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Quilly

The future of the Bass Guitar

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Hi Folks

Just reading of the sad decline of Gibson Guitars, Fender and PRS not doing so well either. It seems like Electric Guitar music is in somewhat declining in popularity. I wonder can the same be said of the Bass? Are they inextricably linked to one another or has the bass transcended music genres to a degree that has saved its future.     

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I think they`ll re-emerge. Music is currently a factory of nice pop songs, made by identically looking and sounding teenagers. Sooner or later there will be a rebellion against this and guitars will be back in. It goes round in circles, we just have to endure the non-guitar years much like bears go without grub during hibernation.

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I suspect the bass will be as popular as the electric Crumhorn in another decade or two. I'll be past caring by then anyway!

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Just now, Lozz196 said:

I think they`ll re-emerge. Music is currently a factory of nice pop songs, made by identically looking and sounding teenagers. Sooner or later there will be a rebellion against this and guitars will be back in. It goes round in circles, we just have to endure the non-guitar years much like bears go without grub during hibernation.

Good idea, I'll go look for a cave to sleep in until real music comes back! Though, of course, the truth is that it has never gone away, it's just not flavour of the month with the people who decide what gets on the radio and television. Or at least, I think so, as I haven't listened to a radio programmer for decades and only occasionally watch any telly.

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The big companies need to re-assess their position in the market. I think Fender are trying hard by promoting new bands and doing online lessons, and the mex / squire stuff is better than ever. The others are struggling because their prices are prohibitive. Only doctors, dentists and lawyers from the boomer generation can afford the top of the line stuff (i.e. custom shop instruments), and their numbers are dwindling. 

The other issue is that the world is changing, and we value all kinds of stupid boll*cks over creativity. In a world where creativity is not as valued and rewarded as it once was, the tools of creativity are going to suffer too. Musicians are broke, they're not going to buy custom shop Les Pauls. And there's only so many 67 year old ex-rockers left, and most of them already have more than enough nice instruments.

And then there's electronic music which is much more fun to get high to and easier to produce than anything involving guitars. 

And then you have the whole thing of music becoming a less important cultural contributor because young people have so many other ways to entertain themselves - games, netflix, instagram etc, fidget spinners (?) - the role of music, just like the role of cinema, has diminished quite a bit.

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Might as well sell crumhornchat.co.uk then ffs

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I didn't get the paywall banner but I do now - strange.

But yes, in US at least, guitar sales are on the up.

From a low of $820million in 2009 to $1221million in 2016.

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Guitar market retail sales in the United States from 2005 to 2016 (in million U.S. dollars)*

image.png.faca95e90e62d552f6d12c2ceed4bce2.png

Edited by EssentialTension
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I kind of feel that the reason big companies don't do so well is because of several reasons. Note this is just my opinion.

Firstly there are far more luthierers and manufacterers that make superior instruments to there likes of Fender and Gibson etc. Just look at Sandberg for instance, for the price of an American Fender you get a much better and more consistent instrument in terms of quality. Also if your after a high end custom guitar, then there is a large choice of luthiers available that can offer a far more personalised experience than the giants.  

Also why buy new when for the same price you can buy a better used instrument. I haven't bought a brand new bass for a while and I kind of think, why should I? I've had many p basses over the last 15 years, some new and some used, and hands down the best one I've had and still own is an '82 JV Squier. 

I just don't think the large companies will be out there for much longer, Fender has huge debt like Gibson and it'll only be a matter of time before they can't pay anything off too. 

As far as guitar music not being popular, I feel this isn't a huge factor into the decline of sales. Music education in a lot of school around me is healthier now then it was when I was in school. We were only encouraged to play the recorder, where as now they plays ukes which will gateway into guitar lessons etc. Theres still a loads of new bands promoting guitar music which are getting recognition. It just so happens that genres like Grime currently have the edge, and are getting more air play to the middle class masses who buy anything just because its "in" and compliant. 

Anyway, thats just my opinion. :)

Edited by Master blaster
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1 hour ago, Master blaster said:

I kind of feel that the reason big companies don't do so well is because of several reasons. Note this is just my opinion.

