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Old 01-17-2019, 08:27 PM
Ganes Ganes is offline
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Default Builders - How did you know....

My first post on AGF.
How did you know, or have the confidence in your builds to sell them to someone? Example: confident that your tops weren't gong to deform too much, necks were not going to warp, etc.

Thanks

Craig
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Old 01-17-2019, 08:54 PM
Ovation1 Ovation1 is offline
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Yes, very good question!
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Old 01-17-2019, 08:54 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Most makers start out with a proven design. Follow the proven design faithfully and it will be similar to others of the same design. Once one deviates from proven design, the proof is in the pudding. It’s not unusual to try new things and have them turn out anywhere from “not an improvement” to “total failure “. Sometimes it takes a while to determine whether a change is good, bad or neither.
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Old 01-17-2019, 09:26 PM
Ganes Ganes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
Most makers start out with a proven design. Follow the proven design faithfully and it will be similar to others of the same design. Once one deviates from proven design, the proof is in the pudding. It’s not unusual to try new things and have them turn out anywhere from “not an improvement” to “total failure “. Sometimes it takes a while to determine whether a change is good, bad or neither.
Thanks Charles, which is part of what I was wondering. When you start to deviate can you tell before you finish? or when you string it up if its an improvement? What about 6 months down the road? In most shop photos that are shared, I don't see many "experiments" or are they just moved to another room?
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:00 PM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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I deviated from the norm and did not start out with a proven design. Mind you I took clues from them in terms of brace sizes and I studied other luthier pictures to get an idea what may work. Then I started building and experimenting with different ideas to find what works and what does not. I abused bodies with low relative humidity, seen where the weak points are in my builds and where I could do better. When will I be ready to sell my guitars for more than the cost of materials? We will see.
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:48 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganes View Post
Thanks Charles, which is part of what I was wondering. When you start to deviate can you tell before you finish? or when you string it up if its an improvement? What about 6 months down the road? In most shop photos that are shared, I don't see many "experiments" or are they just moved to another room?
Most makers start out by taking a class, apprenticing with someone, watching videos, working with books, buying plans or kits or copying existing instruments. In each of those cases, they start out with tried and true shapes, sizes, thicknesses, bracing patterns, etc.

Many makers stick to that for at least a number of instruments before starting to "tinker". The changes can be small or large. Small changes might include changing the thickness of the top or the size of one or more braces. Large changes might be to use an entirely different bracing pattern, different materials (e.g. composites) etc.

When building an instrument, there isn't much that is "random". There is method behind the making. There is a target thickness for the top, back and sides, for example. There is a specific layout for the bracing and the bracing are of a specific size. With experience, most makers begin to say, "What happens if I do this....?" "This" can be making back braces wider and shorter, or taller and narrower. It can be adding additional bracing around the sound hole - using a classical guitar style "donut" reinforcement, rather than the typical Martin three small straight braces. "This" can also be radical changes, such as changing the depth of the sides, moving the sound hole to the side, changing the body shape and/or scale length, trying a radically new bracing pattern, and so on.

Most makers usually try to change a small number of variables at a time and then attempt to identify a cause and effect of those/that variable(s). That is, change "this" and "that" results. What is being changed can be in an attempt to tailor the sound of the instrument, its playability, its intonation or its structural integrity.

Then there are the variations in how to actually make the instrument. There are many different physical methods and sequences that are possible. The joint down the middle of the top, for example, can be achieved with a hand plane, a jointer, sandpaper on a straight edge, a router in a router table or whatever other method one can come up with. Ditto for gluing and clamping the top seam. Hide glue versus fish glue versus Titebond versus other aliphatic resin versus "white" glue (polyvinyl acetate). Clamp with rope and wedges, standard clamps, wedges and nails, masking tape and concrete block. It isn't uncommon for many makers to try any or all of those variations, some of which might influence the sound, playability or longevity of the instrument.

Most small makers are constantly trying something new, usually incremental changes of one variable at a time. If you don't see the "experiments", you aren't paying attention. Double tops, double sides, "V Class" bracing, UV cured finishes, composite bridge plates, "liquid metal" bridge pins, titanium truss rods, bolt-on necks of various designs, forward shifted bracing, wedge shaped guitars, arm/chest bevels, sound ports, flying buttresses and so on and so on. Those are a few of the obvious ones and all started by one person trying something new.

