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hweinberg

United States
616 posts
since 3/23/06

06/19/2017 06:41:00 View hweinberg's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

In a recent interview, CEO Henry J explained his vision for Gibson. Needless to say, banjos were not mentioned.  I take this to mean that we banjo players don't fit into Henry's vision for the "Gibson Lifestyle".  (Thank God.)  This gives me more reasons never to sell my 1952 J-45 or my 12" Tubaphone.

Juszkiewicz’s grand plan for Gibson goes back to the beginning of his association with the company: to do for music what Nike has done in the world of sports.

The company’s latest business motto, “Play. Record. Listen.,” reflects Juszkiewicz’s aim to plant its flag in all corners of what he often refers to as “the music lifestyle.”

In recent years, Gibson Guitars morphed into Gibson Brands, the parent company of an ever-growing array of instrument makers, recording equipment, playback hardware, studio software and other consumer electronics products.

The company now also has an acoustic-guitar division in Bozeman, Mont., another electric-guitar plant in Memphis, Tenn., and a digital technology R&D facility in Cupertino, Calif.

Juszkiewicz also snapped up the former Tower Records site in West Hollywood with the intention of developing it into a high-profile flagship new-products showroom.

Gibson’s biggest acquisition yet was the 2014 purchase of the Philips audio and home entertainment division of 126-year old Netherlands-based Royal Philips, the consumer electronics firm that, along with Sony, was instrumental in the development of the audiocassette, the compact disc, the DVD and Blu-ray home video formats. 

The fact is, we don’t see ourselves as a guitar company, we see ourselves as a music lifestyle company."

 

rinembPlayers Union Member

United States
9294 posts since 5/24/05

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06/19/2017 06:55:54 View rinemb's Classified Ads View rinemb's Photo Albums View rinemb's Blog Reply with Quote

I am so envious of your 52 Gibson J-45.  A friend has an early J45, and it is so nice.  Brad

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csacwp

United States
1213 posts since 1/15/14

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06/19/2017 07:27:16 View csacwp's Classified Ads View csacwp's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Gibson has been the laughing stock of the electric guitar world since the Norlin era. They only keep get worse, and so do their prices.

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heavy5

United States
165 posts since 11/3/16

06/19/2017 07:37:50 View heavy5's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

This article reminds me of my take on the transition of real country music , maybe in the late 40's early 50's , into what it typifies today .

Seems when electronics became VERY profitable , the music was adjusted to that profitability in all respects , country & rock whereby acoustic fell to the wayside . 

I'm not saying we should stick our heads in the sand to avoid technology , but money & greed can influence the extinction of anything .

On a pleasant note , remembering driving all the way to Berryville Va in the 60's to hear some good BG verses today when there are several good festivals nearby us in upstate NY , tells me BG & old time music is surviving thru the times .    

I was surprised upon becoming a member here to find the interest in claw hammer and the sources building those instruments . Thanks to B.U. , BHO , and other media offerings , America's music is not forgotten .   

 

 

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FlyinEagle

United States
166 posts since 2/16/17

06/19/2017 08:53:35 View FlyinEagle's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Wow.  What a bunch of corporate babble non-speak bull.

Sounds like they want to be just another company that tries to expand so fast, and ventures so far from the roots that made them what they are today, that they end up doing nothing right.  That’s a shame.

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Banjophobic

United States
13027 posts since 3/6/06

06/19/2017 08:56:12View Banjophobic's MP3 Archive View Banjophobic's Classified Ads View Banjophobic's Photo Albums View Banjophobic's Blog Reply with Quote

What's wrong with Gibson is exemplified in reading anything that is quoted in print ,as being said by Mr Henry J. 

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kmwaters

United States
9668 posts since 2/12/11

06/19/2017 09:19:04View kmwaters's MP3 Archive View kmwaters's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

What a flake. A rich flake.

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mikehalloranPlayers Union Member

United States
9262 posts since 10/27/06

06/19/2017 10:07:47 View mikehalloran's Classified Ads Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by csacwp

Gibson has been the laughing stock of the electric guitar world since the Norlin era. They only keep get worse, and so do their prices.

Ignoring the fact that electric guitars are an incredible cash cow for Gibson.

