Builds and pricing; a discussion..

cherrysunburst00

TUBE AMP JUNKIE FOR LIFE BAD ASS
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2015
Messages
19,139
Reaction score
39,572
Short answer: that is not too much.

I learned to have a profound appreciation for HAND craftsmanship from my Brother.

Then there's the experience of the builder. And the pride in doing it right: not many people know that you SCRAPPED my first build well in to it because it wasn't "right" Made the second one right. Troof be told, I probably would not have noticed. But YOU did.
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
Another thing bugging me is the current "fad" of high shipping on ebay from private parties.

Some of these guys are asking near $100 for shipping on a piece that costs them but $25-30 to ship anywhere in the US.
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
Short answer: that is not too much.

I learned to have a profound appreciation for HAND craftsmanship from my Brother.

Then there's the experience of the builder. And the pride in doing it right: not many people know that you SCRAPPED my first build well in to it because it wasn't "right" Made the second one right. Troof be told, I probably would not have noticed. But YOU did.


And you're not the only one I've done that on.

Huh, mudface..? :laugh2:

People are paying for "right". It's like going to a tailor for a suit, or buying "off the rack".

Having a custom, hand-crafted guitar is a feather in their hat, and a joy to play.

The neck carve they want. The frets they want. etc etc.

Rickenbacker used to have a sign over the door leading from the shop into the office.

it said " when in doubt, send it out"

Mark Arnquist who used to be a luth for Ric told me that.

And I have seen cross-sections of neck joins you could hide your dope in. Terrible. But Ric just wanted "business" and the practice of it.

You know, All these big outfits have made these beautiful videos touting the high level of craftsmanship that takes place under their roof.

Fender says they have "designer luthiers" in their custom shop. They design a guitar on a computer, then hit the CNC button.

Nothing bad meant to our friends who use CNC machines, not at all, but the way Fender is showcasing these guys. ."signature luthiers" and such.

Yeah? get to the wood, man. Get some glue on your fingers and start making sawdust.

Gibson? Last year I had a 2000's something SG in the shop for a neck reset. It was at an angle of 4.55 degrees.

that's just lazy and wrong. The bridge pup had to be adjusted all the way up to meet the strings, and it was still too short. It was like playing a damn cello with the bridge up that high.

Where was Gibson's "famous" QC? Somebody had to adjust that pickup all the way up like that. Why wasn't it sent back for a do-over?

And the body was made from no less than FIVE pieces of mahogany, the last little piece being one inch on the treble-side horn. One inch of mahogany on one small horn to make up the body width. -cheap.

I had to reset it to 2.5 degrees. And refinish into the trans-cherry finish. Not easy. Customer was delighted.

Give me a small shop any day.
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
All I'm saying about all this, we have to compete with the big outfits by offering better work. And from what I've seen personally on several occasions, we can do exactly that.


But, where's the line on what's proper, compared to what customers will pay?
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
Some of the Les Paul builds I have seen over the years in this very forum have been the most spectacular examples of quality craftsmanship I have ever seen in guitars.

You guys are really, really good. Incredible attention to fine detail, even on the places no one would ever see. Sticklers for correct and quality.

You should be proud of your work.
 

CB91710

Not Michael Sankar
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2019
Messages
13,384
Reaction score
34,947
Another thing bugging me is the current "fad" of high shipping on ebay from private parties.

Some of these guys are asking near $100 for shipping on a piece that costs them but $25-30 to ship anywhere in the US.
That's nothing new... it started as a way to bypass Ebay's cut of the sale, but AFAIK, Ebay caught on and charges a percentage of the total amount?
But ya... I see that all over the place, Ebay and Reverb, two nearly identical products, one is $100 with $20 shipping, and one is $80 with $40 shipping.


On custom build pricing... You can't compare your pricing to Gibson or Fender production, because you aren't building mass-produced production *quality* guitars.
Your work is on par with Custom Shop builds from both companies, which are charging more than double what they charge for off-the-shelf stuff.

The Junior?

You're not building to this standard....

You're building to, or even beyond, this standard...

You ain't charging $4000 for a DC Junior, and I can double-dog guarantee that nobody is going to be nit-picking flaws in the finish or little defects here and there like they do after taking delivery of a Gibson or a Fender.


When I was really active in RC airplanes, it was about the time that mail order was really getting big, and this moderately new thing called the "World Wide Web" was starting to take hold, and we didn't even need to pick up the phone or mail a check to buy something.

And the local mom and pop shops had to compete.
And some of the local mom and pop shops maintained their pricing, and they maintained the high quality customer service that they always had. They considered their time a part of the cost of doing business, and they were always there for their customers, and always had a good attitude, and always willing to offer experienced advice and pointers.
And these mom and pop shops remained open until their owners retired.

And some of the local mom and pop shops maintained their pricing, and they bitched and complained to every customer that came through the door about Tower Hobbies and Hobbico killing their business. And they continued to charge 10% over MSRP, and complained that they couldn't compete because of their low volume.
One even got to the point that he would agree to match Tower's price, but insisted that the customer return in 5 days, because if he ordered from Tower, that's how long he would have to wait for it.
They simply didn't get it, that price is only half of doing business. It's a balance. You can charge a higher price if you balance that with better customer service than the guy down the block, or the big mail order house.


Could I have bought an Explorer for $1600? Sure.
But I didn't.... and I'm getting something a lot nicer, and a lot cheaper than the $5300 Explorer Custom.
 

fatdaddypreacher

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2011
Messages
7,383
Reaction score
5,613
Good lord, I know it.

I just today turned a guy down on a DC junior because I couldn't get it done in 2 months time. He's going back to college overseas, and I just can't shove it in front of others.

