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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2016, 03:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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Guitar Companies and Market Research

A couple of months ago I saw an ad Ibanez had filmed featuring what I can only describe as an "EDM band." The band members played synths or guitars that sounded like synths and it seemed like very little guitar playing actually took place. It was almost like they were props. Anyways, eventually one of the band members sits down to tell us why he plays Ibanez guitars, specifically the Iron Label RGN7XC8FHEFSKDGUGKLf. The script sounded like a composite of all the posts on SSO concerning string tension, scale length, chord voicings, etc. to the point it creeped me out. The entire ad was extremely "unnatural."

Fast forward...

Recently, I learned about one way Fender Musical Instrument Corporation does its market research. Fender basically creates a composite photo of the guitar playing part of the internet and filters through trending terms relating to their products and their competitions products. Long story short, if enough people write the correct things online, we will have Purple Telecasters with Maple fretboards next month, plus, a Limited Edition Green Telecaster with a Rosewood fretboard because they ordered too much Rosewood and need to sell it.

Now, was I naive enough to think this is how guitar companies operated? Absolutely! Most of them can not afford it, so I assumed all of them could not afford it. In some industries, I am sure this works really well. For example, Under Armour released their "Star Wars" themed line of clothes today. They sent me an email about it. What comes out on the 15th? Star Wars: Rogue One! They also have a lot of university-branded attire because theoretically people with a college education make more money and will spend $70 for a shirt with their alma mater's mascot. Or my favorite: "Average Bugatti owner:"
"The clientele between Bentley and Bugatti is remarkably different," said Wolfgang Drheimer in an interview with Bloomberg. "The Bentley customer on average owns 8 cars. The average Bugatti customer has about 84 cars, 3 jets and 1 yacht." Since Bugatti only build 300 (?) cars, I think most of that information was volunteered by the clients of which there were far less than 300. (Some people own multiple Bugatti automobiles.)


So what is the problem Formerly Given To Fly?
The problem is analogous to writing a research paper using Wikipedia as your only source. Your paper may be accurate or inaccurate but you would not be able to explain which one it was or why. That is the production guitar industry right now as I perceive it. My perception may be wrong and it would not be the first time. Also, I am not giving guitar companies their due credit. They know more than I hopefully will ever know about the business side of the instrument, but I want to emphasize a point so I'm being a little hard on them.

So, have any of you noticed anything similar? A disconnect between manufacturer and consumer?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-08-2016, 05:21 PM
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

I.e. guitars as props might irk shred-heads but reality check... the days of instrumental music peaked a few hundred years ago i'd argue. 80s rock is a blip on the music radar compared to Doo-wop for example.

You prefer them be more literal and say "I play Ibanez Iron Label cause they look good, sounds good and Ibanez hooks me up with these and promotes us"?

Maybe the ad was unnatural because the people involved don't see the world thru the eyes of their customers and thus are "unnatural" in that regard?

Regarding the disconnect between manufacturers & consumers....

Still, a company today must be able to react (be nimble) without being reactive (chasing it's tail). Why shouldn't Fender go for new or alternate sales if they can fill a demand? Incorporate real customer feedback into R&D during product design (not after it). They would be foolish not to. This can and should happen it's just knowing how to make it all happen that we're really in the early days.
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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Originally Posted by jemsite View Post
I.e. guitars as props might irk shred-heads but reality check... the days of instrumental music peaked a few hundred years ago i'd argue. 80s rock is a blip on the music radar compared to Doo-wop for example.

You prefer them be more literal and say "I play Ibanez Iron Label cause they look good, sounds good and Ibanez hooks me up with these and promotes us"?

Maybe the ad was unnatural because the people involved don't see the world thru the eyes of their customers and thus are "unnatural" in that regard?

Regarding the disconnect between manufacturers & consumers....

Still, a company today must be able to react (be nimble) without being reactive (chasing it's tail). Why shouldn't Fender go for new or alternate sales if they can fill a demand? Incorporate real customer feedback into R&D during product design (not after it). They would be foolish not to. This can and should happen it's just knowing how to make it all happen that we're really in the early days.
1. I do not know what irks shred-heads. I think it is strange to hold an instrument on stage and not play it. A few hundred years ago (almost exactly), J.S. Bach was about to enter his prime. Nothing concerning music had peaked yet.

