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The Fender Death Spiral Continues


Searcy

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http://www.vintageguitar.com/19760/fender-sells-ovation-brand-to-drum-workshop/

 

 

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) announced today that its subsidiary KMC Music, Inc. has sold its Ovation guitar brand along with all of its percussion brands, including Gretsch Drums and Gibraltar Hardware, to Drum Workshop, Inc., the manufacturer of DW drums, hardware, and accessories.

 

“We are extremely proud of our team’s effort to nurture and grow each of the individual brands and are enthusiastic for their future,” said FMIC’s interim CEO and board member Scott Gilbertson. “We recognize the strategic opportunity for DW and are confident that they will be champions of the brands moving forward.”

 

“This is an amazing opportunity to extend our passion and commitment for the art of drumming,” said Chris Lombardi, CEO of Drum Workshop, Inc. “We’re excited to welcome these legendary American brands to the DW family.”

 

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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“We are extremely proud of our team’s effort to nurture and grow each of the individual brands and are enthusiastic for their future,” said FMIC’s interim CEO and board member Scott Gilbertson.

 

WTF? If the Fender team's effort was so praiseworthy, why sell?

 

Or maybe this is what he really means: "Our percussion team made every effort to nurture and grow each of the individual brands, but ultimately was not successful. Today we unloaded a dead albatross."

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Gretsch are my favorite drum maker still making drums (Rogers is my all time favorite). My old drummer had an early 2000s jazz fusion kit by them. Amazing tone and she was loud. I hope DW honors their long history and does not do anything foolish with the brand. I fully admit that I know very little about DW so it could be worry over nothing.

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Last I knew, Fender was SO leveraged there was no where to go but down...and things are down.

 

Typical invester story...buy company, build up company, sell for top dollar. They are in beyond top-dollar-make-the-payments mode.

 

To me, it sure looks like a LOT like CBS Fender, in that the quality/specifications are kinda going downhill but nobody is noticing yet.

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Gretsch are my favorite drum maker still making drums (Rogers is my all time favorite). My old drummer had an early 2000s jazz fusion kit by them. Amazing tone and she was loud. I hope DW honors their long history and does not do anything foolish with the brand. I fully admit that I know very little about DW so it could be worry over nothing.

Drummers who are gear heads know DW.

 

As far as quality goes, DW are considered the top-tier. They know their stuff.

 

I don't know who owns DW know or what else they might own, but if they are the same company, I would expect they would be the best hope for Gretsch drums.

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To me, it sure looks like a LOT like CBS Fender, in that the quality/specifications are kinda going downhill but nobody is noticing yet.

Well I don't play drums much anymore and haven't owned a kit since the mid 80s so I'm not up to date on gretsch drums.

I have bought 2 Strats, a Tele and 3 Gretsch guitars in the last few years and they are all amazing instruments and some of best I've ever played. If the quality is trending down I've yet to see it.

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Last I knew, Fender was SO leveraged there was no where to go but down...and things are down.

 

Typical invester story...buy company, build up company, sell for top dollar. They are in beyond top-dollar-make-the-payments mode.

 

To me, it sure looks like a LOT like CBS Fender, in that the quality/specifications are kinda going downhill but nobody is noticing yet.

 

The only difference now is that Fender has bought companies, trashed them, then fire saled them in an effort to try to make the books look better as they are probably going to borrow a crapload more for operations by debt/equity swapping or try and fail to go public again. They did nothing with Ovation but buy it and close the Connecticut factory. I don't know what they did with the drum stuff.

 

The business is in a very strange place. Sales that are generally in numbers that couldn't even be dreamed of just thirty years ago, but with that comes a saturation nobody ever predicted. Every block on every street in every town in America has at least a Squier and probably a couple Fenders. It just wasn't like that when I was a kid, I was probably the only teenager for several miles with a couple Fenders and Gibsons.

 

It is a strange and frightening world.

 

rct

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Well I don't play drums much anymore and haven't owned a kit since the mid 80s so I'm not up to date on gretsch drums.

I have bought 2 Strats, a Tele and 3 Gretsch guitars in the last few years and they are all amazing instruments and some of best I've ever played. If the quality is trending down I've yet to see it.

I think "trending down" might be the operative at work.

 

They ARE still making good stuff, and if I personally needed another Fender, I might very well end up with one, but more likely an older one. I would be trying them all.

 

The "trending down" part is first in the reissues: they are looking less like "real" from across the room than what they were previously achieving. That part is in the details, which is really where you would find it. What is the fun in buying a reissue of whatever year or type if it is less like it than another "reissue"?