I 've got a lot of builds, and from what I hear, a good reputation for which I'm humbled and grateful to have. I can't screw that up. I'm behind as it is. I'd wager a LOT of us are behind.

But if my good, gracious folks cannot wait, I have to say no. I can't forsake the others who have put me in business.

So he says he'll revisit it in August when he returns. That would be great.

But yeah, I'm under a lot of pressure now. Lot's of builds to cover, and I'm at the point of telling new business that they have to wait six months before I can even start.

I have currently a customer that has physical challenge to where he needs a Les Paul under 8 lbs. Nearest the 7 lb mark as I can get it. It took me quite a while to even find wood for his LP.

Another guy, I had searched the world over (literally, online) for Korina clean enough for a dead-nuts 58 V build. I ended up finding practically in my own back yard. Very very lucky.

Cleanest Limba i have ever seen. I bought extra. -and now sold that on another build, just today (Neff, he says he can wait a while)

Sourcing some of this stuff takes time. Especially with the body wood. Nobody wants a wharf bollard for a guitar, we all want it at the magic 7-8 lb mark.

That means you have to pour over board/feet numbers (under 2.3 lbs per bd/ft is good), select the wood according to that, and according to figure, and the best looking, lightest stuff goes for the most money, naturally.

I'm currently loving Spanish Cedar for this reason.

( @fatdaddypreacher Bob, I will order some I'm just caught up right now. Maybe by the end of the week I'll place an order)
tha'ts cool. let me know when you're ready. i've got plenty...thanks
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
A nicely hand built guitar has got to be worth at least a quad of 6L6 these days.
Somebody besides "mother russia" has to have tube manufacturing eqipment.

I read somewhere a long while back that some US company bought Sylvania's tube mfg machines.

Enough demand, and there will be tubes.
 

CB91710

Not Michael Sankar
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2019
Messages
13,384
Reaction score
34,947
Somebody besides "mother russia" has to have tube manufacturing eqipment.

I read somewhere a long while back that some US company bought Sylvania's tube mfg machines.

Enough demand, and there will be tubes.
China, and aren't JJ still Slovakian?
 

Drew224

"Obvious BS Artist"
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2009
Messages
16,629
Reaction score
7,906
As far as I am concerned, anything better than what you can get from a mass production company is worth a premium. Let's be real, Fender and Gibson are not paying all that much attention to what they send out the door compared to individual luthiers and small shops.
 

58 special

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2009
Messages
496
Reaction score
276
I've run an electrical business for 23 years. I learned early that you set your price high enough to stay only as busy as you want to be. If you price a job too high you don't get the job. Price jobs too low you'll never catch up to the work load. Find the happy medium.
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
People need to understand that you have to be compensated for your patience. Sounds like you're looking at it from a business perspective and not a hobby perspective. Charge more brother, those guitars won't build themselves.
remember, the price for the jr was hypthetical. I charge a bit more.

I went frome part-time to full-time pro about 3 years ago.

And I haven't advertised once. That will change soon, right on these pages .
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
Deepest Thanks, man... that one's going into the retort chamber with me, come cremation time...

Yep! I'm taking it WITH me! :rofl:

--Rob :cheers2:

All that nitro on swamp ash, it'll burn real good!
 

valvetoneman

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
1,503
Great subject Dave.

It's the little details nobody sees that make the difference, I string every guitar up and finish the neck after because that's how it'll feel in the hand and a neck is the sole imo.

My new neck joints take much longer because it's all sculpted and I finish it when I've taken every lump and bump out, you can't do this on a cnc, I hope this reflects in a better build than you can buy off the shelf, it's noticeable to me and others seem to like it, I just can't get enough out into more hands.
 

Brek

Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 15, 2020
Messages
3,468
Reaction score
4,134
I think its a hella lot of work your putting in there Dave, I think if you look at the price Fender and Gibson are putting out the 'standard' non custom shop models, which is achieved through mass production and buying power, they cost of most luthier builds are underpriced for what's on offer, like you mention, one piece bodies, selected for specific properties, and like you say the hardware costs.
At the guitar in UK I attended on saturday there was a guy selling vintage accurate strats and tele's, the nitro finish was simply stunning, completely flat, no imperfections at all, but also looked incredibly thin coats
Short answer: that is not too much.

I learned to have a profound appreciation for HAND craftsmanship from my Brother.

Then there's the experience of the builder. And the pride in doing it right: not many people know that you SCRAPPED my first build well in to it because it wasn't "right" Made the second one right. Troof be told, I probably would not have noticed. But YOU did.
 

LtDave32

I'm walkin' on sunshine
Super Mod
Silver Supporting Member
V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2010
Messages
50,855
Reaction score
173,083
Great subject Dave.

It's the little details nobody sees that make the difference, I string every guitar up and finish the neck after because that's how it'll feel in the hand and a neck is the sole imo.

My new neck joints take much longer because it's all sculpted and I finish it when I've taken every lump and bump out, you can't do this on a cnc, I hope this reflects in a better build than you can buy off the shelf, it's noticeable to me and others seem to like it, I just can't get enough out into more hands.

The neck is indeed the very soul of the instrument. Without question.

I too, level, recrown and polish afte all other is done.
 

valvetoneman

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
1,773
Reaction score
1,503
The neck is indeed the very soul of the instrument. Without question.

I too, level, recrown and polish afte all other is done.
I reflat my fretboards after they're glued on then fret, It takes longer but my set up and level work is massively reduced, I've just strung one up now and I could probably leave it but I won't and a really low action without choking.
 

Latest Threads



Top