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Do Manufacturers Listen?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Marty Forrer, Nov 20, 2000.

  1. For all the years I have been playing professionally, and then visiting forums like this, I see the same complaints about gear over and over. Such as *Fender 5's with flabby B strings, *Asian basses with crappy preamps and 5's with too narrow string spacing, *GHS and Rotosound strings dead straight out of the packet, to name a few. My question is, do manufacturers blindly go through life thinking their product is wonderful? Do they not read opinions about their products and think "gee, I'd better fix that"? Are they blind, stupid, or just plain bloody arrogant? What about the ones who never reply to customer's enquiries, e.g Fender and Walter Woods to name but two. I dont buy the "we're too busy to field enquiries" bull****. Any business that treats it's customers this way deserves to fail, IMO. I am a manager of the MI section of a retail musical instrument shop, and my staff and I are the ones who have to appease dis-satisfied customers. Any one care to agree or disagree with this little rant of mine?
  2. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    I care to agree. And it's not always small vs. large manufacturers, either.

    I used to get crap on here for bagging on Company X (rhymes with "blender") from one of their employees. I suggested that perhaps their quality control was occasionally lacking. Okay, Mr. Tact said it sucked @$$, an opinion I formed based on my experience with their basses in many a music store. I'm no pro, but when I have a few extra knobs left in my hand after I've hung up the bass, even I get suspicious. He became defensive, and all but called me a liar. He also suggested that the basses leave the factory in pristine condition, and even in the unlikely event there WERE a problems, it was the fault of the retailer. Yeah, sure, fine, whatever, and I'm a moron (actually I am, but he couldn't possibly have discerned that from our brief exchange). But the most sought after basses of company X were made FORTY years ago - it's not like they've been perfecting their product over the years based on customer feedback. And this has left the door wide open for a vast array of manufacturers who HAVE taken steps towards perfecting a product which has actually DE-VOLVED over the years.

    Now, let's look at a Company Y (rhymes with "bleavey"), which had developed a terrible reputation over the years, and deservedly so. But a couple of years ago someone there woke up, and they have been aggressively trying to turn things around. Based on customer feedback, they are now making some outstanding products. They are now E-VOLVING. They have to, or risk extinction.

    A business that treats its customers like crap will have to change its culture (like US auto makers did in the '80s) or it WILL inevitably fail. And they'd better be looking at what's going on in forums like this - information flow over the internet is going to greatly accelerate that process.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I am one of those who do think that Fender listen and that their products are improving. I think the Roscoe Beck bass, is much better in terms of quality than any Fender I have found in the 80s/90s previously. I also have received replies to questions I have asked on the FDP from Fender employees. They are a huge company and have an enormous customer base around the world to satisfy, so it's no suprise that they are going to have the odd problem. I was very pleased that people who have busy day jobs took the time to read my queries in the FDP and reply personally on several occasions.

    As to listening - I'm sure the vast majority of people would just say they want cheaper basses and Fender provide all the classic shapes in a number of ranges, so you can buy these at the price you can afford. The fact that they have stuck with what people like is also testament to the fact that they listen - this means you can upgrade your cheap Fender with better parts as you can afford to do so. So cheap basses aren't good quality - tell me something new.:rolleyes: But at least it means a young kid with no money can start off with one of these and then work his/her way up to the higher quality basses which won'tthen be that different (unlike Ibanez say, where each bass is different and has no common parts or re-sale value!)

    But I just think it's far easier to say "Fender Sucks" than to say how they could do it any better! I applaud them for their stance and their approach. They slipped in the 70s and 80s but are now back on the right track and deserve far more respect than they get - they've earned it!
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    On the other hand I have had completely the opposite experience with Peavey - no responses to emails or questions in their forums - very difficult to get answers to any questions.

    Mostly their amps/cabs are quite cheap and reliable but never the best, however the basses I have tried inthe UK have been pretty poor. But I'm open-minded and the Cirrus range looked quite nice, so I thought I would try the 6-string, supposedly light and high quality. So I asked the shops in London about this - no we won't be stocking them! Something about the policy from Peavey! I was stunned and tried to find out where I could get to try one - after many phone calls and internet searches, I came upon the HQ in the UK, but they weren't really interested - I could order one, but no they didn't know where I could try one in the UK - so how do they expect to sell them?

    After 3-4 years of them being out, I still haven't seen one in any shops in London - despite having tried hundreds of other impiorted "exotic" basses from small companies; so why can't Peavey get their act together?
  5. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    DO manufacturers listen?...

    If sales go down...maybe.
    If sales do NOT go down....NO.

