Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Go with the flow (Ibanez content)

Good day everyone. On this holiday eve, I'm not schooling you in on how you should be running your Ibanez inventory because you have your own store policies, unique terms with the manufacturer & more importantly, you have a strong team of market analysts to back your commercial decisions- good for you. I am an Ibanez fan, I have my own perspectives of all things Ibanez & some of these are based on how you (the Ibanez distributors) behave in both domestic & international contexts. I'm not putting anyone under the microscope, just sharing what I observe & the implications thereof. You could say that my engagements with the Ibanez brand name have reached the geek status (if there is such a thing to begin with) due to a healthy dose of obsession, purchasing power & a good relationship with the local distributors (trying to think of another authorized Ibanez distributor besides the well-known one here. Hmm...). The final element of that last statement- well I'm not trying to hide the fact that it had gone south but I'm not at the detriment of this episode. I have moved on, I am buying fewer Ibanez guitars with immediate effect. Maybe I have another avenue for my Ibanez acquisitions... 😜

To begin with, when dealing with Ibanez, there's a simple philosophy to uphold: Go with the flow. Ibanez is not a brand name where buyers look at past models gleefully with an intent to purchase a good investment. Ibanez is not Fender or Gibson. Past/ discontinued model references do not automatically make it a valued possession. These older models have a time-shackle element; they are awesome at the particular time of release. If you keep them for too long in the showroom, especially when the manufacturer themselves have clearly moved on, you have dead guitars in the premises. A clear example will be the Falchion model you see here. Together with the Glaive & Halberd from the X-Series, these were departure models for 2014. If you are still selling these & insist on keeping the original price tag, it shows a lot about you.

Still on keeping up with the times, we need to observe some turning points with Ibanez. Paul Stanley was back with Ibanez (2014) & people are buying the regular Iceman model again with the standard (4 by 4 pegs) headstock. The ICT version (pictured above) was done with in 2012. Despite featuring DiMArzio pickups in there & a technically more efficient bridge, players are not looking forward to invest in a variant, certainly not in 2017 (2018, 2019... clock's ticking). 

Ditto the signature models. Marty Friedman ended his Ibanez deal in 2012. Heck, he reverted to the Jackson camp after a PRS stint so selling a half-decade old signature piece (at a price where one could easily consider the most affordable Gibson) is an uphill task.

Worth mentioning in passing- the Mick Thompson model. This was the latest casualty (2016) so clearing it at the quickest possible opportunity is a wise consideration. 

The other aspect of an Ibanez inventory consideration- featured parts. Ibanez fans know that when it comes to individuality, Ibanez is hardcore. Think of an Ibanez model with a Floyd Rose bridge in there & you'll get the picture. There is a strong insistence on putting their own features into their products; it's more pride than anything else. The founders even commissioned trusted partners to manufacture special components for their instruments (The Ibanez Electric Guitar Book, 2013). Along the way, parts were revised & newer versions substituted preceding models. Even higher tier models like the Prestige (RGT320QM pictured above) line weren't spared.

The bridges featured above are older models. They had been defunct for various reasons. The Edge Pro was conceived to address a patent issue when the licensing agreement between Ibanez & Floyd Rose ended so no Edge/ Lo-Pro Edge were manufactured for a period of time till 2010/2011. It wasn't put to rest for technical reasons, in fact, it's one of the best dual action model at that point in time especially so when it accepted the strings' ball end into the system cavity. When the Edge/ Lo-Pro Edge returned to the scene, players opted for the tried & trusted model instead of the Edge Pro (compounded by the fact that endorsers like Satriani & Vai wouldn't part with their Edge/ Lo-Pro Edge units) so when you see an Ibanez with this bridge in there, you'd know how old it is & re-think how much you should pay for one. The Edge III was the least favourable model as it proved to be technically incompetent when keeping tuning in check. Basically, it was a stiff unit affecting tuning accuracy when in use. The Falchion featured here was equipped with an Edge III. So if you were a seller in this aspect, you should be clearing models sporting the older features due a drastic drop in desirability. More importantly, the manufacturer had stopped offering spares for these older models so should a technical issue surface, it would be a dead end for owners. 

Enough for now. I'm reiterating the fact that I'm not putting any one party responsible for the Ibanez developments here. There's no more 'here' come to think of it as online purchases are there at the ready for our wider considerations. We should be supporting one another in this small community for a win-win outcome but when $$$ considerations get in the way, some hands are tied. They are acting in the best interest of the company & we totally understand the dispositions at stake. 

However, please do not deny the real situations taking place as time ticks on. There is a limited market here for musical instruments & we are no longer staying true to our previous convictions in light of the developments. This is especially true when Ibanez is no longer flexing its significant Japanese muscle as we know it (the Premium models are very good distractions. You didn't realize it most probably because you were distracted- there it worked!) & the limited inclinations are currently driving players away more than attracting a stronger legion. 

There is no other way to clear the older Ibanez models than to free them from their current listed prices. Do not hide behind a clearance promo like offering a free amp or pedal as enticements because buyers are still paying the same, old prices for them. A drop in prices will trigger interest from, first & foremost, the collectors or true fans of the brand name. These are the very people who do not look forward to re-sell their purchases in the near future so they won't think too much about acquiring these instruments for the sake of allegiance more than anything else. You might have a different, undisclosed, strategy with regards to the matter & I wish you all the best in dealing with zombie Ibanez models in store. 


Andy Sim said...

Great observation and well written and I totally agree with you. I was thinking about the same thing about the few units of Washburn Signature series (I hope it is not so obvious as I am refraining from mentioning the merchant, haha.....)

subversion.sg said...

Not to mention some Jackson, Peavey & Cort stuff among others. Thanks for reading, sir!