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‘Quality Over Quantity:’ Hans-Peter Wilfer of Warwick & Framus

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • September 2018
  • Upfront Q&A
• Created: August 31, 2018

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Framus is a storied guitar line that first existed from the mid- ’40s through to the mid-‘70s, attracting some fairly well-known players along the way (Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, John Lennon – you may have heard of them…), and which was revived in 1995 by Hans-Peter Wilfer (son of Framus founder, Fred Wilfer). Warwick produces well-regarded basses, including signature models for the likes of Robert Trujillo (Metallica), Adam Clayton (U2), and Jonas Hellborg. Today, the two fretted brands are components of a larger company – which also fields RockBoard pedalboards, Warwick Amps, strings, and cases & bags.

MMR recently spoke with Hans-Peter Wilfer about the recent anniversaries for both Warwick and Framus, the company’s distribution model in the U.S. and abroad, and developments of note on the horizon.

2018 has been a busy year for both Framus and Warwick. You began the year with a video celebrating the 70th anniversary of Framus and the 35th for Warwick – what events, promotions, special edition instruments, et cetera have you already done or release to further mark the milestones? What else might we expect in the coming months?

Hans-Peter Wilfer: Our milestones for 2018 were: the new RockBoard Line, with the unique pedalboards which are so advanced in the market from the ideas and the design; all our Flat Patch cables and accessories and we are working so hard with our team on the new innovations for 2019 like Solderless Cables, Safermates, and Quickmounts, which will be huge innovations in the pedal market. Another milestone is our new Framus D Series, which will be launched into the market in the third quarter of 2018.

Late May saw the partnership with High Tech Distribution. While the relationship is still relatively new, how has that development impacted the Framus and Warwick brands in both the U.K. and France so far?

We are very happy about our partnership with Patrice Vigier and his family [owners of Vigier Guitars, of which High Tech Distribution is a division – Ed.], as we have similar roots and we are close with our working ethics and how we see the market. As Vigier is a custom shop guitar maker, as well, we fit very well together. Our collective brands do not compete against one another and it will make us both stronger in France and the U.K. It is a perfect match of two great families!

How about the U.S.? What’s the current distribution model for your instruments in America? How would interested dealers go about becoming Framus/Warwick retailers?

The U.S. is a great market to be in! We are working very hard to bring our brands to the U.S. market and have a great team there to do so. Dealers that are interested in RockBoard pedalboards and accessories should contact Framus & Warwick Music USA in Nashville, Tennessee at (629) 202-6790 or email Laurie Abshire at l.abshire@framuswarwickusa.com. I advise all dealers to get in on this, as the margins are great for everyone and it would just be insane not to get involved. You can use the same contact for all Framus instruments. That includes all Legacy Acoustics, German Pro Series, and Masterbuilt Custom Shop instruments. The Warwick brand basses and amps are still being distributed by KMC.

Currently, what’s the top selling Framus model in the U.S.? How about for Warwick?

Just as anything, the popularity of all models wax and wane through the ages. With Framus, one of the top sellers is the Panthera II Supreme. It is requested in almost every color and wood variation you can think of. For Warwick, the Streamer has been a great seller with both artists and consumers.

Recently, Framus introduced the Pro Series Teambuilt Stormbender Devin Model. Are there any other significant product introductions for either Warwick or Framus that you’d like to share with our readers?

Yes, we are working very close with some of our great artists for some new models in 2019, which we will present at Anaheim this coming January. We are in the middle of development… but can`t say more. These will be the new models for 2019 at NAMM!

RockBoard seems to really be connecting with end-users. What’s the relation of RockBoard to Warwick, exactly, and what’s next for the brand?

Actually, the relationship is very strong because RockBoard is by Warwick and distributed by W-Distribution in the E.U. and U.K. along with distribution in the U.S. by Framus & Warwick Music USA in Nashville. That is a good question, though, just in case someone was thinking the same. So many new products are on the slab for RockBoard.

We have very exciting and innovative products we are working on. I encourage my team to let myself or the RockBoard designers know about any ideas to contribute, as they have been using pedalboards for years and have the knowledge as to what should be suggested.

What’s your general take on the “health” of the guitar and bass markets – both globally and in the U.S. – and what are your expectations for the remainder of 2018?

Well, we are a small workshop that produces our Custom Shop and Pro Series instruments in Germany. We also have our Warwick RockBass and Framus DS Series that come in from China. We are not a huge manufacturer which produces 500,000 guitars and basses. We never overload the market with our instruments. We have our niche in the market, and through our quality and really well-made products, we still see potential to grow, but more important to us is the quality over the quantities. We do not have a sale for every price-point and we do not give any discounts because this doesn`t increase the market. We have a totally different philosophy than so many other companies, which sell with specials and discounts to fill more and more products to the dealers. I believe the guitar market is not dead. When I see what we sell on ukuleles, these [players are] all potential future customers. Not all, of course, but some see how much fun it is to play an instrument and become a customer for the next 50 years. It’s maybe not the same quantity as with the Baby Boomers – a time which is close to over and may not be coming back – but it will still be a good market if you have

  • quality products
  • give value to your customers
  • have innovative products
  • love what you do

It is not just a business. What we do is a passion and love, and if you do it only for money… well, you will fail in our business.

Any further developments or final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

Believe in our market and practice good skills to keep the industry alive – not just for your own business, but for the entire industry. A strong industry will help us all. Stick with the quality. Diluting your products by flash sales only dilutes your company and yourself.

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