What is going to kill the American Instrument Industry

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by lovevixen555, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. lovevixen555

    lovevixen555 Banned

    Nov 5, 2008
    Any time a manufacture only sells to dealerships we as the customer lose! The only reason for haveing dealerships is to avoid haveing to market and deal with the public. This free's the manufacture up and allows them to concentrate on what they do best which is mass produce instruments. This means it falls to private individuals and to massive chain stores to market the end product. So all the staffing,advertiseing,money collection, etc....is in someone else's hands. This also means we the customer get raped on the price of a instrument as well. Good Example: My sons rental was priced at $925 by Marshall Music it is a Chineese made Eastman 301 which is not even sold to the public. If you look online you can buy the next model up the Eastman 420 new for $399. Now that guy selling those Eastman 420's for $399 is not loseing money Marshall music is just rapeing unsespecting parent's that do not research things into over paying grossly for a Junk trumpet. Now this also tells us that the Eastman line does not have strong dealership controls or priceing controls in place yet. If they did they would have it set up so that no authorized dealership could sell a given product below a fixed lower limit price and their would also be a recomended price and then a cap as well. Then to make sure you buy from authorized dealership's they make it so the warranty is only valid if you make your purchase from an authorized dealership. This keeps discount house's out of the picture if they do not want to play ball on the priceing. Sometimes their will be a clause that will allow them go below that lower limit as long as that price is not advertised and only give to customer's as requested and this is when you see the "please call for quote" inthe price window online.

    I worked for GM doing qaulity control amoungst other things for 5 year's. one of the things I had access to was price per unit cost from our suppliers. GM use's a mark up system that goes like this. If a part like say a strut for a 1997 Buick Lesaber cost them $3.60 from gabriel or Delphi then they charge the Dealership $36.00 for the part. The dealership then charges $72 for that part with the occasional 30% discount to private garages that do a lot of business with them so they can use OEM part's and still mark it up to you as well. Haveing owned a few business's you would not believe how many consumer Electronics are like this. The guy brining them in from China is paying next to nothing for these goods and each step int he logistic chain the price doubles and then doubles again and then again until it reach's you.

    At some point the Chinese will finaly figure out how to make a good high quality product and they will be willing to sell diectly to the end user and this will kill the American Instrument Industry. We are already seeing the rental business flooded with Chinese made instruments. Why??? Because these instraments sell for far less to these business's which means that they have a higher profit margin. They really do not care since proably 1/2 of all band students quite after 1-2 year's so it is easy for them to last this long. Second if you stick with it long enough you will want to upgrade any ways after 2-4 year's of playing and if you do not want to the rental place will talk you into it!!! By the time you know you have been suckered you will be either getting out of band or you will be looking at a $2000-$4000 instrument from a more upscale company. If their are any American companies left it will be one of them.

    The American instrument companies have been milking the rental market for a long time say since 1950's. Their should never have been the differing levels of instruments to begin with student,intermediate,professional that was a marketing ploy to make more money. Fast forward 58 year's and it is going to be biteing them inthe rear soon. They can not compete with India,China,Taiwan when it comes to material cost, energy cost, labor rates or medical cost's. The only thing they have that is not in those other countries products is quality of construction and sound quality. If they do not do away with the stupid student,intermediate and pro marketing programs and focus on produceing the best instrument they can with a more reasonable price they will be out of business in less then 20 year's! In fact I am thinking that the only way these American companies will be able to stay in business is to focus on building a trumpet in this case that will sell new for $1000 that will last a lifetime if cared for and be a professional model say entry level pro. This does not mean they can not still have a $2000+ dollar line but it is going to have to sound increadable and offer things that have gone away like fancy engraveing, lot's of style, hand made craftsmanship etc..........The days of selling $1025 Holt 602 Student trumpets is comeing to a close. The alternative is to move manufactureing of student horns from the USA to China like Blessing has done. But as soon as you do that you have to lower the price on your instruments because people will not pay more for your Chinesse instrument then they will for Wung Fu's chinese instrument etc.........

