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Gostwriter
04-30-2012, 07:38 PM
How much longer does it generally take to build a hand made guitar as opposed to a factory built guitar?

gitnoob
04-30-2012, 07:44 PM
Depends on the guitar. I've heard 6-12 man-hours for a Taylor.

20-100+ for a hand-built.

Kitchen Guitars
05-01-2012, 07:38 AM
Average for me is a year. Over Christmas I did a scratch build including making frames and Jigs in 22 days.

Lespaul123
05-01-2012, 09:14 AM
I am at the 130 hour range, but I am working on perfecting jigs and some of my processes to reduce that number. The amount of frills on a guitar has some bearing on the amount of time it takes to build also. For example, radial purflings, segmented rosettes, inlay, etc. all contribute to the amount of time it takes to build.

Ned Milburn
05-01-2012, 06:55 PM
My first classical took 3 weeks to build. Longish days, but I was learning (watching the master as he did a few steps) and then building. So, an average of about 8 to 9 building hours per day. I have often seen 140-160 hours as a general rule of thumb, but it REALLY depends upon how much work you do yourself. Are you going to cut your own sides & back, purfling, fingerboards, etcetera, or are you going to buy prepared woods from suppliers and just take the woods to finished thicknesses and shapes?? This will all add to or subtract from the total time. Then if you add complex inlay (a la Grit Laskin, for example), add an unknown X factor for extra time. Depends too what tools you have and what type of processing you use. Last guitar I built, I scraped the back to thickness with a rectangular scraper and I cut and scraped the sides to 2.1 mm from a 1 inch board. This adds time.

I also have heard that factory guitars at automated plants can take as little as 5 hours to complete. (Hence the fact that VERY few factory guitars, including guitars well over 2000 dollars, have nut slots cut down to the proper depth. It takes me, for example, 25-30 minutes to cut down nut slots properly with exacting care.)

Corky Long
05-04-2012, 11:09 AM
For me, it takes 120 hours to build and 240 hours to repair all of the screwups. ;) Assuming I'm building nights and time on weekends, I've gotten one built in 3 months, but I need a deadline, or it doesn't get done. 5 - 6 months is more typical.

Tony_in_NYC
05-04-2012, 11:32 AM
I emailed Martin when I saw this thread. The reply I received from Paula Primrose was this:

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for contacting Martin. There are over 300 steps in building a Martin. A basic model takes 3 to 5 months; you have to account for the drying times for the finishing. I donít know the totals hours, sorry. You should come to the factory and take the tour one day, we would love to see you.

Best regards,

Paula Primrose
Customer Service

If replying, please include previous text.

I am almost certain she has no idea what she is talking about based on my math below:
In 2010, Martin produced 66746 guitars. Divide that number by 52 weeks and you get 1283 guitars a week. So if there are 40 hours of work in a week, times 52 weeks in a year, you get 2080 hours a year of work.
66746 guitars per year/2080 hours per year= 32 guitars an hour.
Therefore, it takes the Martin guitar company about two minutes to make a guitar. I am sure that at least a full 20 seconds of that involves human hands.

There you have it. The maths don't lie! :lol:

Takes me about 150 hours per guitar.
I don't cut my own backs and sides or tops from trees. I purchase fret board blanks, bridge blanks, backs, sides and soundboard materials from various sources in rough form. I have made necks and purchased necks both finished and rough. It doesn't seem to make much difference in the amount of time to completion. If I have a neck pre-made, I usually do more elaborate work elsewhere and that kills any times savings.

Rick Rule
05-18-2012, 12:14 AM
I emailed Martin when I saw this thread. The reply I received from Paula Primrose was this:

I am almost certain she has no idea what she is talking about based on my math below:
In 2010, Martin produced 66746 guitars. Divide that number by 52 weeks and you get 1283 guitars a week. So if there are 40 hours of work in a week, times 52 weeks in a year, you get 2080 hours a year of work.
66746 guitars per year/2080 hours per year= 32 guitars an hour.
Therefore, it takes the Martin guitar company about two minutes to make a guitar. I am sure that at least a full 20 seconds of that involves human hands.

