Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

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GabrielRice
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by GabrielRice »

Some random points:

1. Getzen/Edwards is a completely different situation. Edwards has been a division of Getzen from the beginning.

2. The golden age of Conn was actually not under the direction of it's founder, Charles Gerhard Conn, but under the ownership and management of an investment group led by Carl Dimond Greenleaf, which purchased the company in 1915 and owned it until 1969.

3. I have a college student with a JP Rath bass trombone. It's solidly built, responds easily and evenly, and is not holding them back in the least.

4. Except for the recent uptick of Thein, we in the US are not seeing the price difference of producing what we think of as professional quality instruments by small-scale and large-scale manufacturers. In other words, Shires, Edwards, Greenhoe, M&W, Rath, etc. trombones should be a lot more expensive as compared to Bach and Conn (or Bach and Conn should be a lot cheaper).
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ghmerrill
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by ghmerrill »

Just as an interesting kind of benchmark here in terms of price/quality, and not wanting to really make anything of this ...

I've recently been refinishing my 1947 Olds Standard small bore tenor. So I've been digging around a bit in terms of history, features, cost, etc. From the trombone page out of the 1947 Olds catalog, they list 3 tenor trombones:
  • Super ($240, "unexcelled musical performance")
  • Standard ($215, used by "many top ranking players")
  • Special ($165, "designed for maximum comfort ... brilliant 'trombone' quality ... tremendous tone power").
So the $240 list price for my Standard in 1947 translates to a price of about $3,300 today -- in part owing to inflation. And it's projected to translate to a bit less next year as inflation falls (?). (All stats from Bureau of Labor Statistics.) The inflation rate in 1947, by the way was 14.36%!!

What would a roughly equivalent horn cost today? Well, that depends in part on what "roughly equivalent" means, but let's just restrict it to existing models of some current large manufacturers. I come up with three candidates.
  1. The Yamaha USL-891Z with a list price of ~ $2,700
  2. The King 3B with a list price of ~ $3,000
  3. The Bach 16 Stradivarius, with a list price of ~ $3,700
Of the three, the Bach is the closest in terms of its specs: dual bore slide of almost identical specs, 7 1/2" bell, yellow brass. (In passing ... I'm interested to see that this horn comes with a Bach 7c mouthpiece which is larger than the Olds 3, and a bit larger than the 12c I'm currently using. So I'd be very interested in trying a 7c sized mouthpiece if I could get the shank issue ironed out -- which likely means going in the direction of DE at some point. The 12c I'm using is a Kelly on which I've carefully sanded down the shank to fit the Olds leadpipe.)

A moral of this story seems to be that in terms of pricing across three quarters of a century, nothing much has changed. We could argue quality differences (both among the three modern ones and compared to the Olds), and I'd hope that the contemporary ones are in some ways superior in terms of materials and physical features (maybe?). And it may be fairer to compare the Bach 16 to the Olds Super rather than the Standard (as the "top of the line" horn). But it does appear that any change in terms of cost vs. performance across all that time seems to be "not much."

Oh, I paid $125 for my Olds Standard a few years ago, with an aftermarket hard case. I've put < $100 into it since -- including the DIY refinishing I've done. :roll:
Gary Merrill
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Matt K
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by Matt K »

So the $240 list price for my Standard in 1947 translates to a price of about $3,300 today -- in part owing to inflation. And it's projected to translate to a bit less next year as inflation falls (?). (All stats from Bureau of Labor Statistics.) The inflation rate in 1947, by the way was 14.36%!!
The "inflation rate" is the rate of change, not the change itself. So an inflation of 2% means that (roughly) if you have $100 today, next year it would take $102 to have the same purchasing power. If the inflation rate were somehow zero the following year, it would still cost $102 to get the same purchasing power as the prior year at $100. To go back, you'd have to have a -2% inflation rate in a subsequent year.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by ghmerrill »

Matt K wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 10:27 am The "inflation rate" is the rate of change, not the change itself.
Right. I don't know why I put "rate" in there. :roll:
Gary Merrill
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by Matt K »

You're in the right, when people say inflation is coming down, they actually mean the rate of inflation (typically). If we manage to have deflation (negative rate) resulting in actual reduced inflation, I'd be very surprised.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by ghmerrill »

Matt K wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 10:42 am If we manage to have deflation (negative rate) resulting in actual reduced inflation, I'd be very surprised.
You won't be alone. :(
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K10/114 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by Posaunus »

ghmerrill wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 9:46 am I've recently been refinishing my 1947 Olds Standard small bore tenor. So I've been digging around a bit in terms of history, features, cost, etc. From the trombone page out of the 1947 Olds catalog, they list 3 tenor trombones:
  • Super ($240, "unexcelled musical performance")
  • Standard ($215, used by "many top ranking players")
  • Special ($165, "designed for maximum comfort ... brilliant 'trombone' quality ... tremendous tone power").
So the $240 list price for my Standard in 1947 translates to a price of about $3,300 today -- in part owing to inflation. And it's projected to translate to a bit less next year as inflation falls (?). (All stats from Bureau of Labor Statistics.) The inflation rate in 1947, by the way was 14.36%!!

What would a roughly equivalent horn cost today? Well, that depends in part on what "roughly equivalent" means ...
It's all a bit of arithmetic gamesmanship, since prices are what they are today, no matter the yo-yoing historical inflation rates. But the quoted 1947 rate of 14.36% must have been VERY transitory.
My 1954 Olds LA catalog lists a price for the Olds Super of $250 - only a $10 increase in 7 years.

