In 1994, Howard and Robert Silagy started a small guitar strap company in Hicksville, N.Y. Their approach to business was simple: make attractive, durable straps using high-quality materials and people will buy them. Over the next four years, the company grew, with sales skyrocketing because of the growing popularity of Planet Waves’ colorful, attractive designs and the line’s thick, heavy-duty leather tabs.
In 1998, D’Addario & Company, Inc. acquired the Planet Waves line and it joined D’Addario’s world-renowned family of musical instrument accessory brands. D’Addario envisioned the line as more than just accessories for guitarists, but for musicians as a whole.
D’Addario’s first major venture outside guitar-only accessories with the Planet Waves line was to design and develop a line of cables that would be truly transparent signal-transmitting devices, and virtually eliminate tonal alterations. D’Addario’s Planet Waves team studied the industry’s cable-making procedures and identified that most suppliers were simply purchasing and assembling stock cables and connectors. Additional investigations found that suppliers had given little or no thought to the specific needs of each different cable application. After extensive testing, the Planet Waves team discovered that many of these stock cables had serious limitations. As a result, the lab began studying and researching the various causes of signal loss and degradation, microphonics (triboelectric noise), and mechanical connection failures.
After more than two and a half years of intense research and product development, Planet Waves had come up with a cable with conductors that actually short unwanted triboelectric currents to the ground as they occur. A new connector was developed with a series of compression springs along the ground sleeve that ensure the plug makes a firm connection into the jack ground; gold-plated contact points were added for better connectivity and reduced oxidation. Add an almost indestructible strain-relief design with common-sense features like color-coded O-rings for easy identification, packaging that explains how Planet Waves solved problems, and a lifetime guarantee, and the Planet Waves cable line was on the road to success.
Under the close watch and creativity of Jim D’Addario, the Planet Waves cable line has now grown to include more than 50 custom-designed connectors and multiple lines of Cables, Connectors and Power Chords, Musician’s Gear, Smart Tools, and Instrument Care products. Recent line extensions include, MIDI, fiber-optic, s-video, USB, and custom DJ cable offerings. This commitment to research, testing, and ingenuity has reached beyond Planet Waves cables and has been applied to all of the Planet Waves product lines.
Planet Waves Smart Tools was launched to create useful tools that make quick work of little things, with savvy inventions that solve old problems in innovative ways. The Chordmaster® provides quick and easy access to an extensive 4,500 guitar chord library. The Peg and Pro-Winders patented design winds and cuts strings, bringing ergonomics and innovation to the task of restringing an instrument. The Auto-Trim Tuning Machines make restringing quick and simple, with built-in, hardened steel string cutters and individual string clamps.
Planet Waves Instrument Care products offer critical care for prolonging and preserving the life of your instrument. Humidifiers, polishes, polishing cloths, and the new Humidity Temperature Sensor make instrument maintenance a snap.
Preserving the origin of the Planet Waves line, D’Addario has taken straps to a new level, allowing musicians to not only express themselves with their music but also with their straps. With the addition of new designs and materials and innovations like the Planet Lock® release and Acoustic Guitar Strap, Planet Waves simplifies while providing style.
Planet Waves’ Jerry Garcia® line of straps and picks celebrates one of the great artist/musicians of the 20th century with well-made, comfortable straps based on Garcia’s artwork and drawings.
Rounding out the line are curved-hook sax straps and stylish endpins, and more ideas are coming which will bring Planet Waves inventiveness to more and more musicians.
Five years make quite a difference when a company becomes part of the D’Addario family. D’Addario’s ingenuity and common-sense approach to Planet Waves has led to more than 400% growth, with a multitude of Planet Waves’ products covered by (or in application for) patents. We’re making waves all over the world. Catch one.