There you have it. The maths don't lie! :lol:




The yearly production rate of "two minutes to make a guitar" is quite different than the amount of time it takes for each instrument. Add the many employees and work stations into the equation and I'm certain the result will not be "two minutes". Math can be misleading with faulty logic and an incomplete equation.

clinchriver
05-18-2012, 06:04 AM
The yearly production rate of "two minutes to make a guitar" is quite different than the amount of time it takes for each instrument. Add the many employees and work stations into the equation and I'm certain the result will not be "two minutes". Math can be misleading with faulty logic and an incomplete equation.

If you've see some of the new Martins........ I'm sure Tony is right on the money...... I believe I bought the last good Martin guitar around 1997 guess I just got lucky. (4 minute build time):D

Since I cut down trees and mill/air dry my own wood for backs & sides add 25 to 50 hours to the 125/150 hours. Its all fun.

Gostwriter
05-18-2012, 08:15 AM
So it takes anywhere from 2 minutes to 12 hours or a half a day to 5 months for a factory guitar or 120-240 hours and 3 weeks to 1 year for a hand built guitar depending on the, builder and the steps involved?

Is it safe to assume then that most factory guitars are slapped together and hardly worth the wood they are made of?

kwakatak
05-18-2012, 08:55 AM
Counting making molds and buying tools and materials I'm at 19 months so far. Of course, I go for weeks at a time between steps and have had to do several over - and I'm probably a good year from finishing but I wouldn't have done it's any other way - as far as for the first time around at least!


My point is that's it's should take as long as it's takes YOU to do each step. Be careful, think ahead, and most importantly don't rush! Some things you shouldn't force, and expensive and finely cut wood is one of them!

...but it's all a learning experience really, so be sure to keep notes or a log so that's you can.t learn from them.

charles Tauber
05-18-2012, 09:03 AM
Is it safe to assume then that most factory guitars are slapped together and hardly worth the wood they are made of?

No. Guitars are a commercial product like any other. One can, for example, buy furniture at Ikea that has been made in minutes using state-of-the-art CNC equipment. One can also buy a piece of furniture that was handmade by a single craftsmen that took him or her months of work. Does that mean the Ikea furniture should grace no ones' home or office? No. It depends upon the look, functionality, durability, longevity and price-range of what the buyer wants. Some want an inexpensive, nice-looking piece of functional furniture that is not intended to be a family heirloom. Others want a one-of-a-kind heirloom.

Should a beginning guitar player, who doesn't even know if he or she likes playing the guitar, spend $5k on a guitar to find out? No. There is something for every taste, level of experience and price range. Welcome to the free market.

Lots of guitar players don't seem to realize that guitars are a manufactured product, a business, just like any other. To be a successful business, basic rules of economic viability apply. Lots of guitar players don't seem to realize that they are purchasing a commodity. That commodity is primarily a tool, a vehicle, for making music. Many project all sorts of qualities onto their guitars.

Tony_in_NYC
05-18-2012, 09:29 AM
The yearly production rate of "two minutes to make a guitar" is quite different than the amount of time it takes for each instrument. Add the many employees and work stations into the equation and I'm certain the result will not be "two minutes". Math can be misleading with faulty logic and an incomplete equation.


