Ce n’est pas un phonographe. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Roadside Guitars.

Gibson Guitar has announced in a press release they’re acquiring the Stanton Group, which includes, aside from the well-known Stanton DJ brand, KRK monitoring products and Cerwin-Vega loudspeakers.

It’d be easy to see this as a guitar company buying a DJ company, but it’s more than that. KRK and Cerwin-Vega are speaker/monitoring brands. Stanton and Cerwin-Vega each have footholds in the larger consumer arena, not just the pro world, a detail Gibson is quick to emphasize. And Gibson themselves have quietly, steadily grown beyond just guitars. The new “Gibson Pro Audio” banner is added to a list of brands that Gibson reels off: “Epiphone, Dobro, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Maestro, Oberheim, Baldwin, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton, Wurlitzer.” But it would seem dropping the “Guitar” from the name would be realistic.

There are two interesting details to the way the press release is worded. First, the lead is that Gibson’s move is “part of its continued expansion as a lifestyle brand.” That’s perhaps going to send a chill down the spine of anyone who prefers to focus explicitly on “musicians.” Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz even says the move “allows us access to 20 in 20 consumers instead of the one in 20 we currently hit.” That contrasts with the emphasis of, say, organizations like NAMM who talk about the general market of “musicians,” not only “lifestyle,” whatever you take that to mean. On the other hand, this is really nomenclature we’re talking here; the question I have is how “lifestyle” actually translates into a strategy, and how well it works for Gibson.

The other detail is more interesting. Gibson and Stanton Group reps each stress the potential for overlapping R&D. Juszkiewicz has touted R&D projects in the past, though largely centered around new guitar tech. We’ll see if the two companies can deliver on that R&D promise and do something really innovative. I have no idea what that’d mean in this case, so if anyone cares to speculate, I’m all ears.

Anyone?

Gibson Guitar Acquires Market-Leading Pro Audio Companies KRK, Cerwin-Vega!, and Stanton [PR Newswire]

Online chatter has in past not been very kind to Gibson on its past acquisition record, so I expect some people will raise the spectre of at least one acquisition again. Let’s see… comments…

I don’t personally view this as flame-bait; Gibson’s a perfectly-respectable guitar maker and I imagine there could be some smart business opportunity here, especially with Stanton together with Gibson in Nashville. However, let’s consider: the names Gibson and Stanton, guitars and DJing. I imagine some flame-broiled comment thread on the Internet somewhere.

And yes, reasons to be skeptical:

Promises of this sort of R&D synergy could easily fail to materialize. And whether Gibson can manage these essentially unrelated businesses is an enormous question mark. There aren’t a whole lot of acquisition success stories in this business.

  • http://www.vguitarforums.com Steve Conrad

    Yet another group of companies to wave goodbye to as they become micromanaged to death

  • http://www.warriorbob.com Warrior Bob

    Now to convince them that my lifestyle would be best served by a direct-drive Les Paul.

  • Geezer

    R.I.P Stanton

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pairshare/id424429744?mt=8 Brian Tuley

    Stanton products may suffer somewhat from this.  I've never used their stuff so I can't speak for the quality.  Gibson guitars are very well made yet they are so overpriced that few working class musicians can even afford to play them.  (compare to the Harley Davidson history)

    I don't know many garage band musicians who can afford to play a 4000. Les Paul.  Outrages pricing is the result of whatever the market will dictate, I guess.  Same with Fender and the other classic US guitar companies.  I'll stick to my Eastwood Co. knockoffs.  Globalization has made American guitars too costly for musicians who might actually pick them up to play them.  On the other hand, the Asian guitar knockoffs are pretty damned good quality as of the last few decades.  

    So we live in a world where fat old bald heads are riding Harley Davidson and collecting Gibson Classic guitars, but they do not dare play them, else the wife may get angry, and the kids are crying for lunch.  A sad state of affairs,indeed.

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pairshare/id424429744?mt=8 Brian Tuley

    R.I.P. Gibson & Fender, for the 99%.

