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Online Guitar Company Hits the Right Chord With Red McCombs -- Austin Entrepreneur Teams Up With McCombs to Sell Guitars on the Internet

3/31/04

Red McCombs, the San Antonio billionaire who's been involved in everything from cars to radio stations, now wants into the guitar business. McCombs is backing JR Beck Music Products LLC, a new guitar brand that plans to sell its products direct to customers over the Internet. The venture might best be described as Michael Dell does guitars.

AUSTIN, TX (PRWEB) –- McCombs Enterprises and J. R. Beck Music Products, L.L.C. today announced a partnership to market high quality guitars directly to consumers via the Internet. “The bottom line is everyone wants to get a good deal,” said Red McCombs, CEO, McCombs Enterprises. “We’re selling cars via the Internet now. J.R. Beck’s guitars are a great example of the advantage technology can provide for consumers. By cutting out the middle man, we can offer very high quality guitars at a substantial savings.”

According to Lance W. Bledsoe, CEO, J. R. Beck Music Products, L.L.C., the company will provide the kind of quality instruments musicians look for – from Fender and Gibson – at about half the price by dealing directly with the same manufacturers.

“Insiders know that some of the very best guitars are made by a few companies in Korea and China,” said Bledsoe. “We have partnered with these companies so their expert craftsmen hand make each and every instrument we sell. In many cases what we sell is exactly what other companies sell but at half the price.”

The company has already sold hundreds of guitars through test market efforts and sees online sales as the new distribution channel for high quality instruments.

“We’re in the same place the PC industry was in the late ‘80s,” said Bledsoe, who worked for both Compaq and Dell. “Companies like Compaq were selling through stores like Computerland which is now out of business. Then Dell started selling their computers online. Everyone said you can’t sell computers that way, but Dell did it and now owns half of the PC market.”

Wanting to start his own business, Bledsoe, who has played guitar since his teenage years, began thinking about the concept of selling guitars online.

“The only company doing anything like what J.R. Beck is doing focuses on selling to people who live where there are no music stores, and sells to them at music store prices,” said Bledsoe. “I was looking at the Dell model which focused on selling at a substantially reduced price. In the beginning, they sold PCs equal in quality at less than half the Compaq price — and people liked the idea of buying directly from Dell because most dealers weren’t that technically knowledgeable. I helped set up the Compaq dealer support program and understand that process. That told me that selling a product you know something about and providing what customers want via the Internet at a significant savings should work.”

Some people see not being able to try out an instrument as a major drawback to online purchases of guitars, however.

“They said that in the computer industry, too,” said Bledsoe. “And, guitars have been around for awhile, so musicians know the different types of guitars available already — there’s not a lot of room for major differences in design anymore. We have a money-back guarantee, and even though you can try out a specific type of guitar in a store, you don’t generally get to try the actual guitar you’re going to take home. To evaluate how a guitar is going to sound you really need to try it in the same environment you play in, through the same amplifier and effects set-up, etc.

“There’s some empirical number that will drive people to accept some risk or inconvenience to realize substantial savings,” said Bledsoe. “If you want to buy a certain car and you see it advertised for substantially less at a McCombs dealership, you’ll probably go out of your way to buy it there, won’t you? So, if you want a top end Epiphone Les Paul, and the cheapest one you can find online is $900, but we guarantee ours is essentially the same for $550, then most people think that’s enough of a savings to try buying it from us. Of the hundreds we’ve already sold, there’s only been one refund. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep our customers happy.“

The goal isn’t just to sell a Fender or Gibson model for less money, however, Bledsoe also wants to sell J.R. Beck branded products to build quality brand awareness. Referring to the Dell situation, Bledsoe explains that their PCs now cost almost as much as Compaq, but people buy Dell computers now as much for the quality of the product as they do because of the price advantage and easy purchase process online. In addition to the classic designs like Les Paul, Gibson 335, or Fender Stratocaster, the company has some of its own guitar designs and they are made by the same company that makes some of the most expensive guitars sold by Gibson, for example. A high-end Les Paul branded as an Epiphone would be sold by Gibson for $1200 to $1300 — with volume discounters selling them for about $900, but J.R. Beck sells the same model for under $600.

“All guitars vary a little bit from one to another, but our guitars of a certain style are lying next to a Gibson or Fender of a certain style, on the same assembly line, with parts from the same bins — they’re functionally the same with the same quality materials,” said Bledsoe. “They just have a different headstock, but our guitar is as much an Epiphone Les Paul as a GMC Suburban is a Chevy Suburban.”

According to Bledsoe, J.R. Beck will target college and baby boomer musicians who already purchase products online, and know that Chinese and Korean craftsmen make the guitars for a lot of well known brands.

Red McCombs is the owner of Red McCombs Automotive Group and the Minnesota Vikings, co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, and an investor in J.R. Beck Music Products, L.L.C.

Lance W. Bledsoe is the chairman, CEO and president of J.R. Beck Music Products, L.L.C., an online sales music products company based in Austin, Texas, the "Live Music Capital of the World." The company is committed to offering the finest instruments available anywhere for the money through direct Internet sales. Working directly with manufacturers, J.R. Beck provides superior guitars made by the world’s finest luthiers and passes savings on to customers. For more information on J.R. Beck Music Products, L.L.C. see www.jrbeck.com or call 1-888-4JRBECK (1-888-457-2325.)

DUBLIN & ASSOCIATES, INC.
1017 NORTH MAIN, SUITE 201
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 78212-4721
(210) 227-0221
FAX (210) 227-6634

For more information, contact Rose Marie Eash, Dublin & Associates — 210-227-0221.

 

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