The completed build in luthery school, accepting custom orders at awesome prices

Discussion in 'Dealers & Group Buys' started by sochmo, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. jephjacques

    jephjacques BUTTS LOL

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    I'm just gonna echo everyone else and say be very very careful how you proceed here.

    That's a good looking guitar but you need more completed builds under your belt before you start offering commissioned builds. If you want to sell them on spec, go for it. But there's no way I'd pay up front for a custom guitar from an unproven luthier. Made that mistake with Acacia once already.
     
  2. stevexc

    stevexc Laura Like Butter

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    Keep in mind, OP, nobody here WANTS you to fail. I'm sure every member of this forum would be ecstatic to see another of our own go on to great success. It's just right now you don't have a lot to show for yourself.

    That said, the one guitar that there are pictures of looks very well built. Keep pumping stuff out, man, and I'm sure you'll drum up some business!

    Remember the old adage: "The easiest way to make a small fortune as a luthier is to start with a large fortune". You're gonna have to go a long way on your own dime (significantly more than $15k worth of school, which really doesn't count...) building up a portfolio and getting guitars into peoples hands before anybody will really take you seriously.
     
  3. UnderTheSign

    UnderTheSign SS.org Regular

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    ^^
    It looks like this is your first and so far only finished build so I'd say build 5-10 guitars for friends, stock builds and personal use and then hit the market. I'm doing the same with furniture - I'm a cabinetmaking apprentice and all my practise work is either personal or for relatives/friends at materials + a small tip and workshop rent when it applies.

    I think the difference between you and trade school students going professional though is that you've only got one build done so far. By the time I'll be done, I'll have done ~10 pieces not including work as an apprentice for other craftsmen. He's not saying you should spend another 5 years doing free setups. Hell, start charging for setups/repairs if you've got enough experience doing that (and provide references/photos, key element these days), but just get some more experience as a luthier before you enter that field as a pro.
     
  4. stevexc

    stevexc Laura Like Butter

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    Heck, maybe even sell guitars (with limited specs, obvs) for the price of materials just to get them out there.
     
  5. SpaceDock

    SpaceDock Shred till your dead

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    This is what I would recommend as a starting place. Build up some guitars that have nice specs and sell them once they are completed. The common error is to get a bunch of one off customs going that are too hard to get perfect.
     
  6. Convictional

    Convictional Forest Wanderer

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    I think the consensus is that we're more likely to trust you as a custom luthier if you demonstrate a handful of in stock builds.

    If you built maybe 10 guitars, had people review them, and developed a reputation, people will be more likely to put faith in your work. As it stands now, there's too much hostility between customers and new builders and in order to break that barrier you really have to demonstrate trustworthiness.:2c:


    Off topic but I can very much relate to this.
     
  7. jwade

    jwade Doooooooooom

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    While it's cool that you're confident in your abilities, it worries me when you say 'start doing this professionally'. I would strongly recommend treating this situation as one in which you can build up your portfolio BEFORE trying to 'build professionally'. Maybe you should initially sell your guitars based on 1. cost of hardware 2. cost of woods and 3. cost of shipping. You might have to take a bit of a hit at first, but get a bunch of guitars built, offer them at very low prices (IE barely above what you paid for the raw materials) to get your work in people's hands. When you've demonstrated that yes, you can consistently hit the quality and time targets, then start offering pricier stuff.

    *PS: the rgdmachine up there looks dope, buddy
     
  8. TemjinStrife

    TemjinStrife Power Metal Cellist

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    I don't know if he should necessarily be taking a loss on his first builds, but I definitely agree that building some instruments for in-stock rather than taking orders immediately would be the best way to go from a *consumer* standpoint.

    Unfortunately, doesn't help you much with cashflow but, this is a rough business to get started in and you're at a site that's seen a LOT of people get burned.
     
  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Five years is nothing. I've been doing that for 15+ and have built a few full guitars from scratch. Could I do some awesome stuff 10 years ago? Yep, but I would still never feel up to par. Different strokes I guess.

