Whatever happened to the Galaxie 2?

It’s a question I never EVER hear.  Never.  Ever.  I can’t remember the last time someone asked that.  It’s been years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought for sure the Galaxie 2 would be the model that took off, it was cheaper than the Galaxie 4, and didn’t have that four pickup weirdness going on that the guitar world still has a hard time wrapping it’s head around.

And yet here it is, 15 years later, and the Los Straitjacket Galaxie is far and away our best selling instrument, while the Galaxie 2 has not been available  for over 8 years.

There is a very specific asethetic going on with four pickup guitars.  If you thing I’m overstating things, have a look for yourself:

http://www.pinterest.com/dipintogutiars/4-pickup-guitars/

The thing that really stands out, I think, is that these guitars really stand out. They are all made to grab whatever attention they can get.  They are not plain, they are not guitars for standing on the sidelines with.

And then there is the time frame that these guitars represent.  All of these guitars were made in the 60′s or early 70′s.  Except the Galaxie. I searched high and low for another  a four pickup guitar currently on the market, or something from the recent past. (if you know of any, let us know!)  Even though retro style guitars are making a comeback these days, four pickups still seems too way out there, and no other company has produced one.

When we first exhibited the Galaxie 4 at NAMM there was a lot of eye rolling, a lot of pointing and laughing, but then we started working with Los Straitjackets, and they were drawn to the model like moths to flame.

And the Galaxie 2?  It’s redesigned and ready for a comeback.  Look for it this summer!

 

Snowflakes

Snowflakes…no two are alike.  No two fingerprints, no two people. We’re all special snowflakes, right? And no two guitars are exactly alike either.  Isn’t that what makes your favorite guitar(s) great?

OK, so maybe what makes it great is the bridge pickup, or that it’s lightweight, or it stays in tune and the action is perfect.  But you could transfer all those features to another guitar, the exact same model, the exact same year, and it would not be the same.

When you think about it like that, it’s not suprising that these snowflake-like items stubbornly resist assimilation into a Walmart-like big-box driven retail environment.   Guitar Center is having a tough time.  Making commodities of musical instruments has not been as clear-cut as they had hoped, and it hasn’t  been very profitable for Guitar Center and their Bain Capital overlords.  The company has seen shrinking profits and a downgraded credit rating since the venture capital company took it over.  This article spells it out pretty clearly:

http://www.ericgarland.co/2013/11/26/guitar-center-big-box-retail/

I guess it all comes down to money. (doesn’t it always?)  The big box model is concerned only with the bottom line, and they make the assumption that the customer is as well.  But I don’t think that’s true.  Most players pour their heart and soul into their guitars.  Why would you buy an item like that from  a place that has no heart and soul?

Here’s your snowflake- have a great holiday!

 

She’s a beauty!

I’m old enough to remember when the first woman reporter was allowed into the locker room after a game.  I was a little kid and I didn’t like sports,  I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.  Now I’m wondering if the guitar world might need a little moment like that of it’s own.

A few months ago I stumbled across an ad in Vintage Guitar Magazine that   I am still very confused about.  The names have been blacked out  so as to give the company a chance to maybe rethink their advertising strategy/not give any bump to this advertising strategy.  (If you’re curious, go buy the magazine!)

When it comes to allegations of sexism in the guitar & musical instrument industry, I tend to take it with a grain of salt.  I’m not sure if I’m up-in-arms exactly,  like I said, I find this confusing:

Would you really put your amp (or your girlfriend) in an industrial sink to ‘clean her up’?

I understand that guys like to call their cars, boats, guitars, and whatever other expensive items that they may covet ‘she’, and I don’t have a problem with that.  I bet there’s mountains of feminist writing that deals with that topic, I tend to think of it a weird, but not offensive (on the flip side, I can’t think of one thing that women would refer to, endearingly, as ‘he’ besides an actual male person)   But this I think, carries the metaphor a little too far.  Am I right?  What do you think? Go ahead-answer in comments!

As I look through the pages of various Guitar/Musical Instrument trade magazines,  I can’t help but notice that its all  white male faces.  Men that own companies, run companies, run sales divisions, and of course, run marketing departments.  All this seems to turn into an industry run by men for men.  I’m not saying it’s wrong (OK, maybe just a little), I think my big point here, one that I’ve pointed out before,  is that it’s an industry that just can’t seem to relate to women. Maybe this is just a guys club here,  like death-metal, it’s an environment created to keep women out.   Opening up the locker room didn’t ruin professional sports, it’s not going to ruin guitars.

