Signature Models Saga

I am not the biggest fan of the marketing circus, but here is a marketing trick I like about musical instruments manufacturers: the conception of Signature models made for a specific musician. This marketing tool is almost as old as the modern musical instruments industry. After all, if you think about it a minute, when a luthier builds a custom instrument specially made for a client, he is doing nothing else but a unique Signature instrument.

A few ancient Signature models picked in the guitar field (that appears to be quite efficient using that tool though not the only one to do so).

Bigsby Merle Travis – 1947


Fender Mary Kaye Stratocaster – 1959


Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins – 1959


Endorsing a musician is a way to ensure visibility among its audience. Brands visibility and popularity is expected to increase with the musician’s popularity. The legend about Paul Bigsby is an example of the celebrity endorsement effect. Associating with Merle Travis during the 1940s (at the top of his popularity) allowed Paul Bigsby to meet commercial success. Hence the creation of his first workshop where he created the famous Bigsby vibrato.

The musician who gets lucky enough (talented enough would be better) gets the chance to work closely with the endorsing company. This collaborative work sometimes gives birth to unique instruments adjusted to the musician specifications, and sometimes it is just some slight changes on series models.

And what about us, the crazy music and GAS maniacs? Opinion is divided. Some people just see this as a marketing manipulation in the wide world of modern advertising. Some others are fans enough to spend loads of cash on Signature models whatever the intrinsic quality of these instruments is. Between both extremes reactions, most of us will:

  • Sometimes drool at these unreachable instruments.
  • Sometimes dream that they can afford some of the cheapest Signature models.
  • Acknowledge  the efforts of some manufacturers to make some Signature or Inspired by models affordable.
  • Think that having the talent or the tone of their idols is not necessary to get something of their style (and somehow that does matter a little).

So, the Signature Models Saga will draw a picture of the existing (and the future?) models out there…

To be followed…

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