    Also, no need to be a twat. I don't need to know your life story to know this was your first guitar and you're already looking for paid work from folks on this forum. You've now had two threads in about as many days asking for folks to check you out and hopefully send some cash your way.

    Obviously I ruffled your feathers, and hit home, as when Brian Bowes says pretty much the same thing: "build more before seeking cash" you gush.

    I'm not trying to screw you, I'm trying to make you and others not get screwed. The last thing I want is another "Anyone herd from Sochmo lately?" or "The Sochmo Guitars Black Friday Thread for Customer Only" or "Sochmo Affordable Run 2014" threads. Look up Sherman, BRJ, and Roter if you want to see what we've had to deal with.

    No need to butter me up, you've already been jerky. :lol:

    No one is saying not to build guitars. Quite the contrary. In fact we've ALL been saying to build MORE guitars. Just that you might want to think about how you go about this.

    Being a builder isn't just about making guitars, it's about running a business and dealing with customers (good and bad). From the looks of it, you need work on those points as well.

    Also, $800 for wood and parts? You need to work with suppliers if you're still paying retail for that stuff. Hipshot, DiMarzio, AllParts, etc. are actually really good about working with smaller builders and shops to get price breaks. Mighty Mite is a good place to start too. Reduce your overhead.

    Also, probably wouldn't hurt to put up some pics of your repair and mod work. :2c:

    You can get butthurt again, or you can prove me wrong.
     
    Cloudy likes this.
  10. demonx

    demonx Searls Guitars Vendor

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    First of all, in response to max suggesting he try buying wholesale, he does not have the right to buy wholesale. He's only built one guitar. Wholesale is or should be reserved for legitimate, registered businesses only, not guys who are hobby building. It defeats the purpose of us legitimate businesses being a business, paying tax to the government etc etc.

    To the op:

    I built my first guitar in 1991 and did not start buying wholesale until a few years ago.

    I never went out trying to sell my guitars. My first sales were because people came to me. I was building for myself, getting skills and style down and then when friends wanted a custom they asked if I'd build one. Not me trying to push my guitars out on the world, it was the other way around. People I knew came to me when it was time.

    Once those guitars were out, then their friends wanted builds and it grows from there.

    My advice, do not advertise. Just build for yourself.

    From what I see, your first guitar looks like it might be good, pics can hide a hell of a lot, but if you've built only one guitar and now looking for customers, I personally believe you're looking at this completely wrong. Morally, professionally and practicality wise, all wrong.

    I will stand on the side of the line with the guys saying to build guitars for practice, build at least a dozen. Don't advertise them. Let your friends and other locals try them. If they don't want them, then you're not ready to start selling anywhere else.

    Also the price. For years I built at the cost of materials. Zero profit. If you're a complete guitar newbie, which you are being you've built only one, as years of repairs isn't the same, then I find it insulting to the rest of us that you're asking big money when you haven't yet completed he ground work. It shows lack of respect for the profession.

    Unfortunately there's thousands of kids these days all over the world with no patience for the way these things need to be and unless you approach luthiery in a carefully planned, respectful and patient manner, you'll find yourself swept under the rug with the rest of them as there's no place in this profession for people who skip the ground work.

    Building dozens of guitars for yourself is ground work, not a single build and a few years of repairs. I'm saying build, but do not advertise. If friends want to buy, sell at cost. Do this for another handful of years. Don't try and go big from day one.

    Sorry to sound harsh, just offering constructive advice.
     
  11. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    :yesway: I wish we could somehow make this mentality a "sticky" here on the forums. Seems people barely have a shoddy sketch in a notebook before they're making facebook pages, coming up with model names, or calling themselves a luthier. Hell, "master luthier"/"master builder" is a title that seems to get thrown around if you've built more than 30 guitars at this point!

    (Not that this accurately describes OP - just something I've noticed here on the forums)
     
  12. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    You guys are telling him to give away guitars for the next 5 years and work for free and he has no right to get an OEM or dealer account with his suppliers? That is the worst business advice I've ever heard.

    1) If you don't have a business license get one.

    2) Develop a business plan.

    3) If you have a product that is ready for world domination unleash that mother!@#$er.
     
  13. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Read it again, homeslice.

    I'm simply recommending sources of discounted parts, not wholesale. There's a difference.

    Lolwut?

    Saying to build more to show skill is giving stuff away now? Whose telling him to sit on his hands or work for free? I'm simply saying that begging for cash isn't becoming of a new builder.

    Yeah, the one guy who commented an hour before you because he misunderstood what I was saying. All those "guys". :lol:

    Definitely sound advice. :)

    :agreed:

    Pro Tip: "Look at my one guitar, give me money." isn't the best.

    More sound advice. Build!!!
     
  14. Necris

    Necris Bonitis.

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    Completing luthiery school doesn't mean you're ready to set up shop, at all.

    Continue building guitars to the highest level of quality you can muster; each should be better than the last. When you can consistently produce high quality guitars in a reasonable timeframe then you may be ready to bring your guitars to market.

    But if you haven't researched how to run a business alongside working on your luthiery skills you're almost certainly doomed to fail. You need skill in both areas. Some buisiness courses would be worth your while.

    If the guitar you're asking $1300 for can't hang with a Carvin or another production guitar around the same price don't expect anyone to buy, in fact, expect people to actively turn others away from your business. With Carvin people know they'll deliver consistent quality (or deliver the instrument at all for that matter); you don't have that kind of credibility yet, that's built over time; and considering how many luthiers have fallen apart on this forum over the years you may have an uphill battle building your credibility as a luthier just starting out.
     
  15. Tom Drinkwater

    Tom Drinkwater ERG/ERB Builder

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    When this guy sets up a guitar factory feel free to compare him product and pricing to Carvin. For that matter why don't we write a letter to Fender, Gibson and PRS and tell them to start dropping their prices to the Carvin level and offer the same level of quality and customization. Handmade guitars built to custom spec and factory guitars are apples and oranges for the sake of comparison.
     
  16. Fred the Shred

    Fred the Shred Shrederick

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    Create a local customer base. Get your name out there, and make sure people who order from you had contact with previous examples (read: build at the very least a couple more axes and move around showcasing them to people). That way you have the following benefits:
    - you don't need to fork out money for nothing, as the amount of "demo" examples is absolutely minimal and works as a promo tool in itself, allowing you to spread the word;
    - you have a real WYSIWYG approach as potential customers will come in contact with the product, and give you real feedback about it. Needless to say, take all feedback into consideration, be it positive or negative;
    - you aren't yet another online dude trying to get a customer base. People have been burned so often, so many times, based on pretty pics that one can only gain by entering the market with a good amount of happy customers and solid builds under the belt, and by solid I don't mean "makes for really pretty pics, maing!", as you already know ;)

    This is a business that takes its time to grow but it isn't excruciatingly slow if you do your stuff right, and you most certainly do NOT need to work for free for decades while working in a Chinese factory to stay alive, but you can't rush things in a way that your reputation is too fragile and lacks proper backing when throwing your name in the big and skeptic online jungle.

    Good luck, get building, and even better luck building an axe that will impress the likes of me! :)
     
  17. canuck brian

    canuck brian Bowes Guitars Contributor

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    I'll chime in...

    The first.....5 or 6 guitars that I built were eventually torn apart and destroyed because I kept improving my work and I didn't want to see the old stuff out there anymore. I had a lot of people i knew and my girlfriend at the time telling me that I should build for customers. I personally didn't feel that I was up to par yet, so I didn't sell to anyone. I just kept building. Only after 8 years of doing that did I finally sell start selling guitars to people. Even then, my work is constantly improving and I keep fine-tuning the processes.