How to start a guitar company

Back in March I made my family cut our spring break vacation a few days short so I could make it to a rock show.  Cause I’m that devoted. The show in question was Redd Kross and it was totally worth it.

They played all the hits,  and some songs from their new album (which is awesome).  In the between-song banter Jeff McDonald mentioned that they hadn’t played in Philly in 15 years, and  mid set he put away his oddball Guild and pulled out a no-name parts-guitar  with a sparkly gold strat body.  People respond to a sparkly guitar, that’s something we know pretty well here and DiPinto.  He definitely got a reaction from the crowd, and I’m guessing he did every night.  And maybe that’s what prompted him to say tell the audience that if they liked the guitar, they could soon buy their own, ‘Check our facebook page’, he said,’ I’ll be putting all the details of my new guitar company up soon.’  I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. When I got home I did check their facebook page just to make sure.

It made me think of every conversation I’d ever had with someone who wants to have their own guitar company, it goes like this, someone asks; Do you think I should start my own guitar company? And to  that I have two answers 1.  No. 2.  Are you sure you really want to?

It’s totally unfair that I spend most of my days at work mired in banking and accounts payable.  There is a lot of fun stuff that happens here, but a lot of boring business things that need to be taken care of.  The lights need to stay on, that’s always  the first challenge. Then the second is coming up with the awesomest new guitar design, the third is getting that design made, marketed and in the hands of amazing players who can show it off.  That can be the most daunting of all.  I always used to think of advertising as the enemy (thank you punk-rock) but now I realize that if you don’t get your message out, you don’t exist.  We can make the most amazing sparkly or chrome plated guitar in the world, but there’s no point if we can’t convince guitar players that this is the guitar for them.

Can you figure out what you’re looking at? It’s mightily awesome.

Marketing is hard work and not always fun but we are finally getting the hang of it…keep an eye out for us in the future and you will see lots of great new additions to the DiPinto roster including Adam from THE WAR ON DRUGS, Ricky Byrd, Original guitarist for JOAN JETT, Nick Anderson IMPERIAL STATE ELECTIC, Nels Kline and lots more!!!

DIY

The guitar company PRS is the namesake of its founder, Paul Reed Smith.  Not too long ago I  watched a video of him doing a TED talk about his life’s journey building guitars and whatnot.  I figured there might  be a little overlap in his company’s story and ours.

I have trouble watching those TED talks, with their busy editing and the blow-your-mind punch line designed to make you feel like you’ve been living your life all wrong up until now.  To his credit, Mr. Reed Smith did not try to blow my mind. He gave some down-home aww-shucks advice on how to get on in life, and then played a pretty good star spangled banner (I hope that was not supposed to blow my mind….sorry, but I’m surrounded by great guitar players).

No, the real zinger for me came less than a minute into the talk when he blurted out that to start the company he formed a limited partnership because that’s the only way a hippie like himself could raise a half a million dollars.

That was a bolt of lightning. ‘So that’s how you’re supposed to do it’ I thought.  Because that is totally not how we did it.  Chris and I did not raise a half a million dollars to start a company. We did not even really think about starting anything, Chris just wanted to work on guitars all day, and I wanted to do something else besides work at my crappy job.

There was a small amount of money left over from Chris’s  college fund, and an even smaller amount of money that I saved up at the crappy job I had just quit.  That’s what we used that to “start” our company.

We had no plan, did not know at all what we were doing, and had to figure everything out on the fly.  It was the mid  90′s. In keeping with the indie-rock, post-punk times, we were, a D-I-Y guitar company.

It’s all come full circle now, and I can totally see the value in starting off with money and a plan. There are definite drawbacks to living in our little boutique, niche of the guitar market.  It’s a question of scale, it’s hard for us to afford advertising in a market that’s geared towards PRS-sized companies.  And without advertising, no one knows who we are, and so we remain a small company.

While I may be too old now to be a punk kid, maintaining the do-it-yourself ethos has worked out alright for us.  Chris gets to work with guitars all day long, and I never work more than 30 hours a week and I even get to sleep in sometimes. The bills still get paid, the inventory comes in and goes out and the company hums along. Every now and then I think that maybe our time has come, and  we should so something conventional, like form a limited partnership with someone who can really invest in the company, but that’s an awful lot of responsibility and I’m still not sure if I’m ready to grow up just yet.

