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gstring 06-01-2014 06:16 PM

$$$$$$$ ?????
 
Hope to get a reply from some of the established Luthiers here.

How did you approach the business side of your guitar building ?
How did you establish the price of your first couple of builds ?
When and how did you feel it was time to increase your prices ?



daniel

BenjaminPaldacci 06-01-2014 06:32 PM

How did you approach the business side of your guitar building ?

I think that it is pretty important to know the way you build your guitars, and same thing about other luthiers. I use Forums, Facebook, twitter and Instagram a lot so it's natural when people hear about me. But I think that you mustn't try to do a lot of publicity about you when you are a young luthier. If you are a good one, people will notice it with time

How did you establish the price of your first couple of builds ?

When I take a look to other young guitarmakers

When and how did you feel it was time to increase your prices ?

One of my friend told me that he increase his price year per year, but it is not a big increase... I don't know the way I'll do it

Bruce Sexauer 06-01-2014 07:18 PM

I have always charged enough to pay for my expenses for the period of time it takes to build the guitar. I've had to as it is where my money comes from. When I was starting out, at age 20, my expenses were extremely modest. I remember having a $25 per month rent and eating a lot of brown rice and veggies. My guitars were $600 in 1977. At this point I have a pretty frugal lifestyle, but I do own a home with a mortgage and have a wife and a kid; had to raise my prices a bit.

I work on the theory that a guy should be able to make his living doing what he wants to do if he is diligent. I believe some call it the protestant work ethic. I never undercharged and I have never overcharged either.

People who charge "what the market will bear" must have a bigger research department that I do. I say charge what you need to, no more.

ukejon 06-01-2014 09:03 PM

Bruce, for the sake of nostalgia can I please buy one of your guitars for the 1977 price?

mikealpine 06-01-2014 10:03 PM

$$$$$$$ ?????
 
I'm ok with early '80s.

Tim McKnight 06-02-2014 12:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gstring (Post 3980024)
Hope to get a reply from some of the established Luthiers here.

How did you approach the business side of your guitar building ?
How did you establish the price of your first couple of builds ?
When and how did you feel it was time to increase your prices ?



daniel

For your first couple of builds, cover your cost of materials plus a small amount for labor [IF] you have the quality to command it??? We gave away about a dozen guitars before we felt we were ready to accept money for them. FWIW, our first sale was $550 in the early 90s which was about double the cost of materials.

1) Define your market.
2) Your initial comparison should be to Asain imports. Are your guitars equal to them or do them surpass them in terms of fit, finish, playability, tone and responsiveness.
3) If not then that should be your goal to provide a better product at [that price point].
4) If you can honestly say you have a better product than an Asian factory guitar then next compare yours to a Gibson, Martin or Taylor. Are you equal to or better than those?
5) If so, attend a few shows and YOU judge how YOUR guitars fit and finish compare to other exhibitors. Keep in mind that you can't jump in and expect to command top dollar as an unknown builder. Why would Joe player buy your product when he can buy a superior product at Guitar Center for a fraction of the cost.

Sorry to be blunt but that was the advice I was given 20+ years ago and it has served me well.

We raise our prices about every two years, typically after a show like HB.

Joel Stehr 06-02-2014 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim McKnight (Post 3980979)
For your first couple of builds, cover your cost of materials plus a small amount for labor [IF] you have the quality to command it??? We gave away about a dozen guitars before we felt we were ready to accept money for them. FWIW, our first sale was $550 in the early 90s which was about double the cost of materials.

1) Define your market.
2) Your initial comparison should be to Asain imports. Are your guitars equal to them or do them surpass them in terms of fit, finish, playability, tone and responsiveness.
3) If not then that should be your goal to provide a better product at [that price point].
4) If you can honestly say you have a better product than an Asian factory guitar then next compare yours to a Gibson, Martin or Taylor. Are you equal to or better than those?
5) If so, attend a few shows and YOU judge how YOUR guitars fit and finish compare to other exhibitors. Keep in mind that you can't jump in and expect to command top dollar as an unknown builder. Why would Joe player buy your product when he can buy a superior product at Guitar Center for a fraction of the cost.

Sorry to be blunt but that was the advice I was given 20+ years ago and it has served me well.

We raise our prices about every two years, typically after a show like HB.

Tim summed this up quite nicely. The first guitar I sold was for $450, and I was simply trying to sell it to buy materials for the next.

On the business side: In general, building your business slow and steady is the best way to go.

Bruce Sexauer 06-02-2014 01:02 PM

If I were you guys, I'd go further back yet, I sold the first one for $175. Many of the contemporary makers first guitars put mine to shame, but then I didn't have someone like me to point the way. By the time I hit $600 I was making guitars you'd be willing to play with a straight face. Accounting for inflation and comparing quality, I think my current work at my current price is the better bet. Or, even better, any the well cared for guitars I made in the last ten years that I have taken back in trade against newer work. I have several of these here in the shop, and in most cases I have them priced as they were when I first sold them, which is generally between $5500 and $8500. These are mature work and very similar to what I do today.

Back to the topic. It would be very challenging to enter the market today, even if your work is totally up to snuff. You are competing, as I am, with the incredible number of used high end guitars in the market place since the panic of 2008. These are in many cases being sold far below their true value. By true value I mean what it would cost to make them today, if one were to include the rent and the food etc.

dneal 06-02-2014 01:33 PM

Quote:

When and how did you feel it was time to increase your prices ?
This is the question that intrigues me, and there are a lot of variables.

Normal inflation is one thing, and there's the ability to increase prices based on demand and reputation. That would seem to be usually a reflection of ability and quality of instrument, but not necessarily. Clearly there are many, many fine builders who just aren't that "well known" outside of guitar nerd circles.

Specifically though, it's the James Olson's (one of the most notable examples, but he's not the only guy this has happened to) whose guitars end up selling used for more than he originally charged for them.

I'm sure a lot of luthiers would like to have that "problem", and I suspect he's not complaining about the revenue; but I always got the feeling that he wasn't comfortable with the situation (i.e.: his guitars being priced out of range for a lot of players).

Maybe it's because it goes against the grain of the many folks who took on this as a labor of love - either for the joy of creation and/or seeing the happiness it brings others.

Sorry for that bit of rambling as I composed my thoughts. Opinions of that aspect of the market would be interesting to hear.

MBE 06-02-2014 04:43 PM

The title of this thread amuses me. Useful discussion, too.


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