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Dan Smith article in Reverb

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by RickS, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Very interesting, thanks for posting that. I recognise some of what he said from a book - maybe The Stratocaster Chronicles?

    What surprises me about this period is that the early AVRIs (from late 1982 & 1983) turned out as well as they did. It's rare to hear someone say they got a dog - somebody did a week or so ago, but it's very rare, & that's quite surprising under the circumstances.

    Something else that interested me was when he commented on the way some people dismiss the early AVRIs as being insufficiently "vintage correct".

    "And so when people said oh, the contour isn’t right, this isn’t right, that isn’t right, you know what? We did not see two guitars that had—in fact, he had successive serial-number Stratocasters, and one of ‘em had real skinny contours, the other one was almost like something from the ‘70s. There was nothing bull**** about them either—they were right."

    This was interesting too:

    "A lot of arrogant companies, like Tokai, a lot of these companies basically told Bill Schultz and I that they were gonna bury us, that they were gonna be Fender, that whether we liked it or not they were gonna take over the marketplace."

    I have never heard Tokai described as an arrogant company before! :D
     
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  2. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    I call BS on that too. Somebody must have been very frightened by the competition :D, Tokai certainly seemed to take over the marketplace here for a few years.
     
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  3. Will Lefeurve

    Will Lefeurve Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 1, 2016
    England & France
    Ah..Mojo!.. so that's what it was/is... and there was me thinking it was 'concrete'... :sneaky::whistling:
     
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  4. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    And the moving necks... :p
     
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  5. Will Lefeurve

    Will Lefeurve Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 1, 2016
    England & France
    Concrete and the Moving Necks... weren't they the 70's band that re-established Fender as a big name in the bizz.. o_O;)
     
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  6. gilmourstrat

    gilmourstrat Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 16, 2012
    Europe
    Concrete, Moving Necks & The Three Bolts - Live At Madison Square Garden
     

  7. LeicaBoss

    LeicaBoss Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 4, 2015
    New Jersey
    Talk to the violin makers. They've been doing the same thing for centuries.
     

  8. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Oh I'm not saying that it was BS. It might well have been true. And why not? I'm just saying I've never heard anyone say it before
     

  9. Neil.C

    Neil.C Most Honored Senior Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Surrey, England
    Very interesting, especially the last remark about Tokai from Dan Smith.

    I guess when you steal somebody else's designs and then say you are going to bury the originator it could come across as slightly arrogant. ;)
     

  10. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Absolutely. But to look at it another way, Tokai showed Fender the way out of the darkness of the 70s & effectively gave them their modern business plan. Raise the quality of the product, re-introduce high level quality control, respect your past, & offer the customer lovingly recreated versions of their classic designs at affordable prices. That's what led to the AVRIs, & it's what Fender do today with the Mexican Classic Series & the Chinese Classic Vibes. All Fender are doing is copying what Tokai did from 1978 with the Springy & the Breezy.

    Now I think that anyone or any company that had achieved that had a right to be arrogant. Or at least to come across as arrogant by the flabby old company they had overtaken. Fender had the good sense to look & learn.
     

  11. balston11

    balston11 Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 8, 2013
    Preston UK
    Looked at another way the company was saved by a small team that learned all they knew at Yamaha and applied Yamaha's principles to Fender albeit with some resistance.
     
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  12. felis

    felis Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 27, 2013
    Antwerp/Belgium
    One could also find it arrogant that a company of first choice refuses to accept your offer, and writes a letter about it to the former owner and founder to explain their position. :sneaky: ;)
     
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  13. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    Dan Smith calling somebody else arrogant is quite funny really.
     
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  14. felis

    felis Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 27, 2013
    Antwerp/Belgium
    As in demanding full control of how/where to produce/distribute ;)
     
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  15. Strat-Slinger

    Strat-Slinger Senior Stratmaster

    My hit on this... the time Dan Smith and the other guys spent at Yamaha was a reminder of how Fender themselves USED to operate.