2. Yes! I would prefer that!

3. Fender does not get to play the R&D card. They know how to build a Telecaster and paint it different colors. Incorporating real customer feedback is a good idea, but it only goes so far. Consumers often times do not have a macro view of the market. I certainly don't! A company analyzing the data a supercomputer collected off FaceBook does not create a macro view either. From my vantage point, I see several strong companies who know what, and WHY, they are doing what they are doing. Everything else is murky.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-09-2016, 02:00 PM
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

#3 As you know, Fender offers better priced guitars built in the USA... I'm not a Fender fan/player but their success & customer value far exceeds any pointy headstock manufacturer by epic proportions.

Companies must learn how to incorporate customers/social into product research. The more the better and the sooner the better before making decisions/changes. This what dealers do for exclusive/limited runs in fact.

Fender for example knows all the variables, costs, limitations of current production (stuff we don't know) and should incorporate real feedback from customers into the equation. Again the trick is not using 100% some lame algorithm but using it proportionately with human decisions. And it's early days here again. But it's not fair to knock Fender for giving the public what it wants (Tele/Strats). You can't have it both ways.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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Originally Posted by jemsite View Post
#3 As you know, Fender offers better priced guitars built in the USA... I'm not a Fender fan/player but their success & customer value far exceeds any pointy headstock manufacturer by epic proportions.

Companies must learn how to incorporate customers/social into product research. The more the better and the sooner the better before making decisions/changes. This what dealers do for exclusive/limited runs in fact.

Fender for example knows all the variables, costs, limitations of current production (stuff we don't know) and should incorporate real feedback from customers into the equation. Again the trick is not using 100% some lame algorithm but using it proportionately with human decisions. And it's early days here again. But it's not fair to knock Fender for giving the public what it wants (Tele/Strats). You can't have it both ways.
You know what, I will give you credit where credit is due:

1. Fender is an iconic brand and the Fender Stratocaster is an iconic symbol. Fender does build guitars in the USA. Better priced? Compared to what?

2. When it comes to product research, I think Fender and Gibson are the best. (I do not like their methods) The upper echelon product lines of both companies have one thing in common: every guitar has a "date" attached with the model name. 1959 or 1956 mean nothing to me and the $8,000- $9,000 mean even less. While they were in their youth, men of a certain age had a friend whose Dad had an original 1956 Strat that "looked just like this one!" They remember that experience, perhaps they started playing the guitar because of that experience, and now, many many years later, when money is no object, they have the chance to recreate that experience from their youth. To these men (if there are any women doing the same thing with the same mentality......women are smarter than that so nevermind...) the value in the experience of using the tools their favorite guitarists used has no price tag. Gibson and Fender do not need to innovate, they need to recreate an experience. (Barrett-Jackson taught me that.)

2a. "This what dealers do for exclusive/limited runs in fact." I saw the JSART2 and it definitely gives the buyer the feeling of exclusivity. Each guitar is unique, each guitar specific documentation verifying authenticity. and there are only 77. Ibanez really makes the experience special with how they present the guitar. The limited runs Ibanez has recently done for dealers are a little different. First, I support the production of MIJ Ibanez 7 string guitars. (I'm not complicated.) However, what did Ibanez learn about their customers that has anything to do with building a better a guitar? Purple guitars are not better than green guitars, they just look different, flamed veneers look different than paint. Maple fretboards do sound a little different to the player, but you can buy a production model with a birdseye maple fretboard. Essentially, the limited run models are made to make the buyer feel special and they pay a premium for it. (This is actually a fairly big topic in the fields of psychiatry and psychology.)

3. I overheard a store owner discussing business with a Gibson rep. This was the year Gibson felt it was a good idea to change everything and raise prices 30%. Their conversation was completely unproductive for themselves, but the owner of the store actually captured what guitarists want from a guitar in one sentence: "Guitarists want a guitar that sounds good and is easy to play." As simple as that may sound, it's true and it is really hard for a manufacturer to consistently accomplish. It made even more sense within the context of the conversation because they were talking about the tuning ratios for the robotic tuners. While interesting, would anybody care if they were not a feature?