  • midihendrix

    word is that the quality of gibson today is far inferior to that which it was, despite rising prices. and my experience with stanton was just the defunct, bug ridden final scratch.

    so if the trend is for poorly run companies to merge, should we expect digidesign to acquire gibson in 2012?

    would be nice to have a market of 1 mega crap slew vs. a field of indie competitors.

  • midihendrix

    p.s. R.I.P. Squier Rockband Guitar.

  • Graham

    Stanton customers, meet Opcode customers…'nuf said

  • http://www.authenticfilms.com Charles

    Henry's lifestyle consists of hanging out with blues lawyers and admiring wall art that looks suspiciously like musical instruments. My heartfelt condolences to fans of Stanton, KRK, and Cerwin-Vega.

    As for Gibson "R&D":

    http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/

    Need I say more?

  • Graham

    Oh cr@p, KRK? Better buy a second set right now and keep them for when my present KRKs die.

  • http://www.hicox.com plurgid

    "Lifestyle Brand" 'eh? … I suppose this means they're going to do a Harley-Davidson.

    I'm looking forward to being able to buy Gibson-branded BBQ sauces …. the familiar guitar logo means it's mmm-mmm good!

  • http://redvoidmusic.net/ redvoid

    I see lack of attention to detail coming for all the pro audio products across their many brands. "combining R&D" is corporate shorthand for firing R&D people, so less innovation sounds more likely than more. Also stepping outside their core strength of Pro Audio will almost assuredly result in some missteps along the way strategically even if they retain good talent.

    wild tongue in cheek speculation: as far as what "lifestyle" products to expect from this combination, um I dunno, sounds like they may end up misusing brand model intellectual property to produce overpriced authorized Gibson ES335 Rock Band Controllers made of exotic hardwoods with a special issue of Rock Band that includes a Stanton DJ-Hero controller to scratch over all those old classic rock songs.

    Or maybe they'll create a hybrid midi guitar / keytar with sampling and a scratch pad with built in KRK speakers, and call it a Gibson SG-II Rokker or something. Eek! The jokes would never stop.

  • http://music.cornwarning.com chaircrusher

    Gibson is famous for ruining companies they acquire. Opcode was bad enough, but before that they ruined Oberheim.  I fully expect Stanton 500 cartridges to suddenly double in price, and for the stylii to last half as long.

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pairshare/id424429744?mt=8 Brian Tuley

    "Lifestyle" brand???  Maybe that's like code for Gibson fashion.  Like say, you can't afford a Gibson guitar, but you can wear their brand name on a $75.00 sweatshirt (made in Bangladesh), while you play your Epiphone Les Paul, (made in China).  Well, at least the girls in the back of the club will think you're a rock star!!!  (Sorry, can't resist the recurrent trolling on this one.)

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/sounddevisor sounddevisor

    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person who still remembers Opcode. Still haven't been able to wash the bitter aftertaste of that one out of my mouth. I hope Stanton and KRK fare better, but I wouldn't bet on it.

  • Peter Kirn

    I decide d whn i wrote this p o st to hav a drinkng ga me t  o seeee if pple would brngi up Opcod   e.

    going gud :)

  • http://www.youtube.com/db3ll db3ll

    I'm surprised that no one's mentioned when Gibson was owned by Norlin, who at the time also owned Moog. They put Moog circuitry into the RD guitars, but rather than anything fun (like a filter) they put a wonky compression/expansion circuit. It was a terrible failure, and the last (IMO) original thing Gibson ever did (the guitars are finally collectible now… they were in the vintage wasteland forever). Anyway, hopefully the lack of innovation that Gibson has evinced over the past thirty years w/r/t guitars won't leach into the DJ stuff, or they will just be selling different flavors of whatever sells best now for eternity. 

  • DBM

    Hey this just means we will get the chance to buy licensed out KRK's made in Italy by a headphone Co. that will not work well and be even more expensive than before . White faced reissues of old DJ gear ;)

    A complete loss due of anything computer related  as well as Walmart clearance specials of items with Big names graphed on to consumer products that have little or no correlation whatsoever !