Firstly there are far more luthierers and manufacterers that make superior instruments to there likes of Fender and Gibson etc. Just look at Sandberg for instance, for the price of an American Fender you get a much better and more consistent instrument in terms of quality. Also if your after a high end custom guitar, then there is a large choice of luthiers available that can offer a far more personalised experience than the giants.  

Also why buy new when for the same price you can buy a better used instrument. I haven't bought a brand new bass for a while and I kind of think, why should I? I've had many p basses over the last 15 years, some new and some used, and hands down the best one I've had and still own is an '82 JV Squier. 

I just don't think the large companies will be out there for much longer, Fender has huge debt like Gibson and it'll only be a matter of time before they can't pay anything off too. 

As far as guitar music not being popular, I feel this isn't a huge factor into the decline of sales. Music education in a lot of school around me is healthier now then it was when I was in school. We were only encouraged to play the recorder, where as now they plays ukes which will gateway into guitar lessons etc. Theres still a loads of new bands promoting guitar music which are getting recognition. It just so happens that genres like Grime currently have the edge, and are getting more air play to the middle class masses who buy anything just because its "in" and compliant. 

Anyway, thats just my opinion. :)

I definitely won't ever buy a new US built fender again. My current P bass is a sandberg california and jazz bass is a mayones jabba. Both cheaper than US fender counterparts and imo superior.

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May I present the future of guitar music, my niece's band Honeyblood.

The new head of Fender, Andy Mooney, is convinced that the saviours of the electric guitar will be young women. According to him, these days, 50% of new guitar buyers are women. 

Which is lucky for my niece, because Fender have been showering her with free guitars and amps, in the hope I assume, that when she becomes a household name she'll be playing a Fender (most of them go to her dad, who plays in a blues band and is the proud owner of a rapidly growing guitar and amp collection).

 

 

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7 hours ago, Master blaster said:

I kind of feel that the reason big companies don't do so well is because of several reasons. Note this is just my opinion.

Firstly there are far more luthierers and manufacterers that make superior instruments to there likes of Fender and Gibson etc. Just look at Sandberg for instance, for the price of an American Fender you get a much better and more consistent instrument in terms of quality. Also if your after a high end custom guitar, then there is a large choice of luthiers available that can offer a far more personalised experience than the giants.  

Also why buy new when for the same price you can buy a better used instrument. I haven't bought a brand new bass for a while and I kind of think, why should I? I've had many p basses over the last 15 years, some new and some used, and hands down the best one I've had and still own is an '82 JV Squier. 

I just don't think the large companies will be out there for much longer, Fender has huge debt like Gibson and it'll only be a matter of time before they can't pay anything off too. 

As far as guitar music not being popular, I feel this isn't a huge factor into the decline of sales. Music education in a lot of school around me is healthier now then it was when I was in school. We were only encouraged to play the recorder, where as now they plays ukes which will gateway into guitar lessons etc. Theres still a loads of new bands promoting guitar music which are getting recognition. It just so happens that genres like Grime currently have the edge, and are getting more air play to the middle class masses who buy anything just because its "in" and compliant. 

Anyway, thats just my opinion. :)

It's also because you can make grime using almost any free music app. And then you can pop down the park and chat over your homemade beats with your mates, film it, upload to instagram, and you've made and released some music in about an hour using nothing but free stuff on a phone. It's cheap and home-made, and requires no training, just a bit of attitude. In some ways grime is very close to the DIY approach of punk, even if the aesthetic is totally different.

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No reason why bass should go under but I think in general good music is dying because if you analyse 20th century contemporary music it all emanates from the blues, and the reason the blues happened in the first place is gradually disappearing into history.

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9 hours ago, gjones said:

May I present the future of guitar music, my niece's band Honeyblood.

The new head of Fender, Andy Mooney, is convinced that the saviours of the electric guitar will be young women. According to him, these days, 50% of new guitar buyers are women. 

Which is lucky for my niece, because Fender have been showering her with free guitars and amps, in the hope I assume, that when she becomes a household name she'll be playing a Fender (most of them go to her dad, who plays in a blues band and is the proud owner of a rapidly growing guitar and amp collection).

 

 

It appears their bass player doesnt have any future at all.  I hear them but...where are they?