See Paul Reed Smith’s TED talk:

Tis the season to think about retail sales

I was going to start this off like the first Lord of the Rings movie, with a heavy-handed monologue about how the world is changing, and how much that once was is lost….it’s true, but it seemed a little much.

Still,  I am going to reference not one, but THREE science fiction/fantasy movies in this post, why you ask? Mostly because it’s a fun device and I’m a bit a of a science fiction nerd, but also it illustrates a point that is along the whole ‘future is now’ kinda thing.  The world of retail these days sometimes feels like it’s straight outta Brazil (and that’s the movie not the country, so there’s a fourth reference.)

As the one who handles all the complicated yet-non-guitar-oriented problems, I have to deal with our own form of the Matrix. Any wholesaler  in the current retail environment has to deal with them: Fulfillment Systems.  What is a fulfillment system?  Well in a nutshell, it’s a way to take all the personal interaction out of making sales.

Think of any big-box, or catalog merchandiser, and they all use fulfillment systems, Amazon, Musician’s Friend, Guitar Center, Best Buy, and they can be very useful.

No one is immune, we are all part of the machine.

So this holiday season, when all the ads and graphics depict happy shoppers bustling through stores and being out in the world, a lot of what is  really happening is this:

We get the purchase orders,
We fulfill the purchase orders,
We provide shipping information (tracking numbers)
We get paid.

It sounds great, and sometimes it works just fine, but a lot of times it doesn’t.  A lot of times I’ll get an order from Musician’s friend for guitars they want shipped in 3 months time. When I want to explain to someone that we won’t have them in 3 months time, but I can ship them now, I can’t get that message across. I don’t know how to talk to the system.

Have you seen  that anime movie Akira? I haven’t seen it for a long long time, and I don’t remember much of it, but there ‘s a line in there that sticks in my head, when this spooky old guy whispers ominously it has already begun.  And the main characters stare off in wonder at the realization that this thing cannot be stopped. It sticks with me because there’s some universal truth in there that you see in real life every now and then. In so many big large systems, you never realize the full implication of implementing that system  until it’s too late to shut it down.  Can you imagine a life without Amazon?  Maybe you can, but it would be terribly inconvenient.  it has already begun.

The thing is, that by and large, we like our customers, we like to interact with them.  Store owner and players, we have a lot in common with them, and taking that out of the mix seems like a loss for everyone.

It’s a wierd time right now for retail, and I imagine it will be some time before the dust finally settles and consumers decide what kind of retail experience they want.  We are partial to the cluttered, quirky guitar shops and hope you are too. (they tend to be the ones that carry our guitars) Think about them when you do your holiday shopping this year, if you like the human beings that work there, stop by and let them know. You might pay a little more, but think of it as investment into keeping the Matrix at bay.

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A special thanks to some nice young men working the counter at Guitar Center, sorry I forgot your names, but here’s a link to my Esty page:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/BookGurl 

 

Marketing/know your audience

About a year ago I was in a business class sponsored by the SBA with a bunch of other established small business owners. There were a lot of contractors and consultants and a few other manufacturers.  One week our assignment was to bring in our marketing materials for the class to critique, and rate.  I was sooooo sure I was gonna take the prize on this one, at DiPinto Guitars we have glossy catalogs, stickers, postcards, a pretty groovy website. We got picks and t-shirts and posters.  All of which I design and implement.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Not only did I not get in the top 3 spots, I got roundly criticised, mostly for this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, so I forget that sometimes that not everyone has a sense of irony…?  You guys get it, right? (answer in the comments section)

I have to say I was surprised how the room turned on me; it was “mean and spiteful”, “lack of color made it look to simplistic”, “it wasn’t a direct call to action”, “doesn’t really advertise anything” and so on.  I think it’s funny, and I think it does advertise something.

I’m not saying my classmates were wrong, but perhaps they didn’t give me the befit of the doubt on knowing what message our audience would be receptive to.  There’s something about this campaign that only speaks to those who are already clued in.

 

My co-worker, Brian  has said once or twice that if you remember the 90′s you weren’t there.  Not entirely true, I remember bits and pieces of it. Like that time Chris and I went to see Big Chief at the Troc and this band no one ever heard of, Stone Temple Pilots, opened up. Chris even remembers the guitar  player falling on his ass on stage.

