How much to make a guitar?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Michael.N.
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:12 pm

No. Action can be altered extremely quickly, far quicker than with any 'fixed' bone saddle. Intonation is a little slower but if you have a decent ear you can check at the 12 th fret. If you can hear that it's out, alter it. If you can't, leave it be. It's a very simple system. A little like the wooden friction pegs, if you have a decent ear then they are quick and unfussy.
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Ross Gutmeier
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Ross Gutmeier » Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:14 pm

robert e wrote:
Ross Gutmeier wrote:I tried an experiment to see just how inexspensively I could make a really good guitar. I found ways to cut back on labor and focused my efforts primarily on sound and it turned out to be an excellent guitar, especially for the money, but there it sits, apparently too cheap to be any good. It's frustrating and I doubt I'll ever do it again.
Too intriguing! Is this excellent guitar just sitting there because of its looks? Any pictures?
It looks like a normal guitar, but it seems to be more a matter of its price relative to my usual work (it's about 25% less than my standard model), at least that's the feedback I've been getting from friends and players. I don't get it.

It belongs to a dealer (I don't know if the rules allow me to post a link) so I'm not trying to make a sale here and I'm pretty well booked, but I do find it confusing that this basic model hasn't gone anywhere. I thought there might be a real need for a guitar like this.

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Michael.N.
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Michael.N. » Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:46 pm

Well, as my violin making friend once said: if it ain't selling double the price, it's too cheap. :wink:
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robert e
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by robert e » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:03 am

Michael.N. wrote:No. Action can be altered extremely quickly, far quicker than with any 'fixed' bone saddle. Intonation is a little slower but if you have a decent ear you can check at the 12 th fret. If you can hear that it's out, alter it. If you can't, leave it be. It's a very simple system. A little like the wooden friction pegs, if you have a decent ear then they are quick and unfussy.
Sounds a lot like using safety razors to shave vs the modern 4-bladers. :D They work just as well and are more economical, but require a bit more skill and care to operate.

Ross Gutmeier
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Ross Gutmeier » Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:21 am

Michael.N. wrote:Well, as my violin making friend once said: if it ain't selling double the price, it's too cheap. :wink:
Ha! That's about right. I think this is a good example for the OP that there is often much more to the price of a guitar than cost and labor.

Alan Carruth
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Alan Carruth » Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:21 pm

Some years ago a well-known maker took me aside at a show and chewed me out because my prices were too low. When I raised them I got a lot more sales. If the price is not high enough people think there's something wrong with the guitar.

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souldier
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by souldier » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:00 pm

Ross Gutmeier wrote:I tried an experiment to see just how inexspensively I could make a really good guitar. I found ways to cut back on labor and focused my efforts primarily on sound and it turned out to be an excellent guitar, especially for the money, but there it sits, apparently too cheap to be any good. It's frustrating and I doubt I'll ever do it again.
If you don't mind me asking, what kind of things did you cut down on to bring the cost down? If a luthier could provide a standard model and a "budget" model that has the same sound performance but less extravagant aesthetic, I'd imagine there are those who would actually prefer something more simple and would appreciate the savings. But it would have to be made clear that they aren't getting an inferior instrument in terms of performance/playability.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

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Michael.N.
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:30 pm

That does seem like a great plan. Unfortunately it doesn't always quite work out like that. You must understand that there's quite a bit of psychology that goes on when making purchases (of virtually anything). We are all susceptible to it. Sometimes the choice is rational, sometimes emotional. It's also complicated by many other factors. I doubt that there will be many single makers who tread that path. It really does mean that you are trying to compete with workshops that almost certainly will have better economies of scale and greater efficiency.
You can simplify the construction without impinging on the tone but I haven't come across one single guitarist who was over the moon about the lack of a rosette
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simonm
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by simonm » Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:45 pm

Alan Carruth wrote:Some years ago a well-known maker took me aside at a show and chewed me out because my prices were too low. When I raised them I got a lot more sales. If the price is not high enough people think there's something wrong with the guitar.
There is a story (true or false I don't know) about one of the cosmetics brands - possible Estee Lauder - I heard it back in the 80's so I have forgotten the name. When the firm launched a product back in the pre-decimal days of Sterling, the initial price was "half a crown" - they had serious problems. In desperation they raised the price to one "Guinea" (some what over x8 price increase). The product began to sell very well because it was "reassuringly expensive" and had snob value.

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Cat
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Cat » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:15 pm

Darren Hippner makes great guitars at an affordable price point.
2015 Marlon Navarro Alvarez Student Classical, Spruce

robert e
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by robert e » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:41 pm

Michael.N. wrote:That does seem like a great plan. Unfortunately it doesn't always quite work out like that. You must understand that there's quite a bit of psychology that goes on when making purchases (of virtually anything). We are all susceptible to it. Sometimes the choice is rational, sometimes emotional. It's also complicated by many other factors. I doubt that there will be many single makers who tread that path. It really does mean that you are trying to compete with workshops that almost certainly will have better economies of scale and greater efficiency.
You can simplify the construction without impinging on the tone but I haven't come across one single guitarist who was over the moon about the lack of a rosette
Sadly true. The ideas that people accept, deduce or invent to rationalize prices aren't isolated notions but are part of a model of how the world works, and even how one fits into it. So when people encounter a "wrong" price, it challenges not just ideas about a product but an entire world-view. One guitar vs a world is not much of a contest.

I know that there isn't a necessary relationship between the quality, or even presence, of a rosette and the quality of an instrument. But to my chagrin I can't help the belief that enough buyers, sellers and builders accept the custom, for whatever reason, that there's a correlation, a "rule of thumb". Being human, that "rule" unfortunately is part of my world view, and any aberration needs convincing support to fit in. (I'd like to think that I, personally, wouldn't need much convincing, but others may. :mrgreen: )

I suspect that the Eden/Kent Cadenza partnership works at least in part because a retailer with his authority can provide that convincing support, that alternative world view, at least enough to make the price not seem "fishy". But even so, I doubt that many Cadenza buyers were shopping guitars costing four times as much and changed their minds.

EDIT: to make clear I was responding to Michael and not Cat

astro64
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by astro64 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:20 pm

I don't build guitars for a living, but I would agree with those who commented on the risks of offering a low-cost instrument with "the same sound" but less costly materials or detailing. A luthier can never compete in terms of cost with mass-produced instruments. The one thing to separate one from the other is the "hand-built" aspect, and the attention to detail and sound that one might expect to come with that. Anyone living in the US should understand that the price point even for starting luthiers will be close to $4000 if you have to make a living building guitars on your own. Just do the math. The cost of materials has little to do with setting that price point: even without the materials the labor, investment in tools and shop, taxes, will set that price point. Don't short-change your luthier.

Ross Gutmeier
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by Ross Gutmeier » Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:36 am

souldier wrote:
Ross Gutmeier wrote:I tried an experiment to see just how inexspensively I could make a really good guitar. I found ways to cut back on labor and focused my efforts primarily on sound and it turned out to be an excellent guitar, especially for the money, but there it sits, apparently too cheap to be any good. It's frustrating and I doubt I'll ever do it again.
If you don't mind me asking, what kind of things did you cut down on to bring the cost down? If a luthier could provide a standard model and a "budget" model that has the same sound performance but less extravagant aesthetic, I'd imagine there are those who would actually prefer something more simple and would appreciate the savings. But it would have to be made clear that they aren't getting an inferior instrument in terms of performance/playability.
I have some basic parts made to my specs by a luthier in Canada (see pic). I will also use either a premade rosette or a simple ring type. No elevated fingerboard, no double top, just a good Torres or Santos based guitar. These things will cut 2 1/2 - 3 days off of my construction time. The soundboard comes from my stock and all graduation of the plates, bracing, tuning, assembly, and etc are done by me as per usual. I'll also use less exspensive tuners (I like Rubners).

But as I said, it was an experiment and a pretty illustrative one at that. Doubt very seriously I'll be doing it again.
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Last edited by Ross Gutmeier on Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

dtoh
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by dtoh » Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:15 pm

If you are looking to acquire a good luthier made guitar at a low price, the place to go is Vietnam. As others have pointed out, most of the cost is labor and average monthly wages in Vietnam are around $200 to $250. You can buy a pretty decent guitar from the best luthiers in the country for under $1000.

mousemat
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Re: How much to make a guitar?

Post by mousemat » Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:15 pm

LukeMarsden wrote:I see its around £4,000 and upwards for a luthier built guitar and was just trying to understand the costs and price?
Let's not forget that they are professionals and use their profit for paying their bills. They are unlikely to be doing other jobs as well.

Work may be the curse of the drinking classes but so are bills.

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