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Author Topic: Why won't Larrivee compete at a higher level?!  (Read 13326 times)
UK Mike
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« on: April 12, 2007, 07:13:36 PM »

From another topic....

In a roundtable discussion recorded by Acoustic Guitar Magazine sometime last year, Matthew Larrivee said something about how - to paraphrase from my less than perfect memory - the company didn't want to be known for its low-eschelon guitars but, rather, for its highest-tier instruments.

If that is the case why won't Larrivee take on Martin & Taylor on higher end guitars? Larrivee won't make a guitar that has the same light build as high end instruments. They won't compete with high end Martin & Taylors (or Collings/SCGC/Lowden etc.) until they are prepared to take the risk of a lighter build (which will mean more warrentee returns).

I think Larrivee compete superbly with low/mid range Taylor/Martin but they don't ever seem to want to move up to the high end. This frustrates me as they obviously know how to build guitars and have great woods - but they seem to deliberately avoid the high-end (more delicate instrument) arena.

C'mon Larrivee!! - let's see something competing with SCGC/Collings. I know you can do it!

Mike
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 07:25:09 PM »

I think Larrivee compete superbly with low/mid range Taylor/Martin but they don't ever seem to want to move up to the high end. This frustrates me as they obviously know how to build guitars and have great woods - but they seem to deliberately avoid the high-end (more delicate instrument) arena.

It appears to me that Larrivee knows what it is best at and where its best potential for profit is in the industry. That is not in the high end. How much would Larrivee have to add, or how much production capability would it have to divert, if it wanted to compete at that level? Would the revenue and profit generated by a relatively few high-end guitars justify the cost?

Jim
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2007, 07:25:41 PM »

I agree 100%.

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fado
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2007, 07:29:07 PM »

Over the last 10 years Larrivee as a brand has grown in leaps and bounds. They had to sell guitars at a price point that would enable them to do that. I don't think it would've happened if they concentrated on the high-end. They opened up shop in the U.S. and ramped up production. All of this takes time and money. I think you'll see Larrivee open up it's custom shop in the future and produce very high end guitars ( at least I hope they do). We all like to question their strategy from time to time but their track record speaks for itself. They have a plan and they know what they're doing.

Rob
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2007, 07:36:49 PM »

Larrivee won't make a guitar that has the same light build as high end instruments. They won't compete with high end Martin & Taylors (or Collings/SCGC/Lowden etc.) until they are prepared to take the risk of a lighter build (which will mean more warrentee returns).

I think you answered your own question... warranty work.
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FNG
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2007, 08:43:41 PM »

Compare a SD-50 with a Martin D-18VS or Santa Cruz DS.  At least a 1000+ difference in price, street price.  Difference in sound?  Maybe.  Probably. I wish I could sit down with all three, or other high end sloped dreads.  But I bet the Larrivee will give the others a run for their money.  I am in the market for a nice upscale 12 fret dread with a wider neck, and just keep coming back to the Larrivee. 

And what do you mean by lighter build?  Thinner tops?  More scalloped bracing?
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2007, 08:45:29 PM »

I thought they competed quite nicely or do you mean, why don't they make a much, more expensive guitar? JL appears to have a different philosophy than most.  
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rrgguitarman
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2007, 09:04:31 PM »

I consider my D-09 a high end guitar...and for that matter all of my 03s
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2007, 09:41:04 PM »

And what do you mean by lighter build?  Thinner tops?  More scalloped bracing?

When most people say 'lightly built' or 'lighter build' it does mean thinner tops and bracing; The bracing doesn't have to be scalloped though. 'lightly built' has become it's own term in the acoustic guitar world, this is to avoid confusion with the overall weight of the guitar. Overall weight doesn't tell us much because of things like bolt on necks. When we talk about 'lightness of build' we are also talking about design philosophy, ex. brace shape ,thickness, tuneing the braces and top etc.

Modern Larrivee's have heavier bracing than the boutique builders like Collings/SCGC/Lowden/Goodall and even high end Martins (at least the 1/4" scalloped).
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cjjtulsa
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2007, 09:58:19 PM »

Because their higher end guitars have their hands full competing with the -03s?
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woodruff
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2007, 10:07:19 PM »

Because their higher end guitars have their hands full competing with the -03s?

genius!
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2007, 12:18:19 AM »

I am also confused by 'lighter build'  ?

My OM-03 Forum MT is as light a guitar as I could ask for.  Always surprizes me when I set the L aside and pick it up.

ds
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2007, 12:21:40 AM »

From another topic....

