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Have Internet Music Retailers added credibility to Carvin?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jarrett, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. Jarrett


    Jan 19, 2004
    Waxahachie, Tx
    I was reading about GC circling the drain on another forum today and it got me to thinking about this scenario.

    Historically, music stores were mom and pop shops where you went to see, touch and feel a limited amount of overpriced music equipment. And Carvin was that weird catalog you got in the mail with pointy guitars in it that you read in the bathroom.

    Flash forward to today and places like Musician's Friend, Sweetwater, Music123, etc have somewhat taken over for the mom and pop shops. Now they send you catalogs and allow you to browse their website, find the instrument you like for a good price and have them ship it to you for a limited trial period to see if you like it or not.

    Interestingly enough, this is also how Carvin does business now as well. Or actually, they might have been doing it first. Same type of catalog, website, similar products, similar trial period.

    Has this changed the way you feel about Carvin over the years? Were they ahead of their time?
  2. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    They probably weren't the first to do it this way - Michael Dell got rich selling computers using the same model - but they certainly have always been able to offer a really high bang/buck with the online/custom method.

    But Carvin didn't do it out of necessity like most other operations. The retail stores-turned-internet-outlets went that way because they have had to; Carvin chose to do it from the beginning (or a long time ago anyway) for good business reasons. So I think they were always ahead of the internet-sales game.

    They still have the highest bang/buck out there, despite many other manufacturers having gone to the online model. They've been doing it for long enough that they simply have a big head start.

    I didn't discover Carvin until just a couple years ago. I already have 2 Bunnies and, if/when I'm ever able to lift my "austerity measures", I'll probably never get anything else....
    So my view hasn't changed about Carvin, I was convinced from the git-go :)
  3. To me, they are still the company that sends me free bathroom reading material...my relationship with Carvin ends there though. Pretty sure you can't return a custom spec'd 5 string with guitar pickups in hot pink after 45 days though.
  4. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper Yamaha & Grosbeak. I’m Marc!

    Jul 16, 2011
    East Meadow, NY, USA
    I just read the Carvin page on Wikipedia, and they have an interesting backstory of being a reseller as well as a producer of their own instruments before they moved to mail order.

    I think the big difference today is the reseller part. Today, Carvin sells only their own stuff, and the other guys sell a variety of brands. I would say they did find a little pocket that mainly boutique builders only really have been in, before most boutique builders even started.

    What article were you reading about GC? I would like to read as well.
  5. Since when do they not have credibility? My Carvin gear pounds the snot out of anything else I've ever heard or played...
  6. When I was young, I certainly hadn't considered Carvin to be a bathroom reading catalogue. For me, it was a sit-down and read page-by-page catalogue.

    One of my friends saved up enough money to buy a full Carvin Stack. It was so cool!

    Also, when my the speaker of father's Gibson Falcon amplifier died many years ago, he ordered a new speaker from Carvin and it still sounds perfect today.
  7. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    I don't think GC is circling the drain. GC, Musican's friend, and Music 123, are all the same company, from what I understand.

    As for Carvin, I've always liked their gear. I've still got electronics I bought from them 2 decades ago. PA head, monitors, etc. All of it still works.

    I always though Carvin was pretty sharp. The only reason I never bought one of their basses is because I couldn't play it first. That's a must for me. Doesn't have anything to do with Carvin, I feel that way about all brands.
  8. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    I didn't know Carvin lacked credibility.
  9. VigierUSA


    Jan 7, 2013
    Kingston, NY
    General Manager USA, Vigier Guitars
    I think Carvin was way ahead of the game as they saw a traditionally retailer driven market and decided it doesn't necessarily need to be. At this point, I don't think guitar buyers are as hesitant to buy are particular guitar/bass they haven't played personally as long as they've had experience with the model or brand in the past and the brand has a reputation for consistency.

    In my mind as a player they definitely crept out from the weird mail order status to high end manufacturer slowly over the course of years. Honestly, that change in attitude may have to do with personal experience with the product more than the prominence of internet retailers.
  10. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    Much like in real life, sometimes getting mixed up with the wrong crowd can lead to trouble.
  11. 48thStreetCustom


    Nov 30, 2005
    Dell (and Carvin to some extent) is an entirely different business model from GC or Musician's Friend. It's not just the difference between manufacturing and retail, it's when they invest in the process. Dell wouldn't buy the materials to make the computers (chips, screens, etc) to until they had enough orders. This eliminated warehouse space and capital tied up in yet-to-be-sold inventory. Their computers rolled right off the assembly line into the shipping department. Carvin is similar to Dell in the way that they don't build a guitar until it's already been sold. But I believe they still have to buy wood and set it aside (I could be wrong about that).

    GC and Musicians Friend on the other hand have to invest in inventory which they hope to sell. There's always the risk that they'll have something sitting in a warehouse for a long time that won't sell. That's why they sell lots of popular brands like Gibsons and Fender and rarely carry brands like Laklands or Lulls
  12. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Personally I don't mind their horrible resale value. My two favorite basses are Carvins. I paid less than a third of what they cost new and their fantastic basses.
  13. The difference between Carvin, and the others mentioned is that Carvin sells only Carvin gear wheras the others sell many brands as a retailer, but do not manufacture any gear of their own. They're completely different in this respect.
  14. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    True, MF and GC are resellers only as opposed to Carvin/Dell who are actually manufacturers, but they are becoming similar in a way by abandoning the retail stores model. They still have to maintain inventory, but in far fewer places and probably not as much of it.

    But to tell the truth, I've always found music stores to be really depressed and, in many cases, just barely hanging on by a thread. Even back in the early 80's when I started, nobody ever got rich running a music store. They always seemed to be just as poor as we were, working as hard laborers for Halliburton services during the summer and s$$$.

    Even in Austin, places came and went all the time. Only Ray Henning's Heart O' TX music endured, and that was because Ray is so famous. Everyone else always seemed to be just really struggling.

    So I dunno... I think the retail stores have always been kind of circling the drain for a long long time. You had a King or two, a Queen or two and maybe a Lord here and there. All the rest were on life support.

    GC is kind of the last holdout, but I think we'll be all-internet here pretty shortly.

  15. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Bain Capital is the "wrong crowd"?? News to me, and I think anyone else who pays attention in the business world.
  16. 48thStreetCustom


    Nov 30, 2005
    I get your point but I think the internet put the nail in the coffin for little brick and mortar shops. I think this is a tragedy of our times. A good small music store acts somewhat as a center of a community. They're a place where you can ask questions and try things. Good owners talk to you and help you get what's right for you. And they act as curators. They don't just carry lowest common denominator inventory, they make selections based on knowledge and taste. So I try to support these guys whenever I can even if I pay a little more.

    Sigh... I guess I'm getting old but I miss the day when you had neighborhood bookstores and video stores who knew what you like
  17. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    I dont see internet stores doing that for carvin in any way. Carvins been doing direct buy since the beginning.
  18. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper Yamaha & Grosbeak. I’m Marc!

    Jul 16, 2011
    East Meadow, NY, USA
    Uh oh.

    I think this can get political really fast, and even uglier faster. Please just keep on topic guys.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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