Back to Fender, if they are giving the people what they want, then I can not blame them. However, here is an example of a company building something without fully understanding why. The "EBMM truss rod wheel" as I have come to call it is becoming available in more guitars from more brands. I really like that wheel! Well, Fender is using it now. On an EBMM, you can pretty much use any small but stout hex wrench, screwdriver, metal mechanical pencil, The Force, or any number of objects that make common sense. Convenience and visual clarity are the main advantages. Fender drilled the holes too small on their wheel. Most "tools" that fit are not strong enough to move the wheel without bending and the rest are too big. The visual clarity reveals the inconvenience of the design. (I watched this all unfold by the way.) A thin steel nail would probably be the best tool for the job but the guitar does not come with one for obvious reasons. Is this a huge problem? No, it should have been noticed before the guitars were produced, but it is not life or death. Would a guitarist return 4 guitars because of it? Yes, unless it is what the people want!

That's enough for now....
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 10:11 AM
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Question Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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Fender does build guitars in the USA. Better priced? Compared to what?
Better priced compared to Ibanez for starters. For the price of a USA Strat or USA Gibson you can't get an Indonesian Prestige JEM.

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Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
1959 or 1956 mean nothing to me
That is not a problem since you're not the audience. Nor am I but i credit them for having such an audience who cares enough. Plus they take the features and put them in the US made $1200 models also. Also lets recognize people do understand concepts like neck sizes featured in certain periods (PRS uses these names for example).

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Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
They remember that experience, perhaps they started playing the guitar because of that experience, and now, many many years later, when money is no object, they have the chance to recreate that experience from their youth.
You mean like the guys buying $7,777 EVOS & UVs?

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Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
Gibson and Fender do not need to innovate, they need to recreate an experience. (Barrett-Jackson taught me that.)
They need to stay competitive in which they are. Pricing excellent, Gibson PLEK necks, compound necks, etc. Again there is only so much to innovate on the guitar sorry as boring as that is to say.

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Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
I saw the JSART2 and it definitely gives the buyer the feeling of exclusivity. Each guitar is unique, each guitar specific documentation verifying authenticity. and there are only 77. Ibanez really makes the experience special with how they present the guitar
Selling pricey artwork (adornment) to customers should not be championed though. Hero worship at it's finest.

Quote:
The limited runs Ibanez has recently done for dealers are a little different. First, I support the production of MIJ Ibanez 7 string guitars. (I'm not complicated.) However, what did Ibanez learn about their customers that has anything to do with building a better a guitar? Purple guitars are not better than green guitars, they just look different, flamed veneers look different than paint. Maple fretboards do sound a little different to the player, but you can buy a production model with a birdseye maple fretboard. Essentially, the limited run models are made to make the buyer feel special and they pay a premium for it. (This is actually a fairly big topic in the fields of psychiatry and psychology.)
Dealers always want exclusivity this is a no-brainer it drives traffice. But i don't see this as abusive to customers in fact beneficial because the dealer causes the company to color outside the lines. For example my GC exclusive SG has coil-splitting humbuckers and pull up knobs. No cost upcharge.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
3. I overheard a store owner discussing business with a Gibson rep. This was the year Gibson felt it was a good idea to change everything and raise prices 30%. Their conversation was completely unproductive for themselves, but the owner of the store actually captured what guitarists want from a guitar in one sentence: "Guitarists want a guitar that sounds good and is easy to play." As simple as that may sound, it's true and it is really hard for a manufacturer to consistently accomplish. It made even more sense within the context of the conversation because they were talking about the tuning ratios for the robotic tuners. While interesting, would anybody care if they were not a feature?
So Gibson was trying something innovative (auto-tuners available today) and you and the dealer were miffed? Innovation and "easy to play" and "sounds good" are not mutually exclusive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
Back to Fender, if they are giving the people what they want, then I can not blame them. However, here is an example of a company building something without fully understanding why. The "EBMM truss rod wheel" as I have come to call it is becoming available in more guitars from more brands. I really like that wheel! Well, Fender is using it now. On an EBMM, you can pretty much use any small but stout hex wrench, screwdriver, metal mechanical pencil, The Force, or any number of objects that make common sense. Convenience and visual clarity are the main advantages. Fender drilled the holes too small on their wheel. Most "tools" that fit are not strong enough to move the wheel without bending and the rest are too big. The visual clarity reveals the inconvenience of the design. (I watched this all unfold by the way.) A thin steel nail would probably be the best tool for the job but the guitar does not come with one for obvious reasons. Is this a huge problem? No, it should have been noticed before the guitars were produced, but it is not life or death. Would a guitarist return 4 guitars because of it? Yes, unless it is what the people want!
Are you privileged to know why Fender used that size hole though? I'd wager it was noticed and left small for a reason. Including the basic reason it might look better and works with any common tool not too big to cause a newb to cause damage. Fender probably knows what % of customers adjust the trussrod and how often (my guess is it's used very infrequently). Either way I don't put this in the "customers want it" category.