Maybe you're laughing but the music industry is not.

 

>my 12" Tubaphone.<

Whoever did make it wasn't Gibson.

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jhko

United States
745 posts since 10/31/14

06/19/2017 10:40:47View jhko's MP3 Archive View jhko's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Sadly, CEO Henry J has morphed through the years into one of the worst CEOs on the planet. According to Glassdoor (a website that publishes employee reviews of their employers), Henry has a 4% approval rating as a CEO, and just 21% of employees would recommend the company to a friend. This is the lowest I've seen of ANY CEO of ANY company, period. For comparison, 91% of Fender Musical Instruments employees approve of their CEO, and 80% of employees would recommend the company to a friend. For Walmart, a non-musical company noted for poor employee relations, it is 67% CEO approval, and 56% would recommend to a friend. Remember, Heny has a 4% approval rating and Gibson as a company only 21% recommendation rate. Ugh. This is just truly pathetic.

And check out some of the reviews:

"Where to start...Gibson Guitars is a remarkably unpopular company. I would rate it as a -1000 infinity, but they don't offer that option. This company is not managed: its run on pure fear, intimidation, and Kick 'Em All Around. GOOD people come, but the door doesn't hit them in the rear as they run for their lives shortly thereafter. Dictatorial and bizarre Corporate Management is mean spirited, spiteful and just plain HORRID as standard operating procedure."

"I had to laugh when I saw a comment 'the first day of work at Gibson you learn to fear Henry J.' which is exactly the advice given to me! His bad tempered nastiness towards people was awful and would never be allowed at most proper companies, his micro management of almost everything down to a pencil needing his sign off was ridiculous and so many deadlines would be missed because of it or cancelled."

""RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!!!!!!!"
I have been working at Gibson Brands full-time (More than 5 years). Pros: There are some good people to work with, only problem, they don't stay! They either get fired, for no reason, or find another job as soon as they can.
Cons: TOO MANY TO NAME!!! CEO is out of his flipping mind and hires the nastiest people there are for the top jobs. I have seen people get fired for absolutely NO reason over and over again."

There are well over 100 reviews similar to this. VERY FEW good reviews. If Gibson was a public company, I would short the stock in a minute. No banjo production, and the CEO is running the company into the ground. Not a good future, I would say.

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notbob

United States
65 posts since 5/31/16

06/19/2017 10:52:33 Reply with Quote

I'm neither shocked nor even surprised. Look at the local guitar landscape.

Pure crap has become collectible, so why not higher-quality guitars? My ol' Harmony electric bass guitar (batwing, H22) is currently going fer over $1000USD on Ebay, yet my Reso-Tone banjo (Bakelite pot) still goes fer about $100USD. This despite the fact they both cost peanuts back in the 60s (< $100USD). Crap Dan Electros are going fer $$$$! (you don't even wanna hear my opinion of DEs!)

Does Gibson even make a banjo, today (no)? A mandolin (yes, $5K-$60k)? WTF!?

Watch hipsters playing old-timey instruments .....into half a dozen $500USD microphones going to $20-$50K_USD worth o' top-o-the-line recording equipment.

I took up banjo cuz I didn't hafta plug it in!! To an amp, to a console, etc. Gibson will continue to sell it's goods at insane prices, Fender will continue on it's mostly electric path, and I'll continue to buy old-timey cheapo instruments than require zero electricity.

I'll also continue to enjoy ol'-timey music. And as hard as I try, I can't seem to kick bluegrass/cajun outta my life, though dog knows I've tried. ;)

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rcc56

United States
781 posts since 2/20/16

06/19/2017 10:53:18 View rcc56's Classified Ads Reply with Quote

Bottom line for hangout people:  Gibson is out of the banjo business.  Considering the mediocre workmanship of some of their more recent banjos, that might be a good thing.  If it wasn't for the glut of used instruments on the market, I would call that on opportunity for somebody who wants to get into the banjo business. 

Oh, by the way, they are very close to being out of the mandolin business also. 

And then, there's the question about Gibson's debt.  Those who are interested can read about it in Moody's.


