Three Things We'd Like To See for the Mandolin Community
by, Jun-24-2013 at 10:48am (5631 Views)
No harm done in wondering how things could be improved in our little corner of the stringed instrument world. Here are three scenarios we'd like to see.
1) An abbreviated mandolin line from the C.F. Martin company.
No, it's not an April Fool's subject. Isn't it time for another U.S. based company to step up and be great, and what better choice than the legendary Martin? No need to engage in model sprawl (hint, hint, your guitars, Martin). Gibson? Sadly, limited to a few instruments a year out of the custom shop. Little or no support from corporate to be represented in any numbers but they're the obvious choice.
There are a lot of employable builders in the U.S. that could come in and create this from the ground up. Get as far away from the early Martin design as possible and go for the traditional F/A market. Build a respectable snakehead styled A model and a great mid-market priced F. Face it: Asian companies like Eastman and The Loar own the low end, Collings the high end. Unfortunately, Breedlove and Weber which were supposed to prosper under the Two Old Hippies parent company--haven't--but sure do a fine job burning up the social media game. Reports of Weber falling behind on production (absent any increase in demand) has retailers steamed.
Prediction: a sizable price increase announcement from one of the latter two at Summer NAMM.
2) Progressive online communities like Yelp employ local specialists to monitor the activity and legitimacy of the reviews they host. They're like moderators and traffic directors. Isn't it time major player eBay do the same to cut down the fraudulent auctions they're hosting? Instead of basing representatives by region, they'd hire by area of expertise. One individual working alone with the right background could easily represent much of the stringed instrument market (banjo, mandolin, guitar--acoustic and electric--and uke) in North America alone. The fact that you can't speak to someone at the company that's one of the largest retailers in the world is just sad.
3) Music schools, please place more emphasis on business skills.
There are a number of fine educational schools like Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory for stringed musicians. Not picking on them. They do a fine job. Their ability to turn out seasoned musicians that are skilled in their craft is without question. What seems to be missing and what's commonly heard from graduates is how difficult it is to make a living as a touring/teaching string musician. The gap between performing and the skill of succeeding in business is sizable and daunting. More than a few recent graduates have expressed frustration online (mostly Facebook) at the reality of "being out there doing it" vs. making a decent living wage. 2-3 recent high profile graduates immediately come to mind. Sadly, the world is filled with hot guns working minimum wage retail jobs. Making a living is about way more than grasp of technique, skill on stage and mastery of the instrument. It would seem that schools would be wise to develop a sound curriculum around the subject of making a living once one graduates. Are we wrong? What schools are focused on this?
Have your own suggestions and opinions? Sound off. Let's hear them.