The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Build and Repair

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 06-09-2019, 07:11 AM
Rocky Dijohn Rocky Dijohn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 56
Default Value of Cosmetic Detailing

When it comes to aesthetic detailing on an acoustic, I suppose it ranges all the way from plain/simple (e.g. entry-level student guitars) to fancy (latter including "tree of life" fretboard inlays).

I am trying to imagine a series of step-ups from plain/simple moving upward in value. I know the cost of these upgrades is a function of the materials used and the time it takes to perform the upgrade.

Here is my list moving upward in what I imagine are more costly/time consuming details. Corrections and input are welcome please.

Fretboard:
I guess there is a whole world of possibilities here, ranging from simple dots to the "tree of life" inlay. Materials range from plastic to pearl/abalone/ivory

Top/Back:
Without binding
With binding
Binding top only
Binding top and back
Binding PLUS abalone/pearl trim

Back:
Center stripe

Purfling:
None
Around sound hole
Around top

Maybe there are just too many variables in play here but I thought I would give it a shot.

Maybe folks can answer just on how labor intensive these are to perform, because that part presumably stays pretty much the same regardless of the price/quality of materials used (plastic, ivory, pearl, abalone, etc.)
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 06-09-2019, 07:56 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,489
Default

Take a look on any guitar maker's price list and you'll see what various people charge for these things.

Does that help?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-09-2019, 09:35 AM
tadol tadol is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Berkeley, CA
Posts: 3,338
Default

Its hard to put dollars on any of that - start with understanding that binding is not cosmetic, and with materials like ablam, simple abalone purfling is not much of a cost increase, but quite an aesthetic change.

The same is true of the centerstrip - while it has an aesthetic appeal, it (traditionally) serves a structural purpose.

Fretboards are where it gets interesting - a highly decorated fretboard used to be a great deal of handwork, which could be very expensive, and was a sign of a higher grade instrument - or at least a more expensive instrument. Now, its done almost exclusively by CNC machines, and the costs have more to do with amortizing the cost of the equipment, the extra machine time needed, and the number of units -

These days, some very expensive instruments are made with little decoration, and some very inexpensive ones have lots. I guess you could say the value of the cosmetic detailing is more a personal preference.
__________________
More than a few Santa Cruzís, a few Sexauers, a Patterson, a Larrivee, a Lynch, a Cumpiano, and a Klepper!!

https://soundcloud.com/rnewman-1/sccb1-6-25-19
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-09-2019, 10:56 AM
Rocky Dijohn Rocky Dijohn is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 56
Default

Thanks for the comments.
Runamuck: Good idea. I donít know why I did not think of such an obvious thing to do.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-09-2019, 11:13 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 6,256
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocky Dijohn View Post
I am trying to imagine a series of step-ups from plain/simple moving upward in value.
I'm not understanding why you would want to compile such a list.

As runamuck stated, what individuals and companies charge is often listed on their websites. That provides what each charges for those appointments.

As tadol stated, the cost depends, in part, on how the work is done (e.g. CNC vs hand cut/inlayed) and the "quality" of that work. Having inlay work done of the "quality" of Grit Laskin or Larry Robinson, for example, is a very different undertaking than a pre-cut dot, rectangle or trapezoid. The cost of having, say, standard Gibson trapezoids installed on a fingerboard is irrelevant in pricing inlay work by Laskin or Robinson. One is apples, the other oranges. Individual pricing applies, rather than, say, "a fret board inlay costs this much".
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-09-2019, 11:27 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Tatamagouche Nova Scotia
Posts: 788
Default

