The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomvwash
    Does one pay customs in the U.S. for a Made in USA instrument?
    you shouldn't but the seller has to fill out the correct forms.
    I bought a guitar from Canada once and the shop didn't fill them out and I promptly got a $450 duty bill from UPS that I refused to pay.
    they chased me for a couple years and finally gave up.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    In this light I can’t help but feel Gibson’s focussing on guitars that will actually sell is a good thing for dealers, rather than having instruments that the dealer may have to accept selling at a loss.
    I think the main change driving these failures is progressively increased demand for immediate returns on every investment (including inventory). No reasonable music store would have planned on selling any volume of archtops as soon as they came in the door. The business plan was to stock a few, knowing that they'd sit for months or longer before selling at enough profit to offset the cost of keeping that money on the shelf. One major source of revenue for the business was the sale of lower end & more popular instruments that flew out with regularity in sufficient volume to generate a steady positive margin. Other feeds to the cash stream included maintenance, repairs, teaching, school band rentals, etc. And it was a successful model for many local music shops all over the country well into the second half of the 20th century, as long as the music industry was stable and generated steady demand. Many guitarists traded up, e.g. starting with a Melody Maker and moving to an LP or starting on an acoustic and progressing to an electric. My first Gibson was an LG-1 in 1958 when I was in 7th grade. Over the next 13 years, I bought a 345, a 175DN, and an L-5CN.

    Unfortunately, economic pressures pushed us all toward the situation we have today. Players, production faciities, performance venues, etc were all affected by several changes precipitated by the growing demand for incessant and unlimited growth of revenue. Public companies had to show growth in shareholder return and private investors demanded progressively bigger returns over shorter and shorter time periods. TIme was money, so every stage of the production, supply, and distribution chain was under pressure to do it faster, cheaper, and more often. No one was willing to let cash sit in inventory waiting for Mundell Lowe to need a new L5. Manufacturers and their bankers weren't happy with the time and labor required to make fine instruments like those about which we're having this discussion.

    The growing involvement of third party financing from people and businesses whose only interest in the borrower's business was financial heightened the pressure. It's no wonder Gibson started throwing whatever wood, necks, bodies, hardware etc thay had sitting around into guitars that wre originally designed for and made with much better stuff. It's also no wonder that they now have a "demo shop" from which they try to sell off items like the one that started this thread at what I consider very high prices. As I recall, it was the late '60s when they started selling guitars with blems too minor to justify the expense of correcting or refinishing as "seconds". There's a rumor that they also stamped guitars returned 3 times by dealers with a "2" for resale as seconds. The earliest second I know of was (as I recall) a 335 with a '67 or '68 serial #. But I don't know if seconds were a Norlin idea or predated them - a guitar made and serialized in 1967 could well have bounced around for a year or more before being stamped with a 2 on the headstock and finally sold.

    This is not peculiar to the guitar world. Look at the wine industry. As recently as 25 years ago, good wines were made to age in the barrel and then in the bottle. Restaurants, wine merchants, wine makers, and wine enthusiasts all had cellars in which they laid up wines for aging, planning to sell / serve / drink them only when they were ready. A fine restaurant with a decent cellar would have many thousnads of dollars sitting on racks for years until it was ready to drink and someone was ready to drink it. Today, even most of the best wines are made for earlier drinking and shorter maturing times. I haven't seen a restaurant or wine store in years with much in the way of old world wines from 20+ years ago. Just like today's independent luthiers, modern winemakers are the prime source of interesting stuff at decent prices - and like the guitars, the wines are verey reqarding and satisfying. But not many rival the greats of old at a remotely reachable price point for most of us. At least a $50k Grimes is a durable purchase. But you can't have your wine and drink it too.

    Sadly, Gibson never learned how to focus on guitars that would sell well in today's market without having to back away from the models and quality levels with which we geezers grew up. They tried to maintain their original reputation and still placate their backers by selling a handful of guitars at wildly inflated prices. And economic pressure brought about by living on other people's money changed inventory from an asset to a liability. One major parameter of operational success in transcational businesses is turnaround time, measured most often either as product time in inventory or as % of inventory turned over (i.e. sold and restocked) per day / week / month / quarter etc. Nothing screams louder to a business owner who's barely beaking even than an expensive item that's been sitting on the shelf for a year after being paid for with borrowed money.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomvwash
    Does one pay customs in the U.S. for a Made in USA instrument?
    To be fair, I did not get hit with customs last summer when my guitar was delivered. I believe that instruments that are brought back into the country do not get hit with customs fees. The luthier just finished up my second build from him yesterday and that is shipping it tomorrow. Hoping not to get hit with a customs fee!

  5. #54

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    I worked in a Guitar store in the early 80s in Memphis.

    Most of the Gibsons that came through the store were seconds.

    Usually, we could not spot anything that we would consider a flaw in the finish or anything else on the guitar. And sometimes we would get a non-second that had more finish issues than the seconds.

