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Thread: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

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    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Default Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Two Old Hippies has made tweaks to the Weber business model of late and have communicated those changes with a few dealers we are in touch with. We didn't think this information amounted to a news release but thought it of interest to the community. First, a brief statement from our contact in Marketing & Artist Relations at Two Old Hippies:

    Weber is continuing to offer four traditional eight stringed instruments (mandolin, octave, mandola and mandocello) in the Yellowstone series and above as custom options through Weber Specialty Dealers. For Weber Standard Dealers we have determined our 23 best sellers and are working to build them to stock so we can enhance delivery availability. Included in the standard offerings are the Octaves in Bitterroot series in both F and A bodies.

    From the dealer side, combining a couple of conversations:

    1. The Gallatin will be offered in an A and F mandolin, not mandola or octave.
    2. The Bitterroot will not be available in Mandocello or Mandola.
    3. Bitterroots will no longer be customizable.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Looks like they discontinued the Soprano. Too bad. It looked like a lot of fun.
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    This is sad news indeed. While Bruce was still at the helm they seem to have left his company alone. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that was part of the deal with the take over, non interference as long as he was there. Apparently, Bruce Jr. does not carry the same clout. Didn't take them long, did it?

    Back when they discontinued the flat backs that pushed their entry level octave from 1700 (Sage) to 2999 (Gallatin). Now that option is gone too. Guess OMs are only for rich folk.

    Customizing the Bitterroot series was a popular thing to do. It was like loading up options on a budget line car. You end up paying less total but it seems like a more expensive model. I am the proud owner of a custom Bitterroot. Mine has Adi top and gloss Fern burst. So it SEEMS like a Fern, but 1/3 the price. So now that popular option is gone too. So sad.
    Last edited by multidon; Apr-28-2016 at 6:07pm.
    Don

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    I have a custom Bitterroot F mandolin. I love having an ebony overlay on the back of the headstock. I guess this will now cost another grand as well.

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Well that's disappointing - I've always been a Weber fan and had hopes of getting a custom Bitterroot F from them at some stage.
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Looks like they discontinued the Soprano. Too bad. It looked like a lot of fun.
    I like my Gallatin "sopranolin," though I don't use it all that much.

    They went from the "hook" scroll depicted on their website, to a fully carved scroll. The case is really nice as well. Now I guess I have a "limited edition collectors' item," eh?
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    i've always thought the BitterRoot model is one of the best sounding mandos they make-the ones i've owned just had this woody organic tone. i thought the satin finish felt and looked real nice as well. it was neat that you could dress out a BitterRoot and have a unique looking mando for not a huge chunk, and not be paying more for things you might not want(like fretboard binding or headstock binding, or gloss finish).

    I would think BitterRoots just went up in value on the used market-especially the ones hopped up.

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    I just wonder how long it will be before they start making them in China. They did that with the Breedloves. Just remember it all comes down to the bottom line. I am glad I have my Yellowstone from the Logan shop.

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    I love my Bitterroot F. I bought it used, so while I didn't make any customizations to it the original owner did.

    The folks at Weber / Two Old Hippies I'm sure are just running their numbers and trying to come up with a plan that keeps the company viable long-term while still being able to produce the quality of instrument everyone has come to expect from the brand. Whether or not these changes were timed to go into effect once Bruce Sr. stepped down remains to be seen, and I'm sure will fan the flames of speculation for a long time to come.

    I'm just happy that I had the good fortune to acquire my Bitterroot when I did Did I say that I love it?

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    all you need to do is go visit the "Two Old Hippies" showroom across the street from The Station Inn next time you're in Nashville... that'll tell you all you need to know about the future of "Weber" instruments...

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    I love my Bitterroot F Octave also. From my perspective, this is not good news. I'm so thankful that I got mine before Bruce left.

