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NAMM 2015

 
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 2783
Location: Chino, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:43 am    Post subject: NAMM 2015 Reply with quote

Well, I'm in a hotel room in Anaheim and ready to embark on another NAMM and its "aftermath", which includes Guthrie arriving in town (will pick him up at the airport tomorrow), the Aristocrats playing four nights of new material that will be tracked at the famous Sunset Sound studio in Hollywood the following week, the start of Guthrie's short US clinic tour, and meeting with various industry types from all over the world. For me, it's not about checking out new gear at all. It's about business to the max for all the different jobs and endeavors that I'm involved in.

My first two days at NAMM will be focused on my GC corporate job duties meeting with suppliers from Asia, wearing suit and all. Laughing Then, on Saturday and Sunday, I'm free to pursue my extracurricular activities - the most important being my work with Strandberg Guitars and the launch of the brand new Boden OS line of guitars manufactured in Korea. I'm pleased to announce that I'll personally handle the importation, QC, setup, and distribution of the Boden OS line in the US. Here's the lowdown on the Boden OS line:

http://strandbergguitars.com/product/boden-os-7/

I received the first six samples for NAMM, artists and magazine reviews and the first big shipment of the production units will arrive next week in my warehouse (i.e., my home garage along with all the Aristocrats's and Guthrie's CD's and t-shirts, etc.). I am personally inspecting, doing the QC inspection and setup work but have also enlisted the help of two of the best techs I know in the business to make sure these guitars are the very best at their price points. Here are some pics of these guitars:

Boden OS 7 - Rosewood F/B in Black


Boden OS 7 - Maple F/B in Red


Boden OS 7 prototypes going through QC and testing in my bedroom through the Axe-Fx II rig


I can honestly say that these guitars are awesome - absolutely amazing value for the price point. I'm also very pleased that these guitars are manufactured by World Musical Instruments in Korea. I have known the CEO of World since my early days at Fender in the early-90's when he was at a different company that supplied Fender and I'm very excited to be working closely with him again. World is a great factory and on the cusp of becoming a world-class guitar manufacturer capable of competing with anyone in the US. You can be assured that I will be working very closely with World in the months and years ahead to keep making improvements and take the quality to the next level.

And this is just the start. There are Boden OS 6 and Boden OS 8 in development and Ola and I are already developing new products at various price points with other great factories all over Asia. All along, I've always believed that world-class quality guitars can be manufactured in Asia. It's a matter of choosing the right factories with the right people and then working with them closely through constant communications and proper training of the managers and workers through extended visits. You can't just give them the specs, some drawings and/or samples and then tell them to duplicate the guitars. You have to work with them every step of the way and provide constant feedback - both in person at the factories and through emails and Skype chats, etc.

I'm working very closely with Ola, World and other factories in Asia to improve the intangibles - feel, sound, playability and all those things I learned at Fender, Tone Merchants, and Suhr. It's not just about reducing the rate of obvious defects and inconsistent setups. It's now about details and I'm into details - down to the routing of the pickup cavities to the crowning of the frets and how they are polished. I see absolutely no reason why some of the best factories in Asia can't match the best of the boutique world that I had been involved with for nearly 10 years. It takes time but I'm as driven as ever to make continuous improvements to provide the best quality possible at more reasonable prices. The Boden OS is the only the first step in that direction.

So my home garage is looking like a very mini version of what I'm running at GC. Laughing But it's not just guitars but boxes of CD's and t-shirts that I order, warehouse, and distribute for the Aristocrats, Guthrie and now for Strandberg. Wink



More to come from what I expect to be a very exciting NAMM...
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terje_t



Joined: 16 Aug 2014
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool, that's exciting! I'll be eager to see demos of these lower cost Strandbergs. I probably wouldn't be in the market for the full spec ones but these look very interesting indeed.
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
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Location: Chino, CA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

terje_t wrote:
Cool, that's exciting! I'll be eager to see demos of these lower cost Strandbergs. I probably wouldn't be in the market for the full spec ones but these look very interesting indeed.


We've got Boden OS 6 in the works for release before the middle of the year and we're working on the OS 8 for sometime in the second-half of the year. Ola and I will both visit the World factory (separately or together) in April to oversee the next production run.

