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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What follows is a summary of the Yanagisawa supply issues we are experiencing in 2020-21. I thought this was interesting enough to share with the forum especially since it comes from a respected vendor - Mathew Aaron / SAXFORTE LLC.

As you likely know, all US and Canadian sellers source Yanagisawa saxophones from Conn-Selmer, the
exclusive official North American distributor. The availability problem is a many layered one.

a) Yanagisawa is a small company and their production is capacity constrained. They work in a factory
that can not be expanded. And, apparently, they are content to sell at their current level of production.
Each year, they literally tell each of the world's distributors for their products just how many saxophones
they can have each year.

b) Going all the way back to 2014 when Yanagisawa launched the A-WO alto saxophones, they quietly
sold out of their inventories of the predecessor A-90x and A-99x(x) series models before releasing the
new generation A-WOx(x) models. Once launched, WO altos were instantly back-ordered everywhere as
a result and we have watched back order levels only worsen since then. This pattern was repeated for
the tenors in 2015, then then the straight sopranos 2017 and finally the baris and curved sops in 2018.

c) Historically, Yanagisawa has taken only modest price increases, and then, not as frequently as some
other makers. Given their extremely high level of product quality, the result is a market value
proposition that is difficult to beat. This, in turn, has driven demand for their products higher and higher,
year after year. Yet, their production has not increased. From a maker’s point of view, there is an easy
way to manage this; take a bigger price increase, and do it more often until demand shrinks down to a
comfortable level. This past April 1 (2021), we saw Yanagisawa take the largest price increase in
memory, but it was still relatively small, and there is still a lot of room for them to increase further,
should they want to deal with the supply problem and the risk that consumers will simply give up on
them faced with multi-month wait times.

d) There was a time when most anything we needed was in stock in the USA at Conn-Selmer. However,
that started changing not long after the 2103 sale of Conn-Selmer to Paulson Co. an investment firm.
Inventories of all Selmer and Yanagisawa saxophones have continued to drop since the sale. We suspect
that Paulson Co. management has made a conscious decision to improve R.O.I. (return on assets) by
lowering inventory levels, at the expense of customer service. If true, it would not be the first time an
investment-oriented management firm did so.

e) COVID-19: Yanagisawa's factory was closed for a time in 2020 and then they came back in phases,
slowly. This deepened the severe problem that was already well entrenched by 2020. It did not drop
already low inventory levels which were generally at zero anyway, but it did extend the time we see for
order fulfillment. This can vary buy specific model from weeks to as long as 6 months as of June 2021.

f) Post Peak COVID-19: We are now (June 2021) seeing worldwide shortages of many raw materials and
unfinished products used to make other products across all sectors of the economy. It is not clear how
this specifically affects Yanagisawa, but we have seen the lengthening in order-to-delivery times get
much worse in just the last month. On top of that, shipping containers are in short supply and many
forms of cross-country transportation are also loaded to the point where, additional delays are being
seen now. A recent e-mail from Conn-Selmer mentioned, for the first time, transportation variables as
having an unpredictable effect on order deliveries.

For all of the above reasons, saxophones being sold at retail in the USA today, are not likely even made
yet. We are spending more time explaining wait times than we are helping customers choose
saxophones to meet their needs. It is not good; for anyone.

Happy to answer any questions you may have - even saxophone questions ;)
 

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YAS-875EX, YTS-61, YBS-52, YFL-677, YCL-SEVR
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It's not just saxophones or Yani. A lot of smaller retailers are having problems keeping stuff in stock- my store has not had a single guitar in it since November. They try to get more, but first priority goes to big distributors like Guitar Center so the smaller stores just don't get volume. A lot of music companies have seen their prices increase and their ROI numbers get larger, so they're content distributing like they are now or do not have the ability since most of their manufacturing takes place in Taiwan and China and the laws over there have not allowed full capacity to take place yet.

It's kind of a mess.
 
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I was in a hardware store in the US about three weeks ago. There are no rakes or shovels available, period. They are all back ordered with no delivery date in sight. COVID did a number on the world economy. The ship blocking traffic in the Suez Canal didn't help any either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Good opportunity for a competitor (w/ the ability to produce greater volume) to get aggressive, now.
I was thinking something similar. This would be a good opportunity for someone to buy out or invest in Yanagisawa. It seems like they are leaving money on the table because they can’t (or won’t) increase production. If it’s due to outside forces that’s one thing but if it’s because they prefer to stay small then someone needs to help them see how they can grow the company while holding onto that small company vibe.
 
