Well Guys Hows The Luthier Trade Treating You?

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by DRF, Mar 1, 2019.

  1. DRF

    DRF Member

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    Myself I've been waffling back and forth on what to do...thats luthier speak for a continuous Siesta. After I finish this one custom build I think I will just offer completed instruments for sale via my website. Doing custom work for ever changing picky guitarists is hitting me like a mind and financial soak.

    I'm obviously doing it wrong, I haven't done enough but it's costing me to build. Settle on a couple models, streamline and done. Tired of making templates and working with new hardware.
     
  2. jayjackson

    jayjackson New Member

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    I only Do work on My own Guitars, so I only buy the tools I need for them. Doing work for others can become a Big Pain. Now if some one was to offer me Big Bucks to Build a Guitar I would consider it. The reason I do my own work is there are few Luthiers in My county. And I don't want to Deal with any surprises that having someone else might do.
     
  3. DRF

    DRF Member

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    Hmm well that is a different animal...I mean that sounds somewhat like hobby territory, I know there were a few guys on here starting up and doing it as a business. Also imo repairing guitars is different than building in many respects. I'm retired so theres no fulfillment for me doing say a refret and it would be a time suck away from one of my ground up builds where I typically spend many many hrs just dressing the frets.
     
  4. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Active Member

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    It true that general repairs do require you to have a shop that can handle ANYTHING that happens to walk in the door. and yeah, Its really not worth doing that in todays market unless you live somewhere that has a very serious music scene with plenty of customers to sustain you.

    "Specializing" has its own set of pitfalls as well. the work can get very spotty if the niche you choose to specilize in, suddenly becomes less popular with players for any reason.
    also, turning down work, often is very painful, especially when your wallet is stretched t h i n. and you can get in a real bind doing that by taking jobs that are not profitable enough.

    Its financially bad enough in my area, that Folks really can't pay what it costs to do some of the work they request. so I end up doing it for cheap JUST to pay that weeks bills.

    Its been my opinion now for about 10 years that American Luthiery is dieing a slow hard death.
    there are plently of people who obviously want to keep it alive. but they seem to die off 1 by 1 nd the reasons are as varied as the builders themsleves.

    The names you used to "hear" about all the time, change and the older ones just dissappear, constantly being replaced by younger new ones.
    very few have any real staying power, many will Flash in the pan and then gone.. and I believe its partly because they are not making a realistic profit on their work, OR they don't handle thier business well..

    currently, I'm working a niche product thats doing well for me... right now. and it makes a very good solid profit.
    BUT who knows how long it will last? its about to hit 5 years as of May of 2020.. and things could go bigger, stay the same, or the bottom drop out. there are just no gauruntees.

    of course, I'm hopeing for the best. but My Crystal Ball went dark decades ago.

    Lots of young ones come to my shop and ask me how to get in the business... I tell them to look around my shop, if you like what you see and are willing to live like I do ( shower twice a week, sleep in an office chair, and eat balony sandwiches and drink 10 cent koolaid every day)... then sure, go for it.

    Otherwise Its wiser to get a good job and do the guitar thing as a hobby in your nice home shop, at your nice house that a regular job paid for.

    because " full time Luthiery" CAN'T pay for those things..... unless ALL the stars line up....... to buy one of your guitars.
     
  5. DRF

    DRF Member

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    The days of a dusty old luthier shop in the basement of a guitar store are all but gone.

    Lately I've been marvelling at how expensive the incidentals are. Everything from tape to sandpaper. You start getting into the 3M type brands and away from DIY'er stuff and it's noticable. I bought 4 rolls of 45yrd paper and it was like $150. 4 bottles of Hot Stuff super glue was $75. Bought a prepped Alder body blank cause I don't usually use the stuff it was $120 shipped and taxes.

    My point is it doesn't sound like much and stuff like that much sandpaper will last a bit but it adds up to the point where building a guitar is expensive. Everything is wear and tear on blades and machines too. I seem to spend a lot of time shopping just to replenish worn out or used up stock.
     

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