"Losing sight of the forest in the trees" or "lost in the minutia" often apply here to enthusiasts. Big picture I don't see the argument & problem myself. Sometimes less is more. While innovation often comes from demand remember innovation can be (and often is) rejected by consumers.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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Originally Posted by jemsite View Post
Quote:
Better priced compared to Ibanez for starters. For the price of a USA Strat or USA Gibson you can't get an Indonesian Prestige JEM.
No, but you can get a MIJ Ibanez Prestige RG652FXGK.

Quote:
That is not a problem since you're not the audience. Nor am I but i credit them for having such an audience who cares enough. Plus they take the features and put them in the US made $1200 models also. Also lets recognize people do understand concepts like neck sizes featured in certain periods (PRS uses these names for example).
Quote:
You mean like the guys buying $7,777 EVOS & UVs?
"I credit them for having such an audience who cares enough."

Quote:
They need to stay competitive in which they are. Pricing excellent, Gibson PLEK necks, compound necks, etc. Again there is only so much to innovate on the guitar sorry as boring as that is to say.
The amount of innovation you can apply to a guitar is exactly the same as any other instrument.

Quote:
Selling pricey artwork (adornment) to customers should not be championed though. Hero worship at it's finest.
It's not fair to knock Ibanez for giving the public what it wants (JSART1&2). I'm not sure I know how to respond to your first sentence.

Quote:
Dealers always want exclusivity this is a no-brainer it drives traffice. But i don't see this as abusive to customers in fact beneficial because the dealer causes the company to color outside the lines. For example my GC exclusive SG has coil-splitting humbuckers and pull up knobs. No cost upcharge.
Ibanez did not go out on a limb to build guitars using the same woods and colors they always use, just in different combinations.


Quote:
So Gibson was trying something innovative (auto-tuners available today) and you and the dealer were miffed? Innovation and "easy to play" and "sounds good" are not mutually exclusive.
I wasn't miffed. I understand why the dealer might have been seeing as he had to sell $1 million of Gibson inventory no one wanted.

Quote:
Are you privileged to know why Fender used that size hole though? I'd wager it was noticed and left small for a reason. Including the basic reason it might look better and works with any common tool not too big to cause a newb to cause damage. Fender probably knows what % of customers adjust the trussrod and how often (my guess is it's used very infrequently). Either way I don't put this in the "customers want it" category.
Don't wager too much.

Quote:
"Losing sight of the forest in the trees" or "lost in the minutia" often apply here to enthusiasts. Big picture I don't see the argument & problem myself. Sometimes less is more. While innovation often comes from demand remember innovation can be (and often is) rejected by consumers.
And sometimes ignorance is bliss. Enjoy it!
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 12:25 PM
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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The amount of innovation you can apply to a guitar is exactly the same as any other instrument.
Instruments are simply a tool. How do you improve the screwdriver? Wheel?

Violins haven't meaningfully improved over the last 100 years.

Acoustic & electric guitars have not improved in the past 30 years except for cost reduction and mass-production techniques.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 02:44 PM
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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Originally Posted by Formerly Given To Fly View Post
The limited runs Ibanez has recently done for dealers are a little different. First, I support the production of MIJ Ibanez 7 string guitars. (I'm not complicated.) However, what did Ibanez learn about their customers that has anything to do with building a better a guitar? Purple guitars are not better than green guitars, they just look different, flamed veneers look different than paint. Maple fretboards do sound a little different to the player, but you can buy a production model with a birdseye maple fretboard. Essentially, the limited run models are made to make the buyer feel special and they pay a premium for it. (This is actually a fairly big topic in the fields of psychiatry and psychology.)

...
Just to chime in, the dealers do get exclusivity, but we don't really get to color outside the lines. We just get to choose which crayons we want to use, within the limits and boundaries set by Japan. I'm just now starting on the prop models since [hopefully] this neck issues seems to have been resolved [after 3 years of hair pulling], so while we do get some control over which crayons to use, we can still only choose them from the box they give us. We can take the chances the factory normally wouldn't because they want to appeal to masses.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 02:53 PM
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

Exactly. I meant color outside the lines of what Hoshino wants to release to full production.

