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How nimble are higher-end cabinet manufacturers?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jim Carr, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Is true that Greenboy, Bill Fitzmaurice, Duke LeJeune, and Barefaced designed bass cabinets are starting to eat the lunches of Bergantino, Epifani, Mesa, Ampeg, Genz Benz, Eden, GK, et al.? :eyebrow:

    Care to offer a back of the envelope calculation of total sales they have missed out on in the last few quarters? :eek:

    If it is a significant bite, how nimbly do you think large higher-end bass cabinet manufacturers can respond to the competition?
    What will they do? :ninja:
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
  3. Hi.

    I'm no expert, and even though I'm a fan of DIY style stuff, including the contribution of these fine gentlemen You mentioned, here's my humble opinion.

    As a whole, no.
    Some local sales may be lost here and there.

    My guess would be a couple of sales each, max.

    If they all of a sudden see these "DIY-oriented" designs as a threat, they'll respond by either licensing or copying the design. Both are standard business models.

    Different kinds of DIY/small scale (boutique if You will) manufacturing has existed for decades. Every DIY design that has been an improvement, has stuck eventually.

    Keeping the feasibility of manufacturing in mind obviously.

  4. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Yes. So let's call that ~100 fEARful users, just to make it easy. That is only some % of the fEARfuls, and is not accounting for BFM, LDS, TC, Alex Claber, etc., and should we count Avatar?

    What if all of them added together was ~300 cabinets in the last 4 quarters?
    How much in lost sales for the big guys does that represent? :cool:
  5. I don’t know - but, I'm learning and stealing the best ideas from all of them. :D
  6. R Baer

    R Baer Commercial User

    Jun 5, 2008
    President, Baer Amplification
    The percentage of bass players that have even heard heard of these smaller boutique cabs is probably a very,very small number. If you add up all our yearly cab sales collectively, it's probably less that GK, or Ampeg sells worldwide in just a few days, if that long. One must also remember that 2 and 3-way cabs loaded with mid drivers were not invented by a select few here on TalkBass. These types of cabs go way, way back. Heck, I was playing an EV 3-way cab decades ago. My guess is that while the more sophisticated designs may be an improvement over what is commercially available, that doesn't necessarily mean that they would generate sales numbers high enough to interest the major manufacturers. I would say these cabs appeal to a niche market and the major players don't see them as any more of a threat than they do any other boutique amplification company on the market.

    The ones that keep the majors up at night are the companies like Markbass and TC Electronics that come on the scene with very innovative products and quickly grab a significant piece of their own market share. There's a huge difference between building a good speaker cabinet and starting an complete amplification company that is capable of playing with the big boys in their own sandbox.
  7. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Yep. I look forward to many more years of being among the select few bassists that actually know what's up (with speaker cabinets anyway). :D:bassist:
  8. IMO, no.

    While there are some superior spec's on some of these more 'custom' boxes versus some of the other high end cabs, the tonality of the various cabs is not particularly a 'better or worse' thing. Like all other cabs, each of these 'boutique' boxes has its own sound which will speak to some and not to others. Sometimes, specs that look 'superior' on paper do not translate to better tone or performance in backline rigs.

    Lots of hype on TB for some of these executions, but virtually nothing in the larger market place that I've seen. I like and own some of these, and dislike others, like any other class of gear.
  9. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    That number doesn't even vaguely approach my numbers alone.
    With the same ease that it takes to reverse the course of an aircraft carrier at flank speed. Designing and tooling up a commercial design takes upwards of a year. I can go from a clean sheet of paper to an operating prototype in two to four weeks.
  10. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Honestly, I can't imaging that the big guys are too worried about it.

    There are always going to be players that want something thats not mainstream, popular, or conventional. They want something custom built, or something that no on else in their scene has, or something that has certain tonal capabilities. These types of people will rarely buy a production cab, no matter what. As popular as these types of cabs are with a select few here on these boards, they are virtually unheard of in the mainstream bassist world.
  11. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan

    The flip side to all this is that a lot of those big names have some sort of representative on this very board. The major manufacturers are aware of the boutique designs. Im sure they employ their own version of BFM who is telling them that vertically aligned drivers are the way to go. Hell they may even have new designs waiting in the wings for when sales on the standard cabs starts to shift because of newer designs.

