American trumpet making...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Stradbrother, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Stradbrother

    Stradbrother Pianissimo User

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    Hey guys, just wanted your opinion this morning... What do you think is the future of the brass instrument business in the States?

    It just seems with so many things getting bought-out and outsourced, what do you think the future of big brass instrument companies holds for the United States?

    Big things that come to mind are...
    -The Eastman-shires buyout
    -Chinese Bach student horns
    -Chinese Yamaha horns (not American, but interesting to move from Japan to Yamaha for student horns...
    -Countless other 'stamp' horns from china (that actually aren't that bad)

    I'm not the biggest patriot in the world here, but it pains me to see that these local companies with so much influence on brass instrument construction are just throwing in the towel for cheaper metal and construction costs.

    What do you think the future of American brass horns are? Do you think Conn-Selmer, Getzen, and Kanstul (among others) can make a profit keeping production in the States?
     
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    It's not hard to see in our current model of economy what's going to happen. You'll wind up with the boutique shops offering something different and specific to the discerning consumer willing to pay for it, you'll wind up with the same names under one big umbrella company, (Conn-Selmer) and you'll wind up with the options of lesser expense being produced overseas.

    With certain tried and true companies, you'll have some dingbat CEO who knows nothing of music, instruments and musicians making decisions that wind up being detrimental to the end result for the purpose of trying to make more money. If you are familiar with the guitar world, much of this has already happened. Take Gibson for example. They used to be known for their quality and consistency, but in the last 10 years things have taken a downturn. They marketed so many different models it was hard to discern just what was what, and at the same time their quality control took a major hit. All while raising prices. My son has an exceptional Gibson Les Paul Standard that was built in 2007 - and to be fair, even that guitar was a one-of-a-kind that just blew away everything else in the store when we went to get it. He has no interest in anything new that Gibson is producing. On a typical trip to Guitar Center it's hard to find one that actually sounds and plays great, and they have visible quality flaws.

    I think they can probably keep production in the States, but I also think we'll be seeing more of the same kind of thing that we're seeing with Gibson. Bringing it back to guitars, frankly, if it was my money to spend, I'd probably spend it on something like an ESP LTD. The quality is high and the prices are competitive - to me, it's a better product for less money - similar to what we're seeing from companies like Jupiter and Carol Brass.
     
  3. Stradbrother

    Stradbrother Pianissimo User

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    It reminds me of how Conn-Selmer/UMI was when they were trying to merge when it comes to all of the Gibson models.

    They had a Connstellion, King Legend, Benge 65B, and (somewhat) the Silver Flair all trying to be their professional trumpet. It just didn't work. Had to get rid of the legend, benge altogether, and dumb down the silver flair and the constellation so the strad didn't have competition.
     
  4. OldSchoolEuph

    OldSchoolEuph Mezzo Piano User

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    Well, Shires is a case like so many of a one-man-band (as Schilke and Bach were in their early years to a large extent and Kanstul was/is), that failed. Some of these small premium firms will thrive, as they have a niche market and do not try to overproduce. What kills them is when they get bought by a conglomerate, or get too big on their own, and try to compete outside a premium niche. Bach will ultimately be the test case for survivability as they have a solid market, but are part of a larger (Con-Selmer) entity that is far less able to compete, and is now owned by venture capital (which is what destroyed Boosey, Besson, York, Schreiber, Courtois, etc.). If allowed autonomy, Bach will remain viable. If "made efficient", Bach will fail.

    Getzen is where Bach needs to be, although they are dabbling with attempts to scale up that are unwise and could take them down too. They were merged, acquired, expanded, cheapened etc. to the point of failure and then rescued, re-establishing the firm with a smaller market that appreciates what they do best - if they resist the urge to chase volume, they will prosper.

    Scale is what makes low cost country firms with poor quality astounding successes, quality and scarcity are what make an instrument maker successful in the US - but that requires intelligent leadership. We will see what happens next at Kanstul . . . . . . .
     
  5. veery715

    veery715 Fortissimo User

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    When you compete with yourself the outcome is a bit ephemeral. Always win? Always lose? It certainly skews the market. Small companies may have better QC and vision, but money, and hence, R&D and sustainability, will come into question.

    Eastman may have bought Shires, but my understanding is that production continues as before. I hope so, because I am very impressed with the one I own.
     
  6. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

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    IMO*

    There will always be a market for quality. A manufacturer with skilled, talented, motivated, and dedicated employees will succeed in almost any market. Today's burgeoning custom car niche is a good example; they produce world-class products for a demanding market. How this translates into success for volume manufacturers, IDK. President Trump's dedication to putting America first and encouraging businesses to focus on American workers and keeping their operations stateside has already influenced some major manufacturers. Will this policy affect brass instrument manufacturers as well? Time will tell.

    * $0.02 charge waived.
     
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  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    JJ, let us keep the political assumption machine out of Trumpetmaster. The political machine claims intentions, we need to wait and see if it ever gets beyond that. We do have a policy of no politics here. Mr. Trump does not play trumpet or have an embouchure method worth talking about. Please refrain from further mention or I will have to get political.

    Feel free to pm me. I think that would be a better place to continue this discussion.

     
  8. BeatupGetzen

    BeatupGetzen Pianissimo User

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    America needs to get over the idea that it alone can make a decent widget, item, or horn. What is currently happening south of me is not all that different from when the US became a major player against Europe's best at the end of 19th, early 20th century. It made a dent for sure, forced some inconsistent or poorly managed firms out and solidified others. Besson still makes horns in the UK. Taylor is making fine trumpets and Cornets and I still see some good things from France and even the soviets. Competition means you get better, more efficient, or die. Getzen has been through this countless times as one example... it, like Harley Davidson is still made in the USA, but has been bought, moved, bankrupt, and sold, so many times that all they really have to lean on is their old and (largely outdated) intellectual property rights to a specific stamp.

    It's not the end of the world. In fact, like the early 20th century in terms of horns... a new one may just be opening up.
     
  9. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

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    With pleasure.
     
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that sales of new brass instruments in the US depends on how many people want to play, not how good the widget is.

    We are talking about quite a few issues here: school music programs, perception of quality, globalism (which is different than trade wars). In addition, we have to consider soft skills like patience, dedication, cooperation that allow us to become good bandmates.

    Throughout history, individual artisans created ideas that their customers ran with. Diversity was promoted and we had a lot of choices. Consolidation is a the name of the game these days and that changed the way that the world works. For me, it is not WHETHER America could, it is a case of whether the public has interest in the critical mass required to keep businesses afloat. Does America have enough focus on the things needed to keep the arts alive and well? Does our internet generation have enough interest in practicing to keep band programs viable as community arts representatives?
     

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