The OS 7 was extremely well received during NAMM and the orders through the Strandberg site's online store are flooding in. Very Happy We also established a small but very strong showcase dealer network in the US and Asia. Working on Europe as well...
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terje_t



Joined: 16 Aug 2014
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lower cost 8-string Strandberg and European dealers? Music to my ears! Very Happy

Happy for you guys that you are doing well with this endeavor.
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
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Location: Chino, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, yet another NAMM has come and gone and I'm jaded by now (20+ years) but I have to say that this was by far the most exciting, interesting and fun time I've ever had at NAMM. For one, I covered a very broad area of my various work activities Ė from my GC ďday jobĒ duties working with massive factories in Asia providing low-cost guitars to working closely with Strandberg on a variety of fronts. And then there are all the Guthrie/Aristocrats activities over the next several weeks that I also need to attend to.

People ask me where and how I find the energy and the time to work on all these things but, overall, it hasnít been difficult. The main thing is that all these activities are mucho fun and Iím also much more efficient with the work I do than I was, say, 4~10 years ago. I put in very long hours back then but I canít say I was really utilizing the time wisely. I estimate that Iím getting 3~4 times as much work done in the same amount of time than I was back then. The key is using the available technologies more effectively and prioritizing the tasks on hand in a proficient manner.

The first two days of NAMM were dedicated solely to my corporate GC duties. That means I need to don a formal suit and shoes although, fortunately, we didnít have to wear a tie. Itís mainly about meeting with the suppliers (and potential suppliers) at their booths to quickly review the year gone by and whatís in store for the New Year. 2014 was a great year for the department I manage and Iím quite excited about the growth potential for the year ahead and beyond. Growing the companyís proprietary brands products is a fun and exciting endeavor. As big as the business is (and weíre talking hundreds of thousands of guitars per year), itís still relatively small in comparison to the big brand names and I look forward to contributing in making this business bigger and bigger in the future.

It seems I always end up in a situation where Iím tasked to take something small but brimming with potential and grow it multi-fold over the intervening years. Itís what I accomplished at Fender, Tone Merchants, Suhr, with Guthrie, and the Aristocrats and now I am taking on the same challenges at GC and Strandberg Ė make the businesses grow in an exponential manner. I love it. I hate being in a stationary position or when the growth rate slows. When that happens, I start losing interest and start looking at other opportunities where I can help with growth and progress.

At the complete opposite end of the spectrum from what I do at GC, working with Ola Strandberg and growing his business is reminiscent of starting the Tone Merchants business in 2002 and joining Suhr in 2005 to grow their business. The business environment now is completely different than what things were like back then but that makes things even more interesting and exciting. Overall, Iíve never been more excited and proud than working at GC and with Ola. Itís the Yin-and-Yang concept taken to the max and I can utilize the experience, knowledge and connections Iíve built over the years at Fender, Tone Merchants, and Suhr to a new and much higher level.

The work I continue to do with Guthrie and the Aristocrats round out the endeavors and itís very complementary with the work Iím doing at GC and Strandberg. For me, the big challenge is making all these disparate activities fit together in a cohesive manner with the long-term in mind; Iím talking 5~10 years and even longer although there are various shorter-term (1~3 years) and medium-range (3~5 years) goals and plans in the works as well. Working with very promising young talents such as Strandberg artists Plini and Yvette Young are examples of this. Itís about seeding by making the right connections and focusing on quality over quantity. Thereís so much riff-raff out there and lot of the work is weeding out that stuff and weaving the proper parties together so things can continue developing on their own.

The Internet has allowed me to connect artists, brand name gear manufacturers, major OEM factories, music schools, retailers, distributors (both for musical instruments and for music), music labels, fulfillment centers, the press (old world print magazines to large online sites), artist management firms, concert promoters, booking agents, etc. in every corner of the world with each other but Iím very selective about who I work with. Again, itís all about quality over quantity. Itís about taking a few things you believe in and are passionate about, committing to them, and then following through persistently and with vigor. Nothing is really fun for me if I canít put my passion behind it and Iím certainly passionate about every little thing Iím doing Ė from managing the Aristocratsí catalogue and merch inventory to doing QC work at mega factories producing a million guitars per year and from arranging a clinic tour for Guthrie with the music schools and dealers to working on a marketing and sales plan for the new Boden OS guitars from Strandberg. Itís all fun and I want to do them all.

