Bourgeois Guitars Joint Venture with Eastman Guitars

Bourgeois / Eastman Collaboration Update

A Letter from Luthier Dana Bourgeois

“Dear friends,

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.”

Sincerely,

Dana Bourgeois

CEO, Bourgeois Guitars

Dana Bourgeois Voicing Top Eastman onemanz

Summer NAMM 2018 Recap

Acoustic guitars of note among the booths and pavilions of Nashville NAMM

Something for every budget and taste

Summer NAMM banner

The summer installment of the biannual trade show of the National Association of Music Merchants took place on July 28-30, at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. While never having quite the impact and inventory of Winter NAMM, the 2018 summer show provided some interesting additions to this year’s lineup of new guitars. Most of those being electric guitars, the acoustics required some sleuthing to track down. But they still cover most price ranges and a great deal of the familiar brand names.

Here are some of the most interesting acoustic guitars seen at Summer NAMM

Alvarez

Alvarez Artist Series was attracting attention with the updated AGW77AR showing up on Twitter videos throughout the weekend.

This long-scale Grand Auditorium model has walnut top with forward-shifted scalloped bracing and walnut back and sides, and their new, sleeker body bevel. Priced to sell at $499.

See all the 2018 Alvarez guitars here.

Bourgeois

Luthier Dana Bourgeois clearly enjoys his trips to NAMM, and always comes up with some some seriously amazing one-of-a-kind guitars, like this OMS wood deluxe,  with a redwood top and figured English walnut for the back and sides!

Bourgois OMS wood deluxe Summer NAMM 2018

Check out Bourgeois Guitars’ Facebook page for an eye-popping array of this NAMM’s belles of the ball.

Or go to their main website to what’s new and interesting, and which dealers landed these very special instruments.

Epiphone

AJ-220S

“The AJ-220S has a unique bell-like shape, a larger lower bout, and a small round upperbout which gives this new addition to our Advanced Jumbo family of guitars a unique voice.” These guitars feature a glued-in dovetail neck joint, mahogany back and sides, and solid Sitka Spruce tops, or an optional solid mahogany top that has its own mahogany burst toner option.

Typical price $269. And there is also the cutaway acoustic-electric AJ-220SCE for $369.

Epiphone J-200CE Summer NAMM 2018

EJ-200SCE  

Offered in a variety of colored and burst finishes, these cutaway Super Jumbos feature the Shadow eSonic-II™ Stereo Pickup System and Grover machine heads, pricing starts at $459.

“The EJ-200SCE reimagines the historic ‘J-200 Jumbo’ acoustic guitar now featuring a Solid Spruce top, Grover Rotomatic™ machine heads, and the revolutionary new Shadow eSonic-II™ Stereo Pickup System that maintains your true acoustic tone when plugged in to an amp or PA system.”

Guild

Guild_jumbo_junior_mahogany_Summer NAMM 2018

The new Jumbo Junior is a smaller jumbo model made with a solid Sitka top and Guild’s arched back of either mahogany or maple. These should prove comfortable couch or travel guitars for a MSRP of $555

Martin

C. F. Martin & Co. had a smallish offering compared to the January show, but it is spread across board. These include, but are not limited to a new affordable Road Series model, the 000RSG, with solid Siris back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top (MAP $1,499,) two limited edition models made from black walnut, GPCE Black Walnut Ambertone, and the DE Black Walnut Ambertone which come with Fishman electronics(MAP $2,649 each,) a black, slope shoulder Jimmy Buffet Custom edition to go along with the Broadway musical Margaritaville (MAP $5,999,) the had-to-happen D-16EPD with soundboard featuring the iconic poker playing dogs painting (MAP $2,799,) and the stunning OM Arts and Crafts 2018 featuring ornate pearl inlay evoking the aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts movement in design, as well as German white oak back and sides, a torrefied Adirondack spruce top, Guatemalan rosewood trim with a MAP of $13,999.00.

Martin Summer NAMM models

See all the new Martin models here.

Taylor

After introducing their new “V Class” bracing at Winter NAMM, Taylor Guitars released a new Builder’s Series model at Summer NAMM, the maple Builder’s Edition 614ce, as well as new Grand Auditorium models in their affordable 300 Series, the 314ce (Saple/Sitka) and the 324ce (Tasmanian Blackwood/mahogany) and 400 Series, 414ce (Ovankok/Sitka) and the 414ce-R (Indian rosewood/Stika) that feature V Class bracing, and individual cosmetic appointments.

