Fender Planning Direct Sales

Dan Ferrisi, writing for the Music & Sound Retailer:

The Music & Sound Retailer has been made aware of major news from Fender Musical Instruments Corp., the iconic brand located in Scottsdale AZ. The Retailer has learned that, although no specific timetable has been established, the company is preparing plans to sell its “Fender” brand products direct. This development was first announced the week of August 4 when Fender held a two-day business meeting with key North American dealers at the Fender Visitor Center in Corona CA. The company’s Interim CEO, Scott Gilbertson, and other members of the executive management team discussed the company’s strategic initiatives, which are intended to elevate the Fender brand.

[…]

The company announced it is building capabilities to offer its full product catalog through its Web site, calling this change an effort to meet the demands and desires of the modern consumer. Fender also announced a series of digital initiatives focused on enhancing the dealer’s customer relationship-management capabilities and sales-effectiveness tools.

If true, this is a really interesting and surprising turn for Fender. As more and more guitar buyers buy online, the brick and mortar dealers are getting squeezed out.

But, if the majority of people no longer need to play a guitar before purchasing it, I can see why Fender would like to cut out the middle man and increase their bottom line. That being said, they have to walk a fine line not to alienate the dealers they do have. The brick and mortar stores are going to have a hard time competing.

The article also includes this comment from interim CEO Scott Gilbertson:

“By investing in digital capabilities and elevating our consumer experience around our brand, products and services, we expect to drive increased engagement, emotional affiliation and consumer demand,” said Gilbertson. “We believe our strategy will accrue significant benefits across all aspects of our dealer base.”

If that doesn’t inspire you to pick up a guitar and make music and art, I don’t know what will!

Posted in: Guitars

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7 Tips for Buying and Selling on Craigslist

I’ve sold dozens and dozens of items on Craigslist, from small items like electronics to larger items like couches, and, of course, quite a few guitars, pedals, and amps. Dealing with people on Craigslist can be a little stressful, and I’ve amassed a few tips that I employ to make doing Craigslist deals a little easier.

1) Meet in public whenever possible – This is probably the most important tip I can provide. If you’re selling a large piece of furniture, it may be necessary to have people come to your house (and I would only recommend doing this after you’ve had a chance to speak with the person on the phone). However, in almost every other instance, I would recommend finding a public, well-lit, well-traveled place where you can meet to do the deal. I’ve done deals at my office, at local restaurants, and at the local Guitar Center. Basically, I try to find a place that I feel comfortable at and that has a good amount of foot traffic.

2) Take good pictures – If you’re selling something on Craigslist, it’s worth the time to take a few good pictures of the item. They don’t have to be professional quality, but you should be able to get a good feel for the item from the pictures. Make sure there’s enough lighting, and you should try to get a few angles of the item. For guitars, I try to take a picture of different angles of the guitar and include any accessories, such as cases, etc.

3) Do your research before you meet – Whether you are buying or selling, make sure you know the value of the item before you meet someone. If you’re selling an item, you should obviously do this research before listing the item. I tend to price an item just slightly higher than I want to sell it at, because 90 percent of the time the buyer will want to negotiate with you. If I’m buying something, I do my research and offer a fair price for the item based on what it’s selling for on other Craigslist listings and on eBay. This way, we both know the price before we meet so there’s no confusion.

4) Negotiate before meeting – If I’m buying an item, as a matter of courtesy, I always negotiate the price prior to meeting. I’ve had some people who have come to see an item and try to negotiate price at that time. Usually, these people are low-ballers, and I’ve generally found this to be a waste of both of our times. I find it best to get the money situation out of the way up front, which makes the meeting a little less stressful.

5) Bring a counterfeit-detection pen – This is a slightly less obvious tip that I’ve found to be a great way to ensure that I’m not being ripped off. You can get counterfeit-detection pens at most office supply stores, and they are fairly cheap and easy to use. So far, no one has been offended at me using it, and one guy indicated that he’ll be doing it in his deals in the future.

6) Never ship or accept PayPal* – Craigslist is getting better at stopping spam and scams, but there are inevitably a few that will get through. It’s often easy to tell, because the email will never actually mention the item that you’ll selling. If someone emails you and asks you to ship the item, be very cautious. It could be a legitimate offer, but it adds an extra level of complexity that I’d rather not deal with.

* I’ve heard of some people accepting PayPal and not having any issues. However, I stick to a cash-only Craigslist philosophy.

