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PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:37 pm 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:43 am
Posts: 156
Thanks to those who have responded to this.
I find each person's journey and "why" fascinating.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro



These users thanked the author SnowManSnow for the post: Hesh (Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:34 am)
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:32 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 10:44 am
Posts: 3176
Ok well, I don't really consider myself a Luthier but people seem to insist on calling me one and I don't argue over it. I guess now that I have built my first mandolin and a few ukuleles then perhaps I am a 'maker of stringed instrument.' But prior to that I was a guitar maker and hobbyist. Like Hesh said before there isn't a whole lot of money in it so in a way we are like actors. I mean real actors not Hollywood actors, the ones who dedicate their lives to their art and perform in little dinner theaters and play houses but also find themselves incapable of doing anything else. Of course a lot of them have day jobs too. I have reduced the time it takes me to build a guitar to where I can make at least $15/hour doing it. It's a labor of love.

My first gig out of college was working as a geologist for a large unnamed energy company which proceed to suck my soul out with a straw and spit it back out. Working in the 'environmental' department of an energy company doesn't make you a very well liked person. So I quit and moved back to my little town with enough in the bank to live for a few years if worse came to worse.

So I started a repair shop for a few years back when I got started in the early 90's. I had built a guitar already on my summer breaks in college and one day I walked into a local music shop and got talking to the owner who hired me on the spot to do repairs. I had no Idea what I was doing, I kid you not. If there were Internet forums back then I'd probably be flamed to shame for some of the questions I asked... Yes I did once use dowels to repair a broken headstock <hangs head in shame>

But all we had was books back in those dark days and of course the LMI catalog! So I got to learning and eventually I got pretty good at it. At my peak I was doing repairs for 4 stores in my area. I finally was able to add some chicken to my beans and rice. And then I watched as the Internet developed and the big boxes boomed and the mom and pop shops started closing down one by one. The last one closed down about a year ago. I still had a good enough reputation for repairs but I threw in the towel, went back to school and got me a day job.

Today I still do repairs but now I have much more time to build and that's what I do for fun, or perhaps it's an obsession and a mental illness, I still have not figured that part out. I'm building my 57th instrument now, a spruce top ukulele.



These users thanked the author jfmckenna for the post (total 4): ernie (Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:55 pm) • Hesh (Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:51 pm) • Michaeldc (Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:52 am) • pat macaluso (Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:07 am)
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:30 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:08 pm
Posts: 2451
First name: ernest
Last Name: kleinman
City: lee's summit
State: mo
Zip/Postal Code: 64081
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
2 years after I had a guitar built for myself I started acquiring tools in 1973. by 1975 I was doing carpentry work .I took a shop /joinery course at PVI in maple ridge bc , then I went back t school to get a degree in Ind arts education UBC simon fraser langara college, then I returned to cabinetmaking in 1985/86 .When I had back surgery , in may of 89 , it was time time to back off . We sold our home in surrey and moved to the us . I bought a gtr/vln shop in 1991. Prior to that In surrey I was buying up a lot of used guitars/vlns refurbishing them and selling them. So running this biz was easy .After 4 yrs in LA , .Only green cards in hand , our family moved to the midwest. I spent time doing vln repairs and bowmaking , but always wanted to build gtrs. Then in 1997 I started building guitars and ukes . Never looked back . Wish I could have started earlier but the constraints of marriage , job, children mtge etc eld me back happy to just be a loofier !!



These users thanked the author ernie for the post: Hesh (Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:34 am)
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:52 pm 
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Cocobolo
Cocobolo

Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2015 8:33 pm
Posts: 129
First name: David
Last Name: Riedmiller
State: WI
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hesh that was the longest post I’ve ever read. The most I’ve ever made on the several builds I’ve sold is .55 cents per hour. You are way ahead of me.
Ok. I’ll bite. 40 years ago I met a fellow with whom I started working. We took on some cabinet making and sign making jobs. Wood signs. His real passion was building guitars. He was good at it ( the several that he had made). This was back when Cumpiano’s and Sloan’s books were the only out there. I was fascinated, and vowed that someday I was going to do the same. Realizing that learning how to build guitars while earning a living wage would be difficult at best, my dream was set aside. Over the next nearly four decades I became a master carpenter-woodworker. Eventually running my own company. But I still carried the dream of building at least one guitar. Finally six years ago, I realized that the time had come and I dove in. I love it. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had not making money.
Having been a guitar player since my early teens and having the innate ability to work with my hands makes this a real passion.
The more I build, the more I respect those who have been doing this with consistent results of great looking and amazing sounding guitars. It’s not as easy as I used to think. I’m walking in the footsteps of giants. And lovin’ it.


