Do you ever feel like quitting?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
lux
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:33 am
Location: Medford, Oregon USA

Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by lux » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:10 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
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.
We live in a world where the choice in what we purchase increasingly comes down to shoddy things for little money or extravagant things for exorbitant sums of money -- not much in between. Finding sensible consumer goods at the top of the price-to-quality-returns ratio is getting more and more difficult. As a guitarist first, and a dabbler in lutherie second, I consider a guitar to be a workhorse tool that will earn some battle scars over the years. A guitar does not sound better or play better because it has limited-production tuners with snakewood buttons or a one-of-a-kind rosette made of pink ivory and lapis lazuli. As a musician, I'm a bit put off by the prospect of an instrument that is so precious I'd hesitate to play it for fear of marring it or otherwise diminishing its value as an objet d'art.

For professionals, of course, finding any path at all to success in the now very crowded occupation of handcrafted lutherie is a blessing and one can't afford to be too philosophical about meeting the demands of the marketplace. But the OP is one of us amateurs, and there is both a greater variety of options as well as a need for a realistic perspective. If you were an amateur writer, you wouldn't be chagrined if you never made the New York Times Best-Sellers list -- you'd be chuffed to get published at all. If your were an amateur artist, you wouldn't expect that major art museums will purchase your paintings for millions of dollars -- you'd be happy to see them hanging in a local gallery. Looking past the next mountaintop on the portion of the trail you're on now can only result in discouragement.

Amateur luthiers with other income streams shouldn't need to compete with professionals. There are other market niches to fill and the pride of getting good-quality instruments into the hands of deserving musicians without actually losing money in the process may be the main payoff. If the Winds of Fortune later want you to turn pro, they'll let you know.

Jabberwocky
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Jabberwocky » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:03 am

Better a dentist be a lousy amateur luthier than a luthier be a lousy amateur dentist. I won't want any of the highly accomplished luthiers here working on my teeth. "Nurse, pass me the scraper..."

Not saying that mlau is a lousy amateur luthier... :D

a human
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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by a human » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:28 am

Quitting what? At my age, there are many things I've pondered quitting over a lifetime. But, if you are enjoying the process and doing something you love, isn't that the dream? Most creative people are very hard on themselves and their creations. Yet I know many, many people who envy the fact that someone dedicates themselves to a creative activity. When what you do is no longer enjoyable, then that may be the time to walk away and take up knitting. There will always be someone more gifted, recognized, wealthy, older, younger, beautiful, wiser, etc. than each of us. I really believe it is the journey, not the destination.
1965 Krempel Classical (660ish mm)
The rest come and go.

Alan Carruth
Luthier
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Alan Carruth » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:34 pm

As has been pointed out, there is no 'perfection'. As I see it, the general rule is that you can get halfway from where you are to 'perfect' by simply doubling the amount of time you've already put in: halfway to perfect in ten hours, 3/4 in 20, 7/8 in forty, and so on. Of course, the closer you get to perfect the more glaring the small problems become, and it can feel as though you're falling behind. A look at one of the older ones from time to time can help with that.

I've been at this for over 45 years. To me, what counts is that I'm learning something, and getting better. Just as you'll never get to 'perfect', you'll never learn everything that can be learned. Stay curious, stay engaged, try new things. If I ever make one that's 'perfect' I'll have to quit, since there will be no place left to go. I see no danger of that.

Paul Micheletti
Amateur luthier
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Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Paul Micheletti » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:03 pm

simonm wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:06 pm
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.
Many years ago, I took an introductory guitar making class at a local junior college. The kind of class that shows you the steps to make *A* guitar but by no means a "GOOD" guitar. :wink:

One of my fellow students was a dentist. I've never seen so much inlay on a first guitar. It was fully encrusted with MOP and Abalone and everything else he could possibly inlay into that guitar. Inlays were in the usual headstock and fingerboard as well as all over the top and back. I can't recall if he put inlay into the sides or not as well. I think he looked at all of this wood real estate and got excited about how much more room there was than in someone's mouth. :lol:

mlau
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2016 5:42 pm

Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by mlau » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:53 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:34 pm
As has been pointed out, there is no 'perfection'. As I see it, the general rule is that you can get halfway from where you are to 'perfect' by simply doubling the amount of time you've already put in: halfway to perfect in ten hours, 3/4 in 20, 7/8 in forty, and so on. Of course, the closer you get to perfect the more glaring the small problems become, and it can feel as though you're falling behind. A look at one of the older ones from time to time can help with that.

I've been at this for over 45 years. To me, what counts is that I'm learning something, and getting better. Just as you'll never get to 'perfect', you'll never learn everything that can be learned. Stay curious, stay engaged, try new things. If I ever make one that's 'perfect' I'll have to quit, since there will be no place left to go. I see no danger of that.
Interestingly enough, Al, you're IMHO the most underrated guitarbuilder that I know.
If I have any friends looking for a guitar around your area, I'd strongly recommend they buy yours!
Your Osage Orange classical and Mahogany steel strings were lacking in nothing...except maybe unsubstantiated hype.