Edited by - rcc56 on 06/19/2017 10:58:36

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jhko

United States
745 posts since 10/31/14

06/19/2017 11:06:41View jhko's MP3 Archive View jhko's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56
 

... And then, there's the question about Gibson's debt.  Those who are interested can read about it in Moody's.


Yes, I forgot to mention that point. If you think the CEO is great on the business end and bad on the people management end, the evidence would suggest he's terrible on both. Gibson has HUGE debt, and although as a private company the financials are not public, from what information IS out there, most likely the financials are not pretty at all. 

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larry214

United States
211 posts since 4/1/13

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06/19/2017 11:51:08View larry214's MP3 Archive View larry214's Classified Ads View larry214's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

They will only get worse once they are purchased by Amazon.. I think their looking to get into the musical instrument biz and deliver them by drones.

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maneckep

United States
1147 posts since 6/2/10

06/19/2017 12:04:36View maneckep's MP3 Archive View maneckep's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Gibson is a "for profit company". If they were not making money with their banjos any more then it was the right move for them to discontinue them.

We might not like the direction that the company is going but you can bet that every decision they make about any product line is based on current or future profitability.




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Joe Connor

United States
1062 posts since 11/15/10

06/19/2017 12:14:19 View Joe Connor's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

That corporate babble sort of somds familiar, like the stuff being said a few years ago by the idiots who ran Radio Shack into the ground or by the buffoons who are currently hammering nails in Sears' coffin. Where do companies find these guys?

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jhko

United States
745 posts since 10/31/14

06/19/2017 13:03:16View jhko's MP3 Archive View jhko's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by maneckep
 

Gibson is a "for profit company". If they were not making money with their banjos any more then it was the right move for them to discontinue them.

We might not like the direction that the company is going but you can bet that every decision they make about any product line is based on current or future profitability.


 


No question they are trying to make decisions based on profitability, and banjos are a TINY, distracting market for them. I get that. What bothers me is that part of profitability is having a good team of people buying into the goals of the company. When you are pissing off so very many of your employees (and many customers), like Henry J. is, consistent profitability is hard to obtain. Bad management hurts a company, profits and all. 

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mikehalloranPlayers Union Member

United States
9262 posts since 10/27/06

06/19/2017 15:32:12 View mikehalloran's Classified Ads Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by Joe Connor
 

That corporate babble sort of somds familiar, like the stuff being said a few years ago by the idiots who ran Radio Shack into the ground or by the buffoons who are currently hammering nails in Sears' coffin. Where do companies find these guys?


Uh... if you can figure out a way to rescue retail in America, you could get exceedingly wealthy. Radio Shack and Sears are symptoms of a much larger problem.

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Bradskey

United States
1507 posts since 1/10/04

06/19/2017 18:52:41View Bradskey's MP3 Archive View Bradskey's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

I'm not expecting new Gibson banjos any time soon anyway.  Gibson re-entry into banjos would be long after they lost any serious capacity to actually build them.  Meaning they would have to start all over again, which I presume is about where they're at now.  They retain some designs and trademarks, but no real current know-how.  In the end they were outsourcing as much work and parts as possible to Prucha, FQMS, etc, and doing the minimum work to be able to say it was a "Gibson" banjo anyway. 

The "real" Gibson lived in Michigan, had a pre-war Golden age and a post-war Silver age, both very creative, which pretty much all ended in 1969.  The guitar company that came after had a lot of bad years, revived itself and did some good things with its brand later on, but was basically always derivative of its own prior golden/silver-age work, or was not compelling.

I don't really expect Gibson to ever make another banjo.  They're no longer a serious player in reso guitars either with what little is left of Dobro(TM).  They occasionally make a mandolin.  MAYBE after another once-in-a-generation huge boost in bluegrass music popularity they might try again, but I don't expect that to happen for years and Gibson's response if any would be anybody's guess.

Frankly I consider most of the post-war banjos of any era a huge gift, as they probably never made a ton of financial sense for the company after the 1920s banjo craze anyway.  There seems to be an adequate supply for those who want them.

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ceemonster

1324 posts since 4/10/05

06/19/2017 19:57:58 Reply with Quote

[[[Gibson has been the laughing stock of the electric guitar world since the Norlin era. They only keep get worse]]]

This is not wholly accurate. They have put out their share of dogs the last eight years or so. But they are also still producing some very, very nice, drool-worthy electric guitars. Their prices do continue to go up, but they're far from alone in that department.

