• Weber Announces Pause in Mandolin Manufacturing

    Weber MandolinsBEND, OR. — Two Old Hippies President and CEO Tom Bedell has announced a temporary transition of the Weber mandolin luthier team to the guitar side of the company's manufacturing operations effective with the completion of instruments already in production.

    As those instruments are completed and shipped, the team, previously dedicated solely to Weber Mandolins, will temporarily transition to the guitar side of the Two Old Hippes brands, housed in the same facility.

    Bedell told us, "Like other stringed instrument companies, demand has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Thankfully, when our lives are turned upside down, millions of Americans turn to music making and especially acoustic stringed instruments. We are currently completely sold out with Breedlove and Bedell Guitars and Weber Mandolins. We anxiously want to serve our dealers and are doing everything we can to get them the instruments they are selling. And, if people want to learn to play, we want to get them the instrument they would like while the interest and motivation are peaked.

    "Since we can only build one mandolin for every four guitars we craft, we have decided to focus on guitars for the next year. This will help us get more instruments to more dealers and players. We have contacted all of our Weber dealers and they are aware of the situation and, in cases where they also sell our Bedell & Breedlove guitars, we have found agreement and support.

    "We sold more Weber Mandolins in the past year than ever and had already halted 2021 orders some time back, unprecedented for us this early in the year. We're committed to re-evaluating where we're at on an a monthly basis. Once we're confident our guitar retailers are receiving the inventory they need we'll transition our mandolin team back to the Weber brand."

    Additional Information

    Comments 35 Comments
    1. rnjl's Avatar
      rnjl -
      While I hardly consider myself a capitalist ideologue, I think in this case, the invisible hand is going to take care of the mando market. If lots of people want luthier-level American made mandolins, and demand exceeds supply, some other company is going to get into that market. Maybe Gibson will up its production, or Zeta will introduce less expensive acoustic models, or the folks who bought the Gallagher guitar shop will start making mandos, or a bunch of local luthiers will try it out.

      Who knows? Maybe in these crazy times, Martin or Larrivee will start making mandolins again or Taylor will see an opportunity. Northfield certainly already has.

      How many luthiers were relatively unknown until some famous player used their instrument and then they ended up with long waiting lists just a few months later?

      This will sort itself out and anybody who wants a good mandolin will be able to find one, new or used, somewhere, with the usually caveat that cheap, good and fast usually don't all go together.
    1. Marcus CA's Avatar
      Marcus CA -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
      Say what you want to about Tom Bedell, but he knows how to manage a business, and the continued employment of his people is a priority. The changes going on at TOH are happening right now in one shape or another to almost all companies with more than a few employees, only they aren't being announced. Collings will produce a fraction of mandolins in the next few years compared to the past.

      Guitars keep the lights on: at Weber, Collings, Gibson, Eastman and many, many others.
      For these companies, I guess the key stat is dollars of sales per hour of labor. I always assumed that that stat was pretty similar in the guitar and mandolin worlds, since a mandolin is far more expensive than a guitar of comparable quality and requires far more time to build. (A new Martin D-28 still goes for under $3K.) Apparently, it's not similar enough to make it worthwhile for TOH to produce both. So it goes. I'm a huge Weber fan, but that brand may become the Studebaker of the mandolin world. At least Montana Lutherie is still in business.
    1. Richard G's Avatar
      Richard G -
      Well I glad I have my Weber Yellowstone. It is awesome.
    1. Bill McCall's Avatar
      Bill McCall -
      Since I don’t work for TOH nor own stock, my life hasn’t changed. I’m surprised people have strong opinions on this.

      Doesn’t impact my 1998 Absaroka either.
    1. Lorenzo LaRue's Avatar
      Lorenzo LaRue -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
      Just speculating but I wouldn't be surprised if Weber returns as an upgrade to their Crossover mandolin. Designed in Bend and produced offshore. There may be a market for a 1k type of carved top. They would compete with Eastmann. They already have the facilities that produce the Crossover.
      ....I believe the Crossover's were an actual Breedlove model, made in Asia when they dropped their own stateside mandos....
    1. lflngpicker's Avatar
      lflngpicker -
      I appreciated Scott's well stated and reasoned explanation of the human and business aspects that were employed in making this decision. I feel confident that in better times, Weber will again be producing mandolins. In the meantime, I am grateful to own a very nice one Bruce signed in 2007.
    1. Ranger Bob's Avatar
      Ranger Bob -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
      There was never a takeover of Breedlove or Weber by Two Old Hippies. This is a false narrative. Hostile takeovers are designed to use big money on top of big money to make a lot of money through force. We're talking building guitars and mandolins here, and in case this is news, hardly an industry you get into to wildly prosper. Breedlove and Weber were independently sold by agreement. Bruce addresses his sale of the company on his web site.