Wow Rick. I was certain my use of the little laughing smiley would indicate the fact that I was joking. But I guess it was insufficient, so I will spell it out for you.
When I said it takes Martin 2 minutes to make a guitar, I was joking. Even if they had every piece of the guitar all ready to be assemble and sitting on a workbench, there is no way they could build an entire guitar in two minutes.
It is impossible and I am sure even children in first or second grade would know that.
When I used the annual production numbers for Martin and divided by the assumed amount of working time in said year, once again (and I hope you are paying attention this time) I WAS JOKING.
There was absolutely nothing faulty with my humor or the way I presented it. I can not say the same for you ability to read and interpret what I was trying to do there.
Rather then have anyone else with sub par reading comprehension level and no sense of humor get confused, I will say it very clearly:
The Martin guitar company does not produce a guitar, from raw wood to completed instrument, in two minutes. It takes a bit more time than that.
Thanks for playing along though Rick. I can see your sense of humor has been well honed in your 50+ years on this planet. Must have been during the last 33+ years of marriage. You should be proud. Please try to pay attention, fully read and understand, and make an effort to pick up on the humor in a post before you decide to try and insult another member, mmmkay Rick?

Tom West
05-18-2012, 11:03 AM
A number of years back I was interested in the same question so I tracked a build. There was a bit of eye candy but it went over 200 hrs. I have stopped asking myself these type of questions and no longer keep track...............................Have a feeling I'm getting faster and think I'm under 190 hrs..........!!! I tend to build in bunches now and that seeeeeeeems to speed things up a bit. Think I'll go to Martin and see what is their secret.
Tom

Gostwriter
05-19-2012, 07:31 PM
I suppose the easy answer is that it varies form guitar maker to guitar maker and guitar to guitar, number of hours per worked per week etc. but I was just looking for a ball park idea as I have seen luthier courses that advertise you can take a class and build a guitar in one week or ten days or something like that. I'm assuming that a good amount of the work is already done or they are pre-cut kits etc.

Tom West
05-19-2012, 08:23 PM
There is no real answer or at least one that is very relavent. So much depends on individual skill for speed,experience, how well someone is jigged up,if you are making a living as in working full time,what tools you have,etc,etc. I have heard of folks making up to 50 guitars a year.For someone working full time this would be around 40hrs plus. Other plodders hobbiests like myself may take close to 200 hrs.And of course the vast majority somewhere in between.
Tom

charles Tauber
05-19-2012, 09:25 PM
I was just looking for a ball park idea as I have seen luthier courses that advertise you can take a class and build a guitar in one week or ten days or something like that. I'm assuming that a good amount of the work is already done or they are pre-cut kits etc.

With the jigs, fixtures, molds, etc. already set-up, the woodworking part of it can be done in a week or so. Usually, the week to 10 day courses do not involve applying a finish - that's left as "an exercise" for the participant to do after the class.

henderson is go
05-20-2012, 12:22 AM
If you've see some of the new Martins........ I'm sure Tony is right on the money...... I believe I bought the last good Martin guitar around 1997 guess I just got lucky.

What are you talking about? That's quite a ridiculous statement, greg.

clinchriver
05-20-2012, 06:32 AM
Tony attempted injecting some humor in this post, I attempted to add to it. (All in good fun) Taking everything you read on the net seriously......... now thats ridiculous.

Tony_in_NYC
05-21-2012, 10:31 PM
Amen to that Greg!

pfox14
05-23-2012, 10:46 AM
For my acoustic guitars it usually takes at least 6-8 weeks to build one. Actual hours totals approx. 30, with a lot of wait time in between processes.

John Arnold
05-27-2012, 08:20 AM
My guitars (which are roughly built the way Martin did in the old days) take between 35 and 65 hours to complete. That does not include drying time.
When I was more production oriented, I figured that having four or five guitars in process would be the best utilization of my time, considering all the waiting that is involved.
Before CNC, you could figure the number of employees was roughly equal to the weekly output. That means 40 man-hours per guitar. Martin and Taylor are now on a par when it comes to the man-hours involved per guitar.
To say that Martin builds a guitar in two minutes does not take into account the number of employees. After all, it is man-hours that we are discussing.

runamuck
05-27-2012, 10:51 AM
I emailed Martin when I saw this thread. The reply I received from Paula Primrose was this:

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for contacting Martin. There are over 300 steps in building a Martin. A basic model takes 3 to 5 months; you have to account for the drying times for the finishing. I donít know the totals hours, sorry. You should come to the factory and take the tour one day, we would love to see you.

