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-   -   When will carbon fiber guitars come down in price? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=390325)

jwayne 06-11-2015 02:29 PM

When will carbon fiber guitars come down in price?
 
According to a sampling of people at a 2014 composites trade show:
Quote:

carbon fiber for automotive costs $10 to $12 a pound, compared to less than a buck for steel. Thatís more than half the $35 price a decade ago, but to see more widespread adoption, it needs to get down to about $5 or $6 a pound, they said.
Even assuming a lower volume purchase doubling the carbon fiber price, that still is only about $100 for a guitar body & neck.

So what is holding up its wider use by guitar makers, in particular at the more budget levels. You can get a helluva wood guitar for $500 (and less). But not carbon fiber. Does it take so much more labor to make one than a wood guitar? Is it the equipment costs? Do you foresee its adoption for the budget market segment?

Curious mind wants to know.

tommyld 06-11-2015 08:33 PM

Interesting question. I'm not sure they will come down in price any time soon. Sadly, for my wallet.

I bought my first carbon fiber guitar in 2003...a new CA Legacy AE, for $1299. I boguht my second CA Legacy AE in 2006 for I think $1599 new. Today, a Legacy AE runs $2599.

I don't have the insight of a manufacturer, but I don't think it's just the cost of material, but also market demand. I can think of only five CF acoustic manufacturers...and of the four "main ones," two I'd call small builders, and only one of them entered the market in the past 10 years. Compare that with the ocean of wooden guitar manufacturers across the globe. CF is still not mainstream. It's gained a lot of acceptance in the past decade, but comparatively, I think it's a still-growing niche that requires smaller builders and higher prices in order to keep them in business.

CA has a huge backer with Peavey, and even they're not making carbon fiber any more mainstream (or cheaper). I think the manufacturing for CF is less automated than large wood guitar manufacturers, too. But I think it's mainly about the market and staying in business.

Acousticado 06-11-2015 09:28 PM

Economies of scale or more accurately, a lack thereof. Small builders not producing many in the scheme of things. It's a niche market with an out-of-the-box early-adopter consumer base and although growing, will likely stay small for some time to come.

perttime 06-12-2015 01:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Acousticado (Post 4528656)
Economies of scale or more accurately, a lack thereof.

This.
The fewer you produce, the higher the unit cost, usually.

Also, people often make the mistake of looking at the price of the raw materials - and then wondering how on earth the final product can cost so much. In "durable goods", fixed costs and labor costs are almost always the major part of the consumer price.

Whaleblue 06-12-2015 01:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jwayne (Post 4528142)
...that still is only about $100 for a guitar body & neck.

There's your answer. Most of the costs are labour and manifold other overheads. Taking your assumed material costs, then even if carbon fibre was found free at the side of the road from tomorrow the cost of CF guitars would only drop $100.

AZLiberty 06-12-2015 01:45 AM

Much of it is the amortized cost of the tooling actually.

The molds used to build CF guitars are very pricy (similar to those used for injection molding) there is a lot of machining and polishing that goes into them.

A reasonable cost for such a mold is actually several tens of thousands of dollars.

This is why Rainsong is not building 12-strings anymore. They can't justify the cost of a new mold because they don't sell enough 12s to amortize the cost out to a reasonable value.

perttime 06-12-2015 02:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZLiberty (Post 4528764)
Much of it is the amortized cost of the tooling actually.

The molds used to build CF guitars are very pricy....

There's more than one way to build a carbon fiber guitar. Rainsong seems to go for expensive molds that may reduce the amount of manual labor. I believe Emerald uses cheaper, and faster to make, molding tools which adds flexibility - and labor.

SprintBob 06-12-2015 08:09 AM

What I don't see in this conversation is what current CF owners percieve as the value of their purchase against a comparable wood guitar. I sold my GS Mini to get a CF guitar primarily because I wanted a guitar I could leave in a hot car or feel comfortable with being in the cargo hold at cold temps on an airplane. I paid 3X more for my Rainsong P12 but it is better than my GS Mini in the following areas:

1. Better tone and volume (and the GS Mini was not at all "bad")
2. Better finish, better tuners
3. 1-3/4" nut width
4. 12 fret

Those four points in addition to not having to worry about temp and humidity make the value of the Rainsong P12 better than the GSM for me.