Then there is the less obvious/more subtle stuff. Moving a brace, making a brace narrower or taller, changing the sound hole size, changing plate thicknesses, using non-uniform top thicknesses, and so on.

I have pages and pages of notes, as do many luthiers, on stuff I/they have tried and how well it worked or didn't. Sometimes, a change sounds good in the taping/thumping stages of assembly, but doesn't produce the desired sound result, usually observable pretty soon after stringing the instrument - that the instrument just never develops into what one hoped for. Other times, structural things are changed. In once case, an extreme cutaway design, its structural failure was obvious within weeks of being first strung. Other structural things, particularly related to eliminating neck resets, can take years to determine if they actually are effective. Until that time, one starts with an idea - an educated guess - that if I do this, it should - or might - result in that. Often, one doesn't know how it will actually turn out, whether or not the hunch/educated guess will actually produce the desired result.

Until very recently, there really wasn't a lot of "hard" science that had been applied to guitar making. Perhaps the first was Michael Kasha in the early 1960's. His theories begat, amongst other things, Gibson's Mark Series guitars, which were truly terrible instruments. Currently, the state of the art in applied science to guitar design and construction is found in Tevor Gore's books, published a few years ago.

Prior to that, over the course of the two hundred (or so) year history of the guitar, makers have arrived at the current state of guitar making based mostly on trial and error - empirically. There are many, many examples of that. To name a few, Torres in the late 1800's, with his paper mâché back and sides, to Maccaferri in the 1920's and his plastic guitars, "D" shaped sound holes and moustache bridges - the plastic guitars were a commercial failure, though his plastic ukuleles sold in the millions, and his wood guitars went on to be the backbone of Django style swing - and, of course, Martin, with their "X" braces and steel strings.


It isn't possible to strictly control every variable that goes into a guitar and arrive at a formula that can definitively predict that if I change this one isolated variable, that will be the result. Historically, it has been a hunch/educated guess followed by trial and error. That continues to this day, though we can now apply a bit more science to it than the early makers could.


In answer to your question of how long do you have to wait before being sufficiently confident to sell instruments you've made, that depends upon the person, their skills and their confidence. What often happens with new makers is that after they have made a few that are more or less successful copies of proven instruments, perspective buyers take an interest in the guitars one makes and wants to buy or commission one. As a new/unknown maker, prices are usually commensurate with experience and reputation. How to sell, and with what terms, is a different question, particularly now with so many makers and so much competition, particularly from foreign imports.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 01-27-2019 at 10:30 AM. Reason: Two c's in Maccaferri. Thanks, M.
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:59 AM
Ganes Ganes is offline
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Charles,
That was the type of response(s) I was looking for! Nothing instills fear in me more than building an instrument, selling it or giving it to someone only to get a call 6 months, or even further down the road telling me of some catastrophic failure (for one reason or another). I guess a refund for something that fails would be appropriate for the sold build, and a "I'm sorry" for the failed freebie. Seems I need to move from the talking stage to the "just do it".

I would also like to acknowledge your willingness to share thoughts and insights on this forum, it is greatly appreciated and is but one reason that makes this place a great platform for the exchange of discussion, ideas and thoughts, thank you.

Craig
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:55 AM
tadol tadol is offline
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If you are going to be in the business of building and selling anything, you’ll find that you often learn far more from failures than successes - but you need to try and limit the number of failures as much as possible to stay in business. Look at warranties and the support you want to offer customers (or potential customers) as a way to maintain communication and to get a chance to see how your product is holding up in the field. And you need to know what your goal is in building - obviously, race cars do not hold up the way work trucks do, and you need to understand what it is you’re building, and make sure your customer does too -

