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Thread: A major update to the Builder Database

  1. #1
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Sep 1998
    Lawrence, KS
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    Default A major update to the Builder Database

    Over the past three weeks we've worked through a major overhaul of the Builder Database that was launched on this site July 29, 1996. An eye opening experience worth sharing what we learned.

    Mea culpa. Never let a few years pass without a more thorough and complete review of every single record, its web presence, and whatever can be used to verify someone's business status. It's a labor intensive experience, one we've done a lot of times. We run link checking software against that database on a daily basis (and most of the site, but not the Forum for obvious reasons), and that database changes daily year round whether it's our focus or not, but it needs more than that kind of attention.

    About 50% of the first 200 builders that entered the database back some 25-+ years ago are no longer in the business, which isn't a surprise given that time span. Some of those people were already middle aged or even older, so a natural attrition in numbers. That accounts for most of the reduction in the total number which was just over 800 when this started, and just over 600 now.

    We took a harder look at a lot of builders that built a one-off mandolin family instrument with the appearance more would follow. Typically these were guitar builders. Most of those never panned out, and using a custom Google search that used to turn up mandolin family instruments showed that never occurred so those were also removed.

    There was a mass exodus of builders from Facebook who just walked away one day and never returned. I expect this was as much about not liking the FB experience as much as anything. Some of those went back to web sites, a lot moved to Instagram. I suspect a few are TikTok only, a few are housing their instruments on Etsy, some are doing distribution by a single retailer of choice, a couple even use their Forum Profiles here as their main business front and how they wish to be contacted.

    Although the overall numbers decreased, the related Eye Candy area increased in numbers due to some records not getting handled properly, new builders ID'd as a part of the process, and other miscellaneous reasons. Anticipate this will continue to increase. Doesn't hurt that since 1996 Photoshop tools for cutting out backgrounds are much improved, and iPhones take better pictures than most good cameras from that time. We're not under the impression a lot of people on the Forum necessarily look at either area, but Google Analytics still shows pretty brisk traffic from the global internet.

    We're living in a time where a major string company (Elixir) just dropped their mandolin and banjo products, and the pandemic surely had a toll on those that built both guitars and mandolins. Major companies like Collings and Weber cut back or temporarily halted production, and it's certain many smaller builders did the same. In the end, it's still a guitar world. A major retailer told me point blank, "all this talk about guitars going out of fashion is pure (insert your favorite foul word/s here)."

    So what's this all mean? Probably not much. The vast majority of instruments have always come from a small handful of companies which hasn't changed. Not concerned there's any kind of shortage of instruments on the market. Plenty have started to sit and some retailers are starting to gain ground on the inventories they had 2-3 years ago. We're still living in a time when world class new instruments are being built and some young luthiers are working their way up to becoming legends. It's a good time.

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  3. #2
    Registered User
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    Dec 2008
    Greer, SC

    Default Re: A major update to the Builder Database

    Thanks for the insights. Yes guitars are still the bread and butter of the fretted string instrument world. Electrics outsell the acoustics at least if any brick and mortar inventory reflects sales. The made rush for entry level instruments is dying down, and money is getting tighter every day. We sure live in interesting times.

  4. #3
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: A major update to the Builder Database

    I always liked the eye candy section.

    If it is possible, keep all the ones that are in the section sort them alphabetically and have the ones that are (still) active linked to an address or something.

    I failed to find Pete (Myron) Hart of Buckey mandolins (played by Lauren Price-Napier). So: Did he hang it up or did he go to Texas (or facebook or...)?

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