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    all you need to do is go visit the "Two Old Hippies" showroom across the street from The Station Inn next time you're in Nashville... that'll tell you all you need to know about the future of "Weber" instruments...
    Hi Glassweb,

    Could you please elaborate a little? I can't get to Nashville, and I'd like to know what you are telling us here. As a long-time Weber fan who has owned three Webers and still owns a custom Weber OM, I am interested in the future of this company. I had hoped, at some point, to order a soprano from them. This whole thing is disappointing.

    Thanks,

    Bob
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Great. Just as I have feared, Two Old Hippies is forcing changes at Weber to increase profits while taking away the things that made Weber great. One of the things I like about Weber is the wide range of mandolin family instrument styles. Guess that is decreasing in favor of volume sales and cookie cutter production. I hope this doesn't end up going where I think it's going.

    On the bright side, my Bitterroot mandola just went up in value.

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Hi Glassweb,Could you please elaborate a little? I can't get to Nashville, and I'd like to know what you are telling us here. As a long-time Weber fan who has owned three Webers and still owns a custom Weber OM, I am interested in the future of this company. I had hoped, at some point, to order a soprano from them. This whole thing is disappointing.
    Hi Bob... My impression is that "Two Old Hippies" is really a "lifestyle" kind of an outfit... all sorts of upscale jeans and clothing items, different things for the home and yes, indeed there was a room that seemed pretty much dedicated to stringed instruments... guitars and mandolins to be exact. It was kind of like a "mini boutique" for stringed instruments and they had Martins, Breedloves... maybe there were some Webers too... kind of hard to remember. But being right across from the Station Inn it seemed like it was just a tourist stop down there in The Gulch (that particular area of Nashville) for folks to drop into before taking in a show at The Station Inn... both of which I did. It's all about The $$$ baby... "Two Old Hippies"... yeah right... those "hippies" done moved uptown in their old age. Hell, it ain't like Gibson is any different... it's all "lifestyle" baby! 'Nuff said.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Apr-29-2016 at 6:40am. Reason: Fixed quote syntax

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    What, alas, of the octar?

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    all you need to do is go visit the "Two Old Hippies" showroom across the street from The Station Inn next time you're in Nashville... that'll tell you all you need to know about the future of "Weber" instruments...
    You don't need to go to Nashville. I took the virtual tour after I read Glassweb's post:

    http://www.twooldhippies.com/

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Breedlove has pretty much gone down the tubes since they took over...certainly in terms of the high grade, high quality instruments now deleted from their range, so it is not really any great surprise.
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Sometimes it becomes about the numbers and not about the instruments. Once they start talking about throughput, best practices and economies of scale it's no longer about the instruments and the sound.

    Glassweb, you made me choke on my coffee. I was thinking the same thing, but I don't think these Hippies were ever beatniks in the sense that we think.
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    In the end as many predicted there will be Montana Webers and Hippie Webers. I am glad I have a Bitteroot from Montana. Many of us knew this would what would happen. I haven't looked at a Weber since the company was sold.
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    For those with short memories, or those who are newer here, there was was a great deal of discussion when Two Old Hippies acquired Breedlove, and again when they acquired Weber. You can search the threads yourself. Great reading there. Especially the ones about Weber, where Bruce Sr. chimed in himself and answered many questions. But here is my take on events, greatly condensed.

    Two Old Hippies acquires Breedlove. Promises are made that nothing will change. Breedlove mandolin line (naturally and predictably) was then changed, promises notwithstanding. No more natural or dark sunburst, only one color option (ugly orange burst) with plain wood instead of figured. Prices go up. Then American mandolin production ceases and (reportedly) inferior copies made in China. This process took about 5 years.

    Now look at the parallels. Weber acquired by Two Old Hippies. Production moved to Oregon. Flat top line eliminated. Assurances nothing else would change. Bruce Weber announces his retirement. Six weeks later, Two Old Hippies quietly, with little fanfare (to minimize adverse reactions), "announces" major cutbacks to Weber's offerings. This process took about 4 years.

    What happens next is anybody's guess. But speaking for myself I see a pattern here. Don't you? It would seem that the changes at Breedlove happened quickly because Kim was on board with them, but Bruce Sr. was able somehow to keep the wolves at bay. But now that he has retired the wolves wasted little time. I'll bet they started working on this "new business plan" the very day he announced his retirement and the six week lag time was needed to iron out details of implementation. And either Bruce Jr. is on board or he just has no choice in the matter because of the deal his father made.