    The point is, none of the big companies are or should be ignorant of better designs, they dont make them at this point because there is money to be made with what they are currently doing.
  12. pudgychef

    pudgychef Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    I know whenever I start reading about them I get tempted to find an GTA (Ontario, Canada) based BFM or GB builder..... :)

    Hope I can check one out once I get back to Ontario....
  13. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan

    If you want to make the drive to Michigan there are a few here as well. I have a 1515/66 and I know of a BFM cab loaded with two 12" speakers in the area.
  14. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon. Supporting Member

    I live in Toronto (a big market) and have never physically seen a Fearful, LDS, etc.

    I would expect 95+% of bassists in my area would be in the same boat and have never even heard of these brands/builders.

    Is this any different than Fender caring about how many basses Sadowsky, Lakland, and other boutiques sell?

    I go into my local store and they have over a dozen (of each) cabs from Mesa, Ampeg, Traynor, etc.

    I sometimes think TBers believe that a much large percentage of the bass playing population knows/cares about much of the non-mainstream stuff we discuss on these threads. I think we are a very small percentage.

    I would hazard a guess that more bassists on my area are playing 20 year old Peavey cabs than all boutique cabs combined.
  15. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Yeah, I don't really see it as a concern for many of the boutique cabinet builders or high end of the market, nor do I see it as a goal of any of the mentioned builders/designers to 'hurt' the bottom line of those other companies.

    I really feel that the biggest goal and concern of the people in question was to provide a cabinet design and sound that was previously well under-served in the market.

    I don't think that I do hope that some of those established companies 'catch on' to these designs...I'd rather see the guys who put themselves on the line to bring them to us succeed with them.
  16. pudgychef

    pudgychef Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    good idea...
    I may just do that - and hit you up to send me in the right direction (if thats cool) Have some stuff to do in Windsor.....hmmm early June.... :bassist:
  17. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    You are grouping large and small companies. They have different distribution goals. There are different business models. Every entrepreneur doesn't want to be the size of his peers.
    Some makers are very very comfortable with their niche.

    Ultimately the bassists who prefer these brands are choosing sound not a brand's market share.
  18. Nice post, and +1. There seems to be a sort of myth on TB that these cabs are somehow a 'new design'. Those of us who have gigged the EA VL cabs, the EV's, the Acme's, or one of the zillion mid driver loaded LDS cabs through the years knows that these 'mid driver' sort of cabs pop up from time to time over the years, and actually do fill a certain market niche. Nothing wrong with that!

    +1 to your entire post.
  19. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    There's also a conceit that cabinets like Bill's or Greenboys have some aspects that are unpalatable to many large (and small) established companies. There's a complexity of design, extra time and effort and component cost that makes many cabs look less profitable to many companies, where they'll either have to have a greater cash outlay in components and materials, or in labor/time expense.
  20. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    North East Texas
    The answer to the OP is no.

    Most bass players (probably more than any of us can probably understand) are going to guitar center, and buying what ever is on the floor, and in their price range.

    Found an article (CNN Money) from 2005 that said guitar center had sold $1.5 billion the previous year, and was opening 2 new stores a month. This is 7 years ago. Even if they got hit hard by the recession, these little guys aren't doing any damage. They sell quite a few of the brands mentioned in the OP (not Bergantino or Epifani), so sales over all for the big guys are not in trouble.

    As far as sales they have missed out on in the last few quarters... if 1,000 people bought one of these new botique super cabs, and paid on average $1,000... that's $100,000 -- compared to $1.5 billion in sales that guitar center did 2004.

    I would guess that there are a handful of players buying these new super-cabs that might otherwise buy Bergantino or some brand like that, but even Bergantino is a pretty small operation. These cabs are overall a TINY part of the market. A lot of people on TB talk pretty loud about them, and I think that gives all of us here a kind of skewed view that they are more prolific than they really are. That's not to say they are not better cabs, but I bet Ampeg has sold more of their new non-super portaflex cabs since they've been out than the whole total of sales of these super-cabs over the past few years.

    I think there is a market for these cabs... Avatar saw that there was a market for these things, got hip and started making a "nEarfull" that seems targeted at a particular segment of the market. That would be the segment of the market that reads about fEarrul on TB, but can't DIY or afford a boutique cab. Smart folks over there at Avatar - quality not withstanding.

    It's really cool that these new DIY super-cabs are out there, and they all get good reviews,, but as far as stealing sales from anyone else... I don't think so.