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Jun 22, 2024 - 3:27:09 PM
6 posts since 2/23/2020

Hey guys, I just saw on bluegrass today that epiphone has released a new line of "Mastertone" banjos and f5 mandolins. They are obviously made in some Asian country, but does anyone know if they are made by the same company as Gold tone since they own the Mastertone name now and have been cloning gibsons lately. I hope to get to guitar center to see one up close soon.

Jun 22, 2024 - 3:58:10 PM

1794 posts since 4/13/2009

Discussed extensively back when the BT story was new. Search the archives for all the answers to your questions.

Jun 22, 2024 - 4:08:46 PM
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115 posts since 9/1/2020

Not the same company.
Epiphone is owned by Gibson, and has been for quite some time.
Epiphone has long been Gibson's brand name for its imports.
Japan, then Korea, now China.
The Mastertone name is an interesting situation.
Gibson never copyrighted it. Then when they stopped making banjos, Gold Tone jumped to register the name as their own.
These Epi's are called "Inspired by Gibson".
Sooo....
Not sure if Wayne is going to challenge Gibson's right to recreate their own instruments or not.
We'll see.

Jun 22, 2024 - 4:12:18 PM
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15407 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by eric fuls

. . does anyone know if they are made by the same company as Gold tone since they own the Mastertone name now and have been cloning gibsons lately.


Epiphone is owned by Gibson. So by ultimate corporate ownership, the new Epiphone banjos are a product of Gibson, Inc.

Yes, Gold Tone owns the Mastertone trademark.

No. Gold Tone is not making these banjos. Epiphone is making them. Which means Gibson is making them. Or, rather, contracting to have an Asian company make them.

No one who has participated in discussing this on the Hangout can explain why Gibson/Epiphone is putting Mastertone on these banjos when Gold Tone owns the name, whether they have a right or license to do so (granted by Gold Tone), or if they're looking for a trademark fight. We don't know what's up.

We do know that Gibson filed an objection to Gold Tone's registration several years ago, then withdrew their objection perhaps after some negotiations, which were hinted at in news or filings at the time. What was negotiated -- or if negotiations actually happened -- is not publicly known.

If you find and play any at Guitar Center, please report back. Especially let us know how well they're set-up in the store.

Jun 22, 2024 - 4:18:44 PM
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15407 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Berry Banjos

Gibson never copyrighted it. Then when they stopped making banjos, Gold Tone jumped to register the name as their own.


Minor clarification: It's trademark, not copyright.

Can't copyright a name.

But, yes, Gibson never claimed, registered, or took ordinary steps to protect or establish ownership of the name -- other than use it for 80 years, which some folks here think ought to count for something. But we don't know.

And we also don't know why Gibson is using a name they know now belongs to Gold Tone.

Have I mentioned we don't know what's going on?

Jun 22, 2024 - 5:01:01 PM
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115 posts since 9/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Berry Banjos

Gibson never copyrighted it. Then when they stopped making banjos, Gold Tone jumped to register the name as their own.


Minor clarification: It's trademark, not copyright.

ty

I stand clarified  ;)


Jun 22, 2024 - 5:11:10 PM

rcc56

USA

5148 posts since 2/20/2016

Someone in Gibson's front office woke up and noticed that banjos and mandolins have become more popular than they were in the past. So they are re-introducing banjos, and adding to their line of mandolins. They don't want to make banjos here, so the banjo manufacturing has been relegated to their Epiphone division. I'll venture that they are using the same factories to build the Epi banjos that they've used in the past.

I expect they will be built with the same modest level of quality as we have seen in the past-- no better, no worse. I don't expect them to be on a par with the better RK and Gold Tone models. If they are, I will be pleasantly surprised.

From what little I hear about conditions at Gibson's Nashville facilities from my friend who works there, it does look like the new CEO might be more sensible than the last two.

Bear in mind that Gibson/Epiphone is now owned by a large corporate group or "private equity company" called KKR & Co., Inc. Their holdings are enormous, so enormous that Gibson is just a drop in their bucket. They are not even important enough to be listed in the huge but abridged list of holdings on KKR's website.

As far as Gibson/Epiphone's use of the Mastertone name, I'll guess that Gold Tone and Gibson have worked out an agreement.  If not, I'm sure we will hear about it in the near future.

Edited by - rcc56 on 06/22/2024 17:16:20

Jun 23, 2024 - 7:54:05 AM

dfstd

USA

76 posts since 2/5/2023

quote:
Originally posted by eric fuls

Hey guys, I just saw on bluegrass today that epiphone has released a new line of "Mastertone" banjos and f5 mandolins. They are obviously made in some Asian country, but does anyone know if they are made by the same company as Gold tone since they own the Mastertone name now and have been cloning gibsons lately. I hope to get to guitar center to see one up close soon.


