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  #1  
Old 02-25-2020, 03:52 PM
Marko229 Marko229 is offline
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Default Buying a Custom Guitar

I found a luthier online who has some fabulous guitars. He is out of Canada. I am in Arizona. Anyway, I would like him to build me a guitar. We are talking about 5K or so. Typically he asks for about 500.00 up front.

Does anyone have any advice as to how I should go into this arrangement? I have never purchased anything like this before.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:22 PM
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Document it, but this is pretty typical for custom builds--a deposit of anywhere up to 25% is required to hold a build slot and then payment for the remainder prior to shipping.

And enjoy the process--its fun!
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:25 PM
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The typical situation is a 10% non-refundable deposit with either final payment due prior to shipping the completed guitar or sometimes installments based on the progress.

If you do not know him or have not seen his work either here or elsewhere, I would call and talk with him. How many guitars has he built, any sound clips available, what is his guarantee, how long will it take to build, what is the wait list time, any references he could give. These would be the basic questions to ask.

There are many luthiers out there that build fantastic guitars, so if the answers to your questions are not what you want, you have choices. ANY of the builders on the AGF can be considered reliable in my opinion and just searching this custom thread will give you some ideas.

I hope this helps.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:37 PM
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All sound advice so far. Enquire about customs duties here and shipping costs. Are you choosing any CITES restricted woods? If so, is the luthier providing you with proper paperwork to clear customs? Sales across international borders are not as simple as domestic sales. Do your due diligence before handing over your non refundable deposit. Can you share the luthiers name? That would be helpful for us to put your mind more at ease.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim McKnight View Post
All sound advice so far. Enquire about customs duties here and shipping costs. Are you choosing any CITES restricted woods? If so, is the luthier providing you with proper paperwork to clear customs? Sales across international borders are not as simple as domestic sales. Do your due diligence before handing over your non refundable deposit. Can you share the luthiers name? That would be helpful for us to put your mind more at ease.
Tim, great advice, but I would advise against sharing of the name publically, I just see that possibly going down the wrong road????
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:51 PM
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Tim, great advice, but I would advise against sharing of the name publically, I just see that possibly going down the wrong road????
Oops, sorry Tom. That does make sense.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:58 PM
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Welcome to the candy store. Hahaha

Tom Bsox is absolutely right. Do a ton of research. Play a ton of guitars.

Then put your Complete specs in writing. And Pictures are worth a lot of emails!!!

The payoff of a custom axe is getting exactly the TONE, specs and neck etc you want.

The COSMETICS are less important if your intention is to PLAY it.

You should feel comfy talking and communicating with your Luthier.

Lots and LOTS of interesting and informative build threads right here!

Enjoy the quest

Paul
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:51 PM
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Also might be important to mention that some ask for the deposit, and then the balance when the guitar is complete and prior to shipping.
Others may also require a fairly substantial additional amount once your build is actually underway. And, then the remainder upon completion.
This may affect how you go about financing this guitar over a period of time. If you know in advance through talking on the phone and or reading their web site, you'll be a little better equipped to handle the financial side of this.
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Old 02-25-2020, 10:00 PM
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Ask for US references and then reach out to them. Ask how their experience was, how long it took, if there were shipping issues, how they feel about the final product, and so on. It's not an inexpensive purchase, and it's across a border, so it pays to do your due diligence.
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Old 02-26-2020, 12:02 AM
chippygreen chippygreen is offline
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A step I took with my first commission was to purchase a couple of guitars made by that luthier (in this case Michael Bashkin) before signing up. Acquired on the secondary market, you can usually resell for minimal or no loss if priced well.

This helped me understand what I was putting my money into, and the guitars served as common reference points for me to communicate with Michael.

Talking about what you want in a custom build guitar is pretty close to the most inexact descriptive experience as I can imagine - and using the luthier's prior builds so you can understand what he/she is saying and translating that into your own terms was a valuable exercise for me, at least.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:23 AM
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I was in your position about a year ago and I found the Turnstone Guitars Custom Buyers guide useful https://www.turnstoneguitar.co.uk/guitar-buyers-guide

The things I think are important are:
- Knowing what you like and don't like
- Being able to communicate and trust the luthier
- Playing their guitars before you sign up
- Understanding their process for spec'ing and building

To cover this, I played as many off the shelf guitars I could in the price range I was looking at. This let me get a grounding in my expectations from high end guitar as well as understanding better what I liked and what I didn't.

My next step was to visit the luthier to try what he had and have a conversation around the other three steps. In my case, I loved his guitars, and really liked him and what he stood for. I was also confident that his process would work out exactly what I wanted before the build started so I was happy to sign up. He then put everything we had discussed in writing and I paid my 10% deposit.

I've been back to visit a couple of times since. I would caution that during the process you will find yourself doubting your opinions and communication because it is so hard to talk about the emotions that guitars stir (which is what we're really looking for when we play). This is why it's so important to have a luthier who you can read between the lines of what you're saying.
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Old 02-26-2020, 05:56 AM
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Welcome Marko, nice to have your first post about such an exciting opportunity.

You don't say whether you have tried guitars by this builder, so I make the following observations: I have been fortunate to commission a number of custom guitars from various luthiers in California and New Zealand. And played a bunch at festivals and at dealers like Dream and Luthiers Collection. And I am constantly amazed at the variety you can find in custom built guitars. This came home to me when I first tried a guitar by a builder that had really impressed me on internet. When I actually played one of that builder’s guitars I realised that while it was beautifully built and very popular with other players, it was totally wrong for me. Huge lesson learnt – play guitars by the builder before you commit to a purchase. Then I think MThomson’s post above has some great points about how to go forward.

And maybe we'll see a build thread from you soon?!
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:14 AM
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Unless you’ve played this luthier’s guitars and know what you want from them, I recommend a long and honest discussion with the luthier about your playing style, likes and dislikes regarding guitars, your expectations and his commitment on timeframe,etc. otherwise, why bother going with a custom build?
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  #14  
Old 02-26-2020, 09:28 AM
Marko229 Marko229 is offline
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Thanks for all the great info. I will mull it over.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MThomson View Post
I wish every builder would publish something like this.

Steve
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