    My Bitterroot A is "pre Hippie" and my Bitterroot Custom F is "post Hippie". I can honestly say the post Hippie workmanship is on a par, if not even a bit better, than the pre Hippie product. I love them both and will never let go of them. But I will not spend one thin dime on any new TOH product ever again. They have not proven themselves worthy of my business. I don't care how wonderful they are supposed to be, I wouldn't take a Bedell guitar if you gave it to me for free. I have been watching his corporate behavior for some years now and I find it disgusting. Bruce Weber Sr., to me, represented everything that was right and good about American business. Bedell represents everything that's wrong with it.

    I feel better now. Venting is good!
    Last edited by multidon; Apr-29-2016 at 8:34am.
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    Hi Bob... My impression is that "Two Old Hippies" is really a "lifestyle" kind of an outfit... all sorts of upscale jeans and clothing items, different things for the home and yes, indeed there was a room that seemed pretty much dedicated to stringed instruments... guitars and mandolins to be exact. It was kind of like a "mini boutique" for stringed instruments and they had Martins, Breedloves... maybe there were some Webers too... kind of hard to remember. But being right across from the Station Inn it seemed like it was just a tourist stop down there in The Gulch (that particular area of Nashville) for folks to drop into before taking in a show at The Station Inn... both of which I did. It's all about The $$$ baby... "Two Old Hippies"... yeah right... those "hippies" done moved uptown in their old age. Hell, it ain't like Gibson is any different... it's all "lifestyle" baby! 'Nuff said.
    Sounds like they used the 'modern' Harley-Davidson dealership as their business model.

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    For those with short memories, or those who are newer here, there was was a great deal of discussion when Two Old Hippies acquired Breedlove, and again when they acquired Weber. You can search the threads yourself. Great reading there. Especially the ones about Weber, where Bruce Sr. chimed in himself and answered many questions. But here is my take on events, greatly condensed.

    Two Old Hippies acquires Breedlove. Promises are made that nothing will change. Breedlove mandolin line (naturally and predictably) was then changed, promises notwithstanding. No more natural or dark sunburst, only one color option (ugly orange burst) with plain wood instead of figured. Prices go up. Then American mandolin production ceases and (reportedly) inferior copies made in China. This process took about 5 years.

    Now look at the parallels. Weber acquired by Two Old Hippies. Production moved to Oregon. Flat top line eliminated. Assurances nothing else would change. Bruce Weber announces his retirement. Six weeks later, Two Old Hippies quietly, with little fanfare (to minimize adverse reactions), "announces" major cutbacks to Weber's offerings. This process took about 4 years.

    What happens next is anybody's guess. But speaking for myself I see a pattern here. Don't you? It would seem that the changes at Breedlove happened quickly because Kim was on board with them, but Bruce Sr. was able somehow to keep the wolves at bay. But now that he has retired the wolves wasted little time. I'll bet they started working on this "new business plan" the very day he announced his retirement and the six week lag time was needed to iron out details of implementation. And either Bruce Jr. is on board or he just has no choice in the matter because of the deal his father made.

    My Bitterroot A is "pre Hippie" and my Bitterroot Custom F is "post Hippie". I can honestly say the post Hippie workmanship is on a par, if not even a bit better, than the pre Hippie product. I love them both and will never let go of them. But I will not spend one thin dime on any new TOH product ever again. They have not proven themselves worthy of my business. That company also has acquired a large number of sport fishing brand names. I will avoid those as well, along with anything else I discover is owned by TOH. I don't care how wonderful they are supposed to be, I wouldn't take a Bedell guitar if you gave it to me for free. I have been watching his corporate behavior for some years now and I find it disgusting. Bruce Weber Sr., to me, represented everything that was right and good about American business. Bedell represents everything that's wrong with it.