      There has never been a plan to move Weber's manufacturing overseas, another false narrative now dating back almost 10 years.

      The entire manufacturing industry is struggling and has been severely impacted by the panemic. This was never a financially viable industry to make a lot of money. But it has always done well enough and people that do this for a living do it because they love stringed musical instruments.

      During the pandemic it's known a number of guitar, mandolin, banjo companies downsized and let employees go, permanently. Two Old Hippies was not one of them. The business changes they've made over the years saw to that. Say what you want to about Tom Bedell, but he knows how to manage a business, and the continued employment of his people is a priority. The changes going on at TOH are happening right now in one shape or another to almost all companies with more than a few employees, only they aren't being announced. Collings will produce a fraction of mandolins in the next few years compared to the past.

      Guitars keep the lights on: at Weber, Collings, Gibson, Eastman and many, many others. And yes, a mandolin is quite more difficult to build than most guitars and the latter a better profit margin. Should go without saying I love mandolins as much as anyone, but at the end of the day, people need to eat, and they need employment. What Weber is doing here is little more than ensuring their continued success.
      Thanks Scott. Spot on!
    1. j. condino's Avatar
      j. condino -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post


      "....And yes, a mandolin is quite more difficult to build than most guitars...."
      This is incorrect.

      When I worked for Kim Breedlove, I "built" 2 1/2 mandolins per day before lunch, while getting constantly verbally abused that I was too slow, earning $7 per hour. The guitars have many more production steps and took about three days.
    1. lowtone2's Avatar
      lowtone2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
      This is incorrect.

      When I worked for Kim Breedlove, I "built" 2 1/2 mandolins per day before lunch, while getting constantly verbally abused that I was too slow, earning $7 per hour. The guitars have many more production steps and took about three days.

      I don't doubt you, but then why are they focusing on guitars when they can sell all they build of either?
    1. j. condino's Avatar
      j. condino -
      From a sales standpoint, the domestic mandolin market is measured in tens of thousands of units per year while the domestic guitar market sales are measured in millions of units per year. That is a lot more potential money. Outside of this forum, the mandolin is a very small niche & most average people don't even know what a mandolin is; they more often call it a ukulele (at best).....
    1. Willem's Avatar
      Willem -
      Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
      . I feel confident that in better times, Weber will again be producing mandolins.
      Maybe, but will they continue to be produced in Bend Oregon...
    1. Timk's Avatar
      Timk -
      I live near Bend and have a Weber mando that I wanted to bring to them so they could look it over and set it up. They don't answer their phone and they never returned my call.
    1. Jeff Hildreth's Avatar
      Jeff Hildreth -
      In my experience, there is more money, less labor and skill required in manufacturing than repairing and restoration.

      Just an aside..
      2 x 4 8 ft is now 8-10 dollars. less than a year ago it was $2.50. Do you really think they will ever be at $2.50 again ?

      Follow the money.




      Quote Originally Posted by Timk View Post
      I live near Bend and have a Weber mando that I wanted to bring to them so they could look it over and set it up. They don't answer their phone and they never returned my call.
    1. Timk's Avatar
      Timk -
      True, but it doesn't give me confidence in owning a Weber product, not knowing if I could get assistance or service if I needed.
    1. PluckMeRunning's Avatar
      PluckMeRunning -
      Quote Originally Posted by Timk View Post
      True, but it doesn't give me confidence in owning a Weber product, not knowing if I could get assistance or service if I needed.
      I had a really great email exchange with their customer support earlier this summer regarding bringing my Weber up there on a road trip. Perhaps they are just more responsive with email. I sent my initial inquiry to weberinfo@twooldhippies.com and heard back the next day. Good luck getting your Weber some TLC!