Categories
Music Industry

More on Peavey and the Music Business

I’m not a television watcher. Other than the news occasionally, Jeopardy, and a few shows on the History Channel, I rarely have the thing on. I would rather read or practice one of my musical instruments.

So it came as a surprise to me when, doing some research on Peavey guitars (see last week’s blog), I came upon some information on the company that had me taken aback. It seems that the company was highlighted on an episode of the reality show Undercover Boss a few years ago, and what is worse, had some bad fallout prior to the finished production airing on TV.

It seems that the COO of the company (Courtland Gray) went undercover at Peavey Electronics to see what was happening with quality control. During the show, Gray learned that one employee had numerous bills to pay due to cutbacks, and another was turning in his two-week notice for better employment. At the end, Gray was able to give the first some financial assistance, and convince the second to stay with Peavey. Happy ending?

Not really. After the filming but before the airing, Peavey announced that it would be closing the factory that these two employees worked at, screwing them and others royally. The second employee got transferred to another facility, but he was pissed to say the least. The first lost her job entirely. Now this was all back in 2014. I can only hope that the both of them found better opportunities. A number of YouTube channels are showing this episode, so just Google “Peavey Undercover Boss.” Here is Casino Guitars talking about the situation:

Peavey was not alone during the past decade of music instrument soap opera drama. In 2018, Gibson (home of the Les Paul guitar and Bill Monroe’s F5 mandolin) filed for bankruptcy protection. The company has proceeded on, but news like that does not just get pushed under the rug.

So many companies have gone overseas for operations to save costs, with varying amounts of success (Fender = big rewards!, Peavey = way too late for the bus). Also, think about the music stores that have had varying amounts of success. Mars went belly up (again, see my previous blog on that company), Guitar Center keeps surviving despite multiple bankruptcies and legal woes, yet Sweetwater proved to be one of the most successful businesses out there, not just of music businesses, but of ALL businesses, during this last year with the pandemic.

With the interest in learning musical instruments while stuck at home this past year, one can see that an online music store would be successful. The downside was that in-store shopping was temporarily halted, and many stores, especially independents, are starving or closed altogether. As I stated in last week’s blog, prices for used equipment has also skyrocketed, I guess due to a renewed interest in musical instruments.

As for Peavey and its history, it makes me sad. Hartley Peavey started this company to bring affordable, durable products into the hands of blue-collar musicians. Between overseas competition, a drop in quality, and a change in the taste of musicians, it has become nearly a joke of what it once was. I still swear by those old bass guitars and the durable amps, but I know of so many people who look down on that equipment as lame.

What about the rise in learning a musical instrument? It is great to see, but will it last long-term? Everyone is stuck in the house, and after getting burned out on TV and video games, some people want to be educated, even if it means learning a guitar or some other instrument. Heck, I am sure that other hobbies are booming just as much. But what about a year from now, when it is expected that there will be a full return to going out, attending shows and restaurants, and not having to be forced to stay at home? I do see a small benefit for those of us who are passionate about the music. There will be a lot of guitars, basses, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, and keyboards for sale on the cheap.

Chew on it and comment.

Categories
Musical Instruments

Non-Vintage Guitars at Vintage Prices?

What is with the skyrocketing prices of used non-vintage musical instruments lately?

Here’s some background: My first “real” bass guitar was a Peavey T-20 that I bought new for about $350 at Wonderland Music in Dearborn, Michigan back in 1983 (the store has long since closed, but it was so cool back in the pre-Guitar Center days). Anyway, I sold it a few years later, but I did some collecting over the years, and one of my goals was to own a set of all three T-series Peavey basses (T-20, T-40, and T-45). I was able to get a T-40, but it was stolen shortly after. I did get another T-20 about 10 years back in bad shape and am currently working to restore it to playable condition.

I was looking online for a T-40 and T-45, and was floored by the sticker shock. A fair- to good-condition T-40 is going for well over $800, and if you can even locate a T-45, it’s going for twice as much.

These T-series basses (along with the T-series guitars) were the first attempts at Peavey to put out durable instruments made in the USA at reasonable prices. The guitars were completely manufactured by machines, which was unheard of back in the early 1980s, but is now pretty common with mass-produced guitars. While Peavey amplifiers had numerous celebrity endorsements, the guitars and basses did not get much promotion. There were some innovative features on the guitars and basses, but they were generally poo-pooed for their bulky weight and necks that were much wider and harder to fret than instruments from Fender or Gibson.

So why would second-hand non-vintage guitars and basses from a company like Peavey cost so much? There are a number of probable reasons, but most likely, it is the greed in the sellers’ market. I’ve written about this before, but I will state it again. Shows like American Pickers, where Tom and Frank will pay $200 for some beat-up banjo or guitar with no brand name, makes people think that what they have in their closets is a buried treasure. That program, along with PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, often have appraisers talking about some gem of a find being worth thousands of dollars. Yeah, a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop or a pre-war Martin D-28 is going to be worth a lot of money. However, these were unique when they were built, they were built with a lot of care at the time, and have structure and tone qualities that cannot be truly duplicated. Many have disappeared through time, so the ones that have survived are near priceless.

Another factor is visibility on some lower-end guitars. An old Airline guitar from the 1960s being played by Jack White, which before could be had for $10 at a garage sale, now command many hundreds of dollars. Thus, anyone with a old guitar sitting around (it doesn’t even matter what the name brand is or if there even is one) thinks that he/she owns a fortune with strings on it.

I recommended watching the Casino Guitars channel on YouTube before (https://luegra.design.blog/2020/11/14/youtube-find-casino-guitars/). Baxter and Jonathan have touched on this phenomenon briefly. I remember a similar situation happening back in the 1990s, where cheapo guitars were going for big prices. I admit, I got caught up in the hysteria and started buying a lot of guitars. I lost a lot of money in reselling them when I needed cash. I don’t ever plan on going that route again, but I still am interested in securing the three original Peavey T-series basses.

But not at what is being asked these days! I can wait it out to see how the market is moving. I would be doing it more as a personal love, and not to do some profitable trading. I can understand rare Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, or Martin guitars being valued due to the quality of workmanship as well as celebrity exposure, but for something like a first-generation Peavey guitar, something that was built specifically to be a cost-effective (and less-quality) alternative to the major brands, I don’t think that they are worth to rising cost. Buyers, both private and dealers, will eventually be honest with the sellers to say that these lower-end guitars are not worth that much money. Also, I am sure that those thousands of T-series guitars and basses sitting around in closets and attics will eventually come out to the market from owners that have not used them in years and have no use for them. Again, I can wait.

Chew on it and comment.