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Developing a “Sell After Build” Ethos

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by James Knox, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. James Knox

    James Knox Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I’m reminded of the old Guitar Luthier Joke. How do you make $100,000 building guitars? START with $200,000.

    After reading through the thread about building and selling PartsCasters, I started thinking about how I feel about selling amps after I have built them. The past “shelter on place” months along with a “Cancer Surviving” year have produced an amazing season of learning and building. I’ll of course keep a couple favorites, but I only have so much room. Plus, I want to keep building.

    So, I’ve sold 2 amps. One in the classified here and one one the Amp Emporium over at TGP. Lost actual inventory dollars on both, lol. BUT I felt like I made a couple of friends in the transactions. That is worth something, right? I am learning, and that is worth something, right?

    If you can share, and I know that you might not want to divulge your trade secrets, how do you price and sell the builds you don’t keep for yourself. How do you determine what your profit margin? Friends and Family discount? Sell at cost? Sell at a loss?

    Not really trying to start a “business”. Just wanting to keep the ball rolling with building.

    I have figured out that if I have to buy a cabinet with shipping and buy a speaker with shipping there is absolutely no profit if one wants to sell an amp for the current market rate.

    One thing I am doing is putting something up on Reverb with a markup, but selling on Forums at cost. I like the idea of “paying it forward” by selling an amp at actual cost to someone on TGP because I have gleaned so much from being part of the Shock Brothers Community. It might help somebody get in to amp that they otherwise could not afford, or did not have the wherewithal to build one themselves.

    Share some random thought!
     
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  2. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd say you need to be able to buy more parts. Maybe not wood, but it would be handy to come out the other side breaking even on the chassis and its contents, along with speaker. An acceptable loss on wood, cab glue, grill cloth, and covering perhaps.

    You can still make friends without huge price cuts. I've chatted up builders I didn't even buy from. I try to keep up on what Brian at third rail is making. I dont think less of people for charging more than parts, I'm not able to build amps, if you can do it, it's worth something.
     
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  3. Mongo Park

    Mongo Park Tele-Holic

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    I will sell them to friends for cost to me to build it, not including time spent. The big but is they buy what I want to build for them. I make it and they buy it if they want what I make. So far no problems, I treat my friends well and they do the same to me. I don’t sell to people I don’t know. And you are right it is the build that is the fun not storing them in your basement. So far the 6g2 and a 5f2a are my keepers.
     
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  4. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Rather than build on my dime then sell them, I've gotten friends to give me money to build them something we agree upon. So for the cost of parts they get an amp of their choosing and I get to build/learn with no investment of my own. Bonus: It adds to the challenge to build to someone's specification, and I always get "compensated" with spare parts . :)
     
  5. Nickfl

    Nickfl Friend of Leo's

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    Build your own cabs and you should be able to make some money, otherwise I think you should feel good about braking even at kit prices. I don't think you should sell for a loss, if your time spent building is free, the buyer is already getting a crazy good deal if you are selling it at.your parts cost.

    So far I've kept all my builds because I've built something different every time, and a lot of them have been experiments, so I'd have to go back and tidy them up before I'd be comfortable selling those to someone. I've been thinking lately that I'll see if I can unload a couple of the ones I don't like as much. I figure I'll ask a bit more than my I've got in them and take a lower offer as long as it's not a loss.
     
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  6. fenderchamp

    fenderchamp Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Either you are in it to selling good products for a fair profit, or you in it to make friends. business is business. It's up to the seller to compete and make a profit. If I was getting into the business, I'd try to pick the guy at little dawg's mind first. I'm guessing he's doing sort of what you want to be?
     
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  7. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Friend of Leo's

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    At the prices amps sell for the builder is lucky to get 25 cents an hour. lol.
     
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  8. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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    I've sold several of the amps I have built. I has been a good experience - partly because I actually FINALLY fixed them up correctly before selling them, where for myself they were "good enough".

    My goal is usually to cover the cost of the major components that went into the amp. Some of the amps that I have built are "custom" and not pure clones so the real value of them is unknown. In that case, I look for something of similar value and price it along those lines.

    I don't factor in my time into the equation since it is something that I enjoy doing.