But I must have noticed some other stuff too. Like this:

 

 

 

 

and this:

 

 

 

 

All of this obviously made an impression on me, and it obviously stuck too. So, I’m hoping you all think like me and this message will stick with you.  And don’t forget to pick up a button and some posters when you stop by the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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See, irony. It’s funny.

Inspiration

 Danny Amis aka Daddy-O Grande is back on tour with Los Straitjackets after a long-fought battle with cancer.  This is great on so many levels, but for us the best part is seeing Daddy-O back in the mask and back on tour.
Los Straijackets have been working with DiPinto for so long that our first few photo shoots with them are cataloged on film and contact sheets.  It’s been at least 10 years, maybe more since we first met them in Nashville.  Some artists come and go, but over the years, even through Danny’s illness the band has been hard-working, consistent, dedicated, and really, really, really good at what they do.

 

The idea for instrument manufacturers, is that working with great artists will sell lots of guitars, but the really great artists do way more.  They insipre, they make you want to play better, or they make you want pick up an instrument in the first place.  We have been fortunate enough to luck into working with some really amazing musicians.  The fact that they stay with us for the the long haul, I hope that says something about us.

If you don’t know Los Straitjackets by now, I’m a little partial to this song:

Los Straitjackets are on tour right now. Go check ‘em out, you’ll be glad you did!

tour dates:
http://www.straitjackets.com/fr_intro.cfm

Visit the YepRoc website and enter to win a signed DiPinto Guitar, proceeds go to help Danny with medical bills:

http://www.yeproc.com/daddy-o-grande-returns-to-the-stage-with-los-straitjackets-get-an-official-shirt-poster-and-enter-to-win-a-dipinto-guitar-autographed-by-the-band

 

 

Sell cymbals, live amongst caribou

I love google maps.  I’m a natural busybody, so I’m always checking up on addresses  and snooping around neighborhoods.  Couple that with a healthy interest in geography, and you can imagine the hours I’ve wasted.

I’ve been seeing this posting in trade magazines for a while now:

US Educational Sales Specialist
Sabian Ltd. is a family owned company with manufacturing and corporate offices located in Meductic, Canada. Sabian is a world leader in the music industry, selling cymbals and hand percussion instruments under the Sabian and Gon Bops trademarks.
We are currently seeking a sales professional to concentrate on US Educational Sales. Reporting to the Director of Education, this position will be responsible for achieving strong growth in Educational Sales in the US, as well as oversee all aspects of marching percussion initiatives. Preference will be given to candidates who have proven success in sales and/or sales management.

I always think ‘hmm, Meductic, Canada, I wonder what that’s near.  Turns out, not much:


OK, small town Canada, just a highway and a main street, but it has to be near something right?

I still cannot place this, I’m guessing that the border w/ Maine? So I zoom out some more:

And I’m right.  About 4 hours from Bangor Maine, close to almost nothing, that’s where Sabian is headquartered. I always thought an international company had to be located at least somewhere near some sort of city, or maybe just a port, but I stand corrected.

And this is a real job opening by the way, if you have the skill required, and this is the life change you’re looking for, go ahead and apply.

 

 

The American Flag guitar, reinvented…

I originally published this post on August 16th, and then immediately yanked it, due to Dave Mustaine showing up in the news that very same day (and not in a good way).…some time has passed and it seems to have blown over, so I thought I’d put it back up, enjoy!

I’ve never been a big  fan of Megadeth,  I’ve always thought of Dave Mustaine as the quintessential tragic character in the high drama of thrash and metal.  Even though lately it seems as though his sense of profound injustice has morphed into common old-man grumpiness (and what’s with the hair?  Bangs? at his age?) I find myself grateful to him for the segue provided by is Mako signature model acoustic guitar by Dean.

See through flag graphic shows how guitars will be braced in the future.

So, why late to the party do you ask?  Well,  the time to introduce a guitar with American flag graphics is past, the real time to do this was when our country swelled with patriotism right after 9-11.  Witness my photos from the January 2002 NAMM show:

 

So, thanks to Dave Mustaine for reminding me about my collection of USA #1 guitar photos.

More info about Dave Mustaine’s Mako guitar:
http://www.deanguitars.com/mako.php