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Heritage Guitars 'Custom Upgrades Pricing' Info


Gitfiddler
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The current Heritage Guitars of Kalamazoo web site does not provide pricing for custom options or upgrades.  Yes, it has a section for some of their Custom Shop guitars as well as limited editions, and a few NAMM one-offs. 

However, some customers simply wish to add a few 'upgrades' or personal touches to an already existing model. 

The former owners provided a basic guide, and it really helped customers build their dream guitar.  Customers were directed to their dealer for specific prices, but at least they had an idea of what was possible.  One example would be a current H-575 hollow body jazz box.  The come standard with an unbound neck, unbound headstock, simple pearl dot inlays and unbound F-holes.  Back in the day, adding those options would increase the cost of the guitar approximately $1,000 to $2,000. 

Why can't the current owners give us at least a general idea what custom upgrades are available and maybe add cost?

Here's an old (2007) price guide from the archives...

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Custom Options...

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Because (IMO) the new ownership and business model isn’t really “customer” oriented. It’s now just another incorporation concerned only with the bottom line. The old days (as Ernie Harwell would have said) are “Long Gone”!!! That’s just about the biggest aspect of the old guard that I miss most. It was about their love of building guitars. Really wish I’d pulled the trigger on a custom build I specd back in ‘13. My guess is with the bigger corporate model any up charges would have a substantial price increase incurred, making them not so much of a deal. Again just my opinion.

Edited by davesultra
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The new Heritage is very tight lipped on anything custom. 

Most guitar builders have something like this.  I just don't get it!

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10 hours ago, davesultra said:

Because (IMO) the new ownership and business model isn’t really “customer” oriented. It’s now just another incorporation concerned only with the bottom line. The old days (as Ernie Harwell would have said) are “Long Gone”!!!

Amen.  The mojo has disappeared. 

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the 14 yr old options brochure...

In a nutshell Plaza did not want to  deviate from a base product with standardized construction costs and the New Guy want a premium for anything outside the box!  They actually have to have a corporate conference to agree to anything custom from what I understand.


 

 

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OK, here are examples of previously simple and very common upgrades.

How much would F-hole binding cost on a 535 or 575?

What about neck binding on a 575?

Headstock binding?

Some customers like a bit of bling on their new axe to set it apart from the 'standard' line. 

What I'm suggesting is that the factory let customers know what can or cannot be done...and price it within reason.

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With all the changes they've made, their Bespoke Program isn't even up.  Their custom shop has been so busy with Custom Core models, they have a backlog of items they have yet to fulfill.

I believe when I helped with the HOC 137 design, the price was still $100 per option if memory serves.

This is why the 137 was such a big deal despite how many were upset it wasn't cheap enough.  Individual orders would have been over $3000 so coming in under $2000 was really a good deal.  They discounted those guitars deeply for us although it wasn't good enough for the masses.  Only four guitars sold although dozens promised to buy them.   

Sorry, its a sore subject for me to do so much for the HOC to make this happen and I was embarrassed by how it turned out.

Rant over.  Maybe its too early in the morning, haven't had my coffee yet...

 

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9 minutes ago, DetroitBlues said:

Sorry, its a sore subject for me to do so much for the HOC to make this happen and I was embarrassed by how it turned out.

I think you fail to recognize why so many of us love the, "Old Heritage."  I bought my first Heritage Guitar in 1989.  When I was looking for a new guitar my local music store owner, Mr. Walker, told me their story.  I was impressed.  Otherwise I would have never ordered that guitar.  Mr. And Mrs. Walker came to my wedding.  In 2008 I went to 225 Parsons to meet the Heritage staff.  It was a pilgrimage.  It was about the people who were parts of my life.  Hard working people who made a fantastic product for a fair price.  It wasn't about the name on the headstock. 

Back then it was people who worked for their love of their craft.  Now it is a big company trying to make money off of the old timers hard work and their character.  It doesn't work that way. 

