Selling your custom guitars. Why?

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by The Q, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. The Q

    The Q The Engineer

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    Hi everyone,

    Ever since I joined this forum I've noticed that quite a lot of instruments where changing hands, which in my book is great; I'd much prefer to trust someone in this community rather than e-bay.

    I did notice however that there were exchanges where people would put out for sale custom instruments, usually expensive ones that were tailored to their needs which strikes me as odd. My question is essentially: taking the obvious out of the equation (need for cash), why would one want to sell a guitar that was custom made to their specifications and needs?


    It becomes especially unfathomable (to me) when these ads are about trades or when the guitar was owned by its previous owner for just a few months (or even weeks).

    In the first case, it feels like swinging which I just don't get I guess, since, if I had a custom made guitar it should have been made to be played by me, with design choices that probably might be having limited appeal to other players. The point is that having a custom made instrument means that I collaborate with the builder and get an instrument I am happy with. If I am not happy with it, it should go back and be fixed or be refunded, right?
    I've noticed cases where people are always between instruments (aka "selling my custom X guitar, to fund my custom Y one") and I end up wondering if those people actually bother playing and breaking in their instruments or they simply want a new flamed top until they get bored of looking at it (= time for a new custom), or if I'm missing something here.

    In the second case, is it just a way to say that "this instrument doesn't work for me", which would make investing a serious sum of cash rather uncomfortable ("doesn't it work for them because it's badly made, or because they just can't get into it?" "Will I regret buying it?" and so on).


    Then there's the opinion of the luthiers which I'd like to listen to as well. I imagine that producing custom made instruments is something a respectable luthier does out of joy, every time applying something new, trying to improve upon the last time and so on. Does this affect you, or it's just a job in the end?



    PS. To this day, I never had a custom made guitar and I'll probably won't bother soon, because I'm more than happy with the ones I have. If I were to get one, one that would fit my needs like a glove, I'd probably sell every other gear I'd have first before selling that one. If it had issues I'd contact the builder; if I simply couldn't get into it, I'd explain why in my ad. My 2 cents on the matter.
     
  2. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    A lot of people flip because they see they could make a fast buck. Which is sad, because that's not the purpose of the guitar. Of course, they'll tell you they "just didn't jell" with it. But they see that the $2500 they originally spent could now fetch $5000, so they go for it.
     
  3. celticelk

    celticelk Enflamed with prayer

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    I sold my OAF 8 because I came to the conclusion that I was more comfortable with 7 strings, and I thought that everyone would be better off if the instrument went to someone who'd play it regularly (and then I'd have money for more guitars).
     
  4. The Q

    The Q The Engineer

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    @ Hollowway: So, a custom can actually increase in value? Hm, to be honest I hadn't really thought of that. I mean, I could probably see it, in cases where a relatively unknown luthier gains fame, but I guess that would take time and I could even say that this might be reasonable (I know I would be tempted, if I could get 5K for a 2.5K guitar, right?).

    I am unsure however as to how common this is. I mean, in most cases I see price drops not only during the course of the ad, but compared to what the customer paid for the guitar initially. To my eyes this would either look like "I am bored of it, am willing to make a loss in an attempt to get something new" or "that's now what I wanted/it's a lemon, I need to get rid of it".


    @celticelk: This makes sense, no need to stay with something that doesn't suit you because it's in a completely different category. Though unrelated, I'm tempted to ask: wouldn't a cheap production guitar be a better alternative into trying a new "field" (8-string guitars in this case)? In relation to my previous reply, wouldn't you risk a higher loss in the market value of a custom compared to a normal production instrument?
     
  5. beyondcosmos

    beyondcosmos SS.org Regular

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    The only thing I see as a positive of selling off your custom instrument is the experience with that custom company. It will probably be quite some time before I can buy a custom Ran 7 string, something I've been desiring for a few years now, but I know there are plenty of people out there who have owned them and can give critical feedback as to the positives and negatives of those guitars.
     
  6. technomancer

    technomancer Gearus Pimptasticus Super Moderator

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    I've sold three full customs (vs prototypes that already had specs set before I decided to pick up the orders). Two were because I needed the money at the time (AC in my house melted down, my car needed a new top, etc etc). The most recent was my first custom and I just like slightly thicker necks now than I did six+ years ago when I ordered that guitar.

    The two I sold because I needed the cash I would likely buy back if I had the money and the current owners decided to sell them.

    I also think the OP is reading WAY too much into the idea of a custom. People's tastes change over time, or they order things they think they'll like and end up not, or they buy an in-stock from a custom luthier and then later decide to sell it. There's no more or less reason to sell a custom than there is to sell any other guitar.
     
  7. The Q

    The Q The Engineer

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    @beyondcosmos: I'm not sure if I understand completely, correct me if I'm wrong. Are you asserting that a custom instrument that changes hands will help the reputation of a luthier, should the quality be sufficient? That's an interesting viewpoint and admittedly, I can see it happening. On the other hand, wouldn't a guitar that keep changing hands pretty much carry a warning sign on it?

    @technomancer: As I said, being in need of cash for an emergency is an uncontestable and perfectly good reason to sell a guitar. Though I imagine that this is by far the most painful reason to separate yourself with an instrument, because you're forced to do it (though this probably wouldn't apply if you're simply selling just to buy another custom I guess).
     
  8. celticelk

    celticelk Enflamed with prayer

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    I bought a Schecter Omen-8 before I commissioned the OAF, so it wasn't a blind leap, but in retrospect it might have been smarter to also get a cheap 7 and see how they compared. I don't really regret it, though - it was a great instrument, and I would definitely buy from Tom again, especially now that I feel like I'm converging on my preferred specs after a few years of buying-and-trying.
     
  9. GuitaristOfHell

    GuitaristOfHell The Optimist Prime.

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    I want a custom, but that will be years down the line. My taste has been ever changing. I used to love Gibson 50's profile necks, but now find ESP/LTD has the near perfect neck for me, but still needs some work.
     
  10. beyondcosmos

    beyondcosmos SS.org Regular

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    Although that is not what I meant, you bring up some excellent points. I would be really turned off if a custom guitar was constantly being sold off--I wouldn't want to spend my money on something no one can be satisfied with for more than a year/a few months.

    I was saying that I personally think it's pretty strange how people will sell off custom guitars (personally, I would keep it unless something truly tragic happened). However, it is a benefit to people like me, who are still doing research, to get all this feedback from people who are constantly buying/selling or just buying and keeping all these customs. It allows me and others who don't have the money to order a custom guitar right now to know what builders to focus on (or stay away from) so we can get a better idea of who we should be ordering from in the future.




    As I look at all of this, I'm thinking about how I ordered a Jackson SLATXMG3-7, thinking that the maple-thru neck would sound soooooo much better than any prestige Ibanez 7 I've had..... and that I could get a technician to re-readius the Jackson's compound fretboard to be a universal 16" radius....... and now, well over $1,000 deep on this guitar, I want to just sell it off and get an RG752 and throw EMG metal-works in it :wallbash:

    Such is life when you're a picky guitar player, hahah
     
  11. djpharoah

    djpharoah Awwww Yeaaaah Super Moderator

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    When I joined this place people went through a ton of guitars and types of guitars to figure out what they want. Then if it wasn't available commercially then you'd get a luthier/custom shop to build you a custom. This process might have taken years to figure out what you'd want versus what you'd like. It took a long time for me and a shit ton of guitars later - I'm down to where I need to be.

    Seems like people now are getting their first customs as their first/second guitars... especially when what you know about what you want is what you've only ever read on a forum that's just a recipe for these guitars being sold. The entire experimentation/trial process is bypassed and the buyer is never really aware of their tonal needs. That being said few people do know what they want and then enjoy their guitars.

    :2c:
     
  12. Polythoral

    Polythoral Hipster Mustaine

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    I think the big thing is that people's tastes with guitars are usually, like with one's preference with anything, ever evolving, and for some that happens faster than others.

    Also, for me there's a sense of inspiration with new and unique instruments. It's just great to try something new.

    That said, I don't see me ever selling my first custom (my Black Water) even though I could probably get more than I paid for it if I did. It's still my go-to guitar for the most part. I basically prefer the idea of have a core guitar or two and then having one or two other guitar slots that are basically in perpetual trading to allow me to keep trying new instruments.
     
  13. xCaptainx

    xCaptainx Dr Djodson

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    Way too much over thinking in this thread.

    Sometimes you need the money. Sometimes your taste changes. Sometimes you can do whatever you want to do.
     
