gibson prices unrealistically too high? Well when a barebones Studio in any color then faded costs $1,300. Then yeah I'd say they've priced themselves out of the regular working joes/working musicians budget.
and quite frankly for $1,300. I expect some binding on that guitar. (and yes I know exactly how much work/time goes into installing and (post-paint) cleaning the binding takes.)
Even the fake binding on the Tribute 50's body (HB and GT) looked really nice. Then you look at the other colors, which have no fake binding, and is it any wonder that the GT's and HB's sold out in less then a week? Those ones actually looked good, and it made the black/red/white ones next to them look cheap in comparison.
I know it's a crazy concept for some people, but when people spend $1,000.+ dollars on a guitar they want it to look good and not look like a cheap budget model. Which is exactly what the Studios look like, (and to be fair, that's what they're supposed to be.) $1,300. for a budget model.
And yeah people can say, "Then buy the faded red or brown for $799." but to be honest have you held or felt one of those? They feel like unfinished guitars. The woodgrain isn't filled in, they're just painted. They don't feel rough like they're unsanded, but they don't feel right either. They feel like someone's homemade LP they made in the garage and didn't finish.
The collectors just go, "well if you can't afford a nice guitar then you just don't get one." But they fail to see how insulting it is to the average joe who works hard, plays well, and feels that since he's a good guitar player he deserves a good guitar. Then Joe decides he'll get an LP, but the only one he can afford is a Studio. Then when Joe researches the Studio he finds out getting the color he wants (say black or white) almost seems to DOUBLE the price of the guitar.
So Joe goes and buys a Schecter/ESP/Ibanez/Whatever.
It's a real shame when a hardworking average Joe can't even afford a decent guitar made in his own country and has to settle for foreign imports. The american dream used to be aspiring to be upper middle class, now lots of us are struggling just to remain in the lower middle class (or the working poor, to be quite honest about it.) And now Joe realizes he'll NEVER be able to afford a nice Les Paul.
Pretty sad. The collectors can laugh all they want at their entitlements, and to be fair I'm sure that there are some people who are pretty poor who saved for years and years to get an LP and finally got one and I'm sure they love it. But they're the minority of higher end LP owners I believe. (though admittedly I have no statistics to back this up, just observation.)
The irony being that if I do decide to drop the hammer and buy the Historic R0 that I want, I'll probably never take it out of the house to gig with, because it costs too damn much to risk it getting hit on stage or stolen. So Gibson wont be getting any advertising by my using it anyway.
I'm glad Henry saved Gibson and that they're even still around for us, but at the same time there's so many times I look at stuff on their site or at some of the guitars in the stores (or even in the MF catalog) where I just shake my head and go, "What were they thinking?"
They really have become luxury guitars/decorations. There's more pride placed in ownership then in the ability to be able to play them, and that's really sad.
They really need "middle of the road" type stuff. Make the Epiphones higher end, give them the classic Gibson headstock with the Epi logo so Epi owners feel like they're part of the family and not the retarded step-child that can't afford the "real" LPs. Give them good pickups, long tenons, good hardware, nut and pots, Switchcraft quality switch and jack. Make them look pretty like the Standards always do, and sell them for less then $1,000. To be honest $800. would be a perfect price point and would compete with the ESP EC-1000's that people are now buying instead of the Epiphones.
Fender has the Made in Mexico line, perfect "middle of the road" type stuff. Not as expensive as the Made in America Fenders, and not as cheap as the Squiers. They hit everyone at every price point, and you can grow up going from Squier to MIM to hopefully one day MIA. I think even people that buy and play Epiphones when they go to step up to an arguably better guitar, they're going to Schector, Ibanez and ESP. Why? Because they can get the binding and the looks as well as the upgraded pickups and wiring.
Why would anybody go from playing a beautiful looking Epiphone Standard and step up to a guitar that doesn't look nearly as nice and it's only redeeming quality is it has the "G" word on the headstock? They're not going to do it, most people are vain. Which is why they're going to ESP in a lot of the cases. It's a $750. guitar that looks really nice and comes well setup with very good Seymour Duncan pickups. Not Duncan Designed knockoffs, but actual Seymour Duncan pickups.
There's this huge gaping hole in Epiphone/Gibsons lineup where they could be retaining old customers looking to step up as well as enticing new customers to come to the family.
Think about a 20 year old looking at a stock upgraded ESP for $750. but then he see's an Epiphone with the Gibby headstock shape, looks beautiful, comes with some nice 57 type pickups and sounds good, and is only $50. more then the ESP.
He's going to think, "Well for just $50. more I can get a real, offical Les Paul guitar and not have to swap out all the parts."
Idk, I guess this is turning into a rant so I'm just going to shut up. But I think about this stuff all the time and I talk with a lot of people about it. Customers (guitar repair/setup) as well as students, friends and other musicians. Gibson is the one company we're always scratching our heads over going, "What are they doing? What were they thinking when they released this stuff?"
Personally I'd love to see everyone playing Made in America electric guitars, we invented the damn thing. The reality that more and more, heck probably the majority of people are playing overseas made "copy" guitars is really sad. Not that they play it, but that they feel if they want a "nice" guitar, then there is no other option unless you want to pay $4,000. dollars for it.