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  #1  
Old 05-08-2020, 09:55 AM
Wengr Wengr is offline
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Default Custom builds at this time?

So the pandemic hits just as I had decided to sell off many of my longtime instruments in order to fund some new guitars, a few of which will be custom orders. However the typical custom order scenario is that you have to place the order with a dealer who then communicates with the factory.

However with so much speculation that many small businesses will not survive, I am concerned about deposits made up front.
I would think that the same concerns could apply to luthier commissions.

Anyone with similar concerns?
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Old 05-08-2020, 11:25 AM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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I am in the middle of a custom build with Wayne Johnson of Irvin Guitars. I definitely have some of your concerns, however I am doing this partly as a way to ensure my current favorite luthier can survive.

When the pandemic showed up, I barely had time to choose the top before lockdown. Everything else has been done via photos and phone. The only remaining issue is delivery.

It would be somewhat more complicated working through a dealer. Now you have two entities that may have financial and health pressures to be concerned about.

I can see a lot of folks being cautious with good reason. I would definitely think twice about putting down a deposit for a guitar with a 2-3 year waiting list.
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Old 05-08-2020, 01:27 PM
mercy mercy is offline
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custom builders are not stores dependent on store traffic. They often work out of their house or in a shop on their property. They often have a wating list so they have many customers. I dont see any problem ordering custom. The problem would be if you paid a dealer and they went out of business.
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Old 05-08-2020, 04:07 PM
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Bruce Sexauer Bruce Sexauer is offline
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My new business has somewhere between doubled and tripled over the last 2 months. No dealer involved in that! Dealers have sold several of my guitars in this period, which is great, but not what I mean by new business. Thank you to those involved, by the way.
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Old 05-08-2020, 04:19 PM
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I think you are right to be concerned that your deposit may not survive the downturn. Even the best-intended luthier may not be able to return your deposit if they go out of business. My guess is that most well-established luthiers aren't yet feeling the pinch of this economic downturn, but it will definitely come and newer builders are likely to go belly-up.

Builders like Jason Kostal hold your money in an escrow account, by the way. I think your best bet is to keep the amount of the deposit at a bare minimum and then pay the balance when the guitar is underway. Most builders are down-to-earth and voicing this particular concern would not likely offend them. It's a totally valid concern.

The concern is definitely going to be the same with shops. I think even the best shops are going to have a hard time surviving a few months without income. Now is definitely not a good time to place a deposit with a shop.

Honestly, the best thing you could do would be to simply buy some spec builds from builders whose work you like. Unless you like some really off-the-wall specs, there's usually a lot of choice in the spec-build world. I would frankly wait until things settle down a little.
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Old 05-08-2020, 04:42 PM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile Who is building these for you

My 2 cents:

Orders with one individual Luthier are much different from say a Martin Custom Shop instrument.

John Kinnard is selecting my next woods. I do not intend to wait this out. As always I intend to ROCK IT OUT.

That said, I too would hesitate to pay much upfront! Fortunately John's required deposit is very reasonable indeed.

Lots of great advice from experienced folks here!!!

Best on this

Paul
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Old 05-09-2020, 01:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mercy View Post
custom builders are not stores dependent on store traffic. They often work out of their house or in a shop on their property. They often have a wating list so they have many customers. I dont see any problem ordering custom. The problem would be if you paid a dealer and they went out of business.
These are pretty uncertain times but I’d echo mercy’s comments about many fine builders (a) still working at present and (b) having waiting lists. On an overall level I think builders will be more concerned about customers defaulting (potentially with a lot more $$ involved) than customers losing deposits.
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Old 05-09-2020, 03:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colins View Post
I think builders will be more concerned about customers defaulting (potentially with a lot more $$ involved) than customers losing deposits.
^ this.

Most luthiers I know walk to the bottom of their garden to work, or to an annexe in their house. Its generally a solitary pursuit, and can continue unabated during the pandemic, unlike most other occupations.