To me, the pricing seems fair for what I wanted and what I ended up with. As far as CF penetrating the under $1,000 market, perhaps they found that a typical buyer is not willing to pay some percentage more for some or all of the benefits that a CF guitar could offer.

StillStephen 06-12-2015 08:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SprintBob (Post 4529051)
What I don't see in this conversation is what current CF owners percieve as the value of their purchase against a comparable wood guitar. I sold my GS Mini to get a CF guitar primarily because I wanted a guitar I could leave in a hot car or feel comfortable with being in the cargo hold at cold temps on an airplane. I paid 3X more for my Rainsong P12 but it is better than my GS Mini in the following areas:

1. Better tone and volume (and the GS Mini was not at all "bad")
2. Better finish, better tuners
3. 1-3/4" nut width
4. 12 fret

Those four points in addition to not having to worry about temp and humidity make the value of the Rainsong P12 better than the GSM for me.

To me, the pricing seems fair for what I wanted and what I ended up with. As far as CF penetrating the under $1,000 market, perhaps they found that a typical buyer is not willing to pay some percentage more for some or all of the benefits that a CF guitar could offer.

I agree with you. I bought an Emerald X7 for similar reasons after owning a Little Martin and trying the GS mini. In addition, the tone I get out of the Emerald is much better than the Martin or Taylor.

blue 06-12-2015 09:43 AM

In part it probably comes down to the quality of materials being used. There's a huge demand in aerospace, the automotive field, and probably some stuff we don't hear about for really good CF materials and resins.

Whether or not there is a large demand for the guitars, there is a huge demand for the raw materials.

frances50 06-12-2015 11:16 AM

When will carbon fiber guitars come down in price?
 
Could another reason for high prices and low sales be that the carbon fiber guitars are not promoted by the retailers? I know I had to order my Rainsong from GC. I told the manager he could probably sell a few if he stocked them and more customers knew about them.

Ted @ LA Guitar Sales 06-12-2015 12:33 PM

It can run 50K for a mold for a CF guitar compared to $10 for molds used to build wood guitars. Materials are also more expensive, about $400 worth of materials go in to building a CF acoustic, compared to $200 worth of wood for a high quality all solid wood dreadnought.

Discussing CF guitars with a lead designer for one well known brand, the guy told me a Rainsong dreadnought would cost $4000 with their logo on the headstock. IMO, don't look for less expensive CF guitars, look for them to go even higher if the big boys start building them.

frances50 06-12-2015 01:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ted @ LA Guitar Sales (Post 4529437)
It can run 50K for a mold for a CF guitar compared to $10 for molds used to build wood guitars. Materials are also more expensive, about $400 worth of materials go in to building a CF acoustic, compared to $200 worth of wood for a high quality all solid wood dreadnought.

Discussing CF guitars with a lead designer for one well known brand, the guy told me a Rainsong dreadnought would cost $4000 with their logo on the headstock. IMO, don't look for less expensive CF guitars, look for them to go even higher if the big boys start building them.


This is probably very true. At some point, this choice may gain traction, especially with the supply of exotic woods becoming scarse. It all depends on the popularity of the instrument and how fast the trend begins to form. I dare say most guitar consumers don't even know CF guitars exist.

perttime 06-12-2015 01:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frances50 (Post 4529494)
This is probably very true. At some point, this choice may gain traction, especially with the supply of exotic woods becoming scarse.

Don't know about that.... exotic woods may be traditional and pretty, but excellent wooden guitars are being built out of more common woods too. I've seen and heard some pretty nice guitars done using oak and birch, and hear that Walnut, many fruit trees, and trees like Black Locust and Osage Orange can be very good.

frances50 06-12-2015 01:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by perttime (Post 4529505)
Don't know about that.... exotic woods may be traditional and pretty, but excellent wooden guitars are being built out of more common woods too. I've seen and heard some pretty nice guitars done using oak and birch, and hear that Walnut, many fruit trees, and trees like Black Locust and Osage Orange can be very good.

True and a lot depends on the builder. It's my opinion that Jim Olson could make almost any wood combo sound spectacular. But at some point, some well known builder will take a plunge if they think it has a viable market. Someone like Bob Taylor, who is such an environmentalist, will start to take a hard look at composite material IF they think they can turn a good profit.


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