Many builders who stick with it get a chance to see how their first pieces are doing years down the road, and you can easily see where the changes were made, and whats stayed with them. That’s be a great discussion in itself. But you’ll never know your story until you do it!
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Old 01-20-2019, 12:25 PM
Ganes Ganes is offline
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Thanks Charles, printer2 and tadol....I appreciate the input
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Old 01-20-2019, 12:47 PM
Zammer Zammer is offline
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I think it would be pretty cool to play one of your test builds. I have a ton of respect for anyone taking on this task. I’ve thought about trying to do it but my brain just gets overwhelmed from the idea. That said... it’s always nice to play a proven brand or line and that’s what you want... but I also feel that so much can be learned by playing an instrument from a new builder trying to make a name. You should let a few people you know who have differnent levels of experience with different brands test out your current builds for a week or two to see what kind of feedback they may have to offer. Good luck man!
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Old 01-20-2019, 03:13 PM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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Other than not having the thing fall apart due to poor construction the two things that I think is important to the health and playability of the guitar would be the box folding up/neck resets and a playable neck. Not using squirrely wood should help out for the neck. The body caving in can be determined somewhat (thanks Tevor) by measuring the bridge rotation without strings to the guitar tuned up. Trevor has in his book that a 2 degree rotation is about what a high performance guitar ends up with. Greater than 2 degrees might show that you have not enough structure for the tension. Mind you if we make the guitars too stiff then they may fall into the realm of factory guitars. Mind you, that may not be a bad thing when first starting out and approaching the precipice with caution.
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Old 01-20-2019, 04:40 PM
terken terken is offline
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Best insurance for me was starting by building a Martin kit which has a very good chance of staying together and sounding decent if you follow the directions.

After seeing that work out build a few more kits for friends at cost and as they are local you can watch what they do for a year or two.

Follow that with a good quality building course where you are taught a method that has stood the test of time. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Start selling at a lower price and concentrate on building as many instruments as you can in your allotted time focusing on playability, fit and finish, and minor tweaks that hopefully will have tonal consequences based on feedback from players.

Don’t waste time on excessive bling and fancy appointments at first. Focus on volume.

Use good stable and relatively inexpensive woods like Mahogany or IRW with proven performance and pay strict attention to your building environment as far as temperature and humidity.

Try to hook up with some pro level players who will give you candid feedback as to your progress .

Be honest with customers as to your experience and try to keep track of your early instruments as to any issues that arise. Make small tweaks as needed as you gain experience.

Just one formula that I think works. There will always be small issues to deal with but catastrophic events should be rare to non existent. It takes a long time to find your sweet spot, in fact I am not sure anyone actually does. Lutherie is a bottomless pit.

Many other paths I am sure.
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Old 01-20-2019, 05:11 PM
Edgar Poe Edgar Poe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganes View Post
Charles,
That was the type of response(s) I was looking for! Nothing instills fear in me more than building an instrument, selling it or giving it to someone only to get a call 6 months, or even further down the road telling me of some catastrophic failure (for one reason or another). I guess a refund for something that fails would be appropriate for the sold build, and a "I'm sorry" for the failed freebie. Seems I need to move from the talking stage to the "just do it".

I would also like to acknowledge your willingness to share thoughts and insights on this forum, it is greatly appreciated and is but one reason that makes this place a great platform for the exchange of discussion, ideas and thoughts, thank you.

Craig
That's why you charge 10 times what it cost you to build plus labor.
That way you can eat a return.
And learn from it.
Ed
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Old 01-20-2019, 05:30 PM
woodbox woodbox is offline
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Although I have built one guitar, and gathering momentum to begin my second,
I do not consider myself a "builder", and certainly not a luthier.
I'm not even calling myself an apprentice.
But allow me to offer some insight based on my limited experience.

When my mentor offered to guide me, the first thing I said was:
"I don't want to spend a couple hundred hours working with thin wood and compound angles, only to have it sound bad."

Without hesitation he said:
"It won't sound bad. It will be what it is."

Then he said this:
"You don't get to re-invent the wheel.
There are techniques and patterns that have stood the test of time.
We will stay very close to those."

There are certain things that can vary somewhat,
and other things that must be precise to within thousandths of an inch.
There is a certain order that must be adhered to... this must be done before that.

I don't plan to build and sell, so forgive if I'm not contributing in the direction you intended for your thread.
But I do know this...there is no substitute for doing.

I hope this helps.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:34 PM
Ganes Ganes is offline
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Thanks for all the input from everyone, I appreciate your time to respond.
woodbox, your contribution is helpful.

When I can, I wanted to build a OM size guitar, but struggling to find decent plans. I literally went online last night with the intent on ordering plans from Georgia Luthier Supply....but they seem to be gone Guess I will get some plans from LMI

Last edited by Ganes; 01-26-2019 at 10:58 PM.
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