Best regards,

Paula Primrose
Customer Service

If replying, please include previous text.

I am almost certain she has no idea what she is talking about based on my math below:
In 2010, Martin produced 66746 guitars. Divide that number by 52 weeks and you get 1283 guitars a week. So if there are 40 hours of work in a week, times 52 weeks in a year, you get 2080 hours a year of work.
66746 guitars per year/2080 hours per year= 32 guitars an hour.
Therefore, it takes the Martin guitar company about two minutes to make a guitar. I am sure that at least a full 20 seconds of that involves human hands.

There you have it. The maths don't lie! :lol:

.

How many employees does Martin have?

arie
05-27-2012, 12:34 PM
not too mention how many shifts they run. perhaps i'm confused with taylor but don't they also have a shop in mexico?. also, most US factories don't run 52 weeks more like 50 during the year. in addition your typical factory employee usually averages 6.5 to 7 actual hours of work in an 8 hour shift - sometimes even less, not to mention the individual employees takt time (the actual measured pace of the work being produced) i realize that tony's post was supposed to be funny but imo as a card carrying manufacturing engineer it has to at least make some kind of sense.

Alan Carruth
05-27-2012, 04:53 PM
I have a couple of students who work at a local factory, and they have set up production lines. The objective on the line is to break everything down so that each task takes 90 seconds. The workers each do their own task, pass the item along to the next person in line, and get another one from the person before them. Every ninety seconds another item pops out of the end of the line. It did _not_ take only ninety seconds to make that item; if there were, say, 200 people on the line, then it took 200 x 90 seconds or five man-hours.

Those are darned expensive man hours too! You only start with the wages they pay (let's say $15/hr); by the time you add in benefits, and the 'nut' (what it costs to open the door), heat, light, electricity, etc. I suspect you'd be lucky to get off with less than $60 per man-hour of costs, so that item has cost the company $300 to produce. They can't sell it for that, of course; they need to make a profit for one thing, so let's say the wholesale price is $400; that puts the suggested retail price up to about $800: 'Street' prices will be lower, of course. All for something that 'only' took 90 seconds to make, by the simplified reckoning we've seen.

Most independent luthiers work out of their houses, or have cheap space. They don't really cost things out, amortizing the price of the bandsaw and so on, so in business terms they tend to grossly under charge for shop time. Many of them have no real grasp of how many man-hours they've got in an instrument, either: if they did they'd realize they'd be doing a lot better slinging burgers. Let's not talk about 'benefits'.

I had a student several years ago who started out saying that he could not understand why any guitar should cost more than $1000. By the time he finished, he wondered how anybody could sell one for _less_ than that.

Tony_in_NYC
05-30-2012, 09:54 AM
Is clinchriver the only person who understood I was joking? Clearly it takes more than two minutes to build a guitar. It takes TiteBond Original at least 30 minutes to set up before the clamps can be removed. Therefore, it is impossible to build a guitar in two minutes. Doesn't anyone have a sense of humor?
Does anyone in the build and repair section appreciate a gross exaggeration?
Yes. A guitar might roll out of the Martin factory every two minutes but that is not how long it takes to make one. Nor does it take 3 to 5 months as Ms. Primrose suggested unless they are talking about cutting a log into backs, sides, and tops. But if that were the case, the amount of time to build a guitar would be much longer as they would have to properly dry and season the wood.