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On 10/18/2021 at 4:20 PM, davesultra said:

Because (IMO) the new ownership and business model isn’t really “customer” oriented. It’s now just another incorporation concerned only with the bottom line. The old days (as Ernie Harwell would have said) are “Long Gone”!!! That’s just about the biggest aspect of the old guard that I miss most. It was about their love of building guitars. Really wish I’d pulled the trigger on a custom build I specd back in ‘13. My guess is with the bigger corporate model any up charges would have a substantial price increase incurred, making them not so much of a deal. Again just my opinion.

 

9 hours ago, Millennium Maestro said:

the 14 yr old options brochure...

In a nutshell Plaza did not want to  deviate from a base product with standardized construction costs and the New Guy want a premium for anything outside the box!  They actually have to have a corporate conference to agree to anything custom from what I understand.


 

 

I will take the word from several long-standing members here on HOC that the "new" Heritage are making guitars as good as they ever have.  I have note personally played any new Heritages. 

 But, unfortunately, I agree with the above quotes on their business model.  Some people could careless about their business model as long as they get a good product, others harken back to a day when "You can go to a place where everybody knew your name".

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1 hour ago, DetroitBlues said:

With all the changes they've made, their Bespoke Program isn't even up.  Their custom shop has been so busy with Custom Core models, they have a backlog of items they have yet to fulfill.

I believe when I helped with the HOC 137 design, the price was still $100 per option if memory serves.

This is why the 137 was such a big deal despite how many were upset it wasn't cheap enough.  Individual orders would have been over $3000 so coming in under $2000 was really a good deal.  They discounted those guitars deeply for us although it wasn't good enough for the masses.  Only four guitars sold although dozens promised to buy them.   

Sorry, its a sore subject for me to do so much for the HOC to make this happen and I was embarrassed by how it turned out.

Rant over.  Maybe its too early in the morning, haven't had my coffee yet...

 

A couple of thing Josh;

1) You are not going to please everyone. 2) Not everyone wanted/needed a custom 137. 3) Not everyone had $1800-1900 to throw down on a fairly short deadline. 4) To be "embarrassed" about how it turn out is a little bit dramatic.  Those that truly wanted one bought one, those that were just kicking the tires or didn't want/need a custom 137 didn't buy one.  What is there to be embarrassed about?  Bottom line, you and 3 others got a great custom guitar.  How many did you really expect to sell?  The four of you got a great deal and others just didn't want or need one.  

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My experience with the former company and having a custom guitar built was personal. I do not expect to see

this much attention devoted to a custom request ever again. The interest from the former owners and craftsmen

was real and to this day I feel that friendly mojo every time I play that guitar. Thanks Marv.

 

 

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sour grapes! the place should'da just been bulldozed!! Like Checker Cab, et al. 

 

 would that make y'all happy?  then we'd be here harping and moaning about the "good old days" when there was "mojo"

 

its a new day. don't have to like it. but it is what it is. It's called "BandLab" 

Hey, I went there a couple weeks ago and walked thru with Jim. I asked him, "do they ask your opinions?" He said, "they thank me and move on". But he's there, practically daily, taking the opposite half of a 535 body while Pete works the carver as we walk through....every day, and he's 80+. 

 

Mojo? What the hell is that anyway? When I went into the shop, folks were working, dust was flying, moisture spray in the air to reduce fire hazard, a huge CNC machine that cost upwards of a quarter million (to carve the Harmony line, which, BTW, are FINE instruments in and of themselves).

What would you all have had it become? You want your cake and eat it too. That's ok, a human trait.

Asking for a friend.

signed,

kalamazoo boy

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38 minutes ago, chico said:

(to carve the Harmony line, which, BTW, are FINE instruments in and of themselves).

My Harmony Rebel is a damn fine guitar. I love that thing. It's super lightweight, it sounds great, and it plays very well. I plan to buy one of the semi-hollow Comets in the future. I was thinking of buying an SG down the line. With the Rebel, I don't really see the point. 

Edited by PunkKitty
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Actually,  I wonder how much things have changed..

Price on the 2007 spec sheet:

H150CM  $2950   + Case 180

H535  $2970 + Case 180

From the website:  buy today

H150 (dirty lemon) with case $2499

H535 (Tran Red) with case   $2799.