    People are so negative . I see so much opportunity here . Opportunity for cleaver snark for a couple years to come anyway ;)  

             

  • Peter Kirn

    KRK and Cerwin-Vega were already part of Stanton Group. So that acquisition happened really without any of us paying much notice.

    Really, one issue with even commenting on this is that it's hard to get a picture of a lot of businesses in music tech. Compare large tech companies, which are publicly traded and widely watched. A lot of the time we don't know the background beyond somewhat-unreliable hearsay. 

    I share the skepticism, in other words, but I lack facts.

  • mediawest

    i used to work with OPCODE. they invented the DAW and sequencer and galaxy were amazing. i still have two se30's with a opcode interface running my old gear. then came gibson, in one year the whole company was in shambles and then closed…. i also used to work for NORLIN, there were some amazing maestro products that tom oberheim used to hand build… i am still mad i have to use protools because they killed studio vision just when is was about to become the defacto DAW…

  • Jamsire Ernoir

    R.I.P Stanton – indeed, and I'm a geetar man!

  • http://www.gesslr.com gesslr

    I too remember the Opcode fiasco. (Geez that's a long time ago now.) Probably the biggest determinant of whether or not an acquisition works is the degree to which the cultures of the companies mesh. After all, what is one acquiring but the underlying human capital? Products last a sales cycle or three; patents a bit longer. But if you want to create great products and great "R&D" you need the people behind those things and their vision. I don't see a company like Gibson (a "lifestyle brand" no less!) meshing with Stanton….The folks at NI must be very, very pleased.

  • loquat

    I own a Gibson SG but I wouldn't replace it if it was lost or stolen. I like it, but there is better value elsewhere…I'm still waiting for a lefty Moog Guitar :P

  • http://www.bassling.com bassling

    The challenge is for them to keep this lifestyle relevant. Guitars, DJing, etc. seems so 20th century.

    History certainly makes the purchase look dire though. I've got an old Epiphone that sounds so amazing that I can't stand hearing any effects on it. Whereas the Epiphones they sell these days only seem to sound good with effects.

  • http://www.soundbase.com Renger

    Yep, good to see that the Opcode memory hasn't faded yet! (just saw my Studio5 gaining dust  in the attic yesterday ….)

  • http://xfader.com REGEND

    i agree with bassling. i also believe that this means retail expansion for the brand in a way the competition won't match for a while. we're going to see a lot boxed bundled items (DJ in a Box, Guitar in a box, and drums in a box). perhaps even a one stop shop for all gibson company products at malls. this would be competition to GC, SamAsh, and the popular 4 installment plan web stores. in terms of quality, stanton was never at pro levels even during their merger with vestax. it has always been an intermediate brand for those that got sick of gemini and numark equipment breaking but couldn’t afford denon, pioneer, vestax, and later rane product . stanton products are prone to hum/grounding issues, cd players eventually skip, and plastic turntables that look clean but won't last. stanton has good designs and products that function but they were industry followers not leaders in new products. KRK and CV I think are products that all types of people have been brand loyal to and this is where things can get interesting in terms of lifestyle. we could see headphone lines and portable amplification devices to compete with sony, beats audio, and bose.

  • Peter Kirn

    Ah, Opcode…

    Memory does make things more pleasant, though. Remember OMS headaches? 

    Oh, and I had the profound misfortune to actually try Vision for Windows. In fact, I *had* blocked out that memory until now … now there was perhaps one of the worst DAWs ever released.

  • Jack Handy

    FutureMusic broke this story several days ago (&nbsp ;http://futuremusic.com/blog/2011/12/01/breaking-news-gibson-buys-stanton/ ) They seem to think that Gibson will dump Stanton at the earliest possibility. However, judging from the Press Release, maybe Gibson will turn Stanton into more of a gadget brand.

  • gwenhywfaer

    It's not just Opcode. It's worth reading what has been said on Lynx Crowe's behalf about what befell the "Oberheim" OB-Mx.