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_________________
"It is easier to fool a man, than it is to convince him that he has been fooled"
Mark Twain



These users thanked the author Rocky Road for the post (total 2): ernie (Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:22 am) • Hesh (Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:33 am)
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:52 am 
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Contributing Member
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Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:31 pm
Posts: 1432
First name: Kevin
Last Name: Looker
City: Worthington
State: OH
Zip/Postal Code: 43085
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I'm not a luthier, just a hobbyist but here -

Had been a woodworking geek for years & had a small stockpile of exotic woods. Hadn't done much with the exotics but was fascinated by them. I actually passed up an opportunity to buy Cocobolo half logs (about 4 to 8 feet long) for $1.00/lb. I couldn't afford it at the time because the smallest one weighed 160 lbs.

Anyhow had a lovely Taylor 214CE (plywood back & sides) and saw that I could build a Martin kit. Built the Martin & it sounded better than the Taylor. Sold the Taylor.

Just do it for fun although I've sold a few.

Kevin Looker

_________________
I'm not a luthier.
I'm just a guy who builds guitars in his basement.
It's better than playing golf.



These users thanked the author klooker for the post: Hesh (Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:45 am)
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:59 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:08 pm
Posts: 2451
First name: ernest
Last Name: kleinman
City: lee's summit
State: mo
Zip/Postal Code: 64081
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
hey kevin, There/s a posh golf course 1 mile from our house.I promised my wife that if I became brain dead I would take up golf instead of loofery, with all those old guys, just kidding of course!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:24 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:34 am
Posts: 2568
I was a builder of mandolins and guitars for over 25 years (the second time). I built my first guitar at Minneapolis Vocational cabinetmaking school in the early '70's after a stint in the Air Force. Had a hard time convincing them that it was "cabinetmaking", but they finally graduated me. Musta been 30. I saw a course in violin repair at Red Wing Vocational was being offered and I enrolled in that course and was part of the first graduating class. I did work on violins, but built my second guitar there. Graduated and three of us bought out a small repair shop. Did that for a few years and built my first F model mandolin and a few more guitars. It finally went bust, so I offered my services to another store and spent several years there doing repairs and building guitars.
Somewhere along the line, ditzco became popular and acoustic guitar sales dropped through the floor. I just flat gave up and got a job in a small cabinet shop. Was a cabinetmaker for all of the late '70's, '80's and around '91, started building mandolins again part time. A few years passed and I bought tools, worked evenings and weekends on instruments. Meanwhile, I had changed cabinet shops several times, finally ending up in a store fixture company. After several years, totally dissatisfied with the job's working conditions, I had a full shop in the basement, talked to my wife and went in one Monday and packed my tools. I had 4 orders at the time. I never felt better in my life...a realistic vision, an element of fear, $1,500./month insurance for two...what else could you ask for!
So, I built mandolins. I went to IBMA 7 or 8 years in a row and some other festivals, displayed mandolins. At one time I had a 4 year backlog.
That's the good side.
Then there was the other side.
So, I built mandolins. I built lots of mandolins. I think my top of the line F5 was $2,500. in the beginning. It's a shame what you will charge to sell an instrument in the beginning. Works out to.50/hr if you are lucky. Once you are established, you can charge more, but you get stuck in a tier system. No matter what I did, I could never break into the top tier. Corporations can afford advertising, we can't, so we rely on word of mouth. It was when I was going to IBMA that I realized how corporations have stacked the deck. I can say that I never gave an instrument away. Never had a endorser that didn't pay for an instrument.
Was in the early 2000's that I realized my orders were tapering off a tad. I was actually gaining on that 4 year backlog. Round the time of Shrub's war, I realized I was going to have to build guitars again too. I also took early retirement at 62. I was able to make my whole wait list, and build one extra F5C, along with a few other mandolins and mandolas.
I jumped into guitar building with both feet. To me, guitar building was simple compared to an F5. Getting the tone I was looking for was harder. Mandolins could be strung in the white for final thickness adjustments. Relying on what I had learned in15 years of mandolin wood taught me several things.
I built an 0-45 Joan Baez for my wife, but then decided to find other instruments to emulate. I settled on Larsons as I am a big Piedmont blues fan. Also decided to build Stella's and Holzapfel 12's. That's a long way from Martin and Gilson...
As there was no information on Larson's, Stella's and not much on Holzapfels, I dug my way around trying to find photos and any information on Larson guitars. Meanwhile, I tried to build something similar to Larsons based on the little information that I had. Took several years, but finally found my tone.
I knew that I was suffering from COPD a number of years before I had to quit. Got to where I was having big headaches every morning when I got up, finally had to go on O2 at night, but kept working during the day. Pulmonologists told me I'd know when it was time to quit, but it really did surprise me when, one day, I walked up the stairs and told my wife I was done building. That was 3 years ago. Left quite a few partially finished instruments, and am having two finished off for me.
One thing I can say is that 1 of maybe 100 that try and follow through will find success and make enough $$$ to live on. How many years that would last is another question. The old saying is: "Don't quit your day job."
At times, it was fun, lots of times frustrating and had to quit WAY before I was ready...

_________________
J. Brentrup Guitars & Mandolins
http://www.brentrup.com



These users thanked the author Haans for the post (total 4): pat macaluso (Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:47 am) • Brad Goodman (Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:52 pm) • Terence Kennedy (Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:03 pm) • david farmer (Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:37 am)
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