    The really sad part is that Instruments are not rocket science and anyone that want's to build a quality instruments can with or with out manchinery. Currently the Chinese and other's are happy to build low grade junk and flood the market but that will pass. They do have their own space program and nuke's so it is not like they can not build precision devices when they want to. Taiwan prior to being returned to China was turning out a lot of precision machinery and capital goods. Same thing goes for India they also have Nuke's and more PHd. then the population of the USA! If they wanted to build something on par with a Bach Strad they could.

    So for any music store owners on this site something to think about! Let's hope that our American Instrument companies do not just keep milking the sytem until it goes belly up. I hate the fact that almost nothing I buy any more is American made. I am not some Union member that tries to tell everyone to buy American but it sure would be nice if some of my stuff was American made!

    JRFIII Pianissimo User

    Feb 20, 2008
    New Jersey
    You are so very right about what much of what you wrote about the U.S. instrument industry.

    And while what some of what I will write is harsh, I hope it will open a dialogue.

    If GM was such a paragon of high quality manufacturing, proper management of distribution channels of multiple (7 current brands) I might be swayed by some of their leadership's arguments as to the value of having dedicated dealers/fixed distribution centers.

    But they are not.

    GM manages 7 brands, has relationships with over 3000 dealers and has 20% of the northern american market. (Compared to 50% of the market 40 years ago.)

    Toyota has three brands, 1500 dealerships and has 20% of the market. Which cost structure and brand managment strategy seems to have been more successful since 1969?

    GM quality has improved significantly in the past 15 years. Yet it suffers from poor standards of nearly now a generation ago. Auto marketing is relationship and generational. Once GM lost that brand loyalty in the 70's through 80's, well... Now GM Ford, Chrysler became commodities compared to either the Asian (Low cost but high quality) brands, or the European niche of luxury quality (with the noted exceptions oo the Britich and French manufacturers.) Lose a generation of buyers that commodotize your product, and I don't know how you win them back. If your read the threads here and elsewhare of how wonderful and appreciated were the differences in sound, timber, quality of the multiple manufactureers pre 1965 in the U.S. was, you can see the present consolidated intrument makers (large) making similar mistakes. Mass production, sacrifice quality, exploit the brand name until it means NOTHING.

    Lose a car-buying generation, (two to three purchase cycles for a disposable car) and compare that to losing a horn buying generation (15 to 30 years if you find "your" horn) and the implications are clear.

    Then the niche manufacturers will rise and hopefully take their place. Or just continue to be priced out of the range as luxury items for most players.

    I'd love to see the business plan at Selmer that says they will be highly profitable and in business in the future, if they keep going down the same path as they have for the past two decades. Otherwise that will be the last footnoote to many notable brand names, patents, and innovations since the 1850's through the brands they acquired.
  3. edcon1981

    edcon1981 Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 25, 2008
    Central Jersey
    Jim... you bashed GM. I'm very disappointed. I... I don't think we can be friends anymore :-(
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008
  4. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    This thread is too simplistic. Automobile and musical instrument industries produce very different comodities and the constraints faced by the first are nearly absent in the latter. There is no question that a parallel approach to business practices exists and has the potential to change both considerably, and likely detrimentally. Current corporate strategy is very far removed from "Joe Consumer". While they'd like to think they know what we want, ther're transfixed on concepts like profit, labor, image, marketing, out-sourcing, management structure, just-in-time manufacturing, supply lines, agile and lean manufacturing, TQM, 6 sigma, and the list goes on. All these things are aimed at improving efficiency and reducing costs - and they seem to forget that at the other end someone is wondering if they should buy their products.

    The makers of trumpets have no federal and state regulations related to their products to hamstring them. Trumpets produce no emissions in the same sense as autos, and there are no safety regs to meet. Mileage is not a concern. Almost evey system and subsystem in a car has to meet governmental standards. In addition there are marketing concepts around product appeal which move the car industry around like a small boat in big storm. Pretty it up so we can hype it and sucker all those TV watchers, radio listeners, and COMPUTER USERS.

