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Thread: Marketing strategy for the Cutlass/Caprice

  1. #1
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    Marketing strategy for the Cutlass/Caprice

    Greetings All,

    As I'm sure most of you know I absolutely love my Caprice bass. The playability, the tone, oh yes and the weight(8.3lbs)! The 1.5'' nut width and 7.5" fretboard radius make playing truly effortless. That in my mind is the hallmark of a great instrument...when it plays effortlessly. Tonally, it has that nice subtle low mid bump courtesy of the neck pickup and the bridge pickup gives it an extra layer of harmonic richness. I've played many PJ's in my days and this is by and far away the best.

    Over the last few days I've been thinking how to really get the word out about this bass. What drew me to it is i've always loved EBMM instruments but just prefer the sound of a passive bass. I'd check the EBMM site occasionally to see what they have going on and that's how I found out about the Caprice. My concern is that for people who love that old school vintage tone EBMM might not even register on their radar because it's been associated with only active basses for the last 40+ years. They might miss out on this wonderful instrument and I really don't want to see sales numbers drop and this line cancelled.

    IMHO, when EBMM showcases this bass at shows or conventions I think they should really drive this message home. "This is the most tonally versatile, highest quality instrument in this configuration being offered in this price range. It will blow you away!" Something to really catch people's attention and draw the passive guys in. When we look at the closest bass with similar features offered in this price range its closest comparison is the G&L SB-2. But to me they are not comparable tone wise because of those MFD pickups. Those pickups are hot and aggressive unlike the Caprice's mellow and warm pickups. Don't get me wrong I love my G&L JB but there is a reason I didn't get the SB-2. I wanted a warm tone :-)

    These are just my preliminary thoughts I know the community will be able to offer excellent suggestions. I definitely want these basses to stick around and sell well because then there is a greater chance a fretless will be offered. :-)

    Best Regards,
    -Greg P

    P.S. Here she is :-)

    Last edited by GregP; 07-07-2017 at 06:22 PM.

  2. #2
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    I think it's really hard.
    Can't say I have any suggestion regarding how EBMM market their basses (they know better than I), but I can see it being tough to break in with passive models when you're known for very aggressive active tones. Add to that the label of "Fender Clones" (justified or not) AND the price point (justified or not) and it's an intimidating landscape. I think the basses speak for themselves - esp the Caprice, which does seem to have a bit of buzz - but it's got to be an inherently tough nut to crack with SO many offerings. Seems like everyone from Fender to Fodera have their take on classic passive basses now. Fortunately these are about the best I've tried!

    But yeah as someone who is pretty much ready to trade his StingRay for a second Cutlass (or the right Caprice), I would say I also reeeeeeeally hope these models stick around.

  3. #3
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    Kinopah,
    Your absolutely right about it being a very crowded market. The main thing IMHO that's going to be a tough pill to swallow for most people at this price point is that body color is linked to fretboard material. At this price point people are going to expect to have the option to choose fretboard material independent of body color. Personally, I'd love to see ebony offered but practically customers should at least have the choice between maple or rosewood. I'm sure you've heard people on the board talking about buying 2 Cutlass/Caprice's and switching the necks. I think for EBMM enthusiasts that's an option but the average player will not want to have to buy 2 basses to get the color/fretboard combo he/she/they wants. As far as options to offer down the line...I'd love to see a bridge with a mute kit and fretless options. :-)

  4. #4
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    Yah, but on some level those are chicken/egg (or maybe cart/horse) concerns.
    To make having options cost effective, you've got to have a model with some traction baked-in. If you're not selling great basses in black or sunburst, I'm not sure bridge-mutes, color-matching, or even the fretless/5-string options are realistic. Of all those, I agree it would be nicest (and prob simplest) to have a black/maple or white/rosewood option etc. But options = $ and it's hard to justify throwing any additional cost at a model if the standard models aren't leaping off the racks.

  5. #5
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    Might just have to rely of word of mouth (or maybe keyboard).

    The Caprice gets a lot of love on Talkbass. People there are posting how great the bass is and generating what seems to be a good amount of interest.

    What other musicians say about an instrument can make or break it. Other than the lack of options, and possibly price, have not yet encountered anything negative about it.

  6. #6
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    Hey guys, I love that you're having this conversation, and that you have so much enthusiasm for the passive basses.

    Legally speaking we can't adopt a forum user's unsolicited advice on marketing, but I agree with everything you're saying. I'm sure you've noticed in the last year or two a lot of our marketing model is focusing on slick looking highly produced video content, and using social media as the way to get eyeballs. Of course that's all in addition to boots on the ground, getting salespeople into stores, and having presence at guitar shows, all that kind of stuff.

    I'd love to see more love go to the passive basses since I own one and am a huge fan of them. But, like you guys said, I think the price point is the toughest pill to swallow, so if we can get SBMM to make a Caprice or Cutlass that would probably be the biggest boost. That's not an announcement or anything, I'm just throwing my $0.02 in with you.
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  7. #7
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    I was watching a few interviews with Sterling on youtube this weekend which illuminated part of the reason why the passives turned out so well. He talks about how resonance and the study of resonance is his passion and the importance of discovering the right "Tone Wood Cocktail". That's a solid foundation to build any instrument on... passive or active.

    Never having built an instrument I can only speak theoretically. But I would postulate that building a great sounding passive bass might be more of a challenge than it's active counterpart. With an active bass, you have an equalizer to modify certain aspects of the natural tone that "tone wood cocktail" creates if it's not to you liking. With a passive bass, you don't have that ability. So finding that "tone wood cocktail" that will appeal to a broad range of players who play many different styles of music must be a real challenge.