7) If a deal feels fishy, don’t do it – This one is perhaps an obvious one, but if at any point you get a weird feeling about a deal, don’t go through with it.

By following these tips, you can help make doing Craigslist deals a little safer for both sides.

Let me know if you have any other tips to add to this list.

Posted in: General

CONTEST: Win a Copy of The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated History of the Guitar that Changed Rock

Update: Congratulations to Peter M. for winning this contest! Thanks to all who entered.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a book titled The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated History of the Guitar that Changed Rock. The book includes a generous helping of artist profiles, Les Paul history, and great pictures, and I enjoyed it. The publisher, Voyageur Press, has kindly offered to give a copy of the book away to a lucky Guitar Lifestyle reader.

To enter win the book, all you have to do is fill out the form below.

Contest details:

* Contest is limited to US and Canada residents.

* Contest will run until midnight EST on 8/2/2014.

* Winner must provide valid email address and must be willing to provide valid mailing address in US or Canada if chosen.

* Winner will be selected at random and notified sometime on 8/3/2014.

Good luck!

Les Paul Book Contest

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Vintage Guitars

I think we are in an age where some of the finest, most consistent guitars are being made both in factories and by individual makers. For this reason, while I’ve thought vintage guitars were intriguing, I’ve never really bought into the hype that they are worth, in some cases, 100 times more than a new guitar of “equal” specs.

The truth is, though, I had never played any truly vintage guitars until recently. I’ve now played a few vintage guitars, and I realize that there’s a little more to it than hype.

What I’ve found is that there does appear to be something special about a good vintage guitar. I played through a couple of examples from Gibson and Fender and was surprised about how they felt. It’s hard to put into words exactly what was different about them, but there’s definitely something about them, whether it’s vibe or wood that has aged or something else. It’s probably a lot of things.

To give a specific example, I was able to play a 1963 Strat that was really beat up, with various modifications. The body looked like it had been dragged behind a car. However, the neck felt better than any neck I’ve ever played before. It was well worn and extremely comfortable. The body was very resonant and had a nice attack to it. There are some guitars that when you play them just feel right. This guitar was like that.

That’s not to say that all vintage guitars are great. There are certainly some duds, just like there are some duds being made today. When I was playing the Strat a few weeks ago, I also played through about five different 50s era Telecasters. I didn’t like any of them. One was very heavy, and the rest just lacked whatever it was that the Strat had.

However, when you find a good one, there’s a little extra vibe to them that new guitars don’t seem to have. Again, it’s hard to explain what it is. There’s also something special about playing a guitar that has a lot of history. It’s fun to imagine where the guitar has been and what stories it could tell.

Unfortunately, most vintage instruments are priced out of the range of normal people. It’s hard to find a 60s Strat or a 50s Telecaster that is below $10,000, and you certainly aren’t going to find a vintage Les Paul that regular players can afford.

For that reason, I’m glad that the factories and boutique builders of today are producing such high quality instruments at relatively low prices making them accessible to most of us. Even the import guitars are much better than they were just 10 or 15 years ago. There are nice guitars being made at just about any price point.

However, if you ever have a chance to play a vintage guitar, I think you’ll find what I’ve found: No matter how nice a new guitar is, there’s a vibe and feeling in a good vintage guitar that a new guitar can’t replicate.

Posted in: General

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Capo Touch

Capo is my favorite music slow downer application, and developer Chris Liscio has released a new version of the app for both Mac and iOS. If you’re not familiar with this type of app, it allows you to slow down music from your iTunes library without changing pitch, which is very helpful when trying to learn a song.

What I like about Capo is its clean, beautiful design and its feature set. The new version of Capo for iOS, called Capo touch, features Chord Intelligence, which is a feature that attempts to automatically detect and display the chords being played in a song.

Here are the details of the new release:

Capo touch features Chord Intelligence—now also available on the Mac with Capo 3.1—that delivers improved chord detection accuracy and a wider chord detection vocabulary.

What’s New in Capo touch?