Their customers’ disposable income will be hit far harder I’d wager.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few wait lists shorten somewhat.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 05-09-2020, 11:14 AM
Wengr Wengr is offline
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Thanks for all the replies. In my case the they are Martin and Lowden factory custom orders. While I'm sure the companies will remain in business, the shops in which I place the deposit is the main concern. I believe I will heed this advice and postpone.
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Old 05-09-2020, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mercy View Post
custom builders are not stores dependent on store traffic. They often work out of their house or in a shop on their property. They often have a wating list so they have many customers. I dont see any problem ordering custom. The problem would be if you paid a dealer and they went out of business.
Mercy is right.
I work out of a small shop in a building on my property, not much in overhead costs, so I'm not paying a large rent for shop or retail location. This virus has had virtually no effect on my schedule or ability to work and I work alone. Having enough for about a year to carry me forward, I'm not too concerned. I would worry most about small retail shops with their higher overhead and inventory.
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Old 05-09-2020, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitars44me View Post
My 2 cents:

Orders with one individual Luthier are much different from say a Martin Custom Shop instrument.

John Kinnard is selecting my next woods. I do not intend to wait this out. As always I intend to ROCK IT OUT.

That said, I too would hesitate to pay much upfront! Fortunately John's required deposit is very reasonable indeed.

Lots of great advice from experienced folks here!!!

Best on this

Paul
I think that there will be a fair amount of people like Paul here, who step up and support their domestic businesses.
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Old 05-09-2020, 01:05 PM
Jamiejoon Jamiejoon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wengr View Post
Thanks for all the replies. In my case the they are Martin and Lowden factory custom orders. While I'm sure the companies will remain in business, the shops in which I place the deposit is the main concern. I believe I will heed this advice and postpone.
If it was me, I would just stay in close touch with the luthiers, ask how they are doing and ask them to be transparent with me if they are having difficulties. If a luthier is in a pinch and I am able, I would move the commission forward to give them more certainty in their build schedule. If I could not move it forward, I would be clear about that too.

Caveat: I only work with one or two person luthiers, and never with an intermediary (after a bad experience)

Jamie

Last edited by Jamiejoon; 05-09-2020 at 01:08 PM. Reason: Added one caveat
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Old 05-09-2020, 01:08 PM
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Personally, I think your better small shop and custom builders need to be more concerned about customers being able to follow through on their orders. If you order something that is unique or odd in some way, that can make it a more difficult instrument to sell. I’d think builders would want to make sure that the buyers aren’t just being speculative, and make sure they have enough skin in the game to follow through when the build is complete. Especially instruments that may have been ordered a year or two ago, and now the customers may have lost jobs, or investments, or even gotten sick. The bigger shops can deal with selling custom instruments throughout their dealer channel, once they rout off the custom initials, but one of the appeals of working with small builders is the process of defining your guitar, and few people will pay top dollar for someone elses dream -
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  #14  
Old 05-09-2020, 03:25 PM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Smile My two cents…

My two cents…

This might be an excellent time to start a dialogue with some of the luthier's who support the forum.

We are fortunate to have some very very talented Luthiers around here!!!

Just a thought...

Paul
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FOR SALE: 2019 Taylor 614ce Builder's Edition, Wild Honey Burst

2 John Kinnaird Customs 😃
My JK Custom #5 coming...
R.T 2c 12 fret custom
94 LKSM 12 string
A few more 90s Taylors
Still Too many more...
"OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER, TOO YOUNG TO CARE!"
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Old 05-09-2020, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wengr View Post
Thanks for all the replies. In my case the they are Martin and Lowden factory custom orders. While I'm sure the companies will remain in business, the shops in which I place the deposit is the main concern. I believe I will heed this advice and postpone.
I think this thread is comparing apples and oranges. He is not looking for a luthier built guitar as we tend to think about in the custom section. He is looking at a factory built guitar with custom features that he orders through a retailer.
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