    AS for Fender...they DO make some quality basses...and yet they still will not make the upgrades to the MIM jazz. Even though people have had the same complaints about it, for years now. Why don't they? Because people still buy it for the name. So Fender doesn't HAVE to improve it.
    And as for them "listening"...I have yet to get a straight answer about this, from any Fender representative. All I get is the same old..." Well, the Fender tradition...etc."

    The maufacturers listen to the ring of the cash registers. That's the...bottom line....:)

  6. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Let me add that I DID NOT intend for this to be yet another Fender sucks/doesn't such thread (and I don't think Marty did either). Fender does not suck, and I in no way mean to imply they do (although the occasional low-pressure front can be located in their vicinity :)). But as the largest manufacturer, they are gonna get dragged into any discussion of customer service. For the record, Carvin has never answered a single one of my emails on ANY topic (but they do send me stuff everytime I give them my credit card number - fancy that). And I'm not saying Peavey is perfect (Lord, no); I just see them as being more responsive of late. IMO, YMMV and all that happy crap.

    And the absolutely BEST customer service I ever got on ANY product was from AERO Instrument, when I ordered some new pickups. But they're a tiny manufacturer trying to compete with the big boys; being snooty would definitely not be in their best interest. I wish them all the luck in the world. But they are where Lane Poor was five years ago, and Lane has been getting some pretty unfavorable customer comments here and elsewhere lately. I hope AERO takes a hard look at their example, and can avoid becoming a victim of their own success.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think that with Fender, given the vast numbers involved they do remarkably well and that if you want a cheap bass, then they will do you one - it's just not going to be anything more than that.

    I have been very impressed by a series of articles in the UK "Guitarist" magazine, which have toured their production facilities in the US and Mexico and they seem to be investing wisely for the future and are justifiably proud of the quality of these facilities. But no doubt they have little say in what comes out of the Korean factories.

    When you get to a certain level - like I am stunned when I read people talking about a few hundred $ for a bass - then they are all going to be the same - whether it's Squier, Ibanez, Toby, or whatever - you can only do so much for so little!!
  8. Whenever any business is taken over by a bigger parent company,more often than not the quality control goes down the toilet.Why would a conglomerate care about a family owned business?Unfortunately it's about making serious profit while cutting costs and sad to say at the expense of the consumer and anyone in the company who might give a damn.I'm not against big business but it gets old when your favorite musical item loses value due to shoddy workmanship.If you want a company to listen,you either have to be a celebrity or you have to keep a working relationship with a luthier who is still struggling to keep up with the Joneses.I know G&L has still kept their integrity.The late Leo Fender had already been screwed by CBS.If he were alive today,he would have much to say about this travesty concerning the manufacturing process.
  9. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Fender does whatever they have to do to keep the price of the MIM,Squiers ect. down. E.g MIM Jazz are stock with 2 mid sized pickups instead of a mid & a bridge-problem to those that care or don't like the sound, to me-nope. Customer service will be fairly bad or crappy since they're HUGE worldwide bass & guitar making however when they do respond it is with great accuratecy. Also your local Fender Authorized Dealer usually has someone there who knows about the problems & how to fix them. I think i'm begging to rant more than i ment to. There is a massive upgradability on Fender basses-parts & the name are known round the world & lots of parts are made that can fit the basses with little or no mods to the bass. thats all
  10. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    When I replaced the neck on my P-Deluxe, seems to me that I did get to talk to someone at Fender over in Phoenix, who took the time to explain in excruciating detail how big of a pain in the a$$ they make it to get a new neck. Fortunately, my luthier had the patience to deal with it for me. Seems Fender doesn't even trust its own factory authorized luthiers to not take a Fender neck and make an ersatz copy or something.

    On the other hand, I like all three of my Fender basses. I would not say that Fender sucks, but they could use a little schooling in PR.
  11. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I had a problem with my Spector when I bought it that seemed a little bit of a headache...I bought it with the idea that I could have Stuart Spector replace the bridge with his new piezo bridge (well, it was new at the time). So, the dealer sent my bass to Spector immediately after I bought it. So, after a few weeks, nothing. Then I called Spector himself and all he said was that he was waiting for the part.

    5 years later, and still no piezo...
  12. Holy cow,I thought things were slow in Maine!!!
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Hey, RAM, when is he gonna send your bass back?
  14. RAM, you still havent got your bass back, FIVE YEARS??!! Whew.. And I thought that I had to wait for a long time when ordering a new nut to my old Yamaha, but actually that was not Yamahas fault (it was the crappy store).

    Anyway, the companies I have been in contact with when I have had something to ask about my gear have always been very fast and accurate. These companies are: Ernie Ball/Music Man, EBS, Mesa/Boogie and SWR. Always fast accurate answers or explanations. Especially Mesa, very helpful and caring.

    All companies that dont listen or care shold really think it over another time. After all no customers=no business=no company. I wonder why they cant figure that out? :D

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