When I was at Benedetto for a tour, they mentioned that wood binding vs plastic was a $1200 up-charge. I bought a very nicely mother of pearl inlaid (with D'Angelico split blocks) pre-cut fretboard and a nice highly complex MOP headstock inlay for around $120 for one of my guitars. So it varies from a hand builder who does things in-house to someone who imports CNC inlay and goes that way. I think in a lot of cases, with hand builders the decoration amounts to 30% to 50% of the cost of the instument, but for machine builders, the cost is in the investment, not the work.
__________________
Brian Evans
1935 Dobro model 25 resonator
1943 Paramount (made by Kay) mandolin
1946 Epiphone Zephyr electric archtop
1957 Hofner Senator archtop
1962 Gibson Melody Maker electric
1963 National Dynamic lap steel
1996 Landola jumbo
1998 Godin Artisan TC electric
1998 Epiphone SG electric
2010 GoldTone PBR-CA resonator
2015 Evans electric archtop
2016 Evans archtop
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06-09-2019, 09:14 PM
Bruce Sexauer's Avatar
Bruce Sexauer Bruce Sexauer is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Petaluma, CA, USA
Posts: 5,772
Default

A guitar w/o binding, a rosette, and in most cases a backstrip as well, is a cutcorner project. These all have important functions. The attention to detail that I respond to most has to do with mitered joins and great accuracy throughout, these are sign of great joinery and the resultant integrity of the piece. Integrity is the hallmark of tone, whether it is in the original wood choices, the actual construction of the instrument, or the player themselves. Many of the aesthetic choice being made by some of the current guitarmakers add a complexity that challenges the integrity of the instrument IMO. Segmented rosettes and arm bevels are two of the more obvious for instances.
__________________
Bruce
http://www.sexauerluthier.com/
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06-09-2019, 11:56 PM
Erithon's Avatar
Erithon Erithon is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 722
Default

I am familiar will the structural role of rosettes and binding, but could you say more about backstrips, Bruce? I imagine it has to do with reinforcing the center join (in tandem with the interior strip)?

I see a lot of modern bespoke builds that have no backstrip--usually, I surmise, because the builder or client decided that figure of the wood looks best without one. Many of these builders have excellent reputations and are not the sort to cut corners (nor do I think you had such people in mind when you made the above remark) so what are the cases when you deem the lack of a backstrip not to be cutting corners?

Could you also speak about arm bevels? I know they make the soundboard area smaller, but this is the first I'm hearing from someone with your level of expertise that they challenge the integrity of the instrument in some way.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06-10-2019, 01:41 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: UK/EU
Posts: 14,416
Default

The "flim flam"with inlaid abalone -whqat a frid of mine refers to as "deah by shellfish" is all fine and dandy but it doesn't make an istrument soud any better and its really an archaic ornamentaton dating back to the alte 19th cenury.

Look at the detail on a Martin x18 model and see the beauty of an understated but beautifully done presentation.

The X28 style with herringbone and diamond/snowflake fret markers is as fancy as I care for.

If you want your guitar to have x4x stylings that is your choice, but I never have done and still managed.
__________________
Silly Moustache,
Elderly singer, guitarist, dobrolist and mandolinist.

https://www.youtube.com/user/SillyMoustache/videos
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06-10-2019, 08:39 AM
redir redir is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Mountains of Virginia
Posts: 4,640
Default

I'm building two guitars now that are speced out with abalone bling rosettes and purfling. I have only done one guitar, and a uke, like that in the past and used a product called Zipflex because I didn't trust my skills in inlay. Zipfles is truly wonderful stuff but it's expensive. I decided to do it the old fashion way on these two and was surprised at how easy it actually is. It's quite fun too frankly and a heck of a lot less expensive then Zipflex. It is however more time consuming. After completing these two and comparing it to the Zipflex I think they look better too.

So there are lots of ways of doing this stuff. You can buy your way out of some things or you can spend time doing it. Either way that cost gets passed on to the customer.

CNC has certainly changed everything. Now a cheap Chinese guitar can be loaded with bling and still purchased for under $500 bucks. They still don't look like the real deal but most players don't care.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 06-10-2019, 09:47 AM
Talldad Talldad is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Uk
Posts: 21
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by tadol View Post
Its hard to put dollars on any of that - start with understanding that binding is not cosmetic, and with materials like ablam, simple abalone purfling is not much of a cost increase, but quite an aesthetic change.

The same is true of the centerstrip - while it has an aesthetic appeal, it (traditionally) serves a structural purpose.

Fretboards are where it gets interesting - a highly decorated fretboard used to be a great deal of handwork, which could be very expensive, and was a sign of a higher grade instrument - or at least a more expensive instrument. Now, its done almost exclusively by CNC machines, and the costs have more to do with amortizing the cost of the equipment, the extra machine time needed, and the number of units -

These days, some very expensive instruments are made with little decoration, and some very inexpensive ones have lots. I guess you could say the value of the cosmetic detailing is more a personal preference.
Binding is cosmetic!

When you build a guitar the odds of getting a perfect joint between the sides and the top or back are very very low. If you can do it and have perfect adhesion to the kerfing you have reach zen. Most builders wonít or donít strive to, I certainly donít. We put on binding as a cosmetic upgrade, upgrade because it hides the end grain of the back or top which is always difficult to work with.

It doesnít add any stability to the instrument that isnít already there by virtue of the top being stuck to the letting and sides.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 06-10-2019, 10:23 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,489
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talldad View Post
Binding is cosmetic!

When you build a guitar the odds of getting a perfect joint between the sides and the top or back are very very low. If you can do it and have perfect adhesion to the kerfing you have reach zen. Most builders won’t or don’t strive to, I certainly don’t. We put on binding as a cosmetic upgrade, upgrade because it hides the end grain of the back or top which is always difficult to work with.

It doesn’t add any stability to the instrument that isn’t already there by virtue of the top being stuck to the letting and sides.
I think this is wrong. Getting a near perfect joint between the top/back and sides is imperative to the structural integrity of a guitar. The binding shouldn't be there to hide a bad joint; it's there to prevent Rh from getting into the end grain and expanding or contracting the dimension of the top and back.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 06-10-2019, 10:53 AM
Rodger Knox's Avatar
Rodger Knox Rodger Knox is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Baltimore, Md.
Posts: 2,406
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talldad View Post
Binding is cosmetic!

When you build a guitar the odds of getting a perfect joint between the sides and the top or back are very very low. If you can do it and have perfect adhesion to the kerfing you have reach zen.

It doesn’t add any stability to the instrument that isn’t already there by virtue of the top being stuck to the letting and sides.
Did you not read what Mr. Sexauer posted? Getting ALL the joints perfect is necessary for "integrity". (I like Mr. Sexauer's use of the word) Binding may not add any stability, but it does add protection against the top separating from the side in an impact.
__________________
Rodger Knox, PE
'56 Gibson J-50
et al
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 06-10-2019, 11:14 AM
redir redir is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Mountains of Virginia
Posts: 4,640
Default

It's not very difficult to glue the top and the back to the rims with perfection. I'm perhaps not understanding what you are saying. When ever I glue the top to the rims then rout the over hang flush there are no gaps at all. I have never not bound a guitar though I have one potential customer asking me to do just that on a guitar that he wants simply because he likes the way that it looks. It's usually something you see on cheaper guitars and it can look kind of cool in a functional art aesthetic I suppose, iow you can see whats going on there. But it's not at all difficult to do.

Some people when they cut the shelves in the linings for the braces just cut right through the sides but you don't have to do that.

The binding does serve a purpose in that it protects the end grain and edge of the guitar.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 06-10-2019, 11:19 AM
Erithon's Avatar
Erithon Erithon is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 722
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talldad View Post
Binding is cosmetic!

When you build a guitar the odds of getting a perfect joint between the sides and the top or back are very very low. If you can do it and have perfect adhesion to the kerfing you have reach zen. Most builders wonít or donít strive to, I certainly donít. We put on binding as a cosmetic upgrade, upgrade because it hides the end grain of the back or top which is always difficult to work with.

It doesnít add any stability to the instrument that isnít already there by virtue of the top being stuck to the letting and sides.
Talldad, I believe you are mistaken
In addition to runamuck's points, binding is there to protect the soundboard from bumps: the purfling acts as a shock absorber that distributes the force of the impact while the binding itself functions as a protective outer layer. That's why harder woods like Ebony and Maple have traditional been used for binding. Only recently, as the original purpose of binding has been forgotten, have exotic, softer woods like Koa begun to be used as binding.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > Build and Repair

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:59 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=