Sugano is already dead, his sons took over. Ditto Shindo. Isn't that the normal succession in family businesses?
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Stradivarius's greatest contribution to us, was not his instruments. I suspect there are none of his instruments that haven't been worked on by present day luthiers. What he did was to codify the measurements of stringed instruments, so that today's violins, violas, cellos, that conform to those measurements are called Stradivarius. His name stamped into poor quality instruments that people find in their attic are prevalent. I am a pro violinist and can tell you the Strads that the Master built are not different from fine instruments from the hands of other top luthiers.
Mordante, with all due respect I doubt that you are the arbiter of what is normal. Of those cartridge makers that you have mentioned, only one has passed and his family continues the business. My math is not good, but I believe that represents 100% of the dead cartridge makers that you mentioned having their businesses carried on by their families. But I do agree with you that this will not always be the case.
Looking at the matter in greater depth, many of the artisinal cartridge makers either worked for other companies, Sugano being a good example when he worked at Supex (interestingly I believe that Sugano worked the majority of his career for Toyota), or were watch makers, Andre at Blue Mantis, Ernst Benz and Joe Grado come immediately to mind, but there are more.
I imagine that there is going to be less of a call for watch makers in the future as watches become less prevalent in our society. That probably does not bode well for the future of artisinal cartridge making, though the maker of the Thales pantograph tonearms is a watchmaker and is, relatively speaking, younger.
Then again those making very fine high end cartridges in a corporate environment, such as Ortofon and Clearaudio, seem to be prospering and expanding their business.
Actually Stringreen hit on a very interesting topic with regard to high end audio. If you go to Wikipedia and search Stradivarious they talk about double blind testing and how inconclusive it has been for listeners to identify the Strad from the pretenders in various live auditon situations. The similarities and arguments pro and con for double blind listening tests are tremendously similar to our hobby.
I'm not sure that Stradivarious, BTW it was a family of string instrument makers and not just one, codified the instrument. Strings are tuned with pegs and there is no set tailpiece to tuning peg dimension as far as I can tell. Tuning the string to a particular pitch is made by adjusting the tuning peg. The accomplishments of the Strad family are very much ensconced in materials used, implementation, instrument size, and then of course the player using the instrument. Sounds a lot like high end audio and attempting to listen to and identifying a particular effect and from where it eminates in the audio chain.
More directly to the cartridge makers and their demise, the record was declared defunct about 23 years ago. What more can I say except it wasn't true and we are getting some of the best pressings ever 23 years later.
Nakatsuka-san of ZYX is another elderly man who hand makes his cartridges. Recognizing that he won't be able to work forever, he's been training several younger family members. They've been actively involved in making cartridges for a couple of years under Nakatsuka-san's supervision. This legacy is being preserved.
OTOH, consider Herb Papier, who developed and built the TriPlanar (nee, Wheaton) tonearm as a one man craftsman. As Herb neared retirement he searched for someone to assume and protect his legacy. He found a superb candidate in Tri Mai, who has continued to improve an already great tonearm while respecting its legacy.
A legacy can, but need not necessarily, be assured by an in-family succession.
You live in the past. In Japan it is becoming more and more rare to even start a family.
Japan is has the most aging population of any country world wide. Italy is second. Fewer and fewer people in Japan have children
Personally I think this is a good development, we do not need more people in the world, a few billion less would be better.
Didn't Nakatsuka-san learn his trade from the old Dynavector man. I forgot his name. I know van den Hul started at EMT making and improving their carts.
I know many cases of children continuing the family business these days. So it definitely happens, especially when said business is profitable and looks to continue to be.
A lot of Mom and Pop businesses go under though, that is true. Nobody wants to be on a sinking ship.
I am a case where I could have elected to continue the family business. Sometimes I wish I would have in that it is a very lucrative business with a lot of financial appeal these days. It also involves a lot of hard dirty manual labor.
I chose to go to college though and ended up an engineer. Can't complain. Maybe if I had an interest in running a business years ago, that would have turned out different.
I don't care about Persons, I will go for those carts which push the sonic curtain. A Person is no guarantee to get always one of those, some vary extremely in their sonic abilities (Lyra, Koetsu) even when you will always read how much better the latest design is. Marketing has its own rules and the Fanboys follow. Or, when Designers retire, the name will be continued, even when the product is totally different from his "well known" ones ( Takeda, Ikeda, Transfiguration....)
Sometimes I think, a real outstanding cartridge from someone is mainly based on pure luck because he used some parts which create a 100% unit, his next design is good for nothing for same or even higher price ...
:^) good one...
no need to worry about cartridge availability.
I believe just when things seem bleakest, the likes of Halcro, Nandric, Syntax, Viridian, Schubert, others will put an end to their stockpiling activities, will open their vaults, place ebay ads for their NOS carts and everybody (those that still remain) will be happy again.
I like happy endings, don't you ?