    I feel better now. Venting is good!
    I owned a Breedlove McKenzie for awhile. it was a beautiful instrument but frankly, when I had to sell it, there wasn't much interest. I believe Breedlove mandolins, especially their more expensive models, never had much appeal to the mandolin market. So changes by TOH were to be expected.

    As for Webers, I've owned a couple and they too were beautifully constructed, good sounding instruments.
    Unfortunately, I found that they didn't hold their value when it came to selling them. Again (to my disappointment),the market spoke volumes.
    Whatever one thinks of TOH and its business model, why would they continue with models that don't sell? When the Weber family decided it was time to sell the business, I suspect they did so for sound business reasons. It may have been Abe Lincoln who said, "it's not personal, it's business."

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    They don't say in their statement that they are eliminating "models that don't sell". They say they are restricting their products to thei 23 BEST sellers (emphasis mine)" so that they can be "built to stock". Never did they say the models being eliminated didn't sell. Somebody was buying them or they would not have been made in the first place. Their flat top line sold well and was very popular in our community as a relatively low cost entry level option. They were eliminated. Now the custom Bitterroot, another relatively low cost option, is also being eliminated. I don't think it has as much to do with lack of sales as it does profit margin. There probably wasn't enough meat on the bones with the flat tops to please the bean counters. Same with Custom Bitterroots. With my particular Custom Bitterroot F, it has a gloss Fern Burst finish. There was just as much labor producing that finish on mine as there would be on an actual Fern. But I bet they would rather I bought a Fern instead. Much higher profit with that model no doubt. But customizing a Bitterrot with options was popular. The Weber web site says so! Although I haven't looked at it lately, it used to say, in the Bitterroot model description, "The Bitterroot is our most popular model for customization". If they say themselves something they sell is "popular", how can they now say it didn't sell well? How disingenuous.

    So as far as the fate of the Bitterrooot is concerned, you want a wide nut? Too bad. Adirondack top? Tough luck. You don't like Satin Buckskin? You want binding options? Different headstock inlay? Fuhgitaboutit. We will just be making one cookie cutter version. You want options? Yeah, we got options. Just open up that wallet a bit wider. THEN you can get what you really want.

    Yes, I get that companies aren't charities, and they are in it for the money, but when Bruce Sr. ran things, he ran it like a small family owned business, which it was, and he had a genuine concern for customer satisfaction. He wanted everybody who bought a Weber instrument to be thrilled with it, no matter what they spent. He told me as much himself. I asked Customer Service a question once via their Web site and received no response. A couple of months later I got e mail from Bruce. He wants to know if my question had been answered because he went over customer emails personally from time to time to make sure everything was resolved. I replied that no, it had not been resolved, and he proceeded to handle my issue personally. Now that's the type of businessman I can support.

    Judging by the recent changes, I don't think they particularly care about the customers being "thrilled" anymore.
    Don

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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by cayuga red View Post
    As for Webers, I've owned a couple and they too were beautifully constructed, good sounding instruments. Unfortunately, I found that they didn't hold their value when it came to selling them. Again (to my disappointment),the market spoke volumes."
    Hello Cayuga Red,

    Fortunately, I can't say that my re-sale experience with Weber instruments matches yours. In both instances when I decided to sell Webers (one high-end, one low-end), they sold quickly and at a good price. It could be a matter of timing, the specific models or just luck, but it has worked out well for me.

    That said, the current change to the Weber business model further solidifies my notion that I will not sell my beautiful Montana-built Weber OM any time soon!

    Best wishes,

    Bob
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    Default Re: Changes in availability of Weber Instruments

    Update: Just checked the Weber Web site. Everything about it is different. All the instrument descriptions have been changed to reflect the new " business model" when you clicked the Customization menu, there used to be a bunch of finish, tailpiece, trim, inlays, woods, etc, etc, that came up. And you could order these directly from Weber. But now, when you click it, it says just like wha was stated in the OP. Basically you have to go to a "Weber Specialty Dealer" (whatever those are) to find out what options are available on "Yellowstone and above".
    Don

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