 

RE Gibson and banjos:  I'm over it.   As in, so, so, SOOOOO over it.   I like the "Gibson sound," but I don't care if Gibson never puts out another banjo.  There is more incredible stuff being created right now by numerous superb banjo luthiers, than there are wallets with enough dosh to buy them.    What has happened to the Gibson corporation is sad, and is an ugly allegory for an ugly strain in what is happening to this country.  But the counter-balance to that is, the Hatfields, the Hubers, the Heartlands, the Sullivans, the Hopkins, the Stellings, the Deerings . . . and so many more---all, artists and craftspeople of character and integrity.  And they are a counter-allegory for the mettle that remains in the heart of this country.


Edited by - ceemonster on 06/19/2017 20:05:09

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Brian MurphyPlayers Union Member

United States
987 posts since 12/31/05

06/20/2017 05:55:01 View Brian Murphy's Classified Ads View Brian Murphy's Photo Albums View Brian Murphy's Blog Reply with Quote

Weren't banjo sales drying up in the 1920's? I really wonder if they made money on banjos post war, or even in the '30's. I realize they have made great banjos during that time (and during certain eras since, like the vaunted GR Era), but I don't know if they really made money, or enough money to justify the capital expenditures. If a company can't make a lot of money on a product, you can expect that it will not devote much to ensuring that it is putting out the very best (i.e. invest in the best people and processes). That's why these smaller builders can kick butt. You have to either focus on the accessible ends of the market (Gibson failed to take on Deering with the RB), or have a very low overhead structure to take what there is of the new market for high end. The rest is all used market, and there is a helluva glut based on the prices I am seeing for some great instruments.

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Tobus

United States
912 posts since 11/17/15

06/20/2017 07:10:02 View Tobus's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

quote:
Originally posted by mikehalloran

 

Uh... if you can figure out a way to rescue retail in America, you could get exceedingly wealthy. Radio Shack and Sears are symptoms of a much larger problem.


True, there are larger issues at play here besides poor management.  Retail is indeed an idea that has passed its prime.  The problem with Sears and Radio Shack is that they failed to adapt to the new landscape.  Companies like Walmart have shown that retail can still be pretty strong.  What has Walmart done that companies like Sears failed to do?

I don't buy the idea that Gibson couldn't be profitable making banjos.  There is a market for banjos, and other companies like Deering and the Pac-rim import groups are taking advantage of it quite well.  Gibson just doesn't like the scalability of the market.  They have their eyes fixed only on the largest markets: guitars and electronics. 

I'm glad they have kept their mandolin division, though.  Even though it's very small compared to their other parts, it does as well as any other high-quality mandolin maker in the business.  All the competition for high-end mandolins is in small shops.  I would even say that what they did in their mandolin division should be a model for how to get back into banjos.  Their mandolins from about the 1950s through the 1980s were terrible, and they almost got wiped out by cheap Asian imports.  They lowered their quality and pricing, and ruined their reputation.  But in the late 1990s, they started focusing on getting back to basics, and focused on recreating their former glory model.  It worked.  New Gibson mandolins command one of the highest prices in the market.  And even though volume is small, they are near the top of the heap.  There's no reason they couldn't do that with the banjo market too.

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Brian MurphyPlayers Union Member

United States
987 posts since 12/31/05

06/20/2017 07:20:13 View Brian Murphy's Classified Ads View Brian Murphy's Photo Albums View Brian Murphy's Blog Reply with Quote

There's not enough volume to support their cost structure. Also, you are pointing to two very different markets. The $500 and under market has volume. But it is dominated by Pac Rim and used instruments (no help to a maker) Domestic production of a banjo for that market would be a challenge with any cost structure. As to the higher end, people like Huber, Cox, Neat, Davis, and Hatfield don't need to hire great luthiers. They are great luthiers. They work from small shops. No back office personnel, accounting departments, big marketing departments, etc. Plus, they keep the market satisfied for new instruments. Who wants to buy a new banjo that can't find one? How would Gibson ever beat these guys on price? And their quality is first rate. So how would a company like Gibson make money?