    In one of the interviews I watched, Sterling was talking about one of the challenges inherent in the design and manufacture of basses/guitars. How 5 instruments made from the same block of wood can sound very different. The challenge for him, was to make all the instruments that came out of that same block of wood sound similar. I think all the work EBMM have done with that "tone wood cocktail" and finding improved manufacturing techniques over the last 40 years has really enabled them to come out of the gate swinging with this great offering.

    I agree with Casey that a SBMM model would be a great way to get the word out to a lot more players. The price of a SBMM instrument would get the instrument into many more hands and generate more word of mouth recommendations. Then for the players that become enamored with the sound of the SBMM model they will be more likely to make the jump to the EBMM model. Just my 2 cents as an enthusiast.
    -Greg P

    P.S. Here is the link to the interview I referenced in my post:
    Sterling Ball Interview part 2 - YouTube
    Last edited by GregP; 07-09-2017 at 10:45 AM.

  8. #8
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    Gotta disagree concerning "wood cocktail" traits being
    somewhat masked by active EQ.

    EVERYONE plays both active and passive basses thru
    active EQ ... it's what's in your amp. And anywho, an
    active systm doesn't "manufacture" or originate tone.
    It just magnifies it. Magnifying tone is the OPPOSITE
    of masking it, dontjasee ?

    While I'm at it, I'll disagree about the possible benefit
    [to EBMM] of SBMM versions of Caprice/Cutlass. I see
    cheaper versions canabalizing the SLO versions every
    place I look. Why make it worse ? And I'm not seeing
    any "as the twig is bent" effect. "Entry level" players
    do not appear to develop much, if any, brand loyalty.
    Their "entry" is into playing, period, not into a brand.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    While tone and playability and features and etc etc do
    have some influence on purchase decisions, the three
    primary influences are price, price, and price ... don't
    matter whether it's a budget of a few hunnert or of a
    coupla thousand. So we want [SHOULD want] EBMM
    to resist price hikes while still maintaining quality. If it
    means limiting color choices [or other non-functional
    options] to accomplish that, then just grin and bear it
    ... or else pony up for bigger price hikes.

    Even if you are filthy rich ... you'd still prefer holding
    down price rather than more options at higher prices.
    Cuz to other peeps, price rules, and if you want your
    fave builder to stay in the game, then you'll want to
    see them remain price competitive ... cuz price rules.

    Sorry about coming across so disagreeable. OKaaaay,
    really only just a teenzy-weenzy, nanoscale, bit sorry.
    Last edited by Golem; 07-09-2017 at 11:49 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golem View Post
    Gotta disagree concerning "wood cocktail" traits being
    somewhat masked by active EQ.
    EVERYONE plays both active and passive basses thru
    active EQ ... it's what's in your amp. And anywho, an
    active system doesn't "manufacture" or originate tone.
    It just magnifies it. Magnifying tone is the OPPOSITE
    of masking it, dontjasee ?
    I agree, an active EQ cannot "manufacture" or "mask" the original tone of the instrument. Every instrument is going to have it own core tone created by the interaction between the wood, the pickups, the bridge etc, etc. However, what an active EQ can do is "modify" the volume of specific frequencies in that core tone. Which is why I used the word "modify" in my previous post.
    Last edited by GregP; 07-09-2017 at 06:33 PM.

  10. #10
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    Personally, I'm very excited to see if the St. Vincent bass will be passive or active. :-)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golem View Post
    While tone and playability and features and etc etc do
    have some influence on purchase decisions, the three
    primary influences are price, price, and price
    Agree that price is important. But if it was the only criteria we would only have $100 basses.

    The Caprice is expensive. Compared to lower quality brands and imports. However it is priced competitively with other American made basses. It is priced in between the Fender American Professional and Fender Elite series. It is not out of line price wise for a quality made in USA bass.

    It is what you get for the price that matters. Don't have a Caprice (at least not yet) but based on my other EBMM basses, the price is worth it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregP View Post
    Personally, I'm very excited to see if the St. Vincent bass will be passive or active. :-)
    I hope it will be active AND passive! Just like the Big Al. The guitar has 3 pickups. Already have the preamp for it. Be a great Big Al replacement.

  13. #13
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    Hmmmm...passive and active?! Now I'm thinking what the Caprice would sound like with that kind of a setup ;-)

  14. #14
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    I can dream... 5 string.. active/passive Caprice...

  15. #15
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    I have to say I agree with golem.

    Stream of consciousness here:

    When I first heard of plans for Cutlass/Caprice, I thought....that's it, Pops has finally caved in after all these years.
    That was just the gut reaction. Then the brain kicked in, and said, well, if an EBMM guy finds himself in a position (like me years ago) when you just gotta have that P (or P-J sound), why send him back to the Mothership or other copycat starting with G, L, S, M, Y, or whatever, why not have an option for that guy to stay brand loyal. With the Big Al gone, there was no passive alternative in the lineup. I have to think that's the key market for the Caprice/Cutlass, veterans, not newbies. That may not be a high annual volume market, but it's your best market, and its the market that can appreciate the price point.
    Because as has been mentioned, its a very crowded market for the P. Putting out an SBMM version would only make it more crowded, and giving a stiff headwind for a model that's going to be a small volume seller to start with.

    stream of consciousness over....carry on.



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