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  #1  
Old 04-30-2012, 06:38 PM
Gostwriter Gostwriter is offline
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Default How long to Build A Hand Made Guitar?

How much longer does it generally take to build a hand made guitar as opposed to a factory built guitar?
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  #2  
Old 04-30-2012, 06:44 PM
gitnoob gitnoob is offline
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Depends on the guitar. I've heard 6-12 man-hours for a Taylor.

20-100+ for a hand-built.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:38 AM
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Kitchen Guitars Kitchen Guitars is offline
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Average for me is a year. Over Christmas I did a scratch build including making frames and Jigs in 22 days.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:14 AM
Lespaul123 Lespaul123 is offline
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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.

Last edited by Lespaul123; 05-18-2012 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:55 PM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
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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.)
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:09 AM
Corky Long Corky Long is offline
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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.
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:32 AM
Tony_in_NYC Tony_in_NYC is offline
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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!

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.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:14 PM
Rick Rule Rick Rule is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony_in_NYC View Post
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!

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.
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:04 AM
clinchriver clinchriver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Rule View Post
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)

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.
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Last edited by clinchriver; 05-18-2012 at 05:59 AM.
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  #10  
Old 05-18-2012, 07:15 AM
Gostwriter Gostwriter is offline
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Default Guitar Building

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?
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:55 AM
Neil K Walk Neil K Walk is offline
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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.
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  #12  
Old 05-18-2012, 08:03 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gostwriter View Post
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.
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  #13  
Old 05-18-2012, 08:29 AM
Tony_in_NYC Tony_in_NYC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Rule View Post
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?
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  #14  
Old 05-18-2012, 10:03 AM
Tom West Tom West is offline
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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
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  #15  
Old 05-19-2012, 06:31 PM
Gostwriter Gostwriter is offline
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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.
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