If that is the case why won't Larrivee take on Martin & Taylor on higher end guitars? Larrivee won't make a guitar that has the same light build as high end instruments. They won't compete with high end Martin & Taylors (or Collings/SCGC/Lowden etc.) until they are prepared to take the risk of a lighter build (which will mean more warrentee returns).

I think Larrivee compete superbly with low/mid range Taylor/Martin but they don't ever seem to want to move up to the high end. This frustrates me as they obviously know how to build guitars and have great woods - but they seem to deliberately avoid the high-end (more delicate instrument) arena.

C'mon Larrivee!! - let's see something competing with SCGC/Collings. I know you can do it!

Mike


I have, for many years now, learned that instead of allowing the discussion to form around opinion, you have to look at the initial comment to ask if the discussion even has merit. Although I appreciate Mike's opinion, I do not share it. I don't think Larrivee competes with the low/mid range Taylor/Martins, I think he blows them away. To finish the quote Mike started....

"It would seem to follow naturally that if your "low end" product is THAT good, things can only - although it's hard to imagine - get better. There is nothing remarkable, IMHO, about making excellent instruments that cost thousands of dollars; on the other hand, the attention to detail and total lack of qualitative compromise Larri puts into their 03 series is beyond remarkable."

I think if you would take a high end Martin, Taylor, Lowden, Goodall, etc, etc, that a Larrivee competes very well. That is, if you are talking about the sound and playability. I've seen some attention to detail in woodworking that may be different, but as far as quality of build, choice of woods, etc, etc, I would put Larrivee right up there with the best of them. If they open the custom shop back up, even the smallest details could be easily attended to dependant on how deep your pockets are.

My question is opposite of Mike's. How can Taylor, Martin, Lowden, etc, etc, get the prices for their guitars when there are companies like Larrivee putting out excellent equipment for reasonable prices. The last guitar I purchased was a Seagull Rosewood Duet II. I played it against some of the brands listed and ended up with a toss up between it and a Lowden. I had someone else play the guitars while I sat with my back to him. He said "one" and played and then said "two" and played. He did this several times playing different styles. I would choose the one I liked and he would replace the loser with a different guitar. At the end, when the Seagull and the Lowden were left, I couldn't believe a $1000 guitar was competing with a $3000 guitar.

Of course, this was back 10 years ago or more and I don't think Seagull was quite as automated as they are now. And, who knows? I might have ended up with the one that was just put together right for some reason. But, I don't think this is the case with Larrivee. I also have a Takamine that was made before they gained popularity. I bought it on the sound as well. Low and behold, several years later everyone was playing them.

Larrivee is one of those guitars that is going to stand the test of time. I don't share the opinion that a high end guitar has to be delicate, fragile, thin, or "lightly built", to be high end. Density of wood and its character has every bit as much to do with sound quality and projection as bracing and thickness. Jean Larrivee picks some of the most amazing wood I have ever seen. His sound is very consistant across the wider margins.

For aesthetics, the inlay his wife has attained to is spectacular. The grains and variety of tonewoods are incredible. I'm wondering if I were put a price with a decimal point layed out one position to the right and see if that would make Mike more prone to believe the quality of build is present, even if the high price is absent....
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2007, 12:28:24 AM »

I remember an SD-60 Brazilain RW, (that Randy R now owns), that I played at a local vintage guitar shop.    AMAZING  !!!

I may have the model designation wrong, as I was too new to Larrivée at the time to fully appreciate how nice the guitar was for a 'NON High End' guitar.  

Played a D-50 the same day, that I still daydream about.  That was the guitar that defined "plays like butter" for me.
Nothing else in the shoppe was even close, vintage Martins, New Collins, new Goodalls (liked the Goodall Baby,  just not 5K worth)
I dont visit there often anymore.  Would rather play my Low end stuff.

 

ds
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2007, 12:59:14 AM »

I think if you would take a high end Martin, Taylor, Lowden, Goodall, etc, etc, that a Larrivee competes very well. That is, if you are talking about the sound and playability. I've seen some attention to detail in woodworking that may be different, but as far as quality of build, choice of woods, etc, etc, I would put Larrivee right up there with the best of them. If they open the custom shop back up, even the smallest details could be easily attended to dependant on how deep your pockets are.

