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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:25 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:27 pm
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Location: United States
I am from Minnesota. And in MN we do not ask direct questions.

But I have learned that in order to get direct responses, I need to ask direct questions.

We on this forum are a group of builders who are VERY forthright with the sharing of many of our trade 'secrets' in the spirit of just help each other out (which by the way is a very Minnesotan thing to do.)

I have beat around the bush before, but never come right out and asked.


So here it is.

What do YOU charge to build a guitar?

I will be happy to go first. I am at about 50 builds and ask $2499 for anything you could think of. Include a case. Electronics and shell inlay are extra, but cutaways and arm bevels and sound ports and slotted heads and new shapes and sizes. All the same price.
Nitro or French polish. Any wood from my stash. Same price.

That said, I have four guitars hanging in a local shop at the same price, collecting dust.

Can we divulge some of our info on this and maybe see if we are all on the same page or need to make adjustments to our price lists or marketing techniques?

As always, any and all help is appreciated.

Dave



These users thanked the author Dave Livermore for the post: Hesh (Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:04 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:44 pm 
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Koa
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Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 868
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I gave a smart assed answer, couldn't delete it so I guess I'll tell you what I do.

Each guitar is based on the materials, type of guitar and a rough estimate of the time I think I'll put into it. I make everything from barn wood telecaster clones to jazz guitars to acoustics to resonators and lap guitars. Each is very different, the prices are very different.

This is also a hobby for me and I feel honored when someone wants me to build them a guitar. The prices show that.


Last edited by Freeman on Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:57 pm 
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Koa
Koa

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Freeman,
thanks for the reply.
I will remind you I asked a direct question.
You did not give a direct response.

How much did you charge and get?

dl


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:03 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
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First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Dave, I totally edited my reply. I charge enough to justify my hobby, my customers seem happy with what they get and what they paid. One way to summarize it is that my prices are roughly the same as what an American manufacture would charge for a domestically built guitar - my price for a LP or 335 might be about what Gibson would charge, my price for a rosewood parlor might be similar to Martins.

I'll add one footnote - two customers actually paid me a bonus. Almost all of my setup and repair customers return for more work


Last edited by Freeman on Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:04 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:07 am
Posts: 710
Location: Cobourg ON
First name: Steve
Last Name: Denvir
City: Baltimore
State: ON
Zip/Postal Code: K0K 1C0
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I charge $2K for a base guitar. That includes a hard shell case, most woods I’ve got available, and the odd little thing like a soundport.

I charge extra for cutaways and fan frets, for woods like Ziricote, cocobolo, or anything I have to order specially.

And -everyone- wants flashier wood or a cutaway or fan frets or sometimes all of the above.

French polish. Hide glue construction.

My goal isn’t to make a lot of dough, it’s to continue to build and to learn.

I’m booked till about March.

Steve



These users thanked the author JSDenvir for the post: Michaeldc (Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:56 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:11 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
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First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
JSDenvir wrote:
I charge $2K for a base guitar. That includes a hard shell case, most woods I’ve got available, and the odd little thing like a soundport.



See the problem with that is that is that I too always include a hardshell case. If its a standard sized guitar a nice TKL case might cost me a hundred bucks. If its a custom sized guitar (and both you and Dave say you'll build a custom) I have to buy a custom case - Cedar Creek makes nice ones for 350. Do I simply pass that cost along or do I mark it up?

Particularly with electrics I have customers who are very particular about their pups - a pickup can range from less that an hundred to three. I work with my customer, provide what he/she wants, charge accordingly



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Theo (Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:29 pm)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:14 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:15 pm
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First name: Ed
Last Name: Bond
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
1599$CAD base for Halcyon
3k$CAD base for Tinker

Different woods have different prices, but my main job, Halcyon, averages 1829$ for a guitar, plus case and shipping.

The last three Tinkers were all in the 4-5k$ range and it still doesn't feel like enough, in either brand.



These users thanked the author meddlingfool for the post (total 2): dpetrzelka (Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:34 pm) • Clinchriver (Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:18 am)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:07 am
Posts: 710
Location: Cobourg ON
First name: Steve
Last Name: Denvir
City: Baltimore
State: ON
Zip/Postal Code: K0K 1C0
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Ed, you’re obviously a kajillion times more efficient than I am. How many hours do you figure you’ve got in a Halcyon guitar, if you don’t mind my asking?

Steve


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:30 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:07 am
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Location: Cobourg ON
First name: Steve
Last Name: Denvir
City: Baltimore
State: ON
Zip/Postal Code: K0K 1C0
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Freeman wrote:
JSDenvir wrote:
I charge $2K for a base guitar. That includes a hard shell case, most woods I’ve got available, and the odd little thing like a soundport.



See the problem with that is that is that I too always include a hardshell case. If its a standard sized guitar a nice TKL case might cost me a hundred bucks. If its a custom sized guitar (and both you and Dave say you'll build a custom) I have to buy a custom case - Cedar Creek makes nice ones for 350. Do I simply pass that cost along or do I mark it up?