Heck, I'd save up to buy your jumbo, if it wasn't for my remaining pride as a builder (need space to keep my guitar).

chiral3
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by chiral3 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:17 pm

Sounds like you know Randy. That being said, you know his has been a long journey. Not always easy. Of course, he has that sweet stash. He might have been the one that said to me, some years back, that if he could write a book about guitar building it would be "How to Fix F--k ups"
物の哀れ

printer2
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Location: Winnipeg

Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by printer2 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:28 am

Maybe try something I did a couple of years ago. I torrified some spruce and had no idea if the stuff would even stay glued together. The sides broke when I tried bending them, found some wood that was naturally darker and cut some sides and bent them. Never did a Spanish Foot build so I threw that into the mix. I did a bare box design, no binding or even rosette (the only thing I regret is not doing a simple rosette and a solid truss rod), cheap rosewood bridge bough online for about $4. Built it in two weeks and finished it in the week afterwards. So three weeks from wood to finished instrument. A few defects that I fixed, a few I did not.

It was the most satisfying build I have done so far. It was fun, I learned stuff, didn't sweat the little things. The rate of progress kept things exciting and nothing bogged it down. It looks home made but solid. I enjoy every time I pick it up, it will get displaced eventually or maybe just be ready to be pick up in the sunroom. I plan on building a few more in the same vein, inexpensive wood, cheap tuners, probably with its own blemishes. And then I plan to give it away. I already sold a guitar built as simply although a steel string, for $25. It made the owner's day.
Fred

Douglass Scott
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Douglass Scott » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:46 pm

printer2 wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:28 am
Maybe try something I did a couple of years ago. I torrified some spruce and had no idea if the stuff would even stay glued together. The sides broke when I tried bending them, found some wood that was naturally darker and cut some sides and bent them. Never did a Spanish Foot build so I threw that into the mix. I did a bare box design, no binding or even rosette (the only thing I regret is not doing a simple rosette and a solid truss rod), cheap rosewood bridge bough online for about $4. Built it in two weeks and finished it in the week afterwards. So three weeks from wood to finished instrument. A few defects that I fixed, a few I did not.

It was the most satisfying build I have done so far. It was fun, I learned stuff, didn't sweat the little things. The rate of progress kept things exciting and nothing bogged it down. It looks home made but solid. I enjoy every time I pick it up, it will get displaced eventually or maybe just be ready to be pick up in the sunroom. I plan on building a few more in the same vein, inexpensive wood, cheap tuners, probably with its own blemishes. And then I plan to give it away. I already sold a guitar built as simply although a steel string, for $25. It made the owner's day.
Nice. I know what you mean about how fun it can be to build a guitar without fussing. A few times I've wanted to experiment with new ideas so threw instruments together quickly with homely materials, bindings around soundboard only, no purflings, simple rosette... I love how quickly they come together and consequently how non-attached I am to the outcome. If you feel bogged down by all the steps, this could be a good way to make it fun again.

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

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:00 pm

Not only that but you can end up with an instrument that sounds every bit as good as one that has seen all the very careful attention to detail. Let's face it, quite a bit of the work is about how it looks, the aesthetics. All of that can be pretty much stripped down to a bare minimum and still have zero impact on tone or playability. You see this a lot with lutes and vihuelas - so called student instruments, often sound every bit as good as the fancier lavished versions. They just don't look like they do. I think the most satisfying build that I've done is the one based on a small Torres, no bracing! It intrigued me but only because it's virtually the same as a vihuela soundboard. It also had a lute style bridge. I think it took 11 days, start to finish, including the actual varnish finish and getting the strings on. It was a touch unrefined in some very small areas but nothing to be upset over!
Historicalguitars.

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Steve Ganz
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Steve Ganz » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:26 pm

Life is short, and full of decision points. If you repeatedly find yourself like quitting, perhaps you should pay attention to that feeling. It could be important.

For some of us, it's the vocation, the calling, for others, it is OK if it is just an experience. You gave yourself permission build, if you don't like the results, try a change. It might be a change of perspective, or a change in activity. If you feel that you have nothing to offer in a certain endeavor, that is probably true, because in the end, a individually built guitar is a piece of the individual.
Steve

MessyTendon
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by MessyTendon » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:02 pm

I haven't even started and the answer is yes. I will be working at it soon.

The engineering hurdle...I want a retractable single pivot bolt on adjustable neck...and I think I got it figured out :)

I'm glad somebody mentioned no rosette, no binding...all these marquetry items do is waste wood and time :)

I think this weekend is when some wood will actually get glued. And the tops and backs will be joined :)

I feel like quitting because, it really is difficult to do good detail work, purflings, bindings inlays, you can't fake that stuff.

It's interesting to me that a mass produced American Fender Strat guitar can cost nearly as much as an acoustic guitar that has many more hours of actual labor involved.

Dave M
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Dave M » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:26 pm

This does tend to get a bit profound. As Steve has said you do need to feel that whatever the quality of the instrument you have built it has to offer something to the world.

And let's face it even a poor instrument is something positive. I still remember my first guitar - nylon strings on a nominally steel string, terrible playability and sound but it gave me immense pleasure for years until I moved to something better. And I expect that what you have made is much better than what I started with in terms of sound if not appearance.

After literally decades of wanting to build but not having the space in life to do so, I can't now ever imagine stopping.

So no, I don't ever feel like quitting to answer your question!
Dave

Alan Carruth
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Re: Do you ever feel like quitting?

Post by Alan Carruth » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:23 pm

I've built a number of 'test mules' over the years, several as 'port' experiments, with no binding or rosette, often with assorted woods, and no finish. I often get remarks about how much better they sound when you can't see them.....

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