Remember back in the 1990’s when the death of both vinyl playback and vacuum tubes was predicted? The death of the electric guitar is now forecasted, based on declining sales by the big players (Gibson and Fender). The same could be said about “heirloom quality audio”, because people aren’t replacing their equipment with the frequency that they trade in their smart phones.
Adopting the iPhone model (as opposed to the “heirloom” model) would certainly result in better industry growth statistics, but what’s the real goal, and where is it written that your amplifier or turntable suddenly becomes unlistenable after 5 or 10 years’ ownership?
LA studio musicians Tim Pierce and Pete Thorn comment that infinite growth in any industry is ultimately unsustainable – how many guitars is too much? They quote George Gruhn – that guitars can outlast the owners’ grandkids (there’s the heirloom thing again), and that they get better with age.
Pierce and Thorn point to the rise of small builders who are taking classic designs (the Les Paul, the Stratocaster and Telecaster) and building on/enhancing the design by addressing any weaknesses (Gibson’s fragile headstocks, neck shapes on Fenders, etc.).
Our philosophical alignment with these small builders is too extensive to enumerate here, but one word in their dialog jumped out at me: authenticity. How can you (as a musician, audio designer, athlete, artist) be the best version of you?
If you want to bypass the jamming, go directly to the commentary beginning at 7:00 in this video: