Lutherie as a business

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by ericschaeferguitars, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. ericschaeferguitars

    ericschaeferguitars Member

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    Hey all,

    I am starting this thread as an open discussion on all things related to the business and marketing aspects of lutherie, in the hope that we can grow our businesses together by leveraging the power of the community.
    Personally, I have found that transparency and being an "open book" has always helped grow my business, but I know that there are those that do not share that ideal and, frankly, this thread is not for them. Their ideas will develop and die in the solitary bubbles they live in.
    Allow me a few digressions here to illustrate my point:

    So, I teach a 7 day guitar making class and I was marketing this class at my booth at the Philly Guitar Show. One of the other vendors, whom I'd never met before, told me that I was doing a terrible disservice to the industry because I was teaching people with "no artistic discernment" that they can build a high end acoustic flattop, ...as if teaching a skill could EVER be a bad thing? He assured me that he was only joking, but I definitely detected some serious passive-aggressive complex going on there. So, this snooty elitist :bowdown: who will remain unnamed (if only because I never cared to ask for his name in the first place) will never be able to grow his business or make a name for himself because he is a hoarder of knowledge. Don't be that guy! There is a reason I had never seen or heard of him before.

    Digression #2
    I spoke to another builder at the Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival and explained to him that I teach classes. He told me that he took a class once with a well known luthier in the community (who will remain unnamed) and later found out that the luthier actually intentionally fudges the numbers for his students so that his student's guitars don't sound or play as well as his own guitars:shock: (For example, he has his students put on too many coats of lacquer and leaves the soundboard extra thick). So, he intentionally produces an inferior product which can only result in less than satisfied customers, especially when they find out that it was not their unskilled hand that made a crappy guitar, but rather, the insecurity of the teacher. Definitley don't be that guy!

    Digression #3
    I was recently given the opportunity to run several clinics teaching wood inlay and guitar maintenance at a music studio in Philadelphia. The music studio originally asked their go-to repair guy to teach them and he refused on the grounds that he did not want to teach others how to do his job. He felt his livelihood would be threatened.
    Well now I'm teaching others how to do his job:D and the lesson here, ladies and gentlemen, is: if you won't teach it, I will. Because knowledge is free to give once you have it; Theres no overhead costs and theres always a market for it.

    I guess the common theme here is don't be an insecure d-bag when it comes to your business, hoarding what little skill and knowledge you've gained. Give, give, give and give some more. Promote others and they will promote you. You will gain so much more in the long run from positive referrals and the benefits of networking than you could possibly lose from others taking your business.

    So, my hope here is that both the part-time and full-time luthiers, whether you consider yourself an amateur or a professional, will post questions and answers to everything related to building as a business, which we all have our struggles with. In fact, it would be cool to see a section of the forum devoted to this.
     
    Blackie likes this.
  2. Fret Hopper

    Fret Hopper Member

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    Eric,
    Great post. Not wanting to share knowledge and experience with others because a person feels threatened that the student will surpass them in some way indicates a great deal of insecurity.
    I am just learning how to build a guitar and have no idea at this point if my first two builds will be anything but firewood. Then again, you have to start somewhere. Not everyone who gets into guitar building will be a great luthier. Just like guitar players, not everyone will be the next Jimi, Eric, or John Mayer. Some will, most won't.

    But no matter how you slice it, I am gonna have fun in my own way - building or playing.

    And I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for those who are willing to share their knowledge and experience.

    From the ozone...
     
    Blackie and ericschaeferguitars like this.
  3. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

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    I think the point of this whole forum is to share knowledge and experience with others.
     
  4. ericschaeferguitars

    ericschaeferguitars Member

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    Best of luck with your builds, frethopper. Your in the right place! Feel free to ask anything. We're all here to help and learn.
     
    Blackie likes this.
  5. ericschaeferguitars

    ericschaeferguitars Member

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  6. otterhound

    otterhound New Member

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    When it comes to business , the rules are different from when not .
    Customers come because they can't , don't or won't do what you do .
    How you treat them reflects on you .
    There is no requirement to share your knowledge with anyone , but intentionally setting someone up for failure while claiming not to is flat out dishonest . Showing them the process and providing the input that they will need to test and experiment in order to achieve their goals is totally honest .
    Failure can be one of the best teachers in life if you are willing to allow it to be so .
    Tout your own skills and refrain from maligning others .
     
  7. Thaddeus

    Thaddeus New Member

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    I don't know anything about running it as a business, although someday I might be.

    But what I know about lutherie (and making stuff in general) is this: it's OK to share what you know, and the number of people who actually care will be self limiting.

    Seems to me like luthiers are always wiling to talk about what they do and why they think they do it. It's just that most people don't get it, and wander off with glazed eyes... the number of contexts where you can hold somebody's attention about how to orient the grain of a brace or adjust the color of a shellacked surface are super limited.
     
    Blackie likes this.
  8. Aaron V

    Aaron V New Member

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    Amen man! If someone is that worried about job security it just shows they aren't confident in their ability, or are completely drivin by money. Either way, they're gonna have a bad time.
     

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