Everyone Hopes to Sell Guitars they Build at Some Point

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by D_W_PGH, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I've built 6 or 7 Partscasters over the past few years, with varying results. As I've become more experienced at it, the last couple actually became pretty good players.

    But I don't think I'd ever sell any of them. I like being able to look at them and say 'I built that.' I did build a J bass that I gave to my bass player for his 50th birthday, but that's about as close to selling one as I'd like to get.

    - D
     
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  2. archiemax

    archiemax Tele-Meister

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    She's the one who got me started on the oil can guitar kick. (The one in my avatar is the 9th one I've made.)
     
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  3. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

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    With this topic it can be easy for someone to break the commercial rules of the forum. One post has just been deleted for that reason. Please make sure you are familiar with the rules and adhere to them when commenting. Thank you.
     
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  4. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Friend of Leo's

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    Sorry. there's a Telecaster in this photo? I'm just not seeing it.....:twisted:
     
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  5. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have had a lot of people tell I should sell the guitars I build over the years. The biggest problem is you’re an unknown builder like hundreds of others. Finding even a shop to put them in is challenging. The other factor what’s your time worth? What would you really have to charge to make this thing called a profit? I’m in another woodworking forum the question came how do you sell your items lot of answers, but the one common answer from the members making a living selling their goods Stick to your price or you will fail. As for a guitar honestly for the time and cost to build one I’d be starting at 2K. Other than that you better have a big bank roles and a lot of automation better to push a button on a C&C machine than a body through a bandsaw,
     
  6. joealso

    joealso Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Yes, it's difficult to spot. :p And I'm dubbing it a "Telecanster". It'll go well with my "Strat-o-Various" partscaster
     
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  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

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    In the '80s I had a pretty good local rep for modding and repairing guitars out of my apartment, which was a musicians hub known as Hell House.
    By the late '80s I was moving from Boston to NYC and wanted to build custom solid body electrics for a living, plus maybe some electric violins and cellos.

    Aaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
     
  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm a member of a 12 step program that keeps me off the dope.
    It is a program of attraction rather than promotion.
    Seems to apply pretty well to building custom guitars!
     
  9. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I make guitars because it's fun and I can play them. For me, there's no point in making them for profit. There's no profit in it competing against $100 guitars.

    And the profit wouldn't profit me much, as I already have one successful career. It's literally not worth my time to try and sell guitars. Besides, I don't like the selling part.

    If I was after a profit, there's things I could make that would have a much better return in markets where I have a much bigger reputation.
     
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  10. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    Thats pretty close to my math as well. I built a console table for my wife for christmas this year and got to thinking about what I would sell something like that for. After materials and a modest $15 per hour for my time it would be $800+ before I would consider myself to be making a profit on it. A dealer/gallery would take that price and double it, so an asking price of $1800 or so. Guitars take me a bit less time, but cost more in materials (all that hardware adds up), so by the same math should have a similar asking price... I'm not sure if I could get that for either, but I bet it would be a lot easier to sell that table than a guitar.
     
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  11. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree the table
     
  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

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    Right, on the internet, buyers of guitars tend to attack those that pay $3500 for a really really nice custom made Telecaster from a well known respected maker.

    But buyers that pay $3500 for a really really nice custom made coffee table from a well known custom maker suffer no such attacks.
    I've worked in the homes of such folks and they are able to enjoy fine craftsmanship without belittling the craft persons time.

    Guitar buyers have a strong cheap streak.
    Which is fine for judging our own personal spending choices, but pretty crazy when many of us condemn all who choose to use their financial resources in ways that we would not, either because we don't have the resources, or because we think makers of custom guitars don't deserve the hourly rate that makers of custom coffee tables are getting.

    Seriously, even more so with amps and pedals, WTH is it about guitar players that makes us attack owners of small limited production shops making really nice guitar gear and asking high enough prices to not need a second job to make ends meet.

    When I worked in wealthy peoples homes in Boston and NYC, I commonly charged $50/ hr.
    Why is making custom guitars a lower paying job according to guitar players than restoring antique homes?
     
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  13. SheldonP

    SheldonP Tele-Meister

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    I've been repairing/restoring/modding/building for nearly four decades at this point. Back when I was on the road, it was out of neccessity. Once people figured out I had a few skills in those departments, paid projects started coming my way. When people figured out I could do builds from scratch, I started getting requests for builds. I never set out to sell my creations, but after doing a few for friends/colleagues, there always seem to be more requests in the queue. That I manage to eke out a small profit on most builds is a happy accident...

    I'll likely never be a full-time builder, nor would I want to be. I build instruments because I enjoy doing it.
     
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  14. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Lol, that's golden there!

    .
     
  16. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    To be fair, with telecasters, it's sort of the ikea of guitars. If you made an ikea style coffee table and tried to sell it for $3500, entirely hand made, you'd probably get criticized. There's another planemaker who makes furniture like that and glued together planes and tries to charge mid hundreds to sometimes four figures for a hand plane that's glued together. He's going for it all on both sides, and he does manage to land a few fish here or there.

    Furniture is a lot like guitars. There are a lot of people who could make lovely guitars, but the market isn't there for them. There are scads of people who could make really interesting furniture, even all the way to the top (chippendale style pieces), but what keeps them from making it is a lack of interest from customers.