So, this NAMM was about seeding and weaving all these different endeavors, goals, plans, and connections together and driving them forward. And Iím happy to report that things are starting to coalesce in a coherent manner, which is the reason Iím so excited about what went on at NAMM and why the future is looking mighty bright. Here are some photos from the limited amount of roaming around I was able to do and what I personally found interesting. I didnít have the time to go upstairs to check out the big fish like Fender, Gibson, Taylor, and the like but I get the feeling that I didnít miss much.

NAMM Entrance Ė The weather was quite warm for all the cold weather visitors.




One of the more interesting guitars from a company called Relish Guitars in Hall E.




Yours truly with Ola Strandberg at the Strandberg booth on Thu in my corporate suit. You can bet my feet were killing me at the end of the dayÖ


The Framus Ziltoid guitar courtesy of Devin Townsend Ė it must weigh 12 pounds!


The Vigier double-neck with the fretless neck definitely caught my eyeÖ


I was curious about the new fanned-fret guitars effort from IbanezÖ Verdict? Canít say Iím impressedÖ Something just doesnít look right with these guitarsÖ


The Ibanez Tosin Abasi Model guitars
[img]https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8579/15754962054_7b4995e5c3_b.jpg]/img]

Ibanez Satch Art guitars


.strandberg* USA Custom Shop Boden 6 with Misha Mansoor specs


The new .strandberg* Boden OS 7 in black with RW fingerboard


US Custom Shop Chris Letchford signature model


Yours truly with the fabulous Colombian virtuoso Leonardo Guzman


Visited the Friedman booth to see my ole buddy Rob Navarette who now owns and runs Tone Merchants and Friedman AmplificationÖ Really nice ampsÖ Although Iím now a digital ďconvertĒ, I must admit that Iím lusting after the BE100 since itís my favorite amp model in the Axe-Fx II.


Bogner booth Ė not my style of amp personally but theyíre great amps for sure.


Wampler pedals


Leonardo Guzman performing at the .strandberg* booth


The .strandberg* booth was constantly packedÖ


Chris Letchford performing with one of his signature model guitars


Sarah Longfield soundchecking before her demo performance


The amazing Yvette Young performing her short set


Inside the Friedman sound booth Ė the amps sure sounded righteousÖ Ran into one of my all-time faves Mike Landau in there as well and had a nice short chat with him.


After the Saturday show, I hooked up with Guthrie and Ola and took them away from the maddening NAMM crowd to Koreatown in Garden Grove for some authentic Korean food. Yes, they both absolutely love hot spicy Korean food.


So there you go with my brief NAMM photo report. It was a memorable show for me, personally Ė lots of action and it was very productive. All the seeding done should bear fruit in the year ahead and for many years to comeÖ
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.strandberg* Guitars USA
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Guitar Center Inc.
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 2783
Location: Chino, CA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm at the Alvas Showroom for the third of the Aristocrats' four residency shows featuring the new material that the band will start recording at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood next week. As far as I'm concerned, it's still NAMM with all these activities.

I watched the second show last night and helped out selling merch afterwards. It can get a little exhausting to do all these different things but, fortunately, I was able to take a much needed break after the show and hang out drinking beer with my favorite guitar player and drummer at the Long Beach harbor. Very Happy


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.strandberg* Guitars USA
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 2783
Location: Chino, CA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, NAMM itself is over but I still have plenty of activities afterwards that have been in the plans since early last year and I'm in the thick of them all - one of which is that the Aristocrats are tracking their next studio album at the legendary Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood at this very moment. Here are some pics from a few days ago from the studio. This is where Led Zeppelin's 4th album and Van Halen's 1st album were recorded if I'm not mistaken. In any case, a lot of musical magic had been created here in the past.





Guthrie in his guitar isolation booth with a Fender American Deluxe Strat on his lap.




The main room with Marco's drums and Bryan's bass isolation booth in the corner center.


The control room in Studio #2 that the band is recording in.


Another view of the control room and the Neve mixing desk.

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Ed Yoon
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.strandberg* Guitars USA
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 2783
Location: Chino, CA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to give you guys a little photo tour of the QC/setup operation for the .strandberg* Boden OS guitars that I manage from my home.

The first shipment of Boden OS 7 guitars that arrived late last month in my garage, which has become a very mini-version of the massive QC/setup operation I manage at GC's West Coast Distribution Center in Chino (we're talking over 1000 guitars per day).


Then the inner boxes are sorted by SKU and the guitars are pulled for the initial inspection process in the order your orders were placed.