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11 hours ago, gjones said:

... The new head of Fender, Andy Mooney, is convinced that the saviours of the electric guitar will be young women. According to him, these days, 50% of new guitar buyers are women.

http://faroutmagazine.co.uk/gibson-guitar-ceo-henry-juszkiewicz-women-arent-comfortable-going-to-guitar-stores/

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I think there's a few things contributing. You can't underestimate the pressure on retailers (therefore manufacturers) coming from the pressure on consumers wallets. People have more bills now than they did even fifteen years ago, everyone has to have a mobile phone, home internet and even bank accounts cost money now. All these are essentials for the majority of people and they aren't cheap either. 

I think the amount of choice now is staggering too. So many great brands like Cort, Vintage, SX and others producing stuff for £500 and less that would cost over a grand from the established American brands. When I started I had whatever was in my local music shop, a Tanglewood P at £250 in 1999 that now would cost about £80. However, since 2006 a German build Warwick double buck has gone from £800 to £1600. The top end gets further away in price for similar quality while the bottom end gets more accessible in price with improved quality. And guitars are built to last. My 18th birthday present bass is still gigged by me now almost 20 years later. 

As for guitar music not being popular I have the misfortune of occasionally hearing radio 1 on a morning. There is lots of heavy guitar music in between the pop, "r&b" and hip hop. It's just all detuned 7 strings.

My local practice rooms are very busy too. More pubs are playing live music from what I can see as a means to get people in. 

With fender and Gibson struggling they may just be victims of their price points, and could be canibalising their own revenue streams by creating good quality Squiers. Or it could really be that not only are the luthier taking the tip end costs but even lower end guitars are customisable too, SX offer this service on their budget ranges. So there's just a very complex picture out there on the market for what's on offer and for what people can afford.

Sorry that's very long. There's good cheap guitars about, people don't have much money these days, radio 1 still has guitar based music.

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Is part of the problem the improvement in manufacturing techniques? With computerised machines that will exactly reproduce the same thing every time and lasers et al it has made the “cheap” guitars so much better and increased the amount that can be produced so the market becomes over saturated. To a large extent Fender and Gibson have brought this on themselves by promoting the Squiers and a Epiphone versions of their classics, many of which play as well as their US counterparts. I think car manufacturers realised a few years ago that just because you can produce product 24/7 it isn’t necessarily a good idea when they end up languishing in a field somewhere because not enough people want a new car, this spawned the 3/4 year personal lease system to encourage people to get a new car and change it regularly.

Maybe guitar manufacturers need to look at new ways of “selling” guaranteed buy backs for upgrades and the like, although that might make musicians look after instruments better and kill off the road worn market!

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Yep, when the budget instruments are plenty good enough to learn well on, and gig with, there`s less of a need to get the more expensive versions. I`m a die-hard US Fender guy, but in reality my Mex Precisions are more than enough for my needs. Yes, the US are better, but completely stock the MIMs are fine for gigging - in fact many pros that I see use MIMs. And with a few quid spent on better electrics and maybe tuners/bridge, well you have a very good bass for about half the price of the main US version.

Our guitarist plays the Gibson LPJs - a studio version of the Les Paul. Great sounding guitars, new were about £600/£700, second hand picked up for £400ish. He prefers them to the Les Paul Standards and Customs. Now when the big companies are making such good "budget" instruments, well you can see why they might start to see the hits on their top-end instruments & profits.

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Good thread!

The OPs question was whether sales of basses were inextricably linked to sales of electric guitars? 

20 hours ago, Quilly said:

Just reading of the sad decline of Gibson Guitars, Fender and PRS not doing so well either. It seems like Electric Guitar music is in somewhat declining in popularity. I wonder can the same be said of the Bass? Are they inextricably linked to one another or has the bass transcended music genres to a degree that has saved its future.     

The answer has probably got to be "yes, for sure", right? BUT...

@EssentialTension's chart suggests that there is NO decline in overall sales of electric guitars. Which says to me there's just a transition from older (now struggling) brands who have rested on their laurels for too long and failed to excite us with better products? The BHS, Maplin, Woolworths and Toys'R'Us of the guitar world struggling against the likes of Asos, Smyths and THG (none of whom I personally had even heard of 5 years ago!).

@ped will there be free advertising on crumhornchat.co.uk?

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Hell no. Crum players are monied 

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