    The interesting thing to me (as a maker of things, with no sense that anyone owes me anything or should appreciate anything that I make) is that someone will ask me if I could make casework for them. I tell them I'd rather not, and they push and ask how much it would cost for me to make them a bookcase with facing and moulding, and I tell them in all solid cherry, it'd be about $500 in materials. They can't even tolerate the materials cost, and the discussion ends. I'm not sure what they're hoping, that there's $20 of materials in a case that takes some 8/4 material and another 70 or 80 board feet of lumber after waste is accounted for? The top two things I get through my wife are:
    * can I borrow your husbands ______ (miter saw, chain saw, router, etc), or
    * do you think your husband could repair ___ for me? I'm sure it wouldn't be much trouble, and I'd do it for you if I knew how

    I will repair things for people, and for free, but I don't like when they feel like it should be for free - and it's not a money issue, it's a time issue.
     
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  17. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    He was making in north carolina at the time, and there was a huge local market for custom banjos. Some of his stuff made it onto Hee Haw (grandpa jones) and after that, someone approached him asking if he could make a neck for Earl Scruggs with a gibson overlay on it or that someone else would put an overlay on (he's a pretty confident person and declined unless Earl would leave Wilson on the peghead instead of Gibson).

    At any rate, point being he's a world class maker who can make just about anything, and he was completely serious when he said that. Banjo players are often the butt of jokes, but they're the most superstitious and earn it. You should see the tone ring metal composition discussions on the banjo forums. I sold my banjos and no longer go there, but some of it was really bizarre.
     
  18. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    My son made the body for my first parts tele, from the blueprint plans pinned in the Tele Home Depot. He did a terrific job, and the resulting guitar is still my favorite of the bunch, even after I made four more with different wood, pickup, and hardware selections.

    He asked me at the time if I thought there was potential for a business there, building bodies or whole guitars and selling them. I told him I thought it was a very tough business, with tough customers, and full of tough, talented, starving competitors.

    Since then I've noticed several builders who seem to have established themselves, and who have lasted a while, so sometimes I wonder whether I should have discouraged my son. He really is good, painstaking and meticulous with his woodworking projects. I can see him building guitars that anyone would be proud to own.

    Only thing is, I haven't changed my mind about guitar-making as a business. If he brings it up again--he hasn't--I'll just tell him that overcoming my bad attitude is one of the least daunting challenges he'll have to face.
     
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  19. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    I'm guessing that serious building is a lot like the George that I mentioned above. George does better work than anyone i know. He can take an ivory and gold part of a 1700s spinning wheel (that's broken) and duplicate the part and then age it so that it's indistinguishable. He got a job at Colonial Williamsburg by showing one of the department heads some of his work and saying he'd built a harpsichord (he hadn't, but said "I knew I could, anyway").

    He started at a young age by making guitars in a vacuum with almost no tools or resources, but was fascinated by them because of guys like chet and some guy named buddy who played a standel amp (can't remember the guy's name).

    It took him a while to build a customer list for guitars, and then in fairness, most of his success even doing that probably came from public exposure being the instrument master at Williamsburg.

    His princely sum shop rate for the restoration I mentioned above is $50 an hour. I would be surprised if he ever made that making guitars (despite equipment expense, etc) and I doubt there's a person alive who could out build him in a difficult project.

    He can make money. I'm sure he could make a fantastic telecaster, but he'd get bored (he made flat tops, arch tops, violins, banjos, occasionally a mandolin, etc..and period pistols, jewelry dies, tools, etc - almost an endless list of things).

    If your son had extreme interest in building and elite talent, maybe he could've made a go at it. Perhaps at the outset, he could've hung out a shingle to do repair work to subsidize it. Or done like George, and found a museum that would give him a day wage and access to information and resources to grow. Making components would've been a tough road, though.

    (separate and aside, I talk to George fairly often. he's never had any interest in fender instruments, but this past year when I started building, he decided that he's going to make a telecaster, just because he's curious about them! At age 77).
     
  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

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    Aaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

    Yeah sorry, people are funny, and no matter where they are or when it is they all tend to not get stuff they don't get, and further to not get that they don't get stuff to the point where they ASSume they get stuff better than those who do the stuff they don't get, year round and at a profit.
    But why can't you just??????

    There's a reason some large percentage of new businesses fail in the first year, and by fail of course we mean not just fail to make a living for the excited new business owners, but put them is rather large debt despite the 80 hour work weeks.

    I've gotten lots of those sort of requests over the years, plus lots of "you should go into business making guitars/ furniture/ boats".
    I've done with great pleasure, lots of making stuff projects, for myself or for gifts.
    And I've also worked both for myself and for others making furniture and boats, restoring antique houses, building new houses, and repairing guitars from home and in guitar shops. I tended to do it until it was no longer a pleasure, them move on.

    The push to produce at high speed is not limited to sweat shops.
    Both making nice quality production furniture and making custom cabinets (IME) require each operation get done at speed with no lag time between operations.
    I was well suited to working at speed and enjoyed it while my body held up, but many workers are barely able to work fast enough to make woodworking profitable, unless they are paid minimum wage. And most resent having to work that fast.
    Today I can't even imagine production woodworkers in the US finding it enjoyable, but maybe there are so few that they can charge bigger money for kitchen cabs or beds etc. Or they compartmentalize the operations enough that each worker needs a few weeks training and makes $10/ hr.
     
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