Abasi Concepts (Tosin Abasi’s guitar and pedal company) recently released a statement regarding the rumors of splitting last year with a luthier the company previously worked with, Frank Falbo. The statement was issued on SevenString.org, where the company cited “Five missed deadlines, tens of thousands of dollars in embezzled deposit monies, and numerous quality control issues” as a few of the reasons for parting ways with Falbo. Their full statement is listed below:
For various reasons we kept the internal reality of our business dealings with Frank quiet. Primarily, to focus on not damaging the perception of our brand in its infancy, and to figure out how to deal with the damage Frank has caused.
Long story short:
By early March, we paid Frank the full deposit amount necessary to complete 51 guitars by April 15th (an amount and deadline HE set). Frank told us this amount encompassed all materials, labor, and shop overhead (ie. Rent, utilities, and even equipment maintenance).
After missing the first deadline, Frank informs us that he’s broke due to “cost overruns” and over-purchasing parts for future builds. He asked for further funding to continue the builds.
This made no sense. When pressed for receipts of what he’d spent the deposit money on, he told us he was uncomfortable with our line of questioning and that “he would have a stress heart attack if we continued to ask for answers” and “you can’t walk into Seymour Duncan and ask for receipts to see how much they spent on copper wire”.
This was a serious red flag for us. There’s no honest excuse for not having proper accounting or receipts for purchases – in any properly run organization – especially to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
Eventually, Frank agrees to disclose every expense he could manifest that went towards Abasi builds. He falls tens of thousands of dollars short of the deposit amount he received, and eventually admits to taking at least $15,000 for personal use (although our accounting shows a deficit of almost TWICE that amount).
He took money off the top while leaving the most expensive components (i.e Fishman pickups, stainless steel fretwire, etc…) left un-purchased in the balance, along with the remaining thousands of dollars needed for labor and rent at his shop. He later willfully and knowingly ordered those parts/services having already embezzled money needed to pay for them, leaving us with the bill.
He began ghosting on his workers when they asked to be paid for completed work.
This is the classic story of a luthier taking deposit money and not building guitars with the money. A situation we explicitly explained to Frank we never wanted to end up in.
Frank could no longer be trusted to receive lump sums of deposit money to spend on guitars. We decided to withhold any further payments to Frank, and took it upon ourselves to order and pay for the missing materials, as well as his laborers – for months in order to try to finish these guitars.
Deadlines continued to be missed, so we were forced to stop taking new orders.
In August, weeks before the fifth missed deadline, we received a picture of an eviction notice served by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, declaring imminent, forceable removal and seizure of assets within Frank’s shop. It seems Frank had not paid his rent since we started working together – information he knowingly and willfully withheld from us, along with not holding a valid business license (which is illegal).
At this point, police were about to lock up all our property inside of Frank’s shop. We decided to remove all our assets we paid for and seek to complete them elsewhere.
Frank had shown his character and deemed himself completely untrustworthy. Any business with him was out of the question. Five missed deadlines, tens of thousands of dollars in embezzled deposit monies, and numerous quality control issues are beyond reason enough to sever the relationship.
A few examples of quality control issues:
We took it upon ourselves to refund everyone with an outstanding order, out of our personal pockets. The incomplete builds that were salvageable were completed in Japan and delivered to buyers. The costs necessary to complete this purchase order and save our relationship with our Japanese dealers and distributors equated in a total loss of profit for the order to us. This, coupled with the fact that we have been unable to take new orders since May of 2018, means Abasi Concepts did not generate a single dollar of profit since inception.
After all this…
He announces a “new” ERG line of guitars that is clearly a re-worked version of our CAD files.
Previous to our relationship with Frank, Falbo Designs had only produced acoustic and semi-hollow guitars – NO extended range guitars, NO multi-scale guitars, NO headless guitars. Everything present in his new line of guitars is leeched off his former relationship with Abasi.
We had hoped to handle this internally, because our priority is to simply provide you guys with awesome guitars. Our silence in the matter doesn’t seem to be serving us any longer, because of the rumors flying around.
Given our experience with Frank, we SERIOUSLY caution anyone who is considering buying a guitar from him. Our experience with him is not unique and we have talked to a handful of other people who have similar gripes with Falbo and are willing to come forward in solidarity if need be.
Forums like this one are important, because we can look out for each other as a community. As unfortunate as this story is, it is not new – we’ve all seen it before. We’re warning you, because we wished somebody had warned us.
Tosin & Ivan
If that all weren’t enough, Falbo issued a counter-statement shortly after:
I respect Tosin as an artist, musician, and his skills as a guitarist. I regret the fact it didn’t work out between us.
For me to properly respond I would have to say something negative about Tosin and I’m not willing to do so at this time. I am a man of good character. I’m a good person and I don’t think I deserve this.
There are false and misleading statements here, and a lot of details carefully and intentionally left out, invoices omitted…Those that choose to believe it, will. Those who don’t, won’t. I am fully aware of Tosin’s popularity and influence. But I’m not going to use this platform to say negative things about them at this time.
I won’t get into the details of it but a settlement was reached awhile ago and signed by both parties. We signed it in good faith. I’m surprised that Tosin is now using this forum as a platform to say these things, as well as the accompanying character assasination.
To which Abasi responded:
You wouldn’t have to say anything negative at all. That is a deflection and an attempt to appear more virtuous than me. The settlement occurred because even after failing to account for all of the missing money, and failing to pay your shop rent, all while hiding the imminent eviction from us and risking the entirety of the orders to seizure, you refused to willingly leave the company and go your own way.
Instead you leveraged your “shares in ABASI” and made me lawyer up to be free of you. You are not an honest person simply because you type the word out.
Frank. We have not mislead anyone. All of our assertions are substantiated. We can post further evidence if you’d like? You have my email and my phone number and home address. I would more than welcome an explanation to the missing money in the form receipts. If you are as innocent as you claim, this can be cleared up very simply and privately at which point i’ll issue a public apology and write you a song… with vocals.
The full comment thread can be read here. More to come as things unfold.