The Internet CPI inflation calculator (https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflat ... 4?amount=1) shows that the inflated 2024 Olds Super price would be $2,850. (By the way, Gary's Olds Standard [$215 in 1947] would actually only have inflated to $2,960, not $3,300 - not that it matters at all.)

Another point of reference:
My King 2B had a list price of $250 in 1958. With a 40% "professional discount" the price out the door was $150 (+3% sale tax).
Today, Conn-Selmer shows a list price of $3,029 USD
https://www.connselmer.com/king-legend- ... Mouthpiece
Per the inflation calculator, $250 in 1958 would be roughly $2,650 today.

Bottom line (as Gary has already pointed out): Trombone prices have roughly "kept up" with inflation.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by ghmerrill »

Posaunus wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 11:38 am But the quoted 1947 rate of 14.36% must have been VERY transitory.
Well, it was only 2 years post-war. Within the previous year my father had been discharged from the army and my parents had moved (with me :-)) from a large mid-western city (St. Louis) to a small upstate New York "city". This was somewhat peculiar since my father had been raised for his entire life in NYC and Long Island, and was a "city guy." I've puzzled about that for some time, but finally realized that it had nothing to do with economics.

At any rate, it was a period of intense changes in different areas and took a few years to settle down towards what had been "normalcy". And of course the economics was a big part of that.
Gary Merrill
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harrisonreed
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by harrisonreed »

Matt K wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 10:42 am You're in the right, when people say inflation is coming down, they actually mean the rate of inflation (typically). If we manage to have deflation (negative rate) resulting in actual reduced inflation, I'd be very surprised.
Eventually the dollar will be like the Yen. In the 1870s the Yen was a silver coin equal to the Mexican Dollar and USD, basically with $28 today. It used to have subdivisions. If you had 100 yen you could buy a lot of stuff.

Now 1 yen is worth less than 1 penny, and there are no subdivisions. 100 yen doesn't even buy a rice ball. Eventually it will be pointless for us to have pennies. You'll just buy your subway sandwich for $80 even.

I wonder what the tipping point is? Once a loaf of bread costs $50, you should probably get rid of pennies, nickels and dimes.
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by Matt K »

Arguably the penny has been pretty worthless for a long time. In 1900 1 penny was worth ~$3.60 and in 1800 it was worth ~$25 in today's money. Interestingly, there was apparently a half a cent coin back in the day, decommissioned in ~1860. I'm not an expert in that period I'm guessing that means that there was a time where the lowest unit of purchasing power we had available in the US was equivalent to about ~$10 in today's money, in other words, about 100x the current value of a penny.

EDIT: The scariest is that a penny in 2000 would be worth about 17c :shock:
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by harrisonreed »

If you go any further back you run out of "US" to have a currency. There was a period where the US did not have a solidified national currency and what they were working with was a joke on the international market. And prior to 1776 we had individual colonial money and British currency. I doubt the purchasing value of the lowest denomination was ever that high. It might have been but there was a lot of weird money going around.
Last edited by harrisonreed on Fri Feb 02, 2024 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by ghmerrill »

harrisonreed wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 12:32 pm Now 1 yen is worth less than 1 penny, and there are no subdivisions. 100 yen doesn't even buy a rice ball. Eventually it will be pointless for us to have pennies. You'll just buy your subway sandwich for $80 even.
That reminds me that I still have a 1,000 lira bill around here somewhere. From a business trip to Italy in 2000. :roll: The finger (Gb) paddle I soldered onto my bass trombone is a French 5 centime coin.

I'm waiting for the lira to come back. There's still hope. :shuffle:
Gary Merrill
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by Posaunus »

ghmerrill wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 12:52 pm I'm waiting for the lira to come back. There's still hope. :shuffle:
They still have liras in Turkey. 100 TRY will get you $3.28 USD, or 30.37₺ per US$.
That's better than the Italian lira was before the Euro (£626 per US$ in the mid-1960s!).
Your 1,000 lira note would have been worth $1.60US. Better hang on to it! ;)
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by Doug Elliott »

I just talked to the John Packer rep today at TMEA. This was not any sort of a takeover, it was Mick's idea so that he can do what he wants to do, building trombones instead of running the business, as he looks toward eventual retirement. I can certainly understand that position.
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by Matt K »

I removed a few posts. I started the train going off the rails, but talking about how trombones get more expensive over time isn't that far afield; once we start to get into secession, I think that's a pretty reasonable place to draw the line.

Regardless, glad to hear this arrangement is working for Mick.
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by OneTon »

I have a John Packer plastic clarinet that I bought to double on. It plays better in tune and with arguably better tone than the Yamaha student clarinet that is the darling of band directors everywhere, and twice the price. In full disclosure, the Yamaha keys are bullet proof, though some people complain that the Yamaha is stiff.

Herbert Spencer warns us of “contempt prior to investigation.” Let’s give John Packer a chance.
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DougHulme
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by DougHulme »

Mick is working on a trombone of mine right now, I'm taking another to him next week. He's dcidely still in charge and will be around for at least another couple of years, there will be no change but positives for Rath and anyone who has been in a one ownership business will agree with Doug, that they can completely understand his move. This is a different scenario completely to that of Steve Shires... Doug
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Re: Rath Trombones sold to John Packer

Post by JKBone85 »

harrisonreed wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 12:51 pm If you go any further back you run out of "US" to have a currency. There was a period where the US did not have a solidified national currency and what they were working with was a joke on the international market. And prior to 1776 we had individual colonial money and British currency. I doubt the purchasing value of the lowest denomination was ever that high. It might have been but there was a lot of weird money going around.
And eventually, what was once currency returns to being basically worthless. If we went back to using Wampum next week, I could retire by Leap Day.
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