Attention to detail

To mark the launch of the BG range of guitar accessories, Franck Bichon was interviewed by Ludovic Egraz (Guitare Xtrem magazine).



The family business of creator and entrepreneur Franck Bichon has never really talked to guitarists. However, it's important to note that this relatively new chapter entering in the world of guitar and bass straps is because of his SOON TO BE 4 decades as one of the leaders in high quality accessories for wind instruments; currently with products being exported to 85 countries.

Quality, originality and durability are the watchwords of the Lyon company, and BG France straps are beginning to make their way into the arsenal of some top tier musicians ( blues rocker Fred Chapellier and Cyril "C.C." Roger de Shaka Ponk, whom BG met at the Salon de la Belle Guitare in Montrouge), but are also the subject of collaborations with luthiers (recently with our friends from Pistol Guitars, also present in this collector's edition). Guitar Xtreme Magazine chatted with Franck, who answered our questions live while he was at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention which is held annually in San Antonio.

« If a company like ours is able to stand up to the Chinese, it's because we offer quality »

Franck, can you briefly summarize your background ?

I studied accounting and staff management, then I worked in discotheques, in the nightlife. Very quickly, I felt that working for someone was not for me and that I had to steer my own boat. I set up an advertising agency that was doing very well, and then one day, my father, who was a saxophone teacher in Lyon, showed me a ligature system he had imagined. He asked me if I wanted to work on it and deal with it. I said, "Yes, but if I agree to do it, then I have to become the world leader in quality wind instrument accessories”. 


I didn't knew  how to do anything, I was totally self-taught, but I started out in the early '80s , made it and as I spoke a little English, I was able to meet people, like at the Musikmesse in Frankfurt. One thing led to another, and I developed a whole range of accessories for wind instruments: ligatures ,straps, swabs, pad dryers and accessories.



These are jobs that cannot be improvised. How did you do it?

It's quite simple: what I didn't know how to do, I had it done by qualified persons. As I went along, and according to my needs, I hired people who were very competent in very specific fields, whether it was for metalwork, but also for leather goods. We make all the prototypes of our products in-house and for the production of leather goods, we use a company that works for Vuitton and Hermès, among others.


What is BG France's international status?

BG France has been awarded the EPV (Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant - Living Heritage Company) label, and has won a number of prizes in recognition of our Savoir-Faire and innovative spirit. (Artinov Prize for Creation, Grand Prix Fondexpa for Export). To answer the question, we are the company offering the most complete range of wind instrument accessories in the world, as a designer and manufacturer, and we are positioned among the leaders. We are also a subcontractor for many instrument brands, so we currently supply the majority of the global wind instrument manufacturer market.



Let's talk about guitar straps. When did you start making them?

I started making a few about twenty years ago, but back then, people wanted to buy straps from their favorite guitar brands, with Fender and Gibson at the top of the list. The products sold by these majors were of low quality, often PVC imitation leather, but people bought anyway. Attitudes have gradually changed, and over the last five years, I've been reworking the range, making sure I offer quality products that are above all durable. This is very important, because if a company like ours manages to hold its own against the Chinese, it's because we offer quality. 



Did you consult guitarists to create your straps ?

No, at first, I I didn't want to listen to them, because they would have asked me to reproduce what already existed, which wouldn't have been very interesting. I wanted to start with straps that are my signature, with my Savoir-Faire, and that meet our slogan : " When details make the difference”. Only then did I go to meet very sought-after and demanding stage musicians. My idea was to offer a product that others didn't have. Our straps provide extra comfort at the shoulder, with a fleece part and another made of sponge to absorb perspiration, as well as a non-slip surface for stability. Finally, there is a " pick pocket " to store the picks. All these things have been tested and adjusted as we go along, in order to achieve a certain perfection. The current range includes two strap widths and six colors.



For high-end products, you offer fairly low prices. How do you do it ? 

First of all, I don't go through a distributor, which reduces the costs. I sell directly to shops and I don't take a very high margin, because I consider myself a newcomer in the learning phase in the guitar world.

I prefer to offer people a good quality/price ratio so that they choose our products. That's also why I go to a lot of trade fairs and exhibitions, to learn the trade, to see other manufacturers and meet the musicians to "feel the thing". Each family of instrumentalists has a very specific typology and mentality. It's quite a learning process. I'm a dinosaur. I built myself at a time when cell phones and the internet didn't exist. The business was based on real human relationships and you had to listen to what was going on to understand people and their needs. It's the best way to progress, to question yourself, to stick as closely as possible to people's needs.


By Ludovic Egraz ( IG : @ludovicegraz )

Credits : GuitareXtreme ( IG : @guitarextrememagazine )

Pictures : Sébastien Boulard ( )