    Without these constraints, the instrument business is not hamstrung and is free to continue making the same looking stuff, that works the same, plays the same, and sounds the same (essentially). What sells them is variations in those qualities. And what makes them vary is the cost invested in their making. Students/parents can't and don't wish to lay out a long dollar for a speculative venture, and so buy or rent beginner horns. Those students that stick with it want a better horn eventually, but a $2000 instrument is often out of their reach. So the makers try to trim the cost of their flagship products, or improve the quality of the beginner ones, to be able to offer a horn at a price point which will stimulate sales. While most of us on TM agree that intermediate horns are not the best route for many, lots of them do get sold and that helps prop up the makers so they can afford to put some extra R&D into the professional horns. Each niche product yields profits which can be invested to yield better ones. So even if WE don't like mid-range trumpets, their sale benefits the manufacture of all the horns in the line.

    Too bad about corporate strategy, though.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008

    JRFIII Pianissimo User

    Feb 20, 2008
    New Jersey

    First I was not bashing GM. I was trying to draw what parallels there were in what LoveVixen put forth as a thesis. That thesis being that dedicated channels and mark-ups can work to the detriment of the consumer and innovation, quality etc back to the manufacturer.

    An instrument is not as complex, and the auto industry faces legacy costs of labor contracts negotiated when GM had 50% of the market that they cannot support now and still have a competitively priced product.

    My discussion was intended to focus on the distribution channels and locked-up agreements with certain distributors. I should have been clearer.

    The quality of American Made vehicles is really on par with the Asian makes now. So that is not a product differentiator. It is what you need to come to the table with to even compete. That makes it a foundational issue. Then how a firm manages/controls thier marketing to the end consumer either makes the product more or less affordable to the market.

    My only other point is that it takes time to recover one's reputation once damaged than to keep it high. There are too many factors to list to explain the loss of stature of American made vehicles. No one single source.

    Therefore, with instruments being somewhat simpler, fewer components, etc., it might be eaisier for a firm to recover a reputation built on quaoity before it gets to a horrible state of affairs.

    Am I correct in my assumption that most members of this forum over the age of 30 have bought more cars than horns in thier life? Therefore, if the quality of a horn manufacturer gets bashed would it take longer to recover a customer base? Anyway...

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving, all.
  6. edcon1981

    edcon1981 Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 25, 2008
    Central Jersey
    i wouldn't have been upset if you used ford or chrysler as an example :D

    Have a happy thanksgiving!!
  7. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    No. Only 14 cars. Over 20 horns. I'm 61. But when I was 31 it was true I'd bought more cars.
  8. godchaser

    godchaser Banned

    Jun 17, 2007

    "..if the quality of a horn manufacturer gets bashed would it take longer to recover a customer base?"


    I would think you're right Jim - that it would, incrementally perhaps. But there may well be some grace here for Trumpet Manufacture. In that there's not the degree of meaningful, subjective tastes at play in mass auto-consumerism. (By point of comparison.) Which i suppose, lends itself to the favor of Builders in latitude of consumer appetites, and grace in accommodating supposed needs-artistic tastes. -Can't really pin down a definitive line of performance w/Trumpets, given the luxury of Artistic License. Least to measure of widely accepted and warranted 'bashing' to a point that a projected needs of volume sold, can't be met, or absorbed from one co. to another.

    We see veery's objections to what constitutes a so-called 'saturation' of market: told a thousand different ways, in a thousand different arenas. Trumpet Manufacturing, the Art World, the Auto Industry -and in every other sub-set, of sub-culture in a socio-economic civilization, since the dawn of man. It's the age-old stance of not being defined by one's environment. By ex. Athletes and HOLLYWOOD will insist that the Media is Malicious of Intent. Congress insisted that Gates was building a Monopoly. Auto Manufacturers are not responding to consumer-needs. Trumpet Builders are not cost-effective in maintaining a progressively innovative design offering, to satisfy the myriad palate of Musicians. And round and round we go.

    Obviously there can't be any such thing as 'saturation', regardless of where we come in on the argument of what defines market-dynamic. And 'bashing' is only as long, as the memory of poor quality, found successful quality. It's always a progressive process. Whether mass-produced or no. There's only the living breathing giant, of expansive growth in demand. The world is as it should be, so to speak. And consumer demands, in Industry Wide consumer-market relationships- can't be denied. I don't feel 'bashing' has any timely impact, necessarily- provided a reasonable standard of quality is implied. That's to say, if the world and consumer market relations, as it stands currently - arun't as they should be - it would be different. I can't imagine anyone feels like the world isn't progressing quickly enough.

