Read the interview on this Italian site http://expressivesound.altervista.org/2012/10/29/intervista-a-manne-guitars/
Manne guitars is one of the most important manufacturers of guitars and basses crafted in Italy. The company is renowned for the quality and care that it exercises when building an instrument, as well as producing highly appealing designs. We were able to contact the company to give you this web interview, and to introduce you to this very important instrument builder. We thank you Manne Guitars for your kind availability.
-Expressive sound: “It has been a difficult economic landscape over several years for Italian companies. How long has Manne been in business?”
-Manne: “We have been operating since 1987 when the situation was very different from today, when shops bought and sold what they wanted. Now there is a much more narrow logic in the market. I see the quality of the big brands has sunk, although sales remain supported by marketing and trade policies. But now I find my own shop flooded with requests for repairs, even on new instruments. Selling instruments through marketing instead of build-quality is hard to understand, especially for customers in today’s market. I have been able to create a niche that is still working, both locally in Italy and also in International sales. ”
- Expressive sound: “Your products are synonymous with quality. How does it feel to be an “ambassador” of the Made in Italy label abroad?”
-Manne: “One feels a responsibility to try to build instruments in the best possible way, giving the customer something that is not just a list of features, but a true expressive tool that conveys quality felt especially when playing it. My best customers are my past customers themselves or their acquaintances. Many who own a Manne guitar or bass often buy more Manne instruments. Manne instruments seem to be somewhat “addictive” I’ll tell you that my instruments are known also in the U.S., because players there appreciate what Made in Italy really means, in the sense that U.S. buyers perceive this as synonymous with excellence of design, ideas that result in improvements to playability, sound and aesthetics. Also, do not forget that an instrument built entirely by hand is necessarily different from an industrial instrument, especially in terms of its “feel”.
-Expressive sound: “Your company is very popular in Italy, and many famous musicians use your instruments. Are you proud of this?
-Manne: “I wanted that maybe over time, we will most benefit from our loyal highly talented players who prefer us for our quality rather than because we take them to perform at guitar shows or promote their careers. There are musicians and musicians…. Some famous players would offer a demonstration tour, playing at NAMM or in an advertising campaign to promote a stick… I can understand the necessity of self-promotion, but these are not the musicians who give me satisfaction, and so I try to avoid them. I prefer musicians, famous musicians, who are willing to pay me a fair price for my instruments, respecting my work, to have a creative tool that meets their specific expectations and needs. It is this type of musician with whom I am trying to become associated, to build a relationship lasts for decades.
Expressive sound-”Can you explain to our readers how you choose materials and components for your guitars?”
-Manne: “It is a quality choice and a strategic choice. For example, pick-ups: I prefer pick-ups with a good build dynamic and a certain “neutrality”, which I offer as standard equipment. I know I can not please every preference, but I want components that are versatile and closer to what I consider the “transducer” sound of the instrument. Then for each project we can create variations on a theme, or even have components custom built for a particular purpose. As for hardware, I have a warehouse with OEM supply of Manne custom-designed components, with everything available, in order to satisfy customers with typical expectations but also keeping costs down as much as possible. Then if a customer wants something special, I can order it on the fly with a few extras over the base price. ”
-Expressive sound: “How many hours of work are needed for the production of a Manne instrument?”
-Manne: “From 20 to 50 hours or more of active work, but then there is also time spent on technical, design and other indirect work.”
-Expressive sound: “All your products are of high quality and it seems every musician always manages to find the right tool that suits their needs. So what is your flagship product?”
-Manne, “Our flagship product is exactly what satisfies our customers. We can do virtually anything! We are a true custom shop.”
-Expressive sound, “Will you participate in the upcoming editions of the Musikmesse and NAMM?”
-Manne: “We currently sell to the public via the Internet. Those shows are so not exactly business exhibitions to the consumer public. So we typically participate in other types of shows like consumer-oriented guitar shows. But as long as there is work I do not worry too much … in the past I’ve done dozens and dozens of international shows. Surely I miss California, the U.S. itself, and all of my friends there much more than the Namm shows! ”
-Expressive sound: “What’s best for your future? What are your goals? ”
-Manne: “The ship needs to be guided by looking at the horizon and studying the weather. I believe that every day there is some adaptation, but, the horizon is the same as I outlined several years ago. The approach now is direct sales through the internet and with the help of our loyal players and friends all over the world. This does not exclude dealers or agents who offer a better interface with customers, but we are encouraging our worldwide agents to create a direct line to the customer. This is always the most rewarding for me and for the end player.”
-Expressive sound: “What do you think is the evolution of the market today in the field of musical instruments, with the advent of low-cost products from Asian countries such as China? Will they damage the market for Made in Italy? ”
-Manne: “I do not think they damage the market for Made in Italy. I think the problem is coming more from the proliferation of hobbyists working “in black”. Before you buy an instrument Made in Italy or anywhere abroad, perhaps on the internet, ask the company who may have a beautiful website, how long are they in business and are they a registered company. In the exhibitions in which I participate, I realize that there are now many people building (instruments, amps, effects, everything) but just as weekend hobby builder, or as a side-business of their main occupation. The list of professions ranges from postman to bank executive to funeral furniture maker. Building and producing an instrument is fairly simple these days with computer operated routers…. but it is much more important to find a professional instrument builder, a luthier, who has the experience and knowledge to engineer and craft a truly worthwhile professional grade instrument. After all, how many copies of copies of copies do we need?.
I see so many hobbyist-made instruments not covered by a warranty or with poor performance that is certainly not serious. It is important to build an instrument well, and then as they say in English “stand behind it.” That ‘s what it means to have a company for 25 years and still be at the forefront of design and craftsmanship. Some people my work very well, but if they do not pay taxes, if they are not serious about their craft, they do harm to the market, since to some it is only about making some money. With regard to the low quality, I do not see as much low quality production in the economy instruments as the expensive ones. Many multinationals look only for the best economic results and produce and trade only with profit in mind. For me, and I am sure that my colleagues in the repair business will agree, I’m sometimes happy to see this, since there will be more guitars to repair, and perhaps those who want to have something better will turn to the truly serious small-scale builders. ”
-Expressive sound: “Will you leave a greeting for our readers?”
-Manne: “Dear Readers, keep open eyes, open ears, brain to function at its best, but especially keep warm fingers and heart. Greetings! ”
Alberto Antignani for Expressive Sound