    Still, this is less unique than it should be. Numark seem to have effectively filleted the Alesis and Akai Pro brands; they haven't produced anything truly new since the Fusion (which got recycled into the MPC5000, but was never actually finished itself) and with the possible exception of the SynthStation, it seems increasingly unlikely they ever will.

  • http://www.authenticfilms.com Charles

    If Alesis had a molecule of sense left anywhere in the company, they'd release a bugfixed 8-voice rackmount Andromeda with a scaled-down interface, and a monosynth version as well.

  • Codiac

    I want to see Gibson put out a new turntable, replacing the now discontinued Technics industry standard tables. Except They should be flamed maple with pearl inlays!!!!

  • http://www.fernandogros.com Fernando

    I'll pick three names from the list of Gibson's past acquisitions - Steinberger, Tobias and Valley Arts.  Those were innovative stringed instrument makers.  Now, they just churn out derivative versions of the products that made them great.

  • http://www.nudephotomusic.com Gustavo

    Ex Opcode-employee here. I'll skip the vitriol and just say that Henry's track record speaks for itself, in terms of finding companies, gutting them, and writing them off at a loss. This also means that as they "consolidate" R&D, they will get rid of a lot of talented people that are responsible for some good products. Stanton in particular improved in the past few years, and took some interesting chances. KRK also had improved their products, and for being mostly a low-end monitor speaker company, really aren't bad. Sadly, I really can't see a positive outcome to this.

  • JonYo

    Another ex-Opcode employee here. I'm not up for a rant or anything, but as others are saying, all you have to do is look at their lonnnnng list of acquired companies that have either been pretty much dissolved and the intellectual properties left to wither (Opcode, Oberheim), or been continued in name but dumbed down to mediocre products that don't hold a candle to the great stuff the company put out pre-acquisition (Steinberger), and you know where these newly picked up brands like Stanton and KRK are going…down the tuuuuuubes.

  • RaulDuke

    Gibson guitars are VERY badly made at the moment. The cost for a standard les paul is not justified.

    Fender are blowing them away in terms of quality (especially their mexican and squier lines for bang for buck).

    Gibson don't need to do any R+D; they need to re-focus on how to build guitars properly. Les Pauls, Strats, Teles etc. haven't changed for 50 years for a reason; they work fine as they are.

    All these Gibson auto-tuning, cappucino making, walk your dog for you, robot guitars bring me out in hives. Can we just have well made, value for money Les Pauls, ES335's and SG's please Gibson!?!

  • greg

    . . . and yet nobody seems upset about Korg making toys.

    These companies don't care about you.

    They care about elderly businessmen (or their kids) who go to music camps and casually drop a grand on a new instrument that sits on their wall after a couple months.

    Do any of you know anyone in marketing?

  • Jack Handy

    "…and yet nobody seems upset about Korg making toys."

    Believe me, Korg and others get called out on their lame offerings. This is one of my favorites:&nbsp ;http://futuremusic.com/blog/2010/03/24/korg-updates-their-aging-electribe-series-lipstick-on-a-pig/

    I love blogs like FutuerMusic, CDM and others who are not afraid to call it like it is! Kirn writes exactly what he feels and that's exactly why I read CDM. Sometimes I think Peter holds back a bit. (If you're reading this PK, I have a simple request: Don't.) Or else you become one of the major "music production" magazines who NEVER give a bad review to one of their advertiser's products.

  • mediawest

    our studio in hollywood in the 80's, was the place that many came to see what MIDI was all about. we had the first mac512, rebuilt with a 20meg hard drive [which we though was huge and we would never fill!...also cost $1200 in '86] and all hooked up by our old MIDIMAC interfaces into 18 DX'7s, korg stuff, roland d50's and other stuff, all controlled by vision and galaxy. in fact the OMS worked so well we were able to setup our own librarians for the films we were scoring that allowed up to recall whole massive keyboard setups for a film in seconds. NO ONE was doing what opcode was doing. except the guys who became digidesign, i remember sound designer, interfacing with my old prophet2000's and we could edit emulator samples on the screen…. blew everyone away…

    the last version of studio vision for mac i can recall doing 4 track audio and midi with no problems…. then came protools 4 track!!!…

    and the came gibson…. and you know the rest…. where is dave oppenheim anyway? working at avid????