    Leo was extremely frugal and made the most of what he had to work with... Fender as a company was resourceful back in the 50's into the mid 60's... and their product was spot on in every respect. They did what they did with the "player" in mind... it was all about giving the musician the best playing experience... the best functionality... the best sound (remember, Fender was practically the WORLD leader in guitar amplification... Marshall and Vox borrowed from Leo... NOT the other way around...).
    The product was also readily serviceable... which in turn made most Fender instruments (and amplifiers) a cut above the others in many respects...

    I think Tokia also held to the same principles that made Fender such a successful company in the beginning... and they had no problem rubbing it in the then (early 1980's) Fender Company's face after CBS exponentially ****ed up Fender by looting it from the top down for over a decade...
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
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  16. bluejazzoid

    bluejazzoid Strats Amore Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 14, 2009
    Southeast USA
    Very enlightening read, thanks for posting/sharing this!
     

  17. Neil.C

    Neil.C Most Honored Senior Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Surrey, England
    It's the "right to be arrogant" that I have a problem with TBH.

    Making a business from stealing other's designs is nothing to be arrogant about IMO. It's rather like the way China is carrying on now with all western stuff seen as fair game, no copyright laws there.

    Tokai almost photocopied Fenders earlier models as we all know but look at it another way. You say Tokai led Fender "out of the darkness" but let's be honest, without Fender or Gibson we would never had heard of Tokai.

    AFAIK their only really in house design in recent times was the aluminium Talbo, although that did look rather like a Rickenbacker and that pretty much sank without trace.

    I grant you building old style Fenders was a masterstroke that Fender took on with great success but without stealing other's designs labelled as Springy Sound, Breezy Sound, Love Rock etc would Tokai be the company they are today?

    I doubt it very much.
     
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  18. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    There's a big difference. These days, China is churning out straight fakes. You can buy Chinese guitars that say "Gibson" or "Fender" on the headstock which deliberately set out to defraud the customer into believing that something is actually a more expensive brand when it's a complete knock off. Tokai didn't do that - they always sold their guitars under their own brand as Tokais. Admittedly they were rather cheeky with that branding, & from a few paces away a Springy did look like a Fender, but no Tokai was ever branded "Fender" until Fender paid them to make Fender Japan guitars for ten years. Tokai bent the law a little - the Chinese now are breaking it completely, utterly & blatantly.


    133_3362.jpg


    It's interesting that you refer to Tokai "photocopying" Fender's stuff. You do realise that the photos in the Fender catalogue of the first AVRIs were actually retouched photos of Tokais? None of the AVRIs were ready to be photographed when the catalogue went to press, so they simply added Fender decals to Tokais.

    As for Tokai "stealing other people's designs", whose fault is it that Fender was too arrogant or too stupid to have bothered copyrighting their various designs, shapes & classic features? When they did try it was too little, too late.
     
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  19. vlazlow

    vlazlow Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    53
    70
    Mar 5, 2018
    Heart of Dixie
    That is a really cool article.

    I was lucky enough to had some LEAN Six Sigma training and looked at the article through that optic. They started applying Six Sigma quality controls before the concept was really formalized. The Japanese also forced Fender to consider Kaizen practices esp. when setting up the Corona plant.

    Crazy how the Japanese are what kept the brand from dying.

    IMHO Gibson could learn a lot from this article.

    Thank you very much for posting this great bit of history!
     

  20. jamieorc

    jamieorc Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    55
    54
    Oct 19, 2016
    Charlottesville, VA
    There's a great This American Life story that talks about a GM and Toyota joint venture to rescue and resuscitate GM's factory in Fremont, CA back in 1984. It covers the exact same issues that Smith discusses in that interview WRT CBS and the Fender factory. I listened to this a couple years ago and it made me sad and angry that GM's management wouldn't grasp success and change their own attitudes and behavior. The story gave me insight into the management culture in the US that sees itself as a separate class. I heartily recommend a listen when you've got an hour, even if you're not fond of This American Life.

    https://www.thisamericanlife.org/561/nummi-2015