What is going to kill the American Instrument Industry

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

  1. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
    I have to disagree with almost everything "lovevixen" said. I have worked in manufacturing (the Schilke Co.) and as an employee and owner in retail music. The root of the problem is that the large manufacturers are no longer owned by people who are comitted to the musical instrument industry. They have all been swallowed up by corporation who slice and dice the assets and outsource to the cheapest supplier. Good brands have been lost (Benge, King, Holton, Martin) and others have been degraded, especially at the student level.

    Rental programs are up to dealers, manufacturers have nothing to do with them. The assault of cheap Chinese instruments and the advent of big box music stores such as Mars and Sam Ash all but killed the rental business for mom and pop stores. The stores have to buy the instruments from a manufacturer, often on a floor plan, which means debt. Then they have to gamble that they can rent or sell enough of the instruments to cover expenses. The rent to own option is for people who don't want to comitt to purchasing an instrument outright because they are not sure if the child will continue or they are hung up an having a shiney new instrument and that is the only way that they can swing it. We were always up front about the differences and always had good used instruments at reasonable prices and cash discounts on new instruments. In the end we stopped stocking new instruments alltogether because we couldn't afford to have our capital tied up.

    Nobody was more upset than the repair community with the influx of Chinese instruments. We refused to work on them. "Take them back to WallMart" was our answer. Parts were non-standard, tolerances were so loose that pads would not remain seated and metal so soft that keys were always bending and, especially woodwind instruments, going out of adjustment. Thank the WallMart cheaper is better mentality for that.
  2. godchaser

    godchaser Banned

    Jun 17, 2007

    "Support the people that support you."

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


    Isolationist views in today's world, is the way of the Dodo. Respectfully- there's just no way around that fact. Thankfully, its futile hypocrocy is not nearly so convenient, as days gone. We can either embrace and support a world economy, or not. It makes no difference. There's no political agenda or Doomsday WARNING that can beat the obvious incentive & demand, that's creating a Global-common denominator in quality, made cheaply.

    And we're just getting warmed up. :)


    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  3. bandman

    bandman Forte User

    Oct 16, 2004
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    What is going to kill the American Instrument Industry?

    I suspect that the answer to the original question is GREED and TECHNOLGY. But it is not only the American market it is going to kill, but also the beginner market in general. Once the beginner market is gone, the overall market will crash.

    In today’s world you have to remember that the competition for the school student is growing. Not only do schools not have computer elective courses; they also have other technology-based electives as well. Of course we also have all the other electives we always had like art, chorus, journalism, drama, speech and debate.

    Students at my school have the opportunity to take a class in computer technology where they actually learn to program, and also learn how to troubleshoot computer systems, and this is at the 8th grade level. They each write their own programs by the end of the year, and we are not talking basic programs, but actual applications that are used in offices.

    We also have a computer course where business applications are taught. How would you like your child to take an in-school online math class for 8th graders (with a teachers as a proctor) that gives them not one, but two years of high school math credit? That gives them a better chance in 4-years to get onto certain very high level colleges because in high school they can now take two math courses at the university level before they graduate high school.

    We have a media technology lab where they learn to shoot and computer edit video. Those kids laugh at the simplicity of pod casts. One actually taught a seminar at his father’s office on that subject! At the end of 8th grade they spend 9-weeks as student interns at the local television station.

    If we are going to offer electives that pull kids out of music, we will have to make music much more competitive in the chance to bring in our beginning band student as a customer. That means making music affordable, while maintaining a very high level of excellence in our music programs. In the real world, the prices for the instruments are going up at an alarming rate, and nation-wide it is getting harder and harder to hire a decent band director who stays at one school for more than 3-4 years. The average career of a band director in America is less than 5-years because they figure out quickly that they can do less work and get paid more money doing something besides teaching music.

    A very nice laptop sells for $1200, and a decent quality laptop can be bought for $600. The prices for technology are going DOWN, yet the price of getting a student into a music class is going up exponentially as the base price goes up, and then the prices are doubled at the dealer level.

    It was greed at the music dealer level that made students look in different directions. It is greed that causes the price of instruments to go through the roof. It is greed that will eventually cause the school music class to be one that is taught to a very small percentage of our student body.

    When I left the public school system I had 411 band students in a school of 830. That same school now houses about 1100 students and the band is down to about 200 members (if that many). In just 7-years I have seen a population that would have done anything to get a shiny new horn into the hands of their young people moved into a population that no longer values that program, and the computer science department at that school has gone from one faculty member to three faculty members.

    In conclusion, as an administrator I see what I’m talking about in this answer on a daily basis. As a parent I forced my child to take music against her own desires. Someday I hope she will thank me. I have taught her more about computers at home than she could have learned so far at school, but next year in high school she is dropping band and is going to take an advanced placement college preparatory elective TAUGHT ON LINE in the school environment. Her goal is to go into molecular genetics, and her goals for colleges are Stanford or Emory University. Now that she is in 8th grade I wonder which would have taught her more for her long term goals – music or computer science? I’m glad I made the choice to expose her to music, but it is hard to argue with a parent who would rather invest in a laptop than a band instrument.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2008
  4. BrassOnLine

    BrassOnLine Piano User

    Nov 22, 2007
    Now I'm 32. cars, 80 horns. :dontknow:
  5. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land

    Chris - isolationism is not the point here - you get what you pay for, buy cheap stuff, regardless of the source, and satisfaction is never on the cards - nor is longevity, finish, feel, taste etc.

