Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Guitars??

I doubt anyone reads this anymore but I'll give it a whack........

I've been asked by many..........and more importantly by my wife...........why the hell are you building guitars?

I've thought a lot about that.

The quick answer is that I want too!

But beyond that, it's a desire to do something with my hands. It's a deep desire to be artistic because besides cooking amazing food (if I say so myself!) I've never really done anything "artistic" before.

Music is my first love and I've thought a lot about music in my life.

So I really decided to look academically at it and here is what I came up with:

"Imprinting" is a psychological term first introduced in the '30s by the noted German animal behavior specialist Konrad Lorenz. He found that in newly hatched geese, the first moving object that they saw was "imprinted" as a mother image. Normally this would be a mother goose.

If, however, the first animal they saw in the first few hours of life was a person, they'd follow people and identify with people for the rest of their lives. Similar phenomena held true for other species. The concept is that there are formative stages in which a lasting imprint is made. Animals can learn at many stages in life, but this learned behavior differs from imprinting, which produces permanent patterns of preference.

We tend to become imprinted with the music that was popular when we were of dating age, from age 14 up through our early 20s. Then many tend to drop out of the music scene. They acquire an expensive wife, expensive children, an expensive house and car, upward mobility and lack of free time. They can re-enter the music scene in two phases of their life. One is where their upward mobility and their job has stabilized and they have money and leisure time to once again pursue their hobbies.

We're now seeing older musicians, baby boom folk players. That's the music they liked when they were growing up, and they're taking it back up with a vengeance now. This doesn't mean that they're taking it up in exactly the same format as when they were kids. They're older, more mature, more educated, and they have more money and more stability. They're able to buy more expensive instruments and stereo systems, and they're more sophisticated.

There is a second wave of older musicians about a decade behind the first. They are rockers - the people who listened to the folk in the early '60s and the Beatles and Rolling Stones in the mid- to late-'60s and then dropped out of the scene. I expect them to follow the same re-entry pattern as the folkies. These folks are a good example of musical imprinting and the first phase of re-entry into the music scene.

What happens to people when they retire? First, they all of a sudden have a lot of leisure time, and if they've provided well for themselves they have a goodly amount of money. So one of the first things they do is to start getting into their hobbies, which are often strongly influenced by their earlier imprinting, musical or otherwise.

If these hobbies have been neglected, then they have a sudden outburst of buying, taking music lessons and getting involved in these hobbies. Five to ten years after they retire, they become less acquisitive. They already have their collections. They no longer need student instruments. Then it gets to a point where they realize they're not getting any younger, and they're getting physically weaker, they can't get around as well, their children and grandchildren aren't interested in their instruments, they are either too feeble to participate or dead and buried.

We are now faced with an interesting phenomenon in the wealthy industrialized countries in which for the first time in human history the teenage population is outnumbered by the 65-and-over population, and in which the 40-year-old age bracket is the majority of the population. The birth rate is down and the death rate is down. People live longer and reproduce slower in the same countries where guitar sales are a strong factor. The youth-oriented market is no longer the biggest segment either in numbers or in buying power.

One of the things that we see today and in the foreseeable future is that often enough it will be the second and third phases (that is to say, older people) that will sustain music manufacturers and certainly the high-priced concert promoters through the long run.

These people re-entering the market will be the ones that buy instruments in the intermediate and professional grades, whereas young people usually buy beginner grade.

The bottom line is that there is a market for good (professional grade) guitars and there are not enough good guitars around.

Thus, I build guitars!

Professional Grade Guitars......WHITE LIGHTNIN' GUITARS!!