I'm not comprehending FGTF's rant or overall point but as someone who produced something tangible for 20 years now i can tell you market research is good and applying it into productions can possibly be very beneficial to company and said audience.

Last edited by jemsite; 12-10-2016 at 03:27 PM.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-10-2016, 03:21 PM
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

[I didn't comprehend it either but it was quite long and my attention deficit disorder kicked in. That's my story and I'm sticking to it]
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

LOL
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-11-2016, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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Instruments are simply a tool. How do you improve the screwdriver? Wheel?

Violins haven't meaningfully improved over the last 100 years.

Acoustic & electric guitars have not improved in the past 30 years except for cost reduction and mass-production techniques.
Screwdriver - magnetize it and add power when appropriate.

Wheel - http://koenigsegg.com/drive-inside-k...n-2-episode-5/

I won't comment on instruments yet.

Quote:
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Just to chime in, the dealers do get exclusivity, but we don't really get to color outside the lines. We just get to choose which crayons we want to use, within the limits and boundaries set by Japan. I'm just now starting on the prop models since [hopefully] this neck issues seems to have been resolved [after 3 years of hair pulling], so while we do get some control over which crayons to use, we can still only choose them from the box they give us. We can take the chances the factory normally wouldn't because they want to appeal to masses.
I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I hope they give you their biggest and best box of crayons to work with! Out of curiosity, why did it take Ibanez 3 years to sort out the "neck issues?" Did they consider them to be "issues?" You do not need to answer those questions, but I get the impression this was not a problem that needed 3 years to solve. Speaking of neck issues, would carbon fiber reinforcement work on Ibanez necks to the point there would be no need for a truss rod?
http://geminimusical.com/carbon-fibe...-neck-beam.asp
http://geminimusical.com/carbon-fibe...forcements.asp
I doubt this is a color in the Ibanez "box crayons," but maybe it should be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jemsite View Post
Exactly. I meant color outside the lines of what Hoshino wants to release to full production.

I'm not comprehending FGTF's rant or overall point but as someone who produced something tangible for 20 years now i can tell you market research is good and applying it into productions can possibly be very beneficial to company and said audience.
I do not blame you. I think I just needed to yell at the internet for a little while. Jemsite is a safe place to do it.
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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You know what, I will give you credit where credit is due:

1. Fender is an iconic brand and the Fender Stratocaster is an iconic symbol. Fender does build guitars in the USA. Better priced? Compared to what?
I'll say this for Fender (and disclaimer, my first love was a USA Strat) - they've been KILLING it lately, especially in comparison to the "other" USA game in town. A Fender American Standard Strat can be had for $1100 most places, a hundred bucks cheaper than a RG655, which appears to be what the iconic 550 is called these days. They've done some pretty creative things with robotics in the build and finish process that's kept labor costs down and quality consistent - I've been pretty consistently impressed with the new Strats, American AND Mexican, I've picked up in shops lately. They've preserved tradition while making some sensible improvements - keeping the "traditional" bent saddle, but integrating it on to a two point trem or rolled neck edges on thhe USA Standards, for example, and the fact the new American Deluxe guitars now come with multi-radius boards. And where they HAVE gotten pretty tech-y, such as the American Deluxes with the wiring cards you can swap in and out, they've done it as an option and not something on all models (ahem, robotic tuners).

Strat pricing has been remarkably stable in the last 20 years while a lot of companies have gone up quite a lot, they've made some really sensible design choices, and overall their fit and finish has been excellent - I think the modern strats they're producing today are quite a bit nicer than what they were building back in the 90s when I bought mine, and even those were really pretty good. You may not like their spec choices - singlecoil pickups and non-locking trems aren't for everyone, and I totally get that - but the quality of what they're producing has been stepped up, and the pricing is essentially flat from 20 years ago. Whoever is running that company is doing a damned good job of it.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 12-12-2016, 02:15 PM
 
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Re: Guitar Companies and Market Research

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Speaking of neck issues, would carbon fiber reinforcement work on Ibanez necks to the point there would be no need for a truss rod?
http://geminimusical.com/carbon-fibe...-neck-beam.asp
http://geminimusical.com/carbon-fibe...forcements.asp
I doubt this is a color in the Ibanez "box crayons," but maybe it should be.
Nowhere close to a scientific sample, but I probably wouldn't want that in a guitar. I've tended to prefer the sound of guitars with MORE mass in their necks, and while I'd certainly give it a try, an ultra-light neck would have me a little concerned about sustain and resonance.
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