    The unfortunate situation that is now in place is that there is extreme distrust of luthiers because of the actions of a bunch of guys. Shoddy work, missed deadlines and guys simply disappearing have really taken a shot at the credibility of anyone building outside of an established big company. Unfortunately for you, you're looking at getting into the game when all of this is happening.

    The guitar in the pics looks pretty damn cool. Take it to shows and show people. Take it to music stores that won't get pissed off if you show it to people there. Make your work speak for itself.

    The only real advice I have is this - don't bite off more than you can chew. Building isn't a race and the moment you start rushing things, you're going to make catastrophic mistakes.

    (and get a logo! branding is huge!)
     
  18. Necris

    Necris Bonitis.

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    Who would you find it acceptable and fair for me to compare him to; yourself, Brian, Darren, a well established custom luthier who isn't based in a factory, a hobbyist luthier who plans on going in to buisiness soon but has far more builds under his belt, a hobbyist luthier who just completed their first build but has no intention of starting a business in the near future, a guy who has put together a few kits, a woodworker who builds guitars on the side, maybe Etherial? We all know Etherial offered cheap fully custom handmade guitars with very little experience as a builder (yet still more builds under his belt than the OP) and look at the shitshow that turned out to be.

    It needs to be restated that this is OPs first completed build and we have no idea whether it's any good or not. That he wants to go in to business after only one full build is a huge red flag. And there are other red flags in his posts too.
    With only one build under his belt we certainly have absolutely no way of knowing how consistent he is. If this build is great, and it could be, that doesn't mean much to me because how will the second turn out, or the fifth, or the tenth?

    Money is still an object to many buyers, why on earth would anyone pay a few hundred dollars more for a guitar that isn't as well made as a less expensive competitor? To support an upcoming luthier? I know I don't feel any obligation to pay someone to practice their craft and on top of that OP certainly isn't looking to offer anything that can't be had from another more proven builder.

    Many people still expect, maybe wrongly, a higher level of craftsmanship from a "handbuilt fully custom guitar" than what one would get from a factory made guitar. That's not debatable, you can see evidence of it all over this forum and plenty of others.

    If his guitar isn't of the same quality as a cheaper instrument then he shouldn't be surprised if he has a hard time getting customers.

    It may not be "fair" that fully hand made and production guitars are compared; but those aren't the only comparisons that will be made, he'll also be compared to established luthiers who charge far more than he does when he goes in to business and he will eventually be compared to future upcoming luthiers as well.

    His options are to complain about that fact, try to sidestep the question of the quality/price difference entirely by saying "I'm a single luthier in a small shop, I'm not a factory" or increase his skills.

    One of those options will likely end in him getting more customers; the others are utterly useless if he wants to be successful.
     
  19. SDMFVan

    SDMFVan SS.org Regular

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    Food for thought: I have several friends that work at PRS, who also graduated from luthiery schools (some fairly prestigious ones). When they were initially hired by PRS they were still only hired as body sanders (ie. entry level) and forced to work their way up.
     
  20. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    In the history of electric guitar building, I'm still under the impression that this was the standard way to do it. You either built at a company doing pretty low-level tedious stuff, slowly climbing the ranks until you could venture out (or were simply happy managing the grunts), or you did repair work until the opportunity presented itself. None of this "I've built 5 guitars, here's my company" stuff that the internet + a more international world has paved the way for. McLuthiers as someone called them.

    I'd be very reluctant going into guitar building now thinking that I could just build a decent guitar and get by -- there's always room for innovators like Strandberg and Toone, and there's always room for someone with unique talents, like Dylan @ Daemoness, but I have a feeling that being merely competent is not going to be enough at this point. Lots of people want to be musicians, but most become guitar teachers or play around their 9-5. Lots of people want to be artists, but most have to work in the service industry and pursue their passions on the side. Not that a lot of people want to be luthiers, but it's a pretty saturated market so I think the same rules apply.
     

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