    The seconds cost the store less money and we were able to pass that savings on to our customers.

    I bought a few of those seconds myself and they've been great guitars.

    The boss told us he considered his Gibson dealership mainly as a means to attract customers into the store. Most of the tirekickers would not be buying a Gibson guitar, but if the Gibsons created a steady stream of customers buying strings and picks and tuners and other small items then having the Gibsons in the store was worth it to him.

    Of course, selling the Gibsons for a reasonable profit was the ultimate objective. We almost always discounted them by at least 30%, usually more like 40% off of list price.

    For the fancy archtops he would charge $500 over his cost to order one. I was able to get my Le Grand from him for $3650 in 1994. The Le Grand listed for $6300 at the time. Too bad he retired many years ago.

  6. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomvwash
    Does one pay customs in the U.S. for a Made in USA instrument?
    No they should not. Also I must be one of the few who do not like ebony guitars. I want to see wood.

  7. #56

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    As for ebony Gibsons:

    This ebony Super 400 was at Rainbow guitars in Tucson a few years ago.

    Pre-Owned Gibson Custom Shop Super 400 Lamp Black Florentine with Bigsby


    I considered buying it. Good sounding guitar even with the Bigsby.

    I think they wanted about $10K for it. On consignment if I remember right.

    I eventually bought a used blond Super 400 for less money.

  8. #57

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    Nothing but respect for you but I beg to differ.

    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    TIme was money, so every stage of the production, supply, and distribution chain was under pressure to do it faster, cheaper, and more often.
    This describes the Gibson guitar company at every stage of the game, including during every 'Golden Era' the company has brought its devoted players through. Every single stage.

    According to Wikipedia Orville Gibson had to answer to investors from the beginning, and shortly after it opened the board of directors told him, 'Your salary is done. You will only be paid for production.' Sound familiar?

    The Gibson modus operandi has always been to sell today's order today and worry about tomorrow's parts inventory tomorrow. I only have a little experience with 20s & 30s Gibson archtops compared to many here but even with that it clearly came down to the three words, "Ship it, Louie." The examples are innumerable. Ebony board on a rosewood model? Ship it. Rosewood board on an ebony model? Ship it. Need to finish that L-50 and there's a billet of spiffy top-of-the-line solid maple? Ship it. Need to finish that L-7 and there's a flowerpot peghead inlay at hand? Ship it. Need to finish that L-5 and there's a blank peghead inlay? Ship it. Or later, in the 1960s: Need to finish an Epi Triumph and there's a solid-wood back? Ship it. Need to finish an L-7 and there's a plywood back handy? Ship it.


    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    Players, production facilities, performance venues, etc were all affected by several changes precipitated by the growing demand for incessant and unlimited growth of revenue.
    In 1959 Gibson finished about twenty-five LP Jrs every day. Every single one of them was sold to somewhere before it left the building. Every single one that's left is somebody's prize possession today and of course all those owners are correct that each of them owns The One. Hmmm . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    There's a rumor that they also stamped guitars returned 3 times by dealers with a "2" for resale as seconds. The earliest second I know of was (as I recall) a 335 with a '67 or '68 serial #. But I don't know if seconds were a Norlin idea or predated them - a guitar made and serialized in 1967 could well have bounced around for a year or more before being stamped with a 2 on the headstock and finally sold.
    One of the four 1960 LEFTY sunburst Les Pauls is stamped '2.' Not Sir Paul's IMR:




    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    Sadly, Gibson never learned how to focus on guitars that would sell well in today's market without having to back away from the models and quality levels with which we geezers grew up. They tried to maintain their original reputation and still placate their backers by selling a handful of guitars at wildly inflated prices.
    No disagreement, but that overlooks as much as it includes on the list of Gibson's problems in the last decade.

    Even at the time of its bankruptcy filing Gibson's guitar lines were making money. And there were plenty of new guitars that worked, like the Nitehawk, the Grohl / Trini, the 336/Midtown small thinlines and the Johnny A line to name just a few.

    But the millstones included several lines of pianos (each in different factories), three separate US guitar-building plants (including two in the same state!), Akai stereos, drums, CakeWalk recording software (headquartered in Boston IMR, nicely out of reach from the rest of the company) and 'strategic' purchases of barely-used guitar brands (like Steinberger). The grand-daddy of them all, the great business kill-switch, was Gibson's attempt to diversify into becoming a 'lifestyle brand. It took a lot of guitars to pay for all that deadwood.


    Bottom line: A lot of people seem to pine for the good old days, when craft was allegedly king and before The Bizness People got their claws into Gibson. In case you can't tell I think that's simplistic and misses too much to avoid comment.

    + + +

    But to each their own.

    We now return you to JG.be as we know and love it.
    Last edited by Sam Sherry; 07-03-2022 at 12:08 PM.