  • Fully automatic chord detection with Capo’s brand new Chord Intelligence engine
  • Guitar chord box display with quick selection of alternate ways to play a chord
  • Automatic beat detection with bar/beat display for easy region looping and metronome count-off for practice
  • Seamless integration with iTunes to access your music library
  • Landscape view, easy scrolling, touch zooming, and other user interface improvements
  • Independent speed and pitch controls to listen to fast licks slowly or change the key of any song
  • Excellent sound quality even when played considerably slower
  • iCloud Sync between all your devices (Mac and iOS)

Posted in: General

Summer NAMM 2014: Hogjim Pik Tik Guitar Pick Holder

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the interesting new products I saw at Summer NAMM this past week was a product by Hogjim called the Pik Tik:

Hogjim’s Pik Tik is a patented pick holder that allows a guitarist to seamlessly transition between fingerpicking and strumming.   The Pik Tik adheres to the guitar pick guard by suction, allowing a pick to be held perpendicular to the guitar’s surface.  Whether you insert the pick one millimeter or the full five millimeters, it will remain secure.  The Pik Tik can be removed after playing or remain on the guitar as a pick holder; either way it will not damage the surface.

With the ability to improve a guitarist’s skill set, the Pik Tik is both practical and functional.  It offers a quick and easy way to master the technique of transitioning from finger-style to flat-picking. This skill, which previously took years to master, can now be learned in a matter of days.

It’s an interesting concept that could prove to be very useful to players who frequently change between fingerpicking and playing with a pick. The device easily suctions onto a guitar’s pick guard and provides a place to put your pick when you want to play finger style.

The Pik Tik is normally $9.99, but they’re offering a NAMM show discount of 20% using the code NAMM2014 if you purchase directly from Hogjim.

Posted in: Accessories, NAMM

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Joe Bonamassa “Different Shades of Blue”

Joe Bonamassa has released details about his upcoming album, which is titled Different Shades of Blue, and he has also released the first video for the album:

The album will be released on September 23 and will feature all original material:

“It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the writing on an entire album. So I decided I wanted to make a completely original blues album,” said Bonamassa.

“I’ve really had to push myself to make everything I do better than the last project. I know the fans expect it. And I feel like I owe it to the fans to give them an original record after all these years.”

Posted in: Artist News, Videos

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Wampler Pedals Podcast

Last month, Wampler Pedals introduced a podcast titled Chasing Tone. The podcast features Wampler employees Travis and Max along with founder Brian Wampler discussing pedals and guitar tone in general.

There are currently four episodes. Episode 1 covers overdrive, distortion and fuzz. Episode 2 covers pedal order and effects loops. Episode 3 covers true bypass vs buffered bypass. Episode 4 covers vintage gear.

I’m really enjoying the show and have learned some stuff along the way. If you’re interested in guitar tone, I think you’ll enjoy the podcast, too.

Posted in: General

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Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan

SRVLaunch

This past month, the Grammy Museum unveiled an exhibit honoring Stevie Ray Vaughan titled Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimmie Vaughan curated the exhibit:

“I’m excited to partner with The GRAMMY Museum to honor my brother and his music,” said Jimmie Vaughan. “I know Stevie’s many fans will enjoy this exhibit, as many of his personal, never-before-seen items will be on display.  I hope by doing this, it will remind people of the incredible musician he was and all the music and love he gave to the world.  I miss him every day.”

The exhibit will feature several guitars, including SRV’s “Number One” Strat. If you missed it when it was on display in Texas, you now have another chance to see it. Also displayed are some of Vaughan’s stage outfits, including his Indian headdress, handwritten lyrics, and more. The exhibit will run through July 2015.

 

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Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive

Seymour Duncan have created an interesting new overdrive pedal called the 805 Overdrive:

The Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive pedal is designed using the same chip as in the legendary 808, but with an expanded gain range and an active 3-band EQ that isn’t common on overdrives. It’s so versatile that you can use it for a smooth, lyrical bluesy overdrive one minute and a modern metal crunch the next. We started with the classic overdrive tones we all know and love but we tightened up the bottom end and added more sparkle in the highs as well as more detailed note articulation. Whether you’re after ringing cleans, a subtle boost, fat crunch, or even screaming sustaining solo tones, it’s all in there. And unlike other overdrives that become thin when you refine the gain, the 805′s 3-band active EQ lets you take back control over the low end while also fine-tuning the mids and highs.

The 805 Overdrive can be used to give your sound a boost with full overtones or to provide harmonically rich heavy gain with warm tube character. It’s extensively developed and refined to be the perfect overdrive for pushing the front end of an already distorted amp, giving you plenty of output and tone-shaping capability whether you play hard rock, prog, metal, djent or whatever other heavy styles you’d like to throw at it. Whether you’re running it into a clean channel or an utterly angry one, the sound remains natural and responsive. Like the Dirty Deed and Vapor Trail, the 805 is assembled at the Seymour Duncan Factory in Santa Barbara, California and is true-bypass.

Here is the pedal in action:

Posted in: Effects