Don't know if they're made by the same company that makes Gold Tone banjos. Sweetwater has close up pics of actual banjos, and the sticker on the back of the head stock says made in China. It's a different sticker than the one on the back of Gold Tone banjos—don't know if that says anything about where it's made.

The Guitar Center stores in my area don't have either of the new Epiphone banjos in stock. Seems the plan is that they'll ship it to a local store or customer's address when a customer buys it. I don't know if that's true for all Guitar Center locations. 

There are a few videos of someone playing the Earl Scruggs model on Facebook and another person playing one on YouTube. I haven't seen any videos of the Classic model besides the Charlie Worsham/Wyatt Ellis video produced by Epiphone.

Jun 23, 2024 - 8:18:08 AM

2176 posts since 2/10/2003

I wonder how the Gold Tone ownership of “Mastertone” will affect the Gibson conversion neck market.

Jun 23, 2024 - 9:25:12 AM

8345 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by 250gibson

I wonder how the Gold Tone ownership of “Mastertone” will affect the Gibson conversion neck market.


Likely about the same as Gibson owing "Gibson" has affected it... builders of said counterfeit necks seem to not be concerned with intellectual property.

Jun 23, 2024 - 9:50:21 AM

13161 posts since 10/27/2006

Trademark is a slippery thing. Registration alone doesn't mean a damned thing. 

Jun 23, 2024 - 4:57:49 PM

15747 posts since 10/30/2008

KKR owns Gibson now? THAT KKR? The BIG guys???

Jun 23, 2024 - 6:03:50 PM

rcc56

USA

5148 posts since 2/20/2016

Yep. Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts. They acquired it in late 2018 as a result of Gibson's bankruptcy.

Jun 24, 2024 - 5:29:09 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

17571 posts since 8/30/2006

And now the feast begins. I once received an offer to sell one of my rims overseas. I graciously declined.

General knowledge is patchy, so don't start mailing information to yourself with registered mail.

Copyrights, then trademarks, then patents all have their market value, and a legal procedure for establishing history and prior art.  Other artisans here on the hangout discussed how soon they could begin to make copies of necks with company logos....so knock-offs aren't exclusively foreigners. 

Then as soon as we cross the international date line into "knock-off" territory, it appears that the cultural drain is running backwards like a bad Panda8 movie.

The best thing is to inform yourself.
I have suggested in the past in the suggestion section that real information is available and reliable. It's daunting. One Journeyman here, spent $35K or so to patent a hunting aid

The BIG BOYS don't need to ask your permission, they want to sell you something to recover their capital investment while they are lining up trees and other polluting resourcers to run an assembly line in the most cost efficient fashion, for as long as that Japanese, or Korean or Chinese host country can maintain the quality.  Masks to protect workers' health?  Maybe not.  

Personallly, I think the best solution is a builders' cooperative where wages and benefits are above the market.  Bonuses are paid at the end of the year.

Premiums are fair and based on speed x accuracy = skill.  Then cross training kills boredom. Burnout is reduced and soul killing repetition is rejected for healthier, motivated real people with names and families.  

Volvo was the first to allow a "team" to make and install the entire door assembly.

Out West, plywood workers went on strike, so the owners just locked the shop.  The workers hocked everything they had to purchase this closed plant, hiring Canadian managers.  Even the janitor got a bonus, not just a dead bird.   The profitable plant has been making higher grade plywood now for many years, first published in Time Magazine in the '80's.  Those people took pride back into their own hands.  They superceded the historic conflict between ownership and labor. This approach is Communitarian, not Socialism, nor Communistic, it's self-determination and they won this little big battle. 

We have Catalpa and Persimmon.  We have the Great North American Hardwood Forest.  So we make new jobs.   Much lumber is exported to Japan to make pulp to be reintroduced to our markets. 

Notice that "Big Boys" are starting to use wood pulp, richlite and other methods to make "tastes just like chicken" where the Urchins of the dump in S. America are making their own instruments out of trash.

My cousin had a VEGA and a Clark.  He donated the Clark back to the family when the elder  passed.  

If we want the good banjos, we have to make them ourselves.  Walmart will discuss this in a meeting with a gig bag, a pick and a paper book,  wow. 

Gold Tone Makes parts available.  People buy Dirty 30's for parts.  

My point would be that quality is for the consumer to decide.  Hype is for marketing. 


Edited by - Helix on 06/24/2024 05:47:09

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