    I have usually recovered the cost of components and been happy. I sold a quasi 5F1 in a nice mojo cabinet for about $160 ( AFTER ebay fees and taxes, etc.) I wasn't happy initially until I remember that really I just wanted to recover the cost of the cabinet- which I did.

    Other times I have made a lot of money - more than $125 more than I have wanted. These sales always go to fund the things that I really want - usually into future amp projects.

    I have a lot of output transformers and surplus tubes on hand at the moment and if I were to build an amp out of these to sell I would hope for cost of components ( power transformer, chassis, etc ) and maybe $50 more to put into another amp that I want to keep (anyone want a 7591 powered 5E3 or JTM45?)

    You can always list for more than you want, be patient and lower the price if you're not getting inquiries, but eventually they should sell if you've done a good job.
     
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  9. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    See if you can get cabs without tolex and apply it yourself, that can be cheaper. Also heads instead of combos.
     
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  10. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1 create heads not combo amps.

    .
     
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  11. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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  12. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, there's typically at least $500+ out of pocket in a small combo amp build. You are often lucky to get the OOP back. Yet people will go out and spend a $1000 for PCB reissue Deluxe or etc without batting and eye.... go figure.
     
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  13. James Knox

    James Knox Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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  14. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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    One thing to remember is our brothers who are very GAS prone that are constantly buying the lastest and greatest amps and then selling them at a loss to buy the more latest and greaterest amp.

    Are they any better off that we are? At least we seem to be recovering the cost of the components....
     
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  15. CraigB

    CraigB Tele-Afflicted

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    I've had a lot of success doing "flips" for my friends. Most recently a Marshall Class 5 head flipped to an 18 watt with tremolo. Added bonus, I kept the transformers from that to make a SE EL84 amp. The most popular of these has been using Crate VC30's, stripping transformers and other useable parts, and converting to a single channel Voxy 30 watt, but many other tube and SS amp carcasses have done the job just as well. I'll either make a list of the parts I need and have them order them, or I'll place the order and get reimbursed by the customer. I make my own cabinets and chassis, for which I only charge for the materials and nuts & bolts hardware, tolex, etc. It's kind of the best of both worlds, keeps us building without overpopulating our own houses and if you work it right, you will always wind up with something additional out of the deal. In fact, I recently got a case of really good (and expensive) pinot noir as a tip, I guess you'd call it. I figure once I try to make this into a business, it may not be so fun anymore. Just my .02 cents!
     
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  16. James Knox

    James Knox Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    That is a good point! For years I have followed the philosophy, “buy used, play for free”. In other words, buy and sell guitars, Amps, pedals buy buy them used. At used prices. Then when you sell, you sell at the used price and ownership has cost you nothing.

    I can see where this idea might carry through with building amps. We build what we like. We build for the fun of building. When done and demo’d and tweaked and modded to our hearts desire, we sell for the price of parts. Then we move on to build again.

    Just like occasionally we might make a couple bucks buying/selling used gear, we might make a couple bucks building.

    But not always...
     
  17. James Knox

    James Knox Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I envy the guys that can build their own cabs! It takes a different skill set and a whole new level of power tools also. I wish I had the shop with the room for table saws and jigs and whatnot.
     
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  18. James Knox

    James Knox Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Good idea!

    I buy my cabs from the Fabulous John Mergili at Mergili Innovations. He makes Tweed Heads but they are same price as a Champ Cabinet. Probably save $75 on a 5E3 Size cab. No speaker (with shipping) expense with a “head cab” either.
     
  19. James Knox

    James Knox Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Hahaha. THAT is if you can work FAST!
     
  20. tubeToaster

    tubeToaster TDPRI Member

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    Not really an answer to your question but this might help with your amp building addiction.

    I don’t like to sell amps I’ve built due to liability issues. If someone opens one up and electrocutes themselves .....
    I have made one for my brother in-law but have kept the rest. When I want to build another one I’ll do some mods to one I already have or completely rebuild one into a different amp using the transformers ,chassis ,cabs ,and tubes. Everything else is cheap.

    Also pedal building keeps me from wanting to build another amp most of the time. And you can sell them without liability issues.
     
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