    Course if consumer demand were directly contributing to simplifying production and cost effective quality, any quicker than it already is- ..We would have to stop, and catch our breath in suggesting, that we're moving beyond the threshold of the market.


    Trumpet Builders & "INDUSTRY" alike -just can't cath'a break. -Anymore than our progressive-Consumerism isn't constantly justified in its pleasant-Identity Crisis. I like classic cars, mostly. That's how i see myself. Not to mention they appreciate, and drive like butta- It's a good thing mass-consumerism, doesn't get set in its ways. If it could, we would still be in the dark-ages.

    Happy Thanksgiving TM.


    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    "Any time a manufacture only sells to dealerships we as the customer lose!"

    This is a VERY ignorant statement. True dealerships are there to provide individual hand holding, effective customer service and offer advice to the buyer. The fact that an internet generation has zeroed in on the lowest price does not change this truth.

    We see the problems of this procedure. Building "too cheap" instruments has always been possible. The dealers of old just did not sell stuff that was going to break before the guarantee period was over. Now we have a direct route between the manufacturer that could care less and the moron that thinks price is the answer. They get what they deserve!

    I respect and use the dealers that offer a true value add, and pity those who are blind to the advantages. The further away the seller is from the buyer, the easier it is to sucker the challenged. Do you think a marginal manufacturer really cares about ONE customer or even 50?

    It is even more disgusting to insist that a music dealer should not have a markup that allows them to be here next year. I find this thread WAY off track. In the old days, everybody made a living and we had active school music programs. The music dealers were not driving around in Rolls Royces. Now, if a school buys instruments online, the local dealer (if they even still exist) is not there to offer the customer service and quick low cost repairs.

    Before we forget what LIFE is about, let me remind some of you: being lonely is the worst thing that can happen to a human being. Support the people that support you. Build real relationships that will let you work things out when the going gets rough. With the financial clowns in control at the Wall Street Casino, it may be the only chance.

    If America wants to save itself, it needs to teach pride and quality instead of lowest common denominator. It does not matter if we are talking about instruments, cars or computers.

    Of course we can't compete against factories with employees earning less in a year than we do in a month if price is the issue.

    Take China off of the most favored nation status. There is no reason to subsidize their economy.

    The American instrument makers have not been "milking" the market. They built quality to last. Read some of the posts here about "vintage" student Holton, Conn, Getzen...... instruments. You can still sell them for real money today and they are generally good players. They may no longer be pretty, but they still offer value - but with your attitude, that may not matter.

    Loyalty, dependability, support are virtues. I hope we all get that sooner or later!
  10. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    For several years I worked for the Dodge division of Chrysler Corp. as an in the field customer service engineer. I quickly absorbed the mantra of "customer acceptance quality and service life level". This referred to the level of quality required by any portion of the vehicle to be "approximately the same as the competition". Chrysler had the best power train, allowing them to institute the 5&50 warranty. GM had by far the best paint and chrome finish. Ford had the quietest ride. Overall, they were very competitive. Where the major changes came about was in warranty cost. Each manufacturer watched the warranty cost of EVERY componant in their vehicles. If the warranty cost over a quarter of a year was too low, this meant that the quality of that componant was too high and the manufacturer found a way to lessen that componants quality of build enough to bring things back into given parameters. The same principle applied to overly expensive warranty cost. They had to make that part a slight bit better to bring down the warranty claims. Where the difference between auto makers and instrument makers came about was the influx of products made by manufacturers who had no interest in warranties, and customers who looked only at the bottom line price from the retailer. Our domestic consumers have become willing to buy from offshore makers who scam them with unusable warranties and products that are unusable straight from the box. Peruse my signature to determine the quality that I demand in the horns that I have purchased. I have only a few student grade horns, and those are of superlative quality. The balance are elderly high grade horns that I can afford as a 72 year old 'wannabee' trumpeter. I don't buy the junk on the market.


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