GT: Winter NAMM Awards - What Were They Thinking? Print
Monday, 09 April 2007 04:20
Image Welcome to the fifth installment in my NAMM awards series. Today’s award category is “What Were They Thinking?” These are products that make you scratch your head and wonder what the heck the product manager was thinking when they made the go-forward decision on the product.

With 1500+ vendors, candidates for this award were not difficult to find. There were definitely a ton of whacky products. So, I tweaked the criteriaGibson_keifer_sutherland_1 to include the fact that it had to be a serious vendor, thinking they really were putting out a real product. That gives all the small vendors a pass, and I give them all credit for trying to come up with innovative ideas to try to break into the music business. The big guys aren’t struggling to try to find an “in”, so they really ought to know better. But, frequently they don’t.

First up is Gibson’s forthcoming Keifer Sutherland ES-336, part of their “Inspired By” series. It’s actually called a KS-336, but I refuse to use that nomenclature. If I had an award for the company displaying the most blatant “forget everything except making money strategy”, this guitar would be a multiple award winner. Let me say that I am a huge Keifer Sutherland fan. I can’t think of a single movie of his that I didn’t enjoy, and I am a huge 24 fan as well. I realize that Keifer is a guitar addict and I know that he loves guitars and guitar music. All of that is great. But his own 336 model? Are you joking? With all of the great talented musicians out there doing really unique and creative things on Gibson guitars, I find it hard to believe that Keifer’s name was next on the list. It might even be a great guitar, but it is clearly an attempt to leverage Keifer’s current success into big Gibson dollars. What’s next, a Harry Potter inspired guitar? What about Kevin Bacon? At least he has a band.

Ibanez_jem_20th_1_1 Next up is the Ibanez Jem 20th Anniversary edition, shown here to the right and below. Are you kidding me? A polymer Jem, with lights in it, to celebrate the anniversary? Normally, for an anniversary edition, a company would craft an impeccable instrument made of high quality tone woods and electronics that epitomize the instrument’s tone and demonstrate the craftsmanship of the luthiers. Ibanez certainly decided to take a different tact on this one, choosing instead to use molded polymer instead of highly crafted wood. Are they trying to tell us that the Jem wasn’t constructed to produce good tone in the first place, and it doesn’t matter what the guitar is made of? The folks at Ibanez really should call Paul Reed Smith or Fender for advice the next time they feel the need to produce an anniversary edition.