  14. mgh

    mgh Betwixt and Between

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    yeah tastes change. i don't have the same waistline or haircut now as i did back in 1994 when i was 18. Then I had a Jap Jackson Dinky which now would be lauded but was actually a heavy mare; though it did have decent pups. Now I have a PRS SE which is the opposite, pretty much...I had an Ibby Prestige until 6 months ago which I sold to finance a better amp...unfortunately kids cost a fortune!
     
  15. Electric Wizard

    Electric Wizard guy incognito

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    Seems like a lot of people are caught up in sentimental value, when it comes to not being able to understand selling customs.

    I traded the guitar that I had built and am happy about it. It was a great instrument, but I realized that it wasn't right for me (guess I don't like fanned frets). It's a bummer to let go of a very personal instrument, but I'm not gonna hang onto something that limits me as a player because of some abstract sense of propriety. I bought an expensive guitar to have one that suited me as a player.

    I don't like the idea of needing to audition lots of production guitars before going custom, either. Lots of guitar players have this weird sense of "being good enough" or "earning the right" to buy something fancy. You don't see a Ferrari dealer turning amateurs away. If somebody has the money and the will, that's their business.
     
  16. Necris

    Necris Bonitis.

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    I'd also add that some custom buyers, especially first time buyers, have unrealistic expectations of the instrument they're buying. If you drop $3000-$5000 or more on an instrument and it doesn't meet the expectations you had for it, no matter how unrealistic they were in hindsight, that's probably going to cause some serious buyers remorse.

    For example:
    "I'm not playing twice as well on this $4000 custom built instrument as I was on my $400 production guitar, what the hell? I know, maybe (random wood combo, pickup combo, scale length, neck thickness, etc.) would be better for me, I'll sell this guitar and get another; this time with the right specs!"
    Repeat Ad Nauseam with a variety of new justifications for buying yet another custom.
     
  17. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    People change over time and so do their tastes and needs. I have only one true custom that I'm not playing a lot because I got back to using a Floyd Rose again for my current band's music. If I was short on cash and it was "just" a custom I'd sell it. I don't because I can afford to have unused guitars and the paint is actually something custom that means something to me. I'm likely to play her again in the years to come and use here for practicing though.
     
  18. _MonSTeR_

    _MonSTeR_ SS.org Regular

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    I think this is the right answer to be honest, folks are ordering customs before they’re truly settled on what works best for them in the long term.

    Tastes do changes and can, especially when you think about the long wait times for some customs, but if you factor in that a lot of guys are ordering before they know what their tastes are (rather than what they’re reading their tastes “should be”) then there are bound to be lots of customs coming up for sale.

    I’ve not ordered a custom but I’ve picked up a few other people’s customs :D
     
  19. Grindspine

    Grindspine likes pointy things

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    Granted, I have sold a power amp (Mesa Strategy 500) and effects unit (Eventide GTR4000) in times of dire need. I have yet to sell a guitar though.

    I have considered selling my Washburn Dime 333, but kept going back to do work on it. Now after two complete hardware overhauls, a few setups, and finally a setup by me (now that I really know what I am doing), the guitar feels comfortable.

    Maybe it is because I am in a different income bracket (lower) than the guys who regularly buy $2k plus guitars, but I would rather try a guitar that I am familiar with after changing hardware than to start from scratch.

    I am just really glad that the default factory specs on my Ibanez RGD included so many options that I customized on my USA B.C. Rich. Oddly enough, even with different necks (six string 24.75" vs. seven string 26.5) I am very comfortable with both guitars.

    Maybe more personal value is put on a guitar when one does the customized options for himself. Or maybe more value lies on each individual guitar when someone has fewer means to buy more.
     
  20. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Well, it's not that the luthier charges more, necessarily. Take Daemoness, for example. Given the 2 year wait, and the unknowns of how the artwork, etc will look, someone could commission a $3000 build and then sell it to someone who doesn't want the wait time and hassle of decision making, and is willing to pay a premium for that.

    I think a lot of it has to do with what Techno said - your tastes change. Typically a taste change occurs over years. But it's possible that the build itself takes years too! I've got a couple of builds that are over 3 years in the making, so it's possible that tastes can shift within that time.

    But a huge amount of this is what DJPharaoh said - everyone wants a custom these days, even if it's a duplicate of what you could get in a production model. Or, they order something they've heard of, and haven't tried anything close to. i.e. You order a fanned fret 8 string cuz you see other people talking about it, but get it and decide you should stick with your 7 strings. I did that with a 10 string with a high A. I couldn't work with that high A to save my life, so I sold it.
     

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