Taylor Summer NAMM 2018

This debut was accompanied by the announcement that Taylor expects to convert all their series to the new bracing. It is intended to deliver a “more dynamic voice.” And from my experience with their Winter NAMM offering it does do exactly that, at least when compared to similar Taylors made the previous year.

The Builder’s Edition 14ce has solid figured Big Leaf maple back and sides with a torrefied solid Sitka spruce top, beveled armrest, new Silent Satin finish with a Wild Honey burst on the back and sides (optional for the top,) and Scepter faceplate and fretboard inlays are among the impressive features.

The 300 and 400 Series instruments will begin shipping in July and include the 314, 314ce, 324, 324e, 324ce, 414e-R,414ce, 414ce-R

More at taylorguitars.com

About NAMM

NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), established in 1901, is the not-for-profit association that strengthens the $17 billion global music, sound and event technology products industry. Our association and our trade shows serve as the crossroads for professionals wanting to seek out the newest innovations in music, recording technology, sound, stage and lighting products. Membership also includes access to the latest industry news and education, opportunities for music advocacy and cost-saving programs that will help your business thrive. All of these activities and programs are designed to promote music making for people of all ages and to help create a more musical world.



Bourgeois Guitars – New Factory, New President

Dana Bourgeois will continue to build guitars in Lewiston, Maine, at a new location

Forced to move, a fortuitous reunion led to a unique solution, and a new President of Bourgeois Guitars

As described at the official Bourgeois website, Dana ran into an old friend at a college reunion, who has considerable experience with upper-level management. That friend, Bob Smallwood, has been retired for some time, from business, but was keeping busy as a volunteer fireman, instructor, and musician. But now he has joined forces with Dana Bourgeois and along with his wife, has relocated to Maine to take over as President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. He has already been responsible for locating the site of the new guitar factory and oversaw its creation.

“The Smallwood home is located in the glorious rocky mountains outside of Estes Park, Colorado. Bob was the Assistant Fire Chief and Medical Training Director of the Glen Haven Volunteer Fire Department. Sonjia, a 100lb firefighter and emergency medical responder, was decorated with Bob for heroism during the floods of 2013. Bob and Sonjia volunteered at the same food bank in Estes Park when they met and fell in love 6 years ago. Together they were part of the music entertainment scene in Colorado’s northern mountain communities. Now, they have stepped from one adventure to another by relocating to Maine to join Dana at Bourgeois Guitars. They are excited to help write the next chapter for this venerable brand.”

We very much wish the Smallwoods and Dana very good luck as this new chapter unfolds!

Bourgeois Schoenberg Soloist 30th Commemorative LE – NAMM 2017

Dana Bourgeois is celebrating 30 years of the Schoenberg Soloist cutaway OM with a very special model for 2017

Limited to just 12 instruments

The Soloist 30th Commemorative LE is made with premium cocobolo back and sides and a bearclaw German spruce top. According to Bourgeois, “Both are the finest examples of their species and rare in this grade! The elegant “Soloist” triangle inlay not only adorns the heel as it has traditionally, but it has also been added to both sides of the pyramid bridge as a finishing touch.”

Bourgeois Soloist 30 LE One Man's Guitar onemanz NAMM 2017
photo: Bourgeois Guitars

And it has a label signed by Dana Bourgeois and Eric Schoenberg.

Bourgeois did the majority of the work on the very first Soloists, which were made for joint venture between C. F. Martin & Co. and Schoenberg’s shop. At that time Martin was focused on contemporary acoustic guitars, and was neither trained or tooled up to do vintage features like hand-carved pyramid bridges, hand-planed and “voiced” back and soundboard, and the special neck shaping Schoenberg required. So Bourgeois handled the detailed work and then the guitars were sent to Martin for assembly and finishing.

Both Schoenberg and Bourgeois have offered world-class cutaway OM fingerstyle instruments ever since.

The Schoenberg Soloists were the first Martin flattop acoustic guitars to have a cutaway. I used to own the first Soloist made with pearl top trim, which is now in Chris Martin’s private collection. It has outrageous bearclaw waterfalls in the Sitka top, reminiscent of the stuff being used on this wonderful and historic new Soloist.

Schoenberg guitars have had the Soloist model built by a succession of small-shop luthiers. And now it comes full circle, as Dana Bourgeois brings his own personal interpretation after decades of evolving exclusive methods and philosophy of guitarmaking.

Courtney Hartman made an appearance at the Bourgeois NAMM booth to play some guitars. And here she is in a promotional video for this amazing limited edition.

Related Reading:

Bourgeois Guitars

Schoenberg Guitars

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