Particularly with electrics I have customers who are very particular about their pups - a pickup can range from less that an hundred to three. I work with my customer, provide what he/she wants, charge accordingly

I usually just pass costs along. I should probably mark them up at least a little.

In my previous life, I was a real hard nose in business. Apparently, I’ve now lost that completely :-)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:32 pm 
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Giltzow
City: Boise
State: Idaho
Zip/Postal Code: 83709
Country: usa
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
I charge $2750.00 for my basic guitar; parlor, L-00, '000' or Dred. That includes back & sides that cost me under $200. Top that cost me less than $100. Includes a shell rosette, wood bindings. mahogany neck, peg board inlay, fret marker dots, and a Baggs LB-6 pickup. I charge extra for custom shell inlays, cutaway, case, special or expensive woods. Most of my guitars are special order with lots of personal trim and I am usually getting $3000 to $ 5000 per guitar. I am a semi-pro in that I don't do this for a living. I make up to 4 guitars a year and am now about a year out on orders. If the list gets longer I will up the basic price. My goal is to make an hourly wage comparable to a Walmart greeter - I have a ways to go. - Mike G

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guitarsbygiltzow.com


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:00 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:27 pm
Posts: 581
Location: United States
giltzow wrote:
My goal is to make an hourly wage comparable to a Walmart greeter - I have a ways to go. - Mike G


That is about where I am at.
Figuring it takes about 150 hours to make a guitar


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:42 pm 
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Koa
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Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 650
City: Escondido
State: CA
Zip/Postal Code: 92029
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
I'm pretty much exactly where @glitzow is. $2950 for a basic instrument, but nobody wants basic. Ends up between $3,500 and $4,500. Also make about 4 a year, and have four on order. My guitars are archtops built extensively with wood and carbon fiber composite elements. I only do the one model with options.

Because of my unusual construction techniques, I have spent countless hours (I mean YEARS worth!) of experimenting, testing, creating new workflows and build techniques, etc. If I conveniently forget that immense 10 year commitment of time, I can actually build a guitar relatively quickly and with high consistency now. I estimate about a quarter of the time in building that my first all wood small bodied guitars took. I can also build in parallel, so two get put together in about 2/3 of the man hours that my first guitars took.

Which means that after costs of goods sold, I am making almost Walmart money.

PS. I worked in the entertainment industry for many years as an attorney. In the digital age, recorded music (albums, radio play) became marketing expenses for musicians, not a source of income. Radio play and iTunes hopefully brought people to shows. It was at shows and festivals that you could earn a living. It was hard for people to let go of the idea of a hit record making them rich. That had been THE business model for two generations.

Having a guitar hanging in a store feels much like making an album in today's economy. You have to have it there for marketing purposes, but I wouldn't assume any will get sold or make you money. You build them as demos and hope the store makes enough to let you keep them on the walls. Once getting your guitars in a nice guitar boutique was the obvious business model, but people don't seem to walk into stores and buy guitars anymore. At least not nice ones. The kind of people going to pick a guitar off the wall are going to GC in the hopes of a $200 Les Paul.

That is my observation at least, and seems to be born out in conversations I've had with several other semi-pro or wanna be pro luthiers like me.



These users thanked the author rlrhett for the post: joe white (Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:48 am)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:45 am 
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Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:50 pm
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Location: Seattle WA
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2 for a Marianne, 3.5 for a Ginger.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:13 am 
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Cocobolo
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Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:20 am
Posts: 203
Location: North East England
First name: nigel
Last Name: forster
City: Newcastle upon tyne
Zip/Postal Code: ne12at
Country: england
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
I would ask you what marketing you are doing beyond hanging your guitars in a local store? Makers use all sorts of methods to work out their asking price - woods, hours, cost of materials, but in the end, the selling price is based on two things - supply and demand. Customers don't care how long it took you or how much it cost you, or what you need to live. They care about what they want, not what you want.

You should already know how many instruments you can make in a year - that's the supply bit taken care of. Demand is down to the market perception of your work, and that's down to the quality of your work and the quality of your marketing. So if your work is of an international standard, yet isn't selling, either you're making the wrong thing (this is the fashion industry after all) or your not reaching people - no one has heard of you. For that to happen, it'll take more than a Facebook page.

This is a highly saturated market. More than ever. And a number of buyers is shrinking. So if you want to sell your work for a respectable amount you need to concentrate on marketing, not just making. I dedicate on average 15 hours a week on marketing and learning about marketing. On top of the time, I spend at the bench. I didn't have to ten years ago, and twenty years ago it didn't even cross my mind to. Thirty years ago customers sought us, not the other way around.

If you don't actively market, you're left with hoping the local shop sells them for you. And with four hanging there, you're not really creating much scarcity. You'd have a better chance of selling or getting an order if you only had one hanging there.

I recommend to all makers they do a yearly "marketing audit." Look at where you spent your marketing time and marketing money. Then look at where your income - your sales and orders actually came from. What is the relationship between the two? Do more of what works and less of what does not. If you don't know where your sales and orders came from, find out. Ask. Look at other makers, those who you consider might be doing better than you. What are they doing well that you are not? Quality of work is one area, but marketing is another.