Plus, the issue isn't whether you could eke out a profit. Capital is drawn to the products that yield the biggest margins. Why would I invest $1 Million on banjo production (materials, people, rent, etc.) to make back $1,001,000 over time when I can put that money in electric guitars, sell thousands of units, and have a much better bottom line? Problem is that it doesn't seem like Gibson is doing either right now :-)

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stanger

United States
6930 posts since 9/29/04

06/20/2017 14:48:31View stanger's MP3 Archive View stanger's Photo Albums View stanger's Blog Reply with Quote

Henry has made lots and lots of corporate mistakes.

There's nothing at all wrong with their products, and to give the guy his due, he did a lot to elevate the brand's quality back up to the highest levels of the past.

But for whatever reason, Henry has never been content to be a stringed instrument maker. He tried to compete with the Grand Ol' Opry's entertainment magnet in Nashville, when he leased a failed mall and spent a bundle in building full TV studios, recording studios, live performance venues, and a convention center in it, and then put the banjo works in the middle of it all as an 'attraction'.
It flopped right off the bat, and continued to cost him big until the Nashville flood wiped it all out.

Then, he decided he would chase after Planet Hollywood and create a bunch of bar/club/restaurants with a guitar theme. That cost millions and busted too.

Then, he bought Baldwin Pianos before he discovered the company was swimming in red ink. Baldwin nearly drove him under.

He tried to buy out Samsung, just before Samsung sank like the Titanic. He managed to escape that one, but he was stuck with a lot of money he had to invest quickly, and he did not invest that cash well.

This has been a continuing pattern. His internal management problems have always been bad enough, but the guy can never seem to be able to recognize he should have just stuck with what was his only success. His ability to turn around Gibson was the only thing he ever did well. As soon as that was accomplished, he seemed to have lost his way and has never found it again.

But Gibson is a privately owned corporation. It has no public stockholders it's beholden to, and no one Henry must account to but his single partner. So, for as long as he lasts, he can play around for as long as he can find the financing.
regards,
stanger

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jhko

United States
745 posts since 10/31/14

06/20/2017 15:07:33View jhko's MP3 Archive View jhko's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Good post Mike. Part of the reason I'm critical of Henry J. now is that I was a big fan of his in the 1980s. He did some wonderful things with Gibson at the time, but as you said, he just can't seem to be content with Gibson's core competency. The broad brand extension is killing the company. And I hate to see an obviously talented guy ruining his relationships with his employees and former fans.

As you say, Gibson is a private company, and Henry is rich (I assume still), so with no one to hold him accountable, and money, he's probably doomed to keep on the same awful path until he gets too old or infirm.

I'm sad about it because to me the Gibson name in acoustic instruments is like an American treasure. Sure, he legally owns it, but it has it's own independent magic and a connection with American culture that belongs to us all. I hope it can find a better caretaker in the future.


Edited by - jhko on 06/20/2017 15:12:27

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rockyisland

309 posts since 10/16/14

06/22/2017 10:56:40 Reply with Quote

Somewhat pertinent (discussion of Gibson's woes about halfway through the article): https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/lifestyle/the-slow-secret-death-of-the-electric-guitar/?utm_term=.2b8a3f78ee52

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Bradskey

United States
1507 posts since 1/10/04

06/22/2017 13:05:36View Bradskey's MP3 Archive View Bradskey's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Interesting read.

I'm not surprised if a lot of the millennials can't pull their head out of their iphone long enough to connect with making music by hand.  As for all this computer-generated, electronic-gizmo and beat-machine crap, that's fine for recording I guess, but hardly a substitute for the experience of simply jamming and making music with others.  The world is still full of phenomenally talented guitarists and other musicians, but with the fracturing and loss of societal cohesion there don't seem to be that many widely and popularly regarded musical masters, ie the guitar gods the article talks about, to inspire the next generation like they did in the past.  The article uses its own examples, but I would say who are the Chet Atkins and Merle Travis of today?  These guys certainly don't need replacing, but who are the highly visible modern day exponents of their styles?  With these kids' history-averse and old-school-disdaining attitudes, who are they are going to connect with and be inspired by today?

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