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Sep 17, 2019 - 2:22:32 PM
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755 posts since 11/17/2005

Does anyone else get tired of seeing "Greg Rich Era" advertised on everything Gibson banjo? I've seen some ridiculous prices on some of these. I saw a case and other parts advertised as GRE. No body could order and stamp Gibson on cases better than Greg Rich could!

Sep 17, 2019 - 2:40:17 PM
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2223 posts since 3/30/2008

....Sorry friend, ..you're questoning the powerful blend of forces of legend, reality, marketing , & fetish. ( BTW, I have some GRE picks that are going for an arm & a leg).

Sep 17, 2019 - 3:54:20 PM
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2559 posts since 11/15/2003

I guess about a year and a half ago, i got a email from Greg, and he was following the at the time thread and my "rantings" about this very similar thread topic.
At the time, he was still on "probation" so to speak with the mods here on the hangout.

He sent me his phone number and i called him out in the left coast, and we had a nice hour or so conversation and laugh about people ,places and things in bluegrass we had in common, he is a real down to earth guy, and does not take this stuff as serious as everybody else does!

I guess, that being said, it kind of makes me " Greg Rich Era" commentator, and if you guys will kindly send me your addresses, i will send you a bill for having had someone who has talked to him and "absorbed"some of his " whatever you want to called what he had....there are different names for it where i come from.lol)!

Anyway, the truth of it is....what ever i charge you, makes as much sense as what people pay over and above regular market price for "Greg Rich Era" stuff!

Warp!

Sep 17, 2019 - 4:09:38 PM
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1865 posts since 12/31/2005

My Greg Rich era wife is the best.

Seriously, that's funny about the case or parts. Don't say Sullivan - say Greg Rich era. It's all marketing.

But I think it's legit as to the instruments themselves. His arrival was an important line of demarcation for quality, although I would not say the end of the Greg Rich era signaled an end to that quality. Gibson continued to make great banjos after his departure. But he did make the major changes in both components and QA that resulted in great banjos. In terms of whether they carry a premium, just Google the amount of money today and the value in 1989-1994 dollars. (e.g. "5000 today is worth how much in 1994 dollars"). Often you will see that they hold value when adjusted for inflation. In other words, they are often a great value today if you consider the original prices to have been fair.

Sep 17, 2019 - 5:46:53 PM
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16 posts since 4/26/2018

Much the way "Lloyd Loar Era" is used with regard to items that were in the same building as Loar...

Sep 17, 2019 - 5:50:17 PM
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755 posts since 11/17/2005

I mean no disrespect to Greg Rich and I acknowledge that Gibson's quality has gone through many changes over the years. Some of the ads that people write seem corny stupid to me. I was just curious if others thought the same. 

If you know what GRE means then you probably recognize that a 90's Gibson is better than a 70's.

Likely, Greg has evolved over the years. So, if you want Greg Rich's best work then maybe buy a Greg Rich Era Recording King. He might appreciate that even more than people using his name to squeeze a few extra dollars out of their out of their used Gibson. 

Edited by - jason999 on 09/17/2019 17:58:38

Sep 17, 2019 - 7:06:33 PM

5344 posts since 8/31/2006

Greg’s a class act and turned gibby around talked with him a few times and helped me out some.

Thanks grich

Edited by - the-fish on 09/17/2019 19:07:52

Sep 17, 2019 - 9:57:45 PM
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1905 posts since 1/10/2004

Greg turned Gibson banjos around, but after that Gibson banjo quality remained on pretty stable trajectory to the end in my opinion and continued to innovate on re-issue models and designs. For any given year there are going to be a small number of instruments with minor issues. If we could just ignore the labels and folklore, then yes I do tend to prefer an older Gibson re-issue in good condition to a newer one. Because I believe in age and "seasoning" playing a small factor in the value of an instrument. Maybe a GRE or other early model might command a premium just for age rather than legend, but only a small one. But at this point almost all of them are getting older and "vintage", the newest ones being a decade old or more.

Obviously almost any Gibson after say 86-87 or so is going to be regarded more highly by most people than almost any 70s model, and higher than a 50s-60s model by some people.

My oldest reissue is a 95, so it's not even a fabled GRE. But I still love playing it and don't know how it could really be any better.

Sep 18, 2019 - 6:04:08 AM
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755 posts since 11/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by luthier65

Much the way "Lloyd Loar Era" is used with regard to items that were in the same building as Loar...


I don't know a lot about mandolins, so I may be wrong. I would think hand carved mandolins are very different than modern banjos. I think that a modern banjo guy could research and source the parts/material from certain suppliers, set up equipment, specify procedures, and dictate quality control standards. After the procedures were in place, he could move on and consistent instruments could continue to be produced.  That's why most people agree that the later Gibson banjos were just as good.

Producing hand carved mandolins 100 years ago might entail a little more nuance and it might be impossible to create the same instrument after luthiers changed.

Sep 18, 2019 - 6:54:34 AM
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1072 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by jason999
I think that a modern banjo guy could research and source the parts/material from certain suppliers, set up equipment, specify procedures, and dictate quality control standards. After the procedures were in place, he could move on and consistent instruments could continue to be produced.

