Do you ever feel like quitting?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
mlau
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 5:42 pm

Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by mlau » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:33 pm

Last Saturday, I picked up a guitar from Randy Angella.
It was a Spruce/Braz RW 7 fan guitar that was commissioned for my dad's retirement present two years ago.

The guitar is so jaw droppingly good that it makes me feel like quitting guitar building--or at least classical guitars.
It would take me at least a few decades of full time guitar building to come close to that guitar.
In the meantime, I think that I'd be better off focusing on dental implants, root canals and braces.
In my lifetime, I'll probably never get as good as him...especially if I want to have time for family, friends, community.

I've talked with other guys (I'm just an amateur) who talk about being discouraged when they don't have commissions or money coming in.

Do you guys ever feel discouraged?
Also, how do you get through that?
Any particular challenges?

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Doug Ingram
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Doug Ingram » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:44 pm

No.

I build guitars because I enjoy the challenge, the product, and the process.

I don't build them because I have any expectation of building enough guitars in my lifetime, with an amateur's opportunity for productivity, to become as accomplished as a full time professional.

At every level of your development you will encounter new challenges, embrace each one. Enjoy each stage for what it is. Be in the moment.

it's as simple as that.

printer2
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Location: Winnipeg

Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by printer2 » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:00 am

Looks are only skin deep. To me it is secondary to the sound and playability. If I can get those right the looks are a bonus.
Fred

montana
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by montana » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:17 am

mlau wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:33 pm
Last Saturday, I picked up a guitar from Randy Angella.
It was a Spruce/Braz RW 7 fan guitar that was commissioned for my dad's retirement present two years ago.

The guitar is so jaw droppingly good that it makes me feel like quitting guitar building--or at least classical guitars.
It would take me at least a few decades of full time guitar building to come close to that guitar.
In the meantime, I think that I'd be better off focusing on dental implants, root canals and braces.
In my lifetime, I'll probably never get as good as him...especially if I want to have time for family, friends, community.

I've talked with other guys (I'm just an amateur) who talk about being discouraged when they don't have commissions or money coming in.

Do you guys ever feel discouraged?
Also, how do you get through that?
Any particular challenges?
Dental implants , root canals....braces. wow....I wonder if any luthier here would trade you occupations.....based solely on income of course.

John Ray
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by John Ray » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:31 am

I realize that this might not help you but I just have to say it. OF COURSE IT WOULD TAKE DECADES OF FULL-TIME BUILDING TO GET TO THAT LEVEL. He spent decades getting that good. This is the whole point. Today it seems that someone can put up a flashy webpage and call themselves a master luthier. Not talking about yourself of course. Well, actually it takes decades to learn what you need to learn, work out the kinks in your particular process and design, make a name for yourself, find a wide range of professionals who can give you useful feedback, learn to weed the useful from the un-useful, make mistakes and back track. And I don't even want to talk about luck, talent, and that sort of uncontrollable factor.

Just build the guitars and enjoy it to the max. I love my job but I very often feel a bit jealous of folks like you who have complete freedom over how long you can take on a project, what you decide to do, and who you decide to do it for. If it gets too frustrating take up boat-building but by all means, don't give up because you aren't the best. The satisfactions in this business come from hearing a beautiful piece on one of your guitars, getting something perfect the first time round, making a player or a listener happy. You might even find someday that a great maker hears or plays one of your guitars and expresses sincere admiration. Hang in there.
John Ray
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Jim Frieson
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Jim Frieson » Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:51 am

If there was a like button I would like John Ray's remarks .
You know , on a bad day sometimes I say to myself ... " And , I could have been a dentist " .

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Doug Ingram
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Doug Ingram » Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:48 pm

John Ray wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:31 am

Just build the guitars and enjoy it to the max. I love my job but I very often feel a bit jealous of folks like you who have complete freedom over how long you can take on a project, what you decide to do, and who you decide to do it for. If it gets too frustrating take up boat-building but by all means, don't give up because you aren't the best.
As a full time boatbuilder (traditional wood/canvas canoes) and a part time guitar maker, I can attest that the same paradigm exists here, too. When it gets frustrating I turn my attention to guitar making for solace.