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I was thinking something similar. This would be a good opportunity for someone to buy out or invest in Yanagisawa. It seems like they are leaving money on the table because they can’t (or won’t) increase production. If it’s due to outside forces that’s one thing but if it’s because they prefer to stay small then someone needs to help them see how they can grow the company while holding onto that small company vibe.
How 'bout they just raise prices?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
How 'bout they just raise prices?
I'm looking at it as an opportunity to make more money, not solve the "too much demand for current production" problem. For me seeing all that unmet demand is just leaving money on the table. Money that could be used in research, improve and/or increase production.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
JAPeeler,
This is the kind of change that would ruin everything that makes Yanagisawa what they are. We already have Yamaha.
We do not need another.
What makes Yany, Yany is the engineering and quality excellence that go into each sax. There is absolutely no reason they can't increase production while maintaining excellence. There are people who are experts at processes that can manage that transition. No if you are thinking that they need to cut corners to increase production then you've totally misunderstood me.
 

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This is what happens when capitalism becomes financialized - production comes more and more under the control of investment and speculative firms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
This is what happens when capitalism becomes financialized - production comes more and more under the control of investment and speculative firms.
That's totally dependent on the culture of the company. While necessary the bean counters can be subservient to the craftsmen/engineers. The right person could help them make that transition without sacrificing their identity.

If there's such a person they need a Steve Jobs or maybe even Elon Musk of musical instruments. LOL
 

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I definitely disagree. An investment company Takeover would be the death of Yanagisawa culture.
Yes, I agree with DSM. Having worked as a management consultant for a nauseatingly painful (though short) period in my life, the idea of Yanagisawa undergoing systematic process improvement towards enhancing profitability makes me cringe.
 

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I was looking at Yanagisawa's company page just now. Look what tidbits I found:


  • Can you believe that a saxophone (or any musical instrument) may be alive?
  • Can you accept that the craftsman imparts his spiritual sentiments to the instrument in the process of making it?
  • Take things made by hand and those made by machine. Which do you think is more likely to reflect a spirit of devotion?
Yanagisawa is a private company ran by people with the last name Yanagisawa, and if it had asperations of being bought out, I'd assume it would have done so long, long ago. The above statements do not sound like a company that has any desire to be acquired. Nor does it sound like a company that American or European corporate culture would well understand.

If Conn-Selmer somehow bought it, I'm sure within six months they have a new office to house an army of accountants and lay off the most experienced and skilled part of the workforce while farming out lots of the manufacturing to mainland China. I'm not sure what else we could expect. It will simply be a matter of time before we see Conn-Selmer quality at Yanagisawa prices.

I see no evidence from the above statement that Yanagisawa is in financial peril. I see a company that wants to focus on maintaining the quality of what it can do rather than change the way it does things to rush order finish a backlog. There is a certain safety in not trying to grow as that often involves dealing with investments and debt.

While necessary the the bean counters can be subservient to the craftsmen/engineers.
Respectfully JoAnne, I don't think that's what bean counters do..
 

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I'm looking at it as an opportunity to make more money, not solve the "too much demand for current production" problem. For me seeing all that unmet demand is just leaving money on the table. Money that could be used in research, improve and/or increase production.
What the world needs now is not more greed.

YMMV.
 

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I was thinking something similar. This would be a good opportunity for someone to buy out or invest in Yanagisawa. It seems like they are leaving money on the table because they can’t (or won’t) increase production. If it’s due to outside forces that’s one thing but if it’s because they prefer to stay small then someone needs to help them see how they can grow the company while holding onto that small company vibe.
My comment actually wasn't going there.

I was really talking about another company targeting to fill the shoes of backordered, unavailable Yanis. Now I know nothing else IS a Yani, but there are other companies which make very good calibre horns.

IF...and it's a speculative 'if'...one of those companies....and I don't mean a newbie brand, I mean an already established brand....had the capability of doing a marketing push for their pro line horns and the capability of temporarily increasing their available stock or available outlets...it could be a way to establish themselves as the '5th' of the modern 'Big 4', so to speak....or even cement themselves as the 4th (since the 4th member of that club has always been open to debate).
 

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I could, however, imagine a clamor among distributors and retailers for priority. It’ll be interesting to see who has them available for delivery first, and whether they choose to discount vs take advantage of the situation.
 
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