A guitar on my QC/setup workbench in my garage


If I feel the guitars need some more extensive work I can't do at home, I take them to work and Pat Park, my assistant manager at GC and a part-time repair tech who's one of the best in the business I've known with over 20+ years of experience, works on tasks like fret-dressing and polishing as well as any repairs that need to be done.


I would also give Pat around 6 guitars to work over the weekend at his home while I work on the QC and final setup at my home. These guitars in the gig-bag are so compact and light that I can easily carry that many guitars around with my two hands and transport in my sedan. I figure I can easily transport up to 20~30 guitars in a compact sedan if necessary but, realistically, we can only work on 4~5 guitars per day at the moment.

Yours truly giving it a final play-test before packing and getting the guitars ready to ship.


Finished guitars ready to be picked up by the FedEx truck and delivered to you and be played to your heart's content. And, yes, I pack each and every guitar myself, print the shipping labels, and send out the shipping notifications. I love it. Saves me from going to the gym! Haha. I love doing some grunt work during the day instead of sitting in front of a computer at my desk or in meetings all day.


Through all of this, Ola and I are in constant communications with daily emails and texts, having weekly Skype chats and also communicating with the World factory in Korea. So, yeah, this is a real UN kind of operation with Ola in Sweden, my QC/setup and distribution operation in California and the manufacturing going on in Korea. It's a lot of fun and it's very rewarding. It's a lot of hard work too and we have to be totally in sync across three continents so it's challenging but, I have to say, we are getting it done and we'll get even better and more efficient as time goes by. The guitars have had great acceptance and the new customers are extremely happy and, obviously, that makes me very happy. Very Happy

Boden OS 6 coming late-spring and the OS 8 sometime in late-fall. We're only getting started here. In the summer, I plan to relocate to Chino Hills to be closer to my work at GC in Chino and will also set up a "real" warehouse, QC/setup operation, and distribution for .strandberg* USA in the area. For now until then, it's a garage startup operation as you can see. Mr. Green
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Brain2Me2



Joined: 23 Jan 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Alex,

It's been a long time since I don't post here, but now I'm really interested in these new Strandbergs.

Whats's holding me right now is if I should pick the Rosewood or Maple fretboard. I'm coming from an Ibanez 7 string, Basswood body, Rosewood fretboard, Dimarzio pups...but maybe on the Boden the maple board and ash body combination is not as bright as one might think.

I know there is a 2 week return policy but since I live in Puerto Rico I'm trying to make the right choice.

Is is possible for you to post clips of both!?

Best,
Carlos
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
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Location: Chino, CA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brain2Me2 wrote:
Hi Alex,

It's been a long time since I don't post here, but now I'm really interested in these new Strandbergs.

Whats's holding me right now is if I should pick the Rosewood or Maple fretboard. I'm coming from an Ibanez 7 string, Basswood body, Rosewood fretboard, Dimarzio pups...but maybe on the Boden the maple board and ash body combination is not as bright as one might think.

I know there is a 2 week return policy but since I live in Puerto Rico I'm trying to make the right choice.

Is is possible for you to post clips of both!?

Best,
Carlos


Hi Carlos,

Overall, the maple board model has been more popular. In fact, all three colors in maple are completely sold out. The only SKU's available right now are the rosewood in black and rosewood in red and not many of these left either.

We should get another batch in late-April or early-May and I'll work on getting some clips at that time to highlight the difference between rosewood and maple. The Boden OS 6 will become available at that time as well with the OS 8 arriving sometime in the fall.

Contrary to popular belief, maple board is not brighter than rosewood board. Maple is tighter with strong high-mids with a faster attack but rosewood actually has more highs (presence) with a smoother attack.

Thanks,

Ed
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Ed Yoon
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.strandberg* Guitars USA
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Brain2Me2



Joined: 23 Jan 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Alex, will look forward to those, and the new batch, maybe by then I've already made my mind. Smile

Best,
Carlos
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alexkhan



Joined: 10 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a pic of the last maple board in red unit that I got finished working on and this one is on its way to Plini now. Really looking forward to seeing what he can do with the 7 in the same way I'm looking forward to see what Guthrie will do with the 8. Very Happy




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Ed Yoon
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BOING Music LLC - Managing Partner
.strandberg* Guitars USA
Ed Yoon Consulting & Management
Guitar Center Inc.
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