Think ‘Small,’ Score Big

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • August 2018
  • Editorial
• Created: August 6, 2018

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This issue wound up wound up focusing (and not entirely by design) on many aspects of MI – particularly in the “fretted-related realm” – that are, well, “small.”

In our August UpFront Q&A feature, we speak with Meredith Hamlin, president and CEO of Kyser Musical Products. While I’m sure some weirdo out there has crafted a diamond- encrusted, platinum capo, in the world of typical player’s gear, though, capos top out at around $60, max, so we’re not talking big-ticket purchases. However, whenever we conduct accessories-focused dealer surveys, capos are routinely singled out as one of the more reliably consistent selling items.

Speaking of MI retailer surveys, this issue’s poll on the subject of parlor acoustic guitars found nearly 90 percent of participants (88.5%) reporting that their sales of the relatively diminutive six-strings are either up or level, when compared to 2017 – a far higher number than in recent surveys focused on other types of instruments and gear (for example, July’s analysis of the DJ market found only 66.7% claiming sales were “up or level” and April’s synth survey yielded only 66.1%). Why do retailers think some customers are drawn to parlor acoustics?

“Parlor size guitars offer player a substantial leap in comfort for playing simply because of the size.” In other words: because they’re small!

In Dan Daley’s The Last Word column, he focuses on the burgeoning busking scene and the related gear – compact, portable battery- powered amps, effect pedals, et cetera – and notes that the typical busker is not, “not coming into buy $2,000 Les Pauls, but, as a cohort, they’re a sales phenomenon to be reckoned with.”

Finally, our cover feature shines a light on the phenomenon of “hot-rodding” electric guitars and basses – personalizing and customizing instruments via aftermarket products (most of which tend to be relatively small, both in size and retail price). The beauty of embracing and encouraging “mod culture” amongst the guitar community is that these men and women who take to tinkering with their instruments become repeat – and frequent – customers. True, it’s more immediately exciting and impactful to sell a $75,000 grand piano or a $17,000 vintage guitar than it is to move a $150 pickup or an $8 set of knobs, but with volume those “tiny purchases” seriously add up.

“We’ve seen that more people are interested in modifying their existing instruments than ever,” observes James McCaffrey of AP Itnl./Floyd Rose, while Allparts’ Steve Wark asserts, “Our customers that display our parts always comment on the easy sales at a great margin.”

Easy sales! At a great margin!  All hail the power of “small.”


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