 

It has always been more or less easy to tell a reissue from Fender from the real thing, but in the past, they were getting closer and closer. The fact they are getting further away is maybe an indication they don't care, or don't know.

 

The American Standards, to me, are looking good, real good, but as good as ever? To me, it looks like they are starting to get a little messy in the finish, a little thick. I don't think that's a problem, but rather an indication they are getting used to building what they are building. Now, if they were PERFECT, or noteworthy as a particular era or type, that would be more promising. But what they are now is a comprimise of various years. Not the best of this, or the best of that.

 

All this leads me to think that what they are loosing is KNOWLEDGE, or a leadership base that's hungry to make them "better" either moving forward or backward, and/or wanting to collect knowledge on how to do it. On the other hand, the company is so leveraged and has payments so high that they NEED to make as much money as they can and as much guitars as they can.

 

An honest test: If you had a time machine, or could look into the future, if you could buy any NEW Fender, say, a 90's American Standard, a 2000, or a 2015, which do you think would turn your crank a little more?

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Modern business practices and art (hand crafting a guitar) just don't mix very well. It seems there are some corporate guys at Fender that have ideas about finance and buying/selling companies that just don't relate very well to the musicians idea of what a guitar is all about.

 

I have limited experience with Fender guitars, having owned 2 strats and a Tele in my life. All were functional instruments (although pretty noisy)but I don't think I ever paid more than about $450 for any of them. Probably the most functional one is the Tele that I still own, MIM, and paid $300 for new (less $100 coupon - so net $200).

 

My hearing isn't what it used to be years ago, but I can't hear much difference between that $300 guitar and the same model made in USA for $1500.

 

If I thought I really wanted a well made solid body with single coils and was willing to shell out $1500 to $2000 for it, I would proabably buy a G&L.

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I've always had a problem with Fenders, the short neck radius. Of course that has nothing to do with their current problems.

 

I've always wanted a Strat though, I like the shape and the SC pickup sound.

 

I ended up with Parkers, which I think are much better than Fenders:

 

NN01_2Parkers.jpg

 

There are a lot of other fine guitar companies making Fender-style guitars out there. Perhaps it's time for more people to consider something other than Fender or Gibson.

 

Notes

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From the point of view of DW, it's a great, great deal; they now have the Gretsch drums name and the old 1940s Gretsch kits are the holy grail for many drummers.

Then there is Ovation - again from the production point of view, a drum company could make that bowl-back type of guitar very well indeed.

So it might even mean a relaunch of the Ovation brand at some point.

 

I don't think Fender will go down.

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Drummers who are gear heads know DW.

 

As far as quality goes, DW are considered the top-tier. They know their stuff.

 

True. Neil Peart & Abe Laboriel to name two. DW is at the forefront of drum/percussion technology and this may actually be in Gretsch's best interests.

 

 

Modern business practices and art (hand crafting a guitar) just don't mix very well. It seems there are some corporate guys at Fender that have ideas about finance and buying/selling companies that just don't relate very well to the musicians idea of what a guitar is all about.

 

Sounds dishearteningly like the CBS-era.

 

I have limited experience with Fender guitars, having owned 2 strats and a Tele in my life. All were functional instruments (although pretty noisy)but I don't think I ever paid more than about $450 for any of them. Probably the most functional one is the Tele that I still own, MIM, and paid $300 for new (less $100 coupon - so net $200).

 

My hearing isn't what it used to be years ago, but I can't hear much difference between that $300 guitar and the same model made in USA for $1500.

 

If I thought I really wanted a well made solid body with single coils and was willing to shell out $1500 to $2000 for it, I would proabably buy a G&L.

 

I'm not much of a Fender guy, though I've had a number of them over the years. Currently own two Stats. A pretty hot-rodded Flamed Maple Cherry Burst 2009. Tremolo is blocked off on that one. And I recently built what the "Fender-benders" would call a "partscaster."

 

Bought the body & neck from a couple of sellers on ebay & threw in some stuff I had in the parts bin. Bought a set of Lace Sensor Gold single coils (got a GREAT deal on Amazon back around Thanksgiving). Now I've got a really nice 2TSB American Strat for right around $400. Of course Fender didn't assemble it, but so what? It's equipped the way I want it (master tone/master volume, Tele neck, etc), but everybody who's played it has fallen in love with the feel & the sound. Kinda proud that I ended up with such a nice guitar by being such a cheapskate! [thumbup]

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