    I have spent my working life with hand tools, and have always chosen the very best quality (US or German made BTW) because they look, feel, fit, work, and last better and longer. I have had some cheap tools and I have NEVER been satisfied with them - and I have found them to be unsafe.

    For example I purchased a pair of wire cutters for US$90 in 1970 from Snap-On and a similar looking (Chinese) pair could be had for AUD$7.50 - but I wouldn't go there - I spent the $90 and for 25 years that $90 set served 'daily' and are still a treasured even though for the last 14 years they have sat in a tool box, they exhibit no deterioration - this is what you get when you go for known quality in the first instance. Some of the Snap-On gear (the Blue Point range) is made in Japan to a quality formula, and they too are excellent tools.

    If the Asians want to capture the market, let them build good quality stuff from the off, heaven knows, labour is cheap enough. Let them compete on a level playing field with like equipment instead of trying to hoodwink the 'round-eyes' - that's not business, that's usury.
  6. BrassOnLine

    BrassOnLine Piano User

    Nov 22, 2007
    Well, I think that the main question is that we are buying items from nowhere, no matter about its cost- and that is the worst favor we could do to our economies.
    A global World, global economy.
    I disagree absolutelly.
    If I need a good trumpet, I would buy from reliable makers. If they are closer to or related to me is much better. I bought Thein trumpets because they are TOP and they are German, where my grandfather had worked during dictatorial years. If I need a Bach, I would buy a clone from B&S or Kanstul, as I think Kanstul is not making pieces in China (although I think some of them are being made in Mexico),
    I ALWAYS try to deal with persons and countries who are FAIR and not trying to break my own country economy.
    About cars, I used Renault and Citroen because they are reliable, reasonabily cheap and made in my country, Spain. In the past I bought a small FIAT (italian made) ONLY because it was cheap and usable. Anyway, Korean cars were cheaper that FIAT. Now I drive a Volvo, made in Sweden, SAFEST car, not too expensive and made from a country which is cooperating to improve European economies.
    I'm racist ??? NOT !!!
    I'm sensitive about how individuals could manage a little on large corporations.
    Want to colaborate to help your neighbours/yourself ???
    Buy your own products at anytime. No matter if they cost a little bit more, because that is on your benefit.
    Why you should buy a SEAT car (Spanish) in the USA ??? It is silly. Is a good car, but you got equals at, more or less, the same cost, and MADE IN YOUR COUNTRY.
    Unless quality differences could justify the extra-cost or being foreign, I would try to keep my money in my country and/or friendly countries.
    Please, do not understand this is a racist or discriminative post.
    It is just a tip to help our own economies being sensitive.
    Best wishes
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2008
  7. godchaser

    godchaser Banned

    Jun 17, 2007

    "Chris - isolationism is not the point here - you get what you pay for, buy cheap stuff, regardless of the source, and satisfaction is never on the cards - nor is longevity, finish, feel, taste etc." -tedh1951

    You're absolutely right Ted. The real-world problems we all face, in a world's constant negotiaton in meeting a greater standard of quality, in an ever-increasing marketplace. -Always hits close to home. It's hard to maintain focus, and Parent regard of 'negotiation' when 'standards' are seemingly bastardized.

    Nevertheless, a standard of exceptional quality is steadily finding a path of commonground. The incentive to maintain a competitive-pace of high quality, manufactured as cheaply as possible- is forever King. Given this reality, there's only one inevitability in this constant and paramount incentive, for a world-economy that's exhibiting the powerhouse in technological motions and activity we're making.

    We have no choice but to succeed in a progressive-standard of mass-affordability, in high quality. With increasing frequency and regularity, in an increasing Global-reach. It can't be avoided.

    Happy Thanksgiving Everybody

    Cheers From Baltimore Maryland


    Last edited: Nov 27, 2008
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    you missed my point.

    China does not need most favored nation status. That makes the playing board more uneven. I see no reason to subsidize their products with low import duties. If they build decent stuff at a competitive price, they will get their market share.

    Unfortunately, all this cheap stuff is NOT getting more kids into band programs or keeping them there. That is the foolishness of price wars.

    No, I think the focus on price leads to a loss of character. Why can't we stand up for quality and pride? Why do I have to take a hit for my opinion? Only because I consider the source does it not bother me.

    We all read the story of King Midas - and the Emperors New Clothes. Anybody promoting cheap is getting hoodwinked. This lesson has been taught many times, the ignorant just can't see it.
  9. godchaser

    godchaser Banned

    Jun 17, 2007

    "Anybody promoting cheap is getting hoodwinked." -rowuk

    Robin, i hear you. But you're preachin' to the choir, and taking things far too personally. -My meaning is we obviously can't throw out the baby, with the bathwater. It's simply an impossibility. Even i know better than that, partna. :) Which is to say, that making a "stand for quality & pride" is already covered by manufacturing incentive itself. However, a display in proposed segregation of incentive; can't ever amount to more than muddying the waters, to maneuver a politicized quagmire. The point is, it's a nonsensical premise. It's like saying 'incentive', or the path of least resistance, needs a road-map.

    -It's real important to understand that cheap manufacturing capability, does not equate to a cheap product. Cost-effective, high quality manufacture is a progressive focus. Nevermind the fact that it's the only game in town. Again, there's just no way to avoid this reality of perpetual progression of efficent quality. In all measure and facility of manufacture- depite all else. And despite our obsolescent fixations of supposed-remedy, for what's in front of us. Which is very fortunate.

    Cheers- :)

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008
  10. Richard Oliver

    Richard Oliver Forte User

    Jul 18, 2006
    Casper, WY
    Here, here! Absolutely correct!

Share This Page