The deterioration of Gibson's quality control through the late 60s, 70s and early 80s, particularly while they were owned by Norlin, was the reason they needed someone like Greg Rich in the first place. I never got the sense that Henry Juszkiewicz held any great regard for the bluegrass instruments they produced; they were just another profit center, and a trivially small one at that, until he had the chance to kill them off after the Nashville floods in 2010. Even before that, he outsourced a good deal of the banjo parts production to Stew-Mac, First Quality, Jimmy Cox and others.

I don't think there was a noticeable drop in Gibson quality after Greg Rich left, largely because the outside contractors worked hard to keep production standards up, but those standards were out of Gibson's hands - not that Henry or the big decision makers at Gibson cared about such small potatoes when they had Les Pauls to sell. Standards have to be maintained by people, and I think the value assigned to instruments produced when Greg Rich was in house reflect the knowledge that there was an actual cadre of Gibson employees - not just Greg, but others who worked with him - with both the skills and the commitment to enforce a consistent level of quality on instruments that were actually mostly built in a factory that Gibson owned. Even the outsourced parts, primarily the Kulesh tone rings, achieved legendary status because of Greg Rich's interest in making Mastertones the unquestioned best bluegrass banjo on the market again, after Gold Star and others had spent several years eating their lunch. The fact that we're having this conversation now, more than thirty years after the fact, is the proof that he succeeded in that. The premium that people get for Rich-era instruments reflects the fact that these banjos were the musical expression of at least a small part of the Gibson company itself, rather than a high-quality instrument built by committee.

Could someone else have done what Greg Rich did in the late 80s and early 90s? Of course. Would anyone else have done it? Maybe, but we'll never know, so it's his actions that have gotten us to this conversation.

Edited by - waystation on 09/18/2019 06:57:26

Sep 18, 2019 - 8:10:57 AM

500 posts since 5/19/2018

But yeah, they don’t have the tone that a Pre-War banjo has....


..........Honey, could you roast up a bowl of popcorn please........

Sep 18, 2019 - 8:16:35 AM

109 posts since 7/28/2019

Say what you will but Gibson made their best stuff when Greg was there.

Sep 18, 2019 - 8:23:50 AM

1260 posts since 3/24/2006

quote:
Originally posted by jason999
quote:
Originally posted by luthier65

Much the way "Lloyd Loar Era" is used with regard to items that were in the same building as Loar...


" I think that a modern banjo guy could research and source the parts/material from certain suppliers, set up equipment, specify procedures, and dictate quality control standards. After the procedures were in place, he could move on and consistent instruments could continue to be produced.  That's why most people agree that the later Gibson banjos were just as good."

 


You would think so, but the answer to that is NO! I was told by a man that was about to take over banjo production at Gibson from the legendary Charlie Derrington......legendary in the MANDOLIN world that is. He was talking to Charlie D. and observed a guy in the shop literally beating a tone ring onto a wood rim with a mallet. When Charlie D. was asked "what the hell is that guy doing".......Charlie D's reply was "it's just a banjo".

You can have great parts lined up from vendors and great people to put them together with guidelines/specs/quality control in place, but people move on, both supervisors and floor employees and all of a sudden something that worked and was wonderful mere months ago turns to crap. 

Sep 18, 2019 - 8:35:32 AM
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114 posts since 3/26/2015

GRE beginning of Gibson quality improvement after years of not always putting out a quality product. Good banjos (usually) with the "right" name on the peg head. Not sure why a 93 would be valued greater than a 94 but some are willing to pay for it so there it is. Banjos may be the most personally customized instrument in the world. So many are changed in some way. I can see a collector wanting an all original GRE hoping it will be valuable in the future, but for players, they are just good Gibson banjos. Greg did a great job managing the production of quality in Gibson again. For some that means a lot. If someone wants to ask $5000 for a GRE RB3 and some one will pay it good for both. Does not bother me a bit. One got the banjo they wanted and one got the money they wanted. Everyone is happy. Banjos make us happy. For most of us they make us happy more than money obviously (my account has probably taken too many hits). :) GRE Gibson usually equals a good banjo....has far as the value the market speaks loudly not for everybody but for some it is their dream.

Sep 18, 2019 - 4:06:20 PM

755 posts since 11/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by pappy c

GRE beginning of Gibson quality improvement after years of not always putting out a quality product. Good banjos (usually) with the "right" name on the peg head. Not sure why a 93 would be valued greater than a 94 but some are willing to pay for it so there it is. Banjos may be the most personally customized instrument in the world. So many are changed in some way. I can see a collector wanting an all original GRE hoping it will be valuable in the future, but for players, they are just good Gibson banjos. Greg did a great job managing the production of quality in Gibson again. For some that means a lot. If someone wants to ask $5000 for a GRE RB3 and some one will pay it good for both. Does not bother me a bit. One got the banjo they wanted and one got the money they wanted. Everyone is happy. Banjos make us happy. For most of us they make us happy more than money obviously (my account has probably taken too many hits). :) GRE Gibson usually equals a good banjo....has far as the value the market speaks loudly not for everybody but for some it is their dream.