Granted you were getting pretty significant discount at the dealers in the old days, but still,  the list prices of the H150 is 80% of the list from 14 years ago.   The H535 is 88% of the old price.  

You don't have the selection of models that you once had, but how many things have gone down in price in 14 years?

The alternative was for Jim, Marv and Bill to say "we're retiring", and close the place up, sell the parts that they could and go sit on the beach for 10  or 15 years. 

 

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As much as I'd like to go into debt ordering a stack of highly custom instruments if we were still back in the good old days...and believe me, I would.  I'm still very happy that the brand is thriving and making consistently good guitars. Its way better than it just being gone all together. One of my main guitars is a recent 535 that kicks some serious ass.

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I bought three custom guitars from Heritage between 2000 and before the change.  I don’t have any regrets about any of them, and if I had been too unhappy with the results I wouldn’t have gone back for more.  Having said that, my experience really didn’t match some of the warm memories of others here.  There were moments of frustration mixed with the moments of excitement, and there was comedy and there were errors.  Was that the mojo?

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21 hours ago, TalismanRich said:

 

The alternative was for Jim, Marv and Bill to say "we're retiring", and close the place up, sell the parts that they could and go sit on the beach for 10  or 15 years. 

 

If that would of happened, I'd wager either the trademark name of Heritage would purchased and become an import guitar company or the company itself would have diminished to obscurity and forgotten.  Most likely be a footnote in Gibson's history, maybe a couple of good ol' days articles in Reverb/Premier Guitar/Guitar World, and a bunch of guitars that hold little value as no one outside this group knows much about them. 

We'd be just another online forum like Hamer debating good wood years, Schaller Vs. Tone Pro's.  Hocking our guitars on here hoping we'd get $800 for a custom order.  20 years from now, no one would know a thing about Heritage and no one would probably care.

On 10/20/2021 at 6:47 AM, High Flying Bird said:

I think you fail to recognize why so many of us love the, "Old Heritage." ....

 

I do recognize the old Heritage and wish when it was under the old guard, I was in a position to buy a special guitar.  Still love to have a 157 Black Beauty one day.   

On 10/20/2021 at 6:47 AM, High Flying Bird said:

It was about the people who were parts of my life.  Hard working people who made a fantastic product for a fair price.  It wasn't about the name on the headstock. 

Back then it was people who worked for their love of their craft.  Now it is a big company trying to make money off of the old timers hard work and their character.  It doesn't work that way. 

I see it differently...  I see underpaid employees that worked hard and management that was helpless to do anything about it.  No healthcare, no retirement plans, and unsafe working conditions; all while working only 32 hours a week.  They simply did not make enough money to do anything about it.  But we had guitars at a fair price.  Don't you remember why Katie left?  She loved the job and she had more passion than anyone to be there, but it wasn't enough for her family as much as she loved her craft.

The founders, like you said, were hard working people making a guitar at a fair price.  But fair price is debatable.  Fair to the consumer perhaps, but at what personal cost to those who built them?  The founders lack of business acumen left a company that was run like a hobby project out of the back of the woodshed than a business.  This business was not run very well and one small disaster could of ended it at any moment.  Building was falling apart, vital ventilation didn't exist, and tooling was barely servable.  Sure the shop looked cool, but is that really a place you'd work knowing it was a tinderbox that was one spark away from a deadly disaster?  But hey, the guitars were at a fair price.

So guitar prices... retail price over a decade ago is more than actual prices of today.  Somehow, the soulless corporate suits found a way for people working there to actually make a living working 40 hours a week while earning real benefits and selling the guitars a fair price.  Oh sure, you can't call an employee up anymore to make a one-off employee build to sell to you on the side anymore, but the guitars at least are now priced fair on both sides of the table. 

