Bourgeois / Eastman Collaboration Update
A Letter from Luthier Dana Bourgeois
2019 was an exciting year at Bourgeois Guitars.
The big news, of course, is our recent partnership with Eastman Music. Many are already aware of the particulars. For those who aren’t, following are a few highlights.
I am still an owner of Bourgeois Guitars. I will continue as CEO into the foreseeable future. For the foreseeable future, Bourgeois Guitars will continue making guitars in Lewiston, Maine, and continue distributing our guitars throughout the US. Eastman has already begun distributing Bourgeois guitars internationally, and will eventually handle most overseas sales.
We are pleased that most folks in the acoustic guitar community are already familiar with the details and ramifications of our recent news. We are also aware that misconceptions still exist. The most common misconception is a rumor that association with Eastman will cause American jobs to be exported to China. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
On the contrary, over the next two years we plan to steadily increase our local workforce. Though Eastman’s distribution efforts have just gotten started, overseas sales have quickly risen to the highest level we’ve seen in years. As a result, we are already hiring—not to keep abreast of workforce turnover, but to keep abreast of current and anticipated demand.
In addition, our two-year development plan calls for acquisition of new light and heavy equipment, all to be purchased exclusively from American suppliers. Plans are also underway to expand our Lewiston facility. I can assure you that such developments unambiguously benefit both the local and US economies. I can also assure you that this level of growth would not be possible without Eastman’s collaboration.
The second most common misconception we’ve heard is that the Bourgeois brand will somehow be cheapened or diluted by association with a maker of less expensive instruments. While it is true that brand degradation would likely occur if we tried to fool customers into thinking that guitars manufactured by Eastman were somehow made by Bourgeois, I can aggressively assure you that we won’t. Allow me to explain how we plan to proceed.
The average Bourgeois guitar retails for about $6,000. The cheapest retails for a little under $4,000. While we have always aspired to build quality guitars at lower price points, the economics of micro-scale US manufacturing dictate that we would lose our shirts if we tried.
As previously announced, Bourgeois and Eastman will address this conundrum by collaborating on a new series of guitars that will be partly produced by each company. Bourgeois will be responsible for design, materials selection, production of voiced tops, final setup and quality control; Eastman will assemble and finish guitars to our specifications. Not only will this collaboration further increase job creation in Lewiston, it will also allow us to crack the $4,000 price barrier, and by a significant margin. US introduction, by the way, is scheduled for the latter part of 2020.
While co-produced guitars will carry a Bourgeois headstock logo, they will also be distinguished by an unambiguous Series designation. Most significantly, the label inside each co-produced guitar will clearly credit Eastman’s role in it’s manufacture.
The slogan, “Made in Lewiston, Maine”, heretofore proudly displayed on all Bourgeois labels, will in the future be reserved only for guitars made entirely in Lewiston, Maine. Guitars made entirely in Lewiston will continue to be built by the same process, to the same designs, and by the same highly skilled craftsman who made them prior to our association with Eastman. The only difference is that we now have access to better equipment, facility and materials, and are already able to provide employees with better benefits. We sincerely believe that under such conditions, the quality of a guitar made in Lewiston should only continue to rise.
Finally, we’ve heard variations on an unfounded rumor that Bourgeois guitars will soon be carried by every US Eastman dealer. Again, not so. While Eastman’s dealership network will undoubtedly help introduce Bourgeois guitars to previously untapped foreign markets, only a few qualified Eastman dealers will be allowed to represent Bourgeois Guitars in the US. Moreover, new dealers will only be opened in markets that do not already support existing Bourgeois dealerships. In short, the Market should expect, as we do, that expansion of our dealership network will continue to be gradual and organic.
Each day I wake up feeling that my best guitars haven’t yet been built. Partnership with Eastman only reinforces that belief. I judge the quality of a guitar primarily by the music it makes in the hands of its player, and by the joy it brings to player and listener like. While alliance with Eastman may put Bourgeois guitars in the hands of more players, the rest is still up to me and my Lewiston, Maine, team. We continue to take that responsibility as seriously as ever.
Please help spread these messages to anyone who has not heard them. Thank you in advance for your continued support.”
CEO, Bourgeois Guitars