Dave M
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Dave M » Sat Oct 28, 2017 4:18 pm

Very much with John and Doug. One might add that the learning process itself, in this or any other skill area, is a big part of the enjoyment as well as the resulting instrument.
Dave

simonm
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by simonm » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:06 pm

mlau wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:33 pm
...
I've talked with other guys (I'm just an amateur) who talk about being discouraged when they don't have commissions or money coming in.
...
Of course we get discouraged but building is addictive.

However, amateurs have no particular right to be looking for commissions or to have money coming in from making guitars. Professional guitar makers don't generally put up a sign and offer root canal fillings or dental implants. A drill is a drill and filling holes is filling holes so any luthier should be able to offer amateur dental services ? Who needs 5 or 6 years of full time training. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Actually I have often though that my dentist would be very good at certain types of guitar work. Good hand skills are certainly a benefit.

mlau
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by mlau » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:52 pm

Thanks, guys.

Btw, the guy I was talking to was Roberto Garcia, a very talented guy who paid his dues with Kenny Hill and others. He was delivering a very beautiful cedar and Indian Rosewood ported classical to a client when we were at Randy's house having sorbet. Roberto is a full time luthier...so commissions and money are necessary for him.

On my end, I guess it's that I'm a perfectionist?
At this point, I doubt that I make more money than you guys, since most of it goes to my staff, equipment, training, or creditors. I think I paid myself $30k last year, and got $18k working for someone else. This year, I may pay myself $75k...which is pretty low for SF Bay Area.

Dentistry is something that I obsess over, to an unhealthy degree.
I'd like for my work to outlast me.

Robert England
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Robert England » Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:00 pm

mlau wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:52 pm

I'd like for my work to outlast me.
This is one of the many reasons that I build guitars.
Robert

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Michael.N.
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:01 pm

I can't say that peering into peoples mouths all day holds much charm for me. Then again nor does the average pay of the average guitar maker either. You make your bed, as they say. $75K is far more than I earn and I've been at this over 35 years. I don't think it's going to get any better either. To put it into perspective I have a young cousin who has only been qualified as a plumber for two years. He earns three times the amount that I do working less hours. You make your bed.
Historicalguitars.

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Doug Ingram
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Doug Ingram » Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:57 pm

mlau wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:52 pm
Thanks, guys.

On my end, I guess it's that I'm a perfectionist?
Get that idea of perfection out of your head right now!!!!! Out! Out! Out!

There is no perfection only excellence. Repeat that to yourself till it sticks in your brain like a mantra.

There is an old saying in yacht building that goes like this: 50% of the money gets you 90% of the boat. Therefore 90% of perfection is achievable, that last 10% requires you to double your effort in every metric.

Excellence can be described and observed. Perfection is a static state in a kinetic universe. It is also primarily a state of the observer's response, so, even if you ever achieve an observation of perfection, it is fleeting.

Strive for excellence. Even a beat up old guitar can retain excellence while any perfection that it once may have had has passed. At every state of your guitar making journey you can achieve excellence.

lux
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by lux » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:07 pm

This is an interesting parallel, naturally, to PLAYING the guitar. Most of us probably get discouraged when we hear some teenage hot-shot who can seemingly play anything and do so with a very short learning curve. You know that you're decades behind and you'll never catch up. But no one else plays -- or builds -- exactly like you do. And it isn't always the most amazing artists who rise to the top. You can see this readily with singers. Who are the ones that manage to maintain high-end careers for decades on end? It's most usually not the very best singers, but the ones with distinctive voices and stage personalities that people connect with. You should build guitars because nobody else can build the guitar that you would build. Besides, the world has more than enough luthiers who make uber-instruments that sell for many thousands of dollars...a few for the elite players who can afford them, but mostly for the wealthy collectors for whom guitars are just another form of consumer investment -- an alternative to art, fancy cars or jewelry. We need more luthiers who can make instruments of decent quality for the masses, bread-and-butter guitars that sound great and are easy to play. Guitars for students, amateur musicians and typical professionals -- the ones who would be hard pressed to make the lower middle-class income bracket solely on money made from musical performances.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:55 pm

Well yes, we all want nice things for little money. Unfortunately the economics of doing so doesn't always work out. I've also discovered that the lower your prices the lower your reputation, as a generalisation.
Historicalguitars.

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