But let's not mention the stability of a clean working environment that keeps a steady climate control and safe working conditions.  Now if the employees are happy or not, the measure I've learned from is employee retention.  If people are sticking around year after year, I think they rather enjoy what they are doing and what that have learned.  And who taught them what they are doing, might it been the passionate people who made Heritages long before the suits bought the place?  But how anyone can judge the employees love for their craft from 1,000 miles away much less stepped foot in Kalamazoo in over several years is a bit beyond me.  Anyone ask Katie or Pete how they feel?

Did I miss anything?

 

Edited by DetroitBlues
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17 hours ago, DetroitBlues said:

Did I miss anything?

I think you did miss a bit.  Heritage Guitars was a retirement job for the founders.  The people who came into working for them realized the nature of the venture and the conditions.  It was a free market.  Any of the employees who chose to work for them could have left at any time for another job, being it guitar building or something else. 

Some of the employees had known the founders for so long they couldn't remember not knowing them.  Sure, the place was a dump.  The founders didn't have the money to change much but still turned out great guitars.  There was an, "underdog," status of standing up to Gibson and making better guitars back then.  Sure, the founders stepped on their peckers -time and again.  It was the nature of the company.  Slate had an order lost for a year and corrected the problem in person at PSP1.  They couldn't even keep a decent web site.  The new company's web site isn't much to crow about.  Gone are the days I can call one of the owners on his private line and just talk.  Does Singapore have an area code? 

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Keep in mind that the new owners are worth billions and own the building and obviously have money to play with.

Marv and the boys rented the space from what I've heard from a sketchy/cheap landlord.  They are very different business models going on here.

I think both companies produced and are producing very good instruments. That being said, both companies have had their missteps. On "peckers" I presume. Gotta love the colorful language the Bird comes up with!

Edited by skydog52
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I didn't even touch on any of the points DB made about working environment.   Having spent a dozen years working with health and safety for a company handing, literally, hundreds of tons of flammable and explosive materials,   I was VERY impressed with the way they put together the new dust collection and spray booth.   It wasn't the quaint old booth, or the dusty pile of wood parts from the old days.   Those are very real hazards, as anyone who has ever dealt with a nitrocel fire or dust explosions can tell you.  

It reminds me of the days when race cars were built in dirty, greasy garages by guys in t-shirts.    Compare that with the way someone like Roger Penske ran his operation.   If you looked in his places,  you could eat off the floor, they were spotless!   Everything was clean, neat and organized.   It paid off in race wins and championships.  He upped the game, and everyone else had to follow suit.

Heritage's new management has upped the game on many fronts,  keeping the old methods and tools, but making it a safer, cleaner place to work.  That's not a good thing... its a GREAT thing.

 

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I didn't mean to come off as a dick.  I kinda' feel like one.  I am glad the new company is doing good things with their guitars.  If they were turning out garbage I would be very upset.  I think they are going in the right direction with their craftsmanship and quality control.  I am very happy that the new guys are giving the employees a better place to work with insurance and regular hours.  I hope they are paying them well.  They deserve it. 

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On 10/19/2021 at 3:06 AM, High Flying Bird said:

Amen.  The mojo has disappeared. 

The MOJO is better IMO. Best guitars ever made currently coming out of that building. For some of us however, accepting change is difficult...............but as long as the change is positive, I certainly am not going to complain. And we all knew the "too good to be true" prices would not last forever. 

Edited by ElNumero
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On 10/20/2021 at 6:23 AM, DetroitBlues said:

With all the changes they've made, their Bespoke Program isn't even up.  Their custom shop has been so busy with Custom Core models, they have a backlog of items they have yet to fulfill.

I believe when I helped with the HOC 137 design, the price was still $100 per option if memory serves.

This is why the 137 was such a big deal despite how many were upset it wasn't cheap enough.  Individual orders would have been over $3000 so coming in under $2000 was really a good deal.  They discounted those guitars deeply for us although it wasn't good enough for the masses.  Only four guitars sold although dozens promised to buy them.   

Sorry, its a sore subject for me to do so much for the HOC to make this happen and I was embarrassed by how it turned out.

Rant over.  Maybe its too early in the morning, haven't had my coffee yet...

 

5 Josh - I have number 5

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