  • http://www.authenticfilms.com Charles

    ". . . and yet nobody seems upset about Korg making toys."

    Korg's done some dumb shit (Valve Force? really?), but your comparison to them will make sense when they start buying up well-regarded small guitar builders and shuttering them, and their product line consists primarily of shoddy $3000 MS-20 replicas that middle-aged doctors and lawyers buy and never play. I understand Gibson's "lifestyle" marketing strategy just fine – those people have more disposable income, duh – but it has nothing to do with music. The Monotron might be a toy, but it's a very accessible toy.

  • zog

    This is excellent for everyone it helps Gibson to become a more well rounded company, creating products with price points for all it's consumers on all budgets.

    When you read everyone's comments it's obvious some of the comments reflected, fail to understand the market place and how hard it is for any instrument maker to justify cost.

    Does a 30 or 40 year old Martin Guitar price justify or compare to the Martin's of today? This is a tough question but look at the cost in actual dollars then as to now and you would think the Martins were quite expensive at the time but have held there value in today's market.

    It still comes down to what you can do with it!

  • http://www.vguitarforums.com Steve Conrad

    Might read the typical scenario of what occurs to companies after Gibson acquires them:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20060904221205/http://

  • Downpressor

    What a bitch fest.

    REGEND & RaulDuke made some sense here but for the rest of the people pulling a crybaby routine, obviously these brands are not for you to begin with. I cant see how anyone at any of the companies involved is really interested so much in the folks who cant afford any of their gear anyway as much as building an overall tiered product offering for hobbyists or regular folks who sometimes want to do something musical.

  • RaulDuke

    @Greg

    'These companies don’t care about you.'

    Yes they do. Gibson are by no means a luxury brand. I and many other musicians could easily and happily drop a grand on a guitar if we wanted too. Many are choosing not too with Gibsons as there is no value in their product anymore.

    They can shove as much marketing down our throats but if the product doesn't stand up what is the point?

    Have you gone into a guitar shop and tried a batch of Gibson recently? There will be some good ones no doubt. However, every guitar should be a winner when you are dropping a grand on it.

    What makes me angry is that they use the 'Made in the USA' badge like it is some sort of Carte Blanche to sell cr*p to to the consumer, and consumers are wising up to this.

  • http://www.cooloutmusic.com COOLOUT

    Peter…your first post about the drinking game was hilarious. I personally never had a problem with OMS. Everything was pretty much plug and play. I still use it every now and then with a USB midi keyboard and a Korg Oasys PCI card in a B+W G3 (cost me only $75 for 8 synth engines, Triton presets, and hardware-like latency).

    As far as Stanton goes, I hope given Gibson's track record with Opcode and Oberheim that Stanton won't be gutted in a year. Stanton never really recovered from the whole NI/Final Scratch mess in my opinion although the ST/Str8-150s were pretty much the best turntables ever made (even better than Tech 1200s).

  • Walk

    To whom it may concern,
    there still thousands of Studio Vision owners
    out there. How much money do you want
    for it. I am shure we will get the money
    for the ownership.This was the best sequencer ever made. The last version
    SVPRO can still keep up with todays standards. You have a jewel after trying other
    Seqencers. You get a lot of money and
    sell more Guitars. You aquired a very bad reputation because of Opcodes demise.
    Don’t you want to gain a lot of money,
    if money is your main reason. I am serious
    about this. What’s your price? I know the situation, but complaining is not enough.
    An out off court settlement and a lot of money. I know a lot of people, who don’t buy
    your guitars now. It’s a win-win situation.
    Greetings Walk

  • robthom

    Thats bad news for Stanton.

    RIP.

  • keith

    Yep. The Stanton turntable line is now udder trash. Purchased three from amazon and had to send all three back . They had the same defect. Tone arms not in plumb. I suppose with the mighty Tech out of production quality of most other turntables have hit a new low. Have faith the specs on Vastex turntables a every bit as good as the Tech. They were smart kept their production factory in Japan.