How many banjos sit and never sell?  Just because someone runs an ad, calls it GRE and lists a high price,  it doesn't mean someone buys it for that price.  Would you rather buy a 1990 RB-250 for $2,200 or get someone's highly coveted  - secret formula "GRE" RB-250 for $3,200. Again, no offense to Greg Rich. I've got one of his Gibsons and an RK. Both are great and it's fantastic that he helped Gibson get back on track so they could finish strong. 

Sep 18, 2019 - 4:14:27 PM

755 posts since 11/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by A Nobody
quote:
Originally posted by jason999
 

 

 


You would think so, but the answer to that is NO! I was told by a man that was about to take over banjo production at Gibson from the legendary Charlie Derrington......legendary in the MANDOLIN world that is. He was talking to Charlie D. and observed a guy in the shop literally beating a tone ring onto a wood rim with a mallet. When Charlie D. was asked "what the hell is that guy doing".......Charlie D's reply was "it's just a banjo".

You can have great parts lined up from vendors and great people to put them together with guidelines/specs/quality control in place, but people move on, both supervisors and floor employees and all of a sudden something that worked and was wonderful mere months ago turns to crap. 

 


If a guy is hitting tone rings with a mallet, he's not a good employee and he's not following a good procedure. Obviously bad management and employees can sabotage anything. 

Sep 19, 2019 - 6:54:45 AM

1260 posts since 3/24/2006

quote:
Originally posted by jason999
quote:
Originally posted by A Nobody
quote:
Originally posted by jason999
 

 

 


You would think so, but the answer to that is NO! I was told by a man that was about to take over banjo production at Gibson from the legendary Charlie Derrington......legendary in the MANDOLIN world that is. He was talking to Charlie D. and observed a guy in the shop literally beating a tone ring onto a wood rim with a mallet. When Charlie D. was asked "what the hell is that guy doing".......Charlie D's reply was "it's just a banjo".

You can have great parts lined up from vendors and great people to put them together with guidelines/specs/quality control in place, but people move on, both supervisors and floor employees and all of a sudden something that worked and was wonderful mere months ago turns to crap. 

 


If a guy is hitting tone rings with a mallet, he's not a good employee and he's not following a good procedure. Obviously bad management and employees can sabotage anything. 


Exactly my point. This incident happened several years after Greg had left and I have no idea of "who" was left in the banjo dept that was there under the Rich administration. I DO know that Charlie Derrington was running (maybe temporarily) the banjo dept at the time the "beating" occurred. Who knows who was assembling banjos.....maybe more people from the mandolin dept that also looked at is as "just a banjo".

A side note to another reply you made.......a 1990 RB250 WOULD be a Rich era..... ;) 

Sep 19, 2019 - 7:38:04 AM

755 posts since 11/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by A Nobody
 

A side note to another reply you made.......a 1990 RB250 WOULD be a Rich era..... ;) 

:-) I know that a 1990 is a Greg Rich Era banjo. 
Sep 19, 2019 - 3:02:06 PM

755 posts since 11/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by jason999
quote:
Originally posted by A Nobody
 

A side note to another reply you made.......a 1990 RB250 WOULD be a Rich era..... ;) 

:-) I know that a 1990 is a Greg Rich Era banjo. 

Alot can be lost on through text. Just to be clear,  I meant that some people will note that a banjo is GRE and ask a higher than usual price.  I wasn't trying to be rude in my last(or any) post, but I saw that it could be taken that way. 


Sep 21, 2019 - 1:35:52 PM

1260 posts since 3/24/2006

quote:
Originally posted by jason999
quote:
Originally posted by jason999
quote:
Originally posted by A Nobody
 

A side note to another reply you made.......a 1990 RB250 WOULD be a Rich era..... ;) 

:-) I know that a 1990 is a Greg Rich Era banjo. 

Alot can be lost on through text. Just to be clear,  I meant that some people will note that a banjo is GRE and ask a higher than usual price.  I wasn't trying to be rude in my last(or any) post, but I saw that it could be taken that way. 


 


Didn't take it that way, truth is "I" misunderstood the comparison that you were making. No worries, not offended at all.......hope you weren't either with my response. I already got in trouble on another topic for just what you said.....things getting lost in text, I think I should just shut up and go back to lurking! ;)  

Sep 21, 2019 - 1:46:15 PM

755 posts since 11/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by A Nobody
quote:
Originally posted by jason999
quote:
Originally posted by jason999
quote:
Originally posted by A Nobody
 

A side note to another reply you made.......a 1990 RB250 WOULD be a Rich era..... ;) 

:-) I know that a 1990 is a Greg Rich Era banjo. 

Alot can be lost on through text. Just to be clear,  I meant that some people will note that a banjo is GRE and ask a higher than usual price.  I wasn't trying to be rude in my last(or any) post, but I saw that it could be taken that way. 


 


Didn't take it that way, truth is "I" misunderstood the comparison that you were making. No worries, not offended at all.......hope you weren't either with my response. I already got in trouble on another topic for just what you said.....things getting lost in text, I think I should just shut up and go back to lurking! ;)  


Thanks buddy,no I didn't take any of it as negative. 

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