So to review, when I made the ludicrous statement that it takes Martin two minutes to make a guitar, I was joking. It was hyperbole. An overstatement. An attempt at humor.
To give another example of how the math I used could not possibly be taken seriously and to illustrate my point that I was joking, lets talk about cars.
In 2011 GM produced 2,980,688 cars across all brands. Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that comes to a production of just under 6 cars a minute or about 20 seconds per car. Thus, using the clenched-sphincter logic demonstrated thus far, a car is one sixth as difficult to make as a guitar since it takes one sixth the time to produce. In order to come to that conclusion, we must ignore all logic, reasoning, and intelligence. Not to mention the number of employees, amount of automation, etc. In other words, you need to be working on the mental level of a two year old to believe it takes 20 seconds to make a car and that making said car is less complicated than making an acoustic guitar.
Does anyone think it takes 20 seconds to make a car?
Does anyone think I believe it takes 20 seconds to make a car?
I don't. I think it takes 20 seconds to come up with this scenario and another 20 seconds to ignore all reason and logic to think this is anything but a joke.
We could get more insane and use global production numbers if you wish. In 2012 the production of passenger vehicles is expected to be 60 million cars!
That means that over 6500 cars are being made every minute! That's over 100 cars per second! It is very obvious now that cars are easier to make than guitars.
Actually, houses are easier to make than guitars too if you ignore all aspects of home construction and only divide the total output by the number of hours in a year! In 2011, according to my intense research (I googled, "How many homes were built in 2011") 651,700 new housing units were built in 2011.
That comes to more than one house per minute! Plus, profit margins are much larger.
Looks like it's time to ignore everything we have learned in our lives and just believe the numbers! Lets build houses!!!

I will finish with a quote from Robert Plant in the live version of Stairway To Heaven, "Doesn't anybody remember laughter?"

Alan Carruth
05-30-2012, 01:17 PM
Tony in NYC wrote:
"Is clinchriver the only person who understood I was joking? Clearly it takes more than two minutes to build a guitar. It takes TiteBond Original at least 30 minutes to set up before the clamps can be removed. Therefore, it is impossible to build a guitar in two minutes. Doesn't anyone have a sense of humor? "

I don't think anybody would believe that the lead time on a guitar is anything like two minutes, or even two hours, but it's a fact that some factories can produce a guitar with two man-hours or less of labor. In those places, you could justifiably say that the guitar took two hours to build.

It's sort of like 'billable hours': if I've got my work flow down I will have parts to fit or prep work to do while the glue or finish is setting up on another instrument. That half-hour setting time should not really be counted against the labor for the guitar that's just sitting on the shelf drying, even though it's there in the lead time. It costs something to wait for the glue to dry, of course: if nothing else you need to have enough space in the factory for all the stuff that's sitting around drying, and you need to pay the rent on that space. If what I've read is correct, that's one reason the auto manufacturers went from using carriage varnish to nitro: they had to have huge warehouses to store cars while the varnish dried.

The point is that it's hard to say how much time it actually takes to make something. Clearly there are estimates that are ridiculously low, and it's always possible to pad the time out, say, by taking a nap every time you get something in clamps. It's really easy to count in wasted time: I remember reading of one aircraft home builder who kept careful track of the time he spent on his project. One of the biggest items turned out to be:"Sitting in the cockpit making airplane noises". "Friends stopping over for beer" was close behind.

charles Tauber
05-30-2012, 01:34 PM
Is clinchriver the only person who understood I was joking?

You're kidding, right? ;)


Looks like it's time to ignore everything we have learned in our lives and just believe the numbers!

I will finish with a quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli:

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, ****ed lies, and statistics."

Innumeracy is a terrible thing. ;)

EDIT: it appears that had we been discussing water power, in which a river has been ****ed, it would also be bleeped-out.

Tony_in_NYC
05-31-2012, 06:13 AM
OK. So I was having a lousy day.
Seems like most of us are on the same page. I apologize for my rant. Now if you will excuse me, I have about 10 minutes before I need to leave for work. I am going to use that time to build a guitar, 9 homes, and 3 cars. :D

jeff crisp
05-31-2012, 08:44 AM
OK. So I was having a lousy day.
Seems like most of us are on the same page. I apologize for my rant. Now if you will excuse me, I have about 10 minutes before I need to leave for work. I am going to use that time to build a guitar, 9 homes, and 3 cars. :D

Hey Tony, I will have to strenuously disagree with that. I can believe 9 homes and 3 cars but you cant build no stinkin guitar in 10 minutes.