Exclusive: Diamond and Soldano Amps Join Forces to Give Players Better Access to Their Gear

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DA-inset-2014-_0000s_0002_phantom-left-inDiamond Amplification and Soldano Amps, two giants in the world of high-end amplification design, are about to join forces to make it easier for players to check out their gear. By restructuring their Dealership Agreements, Diamond and Soldano will give retailers more flexibility on what they’ll be able to carry, possibly changing the dynamic between dealers and manufactures across the board. Recently, TheToneKing.com had a chance to catch up with CEO of Diamond Amplification Jeff Diamant to find out what inspired this monumental partnership.

“Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the retailer to offer a lot of choices,” Jeff mentions during our interview. “Usually, they’ll have one top-shelf brand, one less expensive line, and that’ll be it.

A Dealership Agreement includes certain criteria that retailers must maintain in order to carry a certain brand of gear. These agreements include a specific dollar amount of gear that the retailer promises to purchase from the manufacturer in any given year. Depending on the manufacturer, that dollar amount can be extremely high. “Manufacturers did this to protect themselves. They need representation of their brand, and they need a guarantee that the dealer was going to try and move their product.”

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While this has been the model for decades, it does have its drawbacks. For instance, many of the smaller dealers would limit their high-end gear to one brand, particularly if they have committed significant capital to some of the larger, mass-sales brands of guitars or amplifiers. They simply couldn’t afford the cost of keeping more than one high-end product in their stores.

That’s where Jeff Diamant saw an opportunity.

Having been a fan of Soldano amps for years, Jeff approached Mike Soldano about creating a unique partnership between Diamond and Soldano.

“What if we join forces? For the same amount of money, dealers can get into both Diamond and Soldano.”

The idea was simple. Dealers that carry Soldano could order gear from Diamond Amps to help fulfill their obligation for the year. And, of course, if the dealer carried Diamond, they would be able to order Soldano. Jeff and Mike see it as a win-win. Dealers could introduce another top-shelf amp brand to their shop without any additional financial obligation, and Soldano and Diamond could expand their “geographical reach.”

This may even affect dealers who may not normally carry high-end amps because they their customers weren’t demanding them. Now, these dealers can buy into two top-shelf lines for the price of one, expanding what they carry while exposing their customers to something that they haven’t played before.

The biggest win, though, is that it gives “more players the opportunity to get their hands on these amps and experience them.” The older players who know that killer Soldano sound can now be introduced to the gritty modern sounds of Diamond amps. While those young players who dig Diamond can check out the classic sounds that Soldano has to offer.

img-head-slo-usaTheToneKing.com has talked a lot about the state of the industry. The war between “Brick and Mortar vs. Online” dealers is as fervent as ever. Every one of the top 10 selling dealers last year had a strong web presence. And, many of the manufacturers are taking notice. Brands like Fender haven’t kept it a secret that they’re moving toward web-based distribution models that, in many ways, bypass the dealers altogether.

“If I supported a direct online sale model, I would be taking sales away from the dealer. Then, where are players going to go when they need maintenance, or strings, or lessons? Hell, where are you going when you wan to try something new?”

Diamond and Soldano both know that “Brick and Mortar vs. Online” is a false choice. Manufacturers and dealers need both if they’re going to remain relevant. “The best way for a customer to buy a guitar amp is to see, feel, and touch it. There’s never going to be a better way for a player to choose an amp than to go into a dealer and play it.”

Diamond and Soldano are betting that players would rather hear the gear before they buy it. “Online has its place. If you have an amp that you know and love, and you find it online. Buy it! But, if you’re looking for different sounds, then you need a place to go to try out new gear.”

With the biggest of the Big Boxes, Guitar Center, jettisoning brands, the homogenization of what’s available to players is another concern for

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manufacturers and independent dealers alike. “If the independent retailers are gone, where are you going to go when Guitar Center is only carrying five different brands? Players are going to be limited to what Guitar Center carries. And, if those independent dealers close, the less choice we’re going to have. As players, we have a responsibility to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

It’s hard to imagine that there would be any independent dealer that wouldn’t be interested in this opportunity. Giving dealers an opportunity to expand their high-end amp inventory without any extra cost gives them a significant leg up when competing against the Big Box stores.

Diamond and Soldano’s new Dealership Agreement model may also inspire some other manufactures to do the same. While some of the big guys like Fender and Gibson probably wont be joining forces anytime soon, you might see some of the lesser known brands following the trend.

When asked if he was concerned that Soldano might eat away at the sales of Diamond amps, Jeff responds confidently, “I want my amps sitting next to other high-end amps. I want them to see what sets Diamond apart from other amps.”

He continued, “Chances are if you’re a high-end amp player, you probably own several different brands of high-end amps. You’re not only going to be a Diamond player. You’re not only a Soldano player. So, there’s really no taking of market share from each other.”

It’s clear from talking to Jeff that Soldano is a brand that he respects as iconic. “If there’s anyone who hasn’t played a Soldano, they should. They’re amazing and Mike is fabulous amp designer.”

When we here at TheToneKing.com heard that Diamond and Soldano were joining forces to improve on their agreements with their dealers, we were of course interested if there was anything else that Jeff might want to share with us. So, is there anything else in the works between Diamond and Soldano.

Jeff laughs, “Well, Mike and I do talk a lot about hot rods.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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