With this I can agree and disagree.  Larrivee's playability is great, and so is their sound - if that's the sound you're looking for.  Larrivee competes well against like guitars to a point, but they are limited by their selection.  You might pay more for a ---------- guitar, but if you can go to that guitar's dealer and immediatley order a certain body style with a redwood top and ovankol back and sides, then you have already eliminated Larrivee from contention.  And many of these different wood choices are standard on their models - available right off the rack. You pay for what you want, and if one company doesn't offer it, then paying more for it somewhere else is what you have to do (unless you find it cheaper somewhere else).
What I meant by my reply above about "their higher end models have their hands full competing with the -03s" wasn't meant as other makers, but Larrivee themselves.  The fact the the younger Larrivee had to even make the statement that is in the opening post shows that Larrivee basically knows where they are, but also knows where they wish they were.  And that isn't a slam on them at all; the company is more than capable of keeping up with the Joneses IF they really wanted to.  But the reality is, the -03 line IS Larrivee.  When I (and many people) think "Larrivee", I don't think SD-50; I think D-03.  I don't think L-09, I think L-03R.  And why the image of a high-quality, beautiful sounding and playing guitar at an incredibly affordable price is one they'd like to shed is beyond me.  IMHO, Larrivee cutting out any custom -03s was a huge mistake.  The company builds some fantastic guitars, but until the Larrivee Ice Cream Shop quits offering 5 different sized cones, in only two or three flavors, and with only vanilla ice cream (except for a few limited specials), then they aren't going to fully compete.  And personally I'd like to see them throw their hat in the ring.  Of course the custom shop would change all this, and I'll be interested to see how that unfolds.
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Tony Burns
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2007, 01:21:36 AM »

i own many guitars , they are all different as well as having their own greatness - hand made to factory made - in all honesty Larrivee is in its own niche market which is smart , their price is great - which puts them in the hands of budding artists and professional musicians - most real muscians , which i mean to say the folks that feed themselves with the work of their hands typically dont spend the money on so called boutique guitars - 99 percent of them buy guitars that are good but not overpriced ( they have kids to feed etc. ) The folks who can spend the dough on so called great guitars are not professional musicians ( at least most of us arnt ) The stars that play these exspensive instruments are typically given them by the Manufacturing company - id put them at under one percent or less --and less who actually buy them -- In my opinon Larrivee is at a higher level
Ive played some collings last winter at elderlys - i was very disapointed in them , my Larry has a better sound and it didnt put me in the poor house . Believe me their are dogs fom every make - and Ive owned quite a few , but now those guitars are owned by other people - just my view point .
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2007, 01:37:24 AM »

I am also confused by 'lighter build'  ?

My OM-03 Forum MT is as light a guitar as I could ask for.  Always surprizes me when I set the L aside and pick it up.

ds

Have you picked up a high end guitar with a dovetail neck joint? (don't say Larrivee)

Its obvious which of these guitars has the 'lighter build'. The guitar on the bottom is clearly not from a small company or one off luthier who builds their guitars for optimum performance. What builder who has low production numbers builds guitars braced this heavy? none that I know of. Larrivee's are built that way to be cost effective; not as much labor, variety or warranty work saves them money. The more intricate the bracing, the longer and more difficult they are to make.







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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2007, 01:38:58 AM »

I remember an SD-60 Brazilain RW, (that Randy R now owns), that I played at a local vintage guitar shop.    AMAZING  !!!

I may have the model designation wrong, as I was too new to Larrivée at the time to fully appreciate how nice the guitar was for a 'NON High End' guitar.  

Played a D-50 the same day, that I still daydream about.  That was the guitar that defined "plays like butter" for me.
Nothing else in the shoppe was even close, vintage Martins, New Collins, new Goodalls (liked the Goodall Baby,  just not 5K worth)
I dont visit there often anymore.  Would rather play my Low end stuff.

 

ds

It was a C-19braz. its sweet, for certain. 
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2007, 02:10:58 AM »

It was a C-19braz. its sweet, for certain. 

Thanks for the correction.  I knew i got the model wrong, and that guitar doesnt deserve to be mis-named.

I guess its a good thing that Larrivée doesnt build High End, huh  ?

 whistling

ds
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2007, 02:18:05 AM »

 afro

Just because they don't cost as much doesn't mean they are not on the same level. 

Larrivee D-50 / Martin D-18V

Larrivee D-05 / Martin D-18

Larrivee D-03 / Martin D-16GT

I feel that larrivee has an answer to most other high end guitar companies just as listed above.   Larrivee is not able to spend the time and apply the same amount of attention to each instrument as say Santa Cruz or Olsen Guitars so unless they open up a custom shop they will not offer an instrument this personal. 
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