_________________
nigel

http://www.theluthierblog.com



These users thanked the author nkforster for the post (total 6): ernie (Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:21 am) • pat macaluso (Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:34 pm) • Jonny (Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:37 am) • Burton LeGeyt (Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:48 am) • joe white (Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:52 am) • Colin North (Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:19 am)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:48 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:21 pm
Posts: 2447
Location: Alexandria MN
Currently $3400 for a flat top with basic appointments and $4000 for an archtop. TKL Professional case included. Higher depending on woods and electronics. They have sold quickly at that level. Given the glut of luthiers and the aging demographic of buyers in today’s environment I am OK with those prices in my situation.

My marketing was mainly through a well known boutique store in Minneapolis with national credibility. Endorsement on their website and by word of mouth from the staff and some of the well known clientele that frequented the place opened the necessary doors over the last 13 years.

I am sure there are many paths to success in marketing ones work. I am looking forward to seeing more responses on this thread.

_________________
It's not what you don't know that hurts you, it's what you do know that's wrong.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:13 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:33 pm
Posts: 214
Location: Mount Vernon, Ohio
First name: Greg
Last Name: Maxwell
City: Mount Vernon
State: Ohio
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
Base price for the three models I currently build is $4500 and includes a hard shell case. Common upgrades include custom rosettes, shell purflings, Waverly tuners, cutaways, custom fretboard inlays, and fancy back and side sets. Most of my builds end up around $5K. I usually have a commission going, but if not I'll build a spec. Just sold the last two spec builds this summer for same prices as above.

I have found Nigel's e-books to be helpful!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:42 am 
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First name: Michael
City: Port Townsend
State: WA
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This guitar with a side sound port, Manzer wedge, and inlay as shown goes out at $2600 with a hard case. It takes me right at 30hrs to build. Then add another 20-25hrs for finish and final setup. I never build with super fancy woods and resaw most of my own sets in house which saves a ton. Most of my tops come from Bruce at Notible woods and are always AA grade. I personally don't care for "perfect" tops. I like me some color!! I'm able to source my cases locally in that Access cases are a 40 minute drive from home and I get them at a great price! Not the best cases but for the money I you can't beatum...

Best, M


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These users thanked the author Michaeldc for the post: JSDenvir (Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:56 am)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:41 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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First name: Ed
Last Name: Bond
City: Vancouver
Country: Canada
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Ed, you’re obviously a kajillion times more efficient than I am. How many hours do you figure you’ve got in a Halcyon guitar, if you don’t mind my asking?

Steve

80-100 Halcyon
100-150 Tinker

Walmart wages would be a step up



These users thanked the author meddlingfool for the post: JSDenvir (Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:40 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:44 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Country: Canada
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I should probably be a lot more mercenary than I am. But I was trained early that any ***kwit could do my job, I was lucky to be there, don't ask for a raise:)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:47 pm 
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Michaeldc wrote:
It takes me right at 30hrs to build.

Wow, that's awesome Michael! Sign me up for your class!



These users thanked the author pat macaluso for the post: Michaeldc (Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:06 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:28 pm 
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pat macaluso wrote:
Michaeldc wrote:
It takes me right at 30hrs to build.

Wow, that's awesome Michael! Sign me up for your class!


I was always curious how long it really took, so I built one start to finish and recorded the time for every operation. When I added it all up, the build took 29hrs. Of course this is 29hrs spread over 6 or 7 days. Glue has to have time to dry... Normally I have 3-4 instruments going at once and it's really tough to keep track of time for each. Be aware that I use my CNC for all inlay work, fretboard profiles, fret slots, neck blocks, heal block tenons, rosette channels, and the headstock profile including tuner holes and inlay. I have also made numerous tools, fixtures, and jigs to make each operation faster and more accurate. I'm a systems engineer type with too much time on my hands... :|



These users thanked the author Michaeldc for the post: pat macaluso (Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:03 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 2:25 pm
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First name: George
City: Seattle
State: WA
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Countless people have asked me how long it takes me to build a guitar. I just round things down and say, "About a year."

I'm afraid I can't help with a pricing data point, as I build for fun and give the instruments away as gifts.

_________________
George :-)



These users thanked the author George L for the post: pat macaluso (Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:03 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:06 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:15 pm
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First name: Joey
Last Name: Holliday
City: Pamplin
State: Virginia
Zip/Postal Code: 23958
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Completely depends on options. Most people that want a one off custom want to go a little crazy with high end, rare woods, fan frets, sound ports, expensive machine heads, etc.

Base- EIR/Sitka/simple rosette/no cutaway/ basic binding/decent mahogany neck and Gotoh's- $2500

Obviously it's not hard to move up to $7-$10K+ from there if they want FWI nut and bridge, High end Brazilian RW or "The Tree", Lucky Strike soundboard, Cutaway, complicated binding scheme, Premium figure mahogany (or some other hard to source material) neck, BRW appointments, Complicated inlay, fan frets, sound ports, custom shape, Full anthem install and an Ameritage case. But those people tend to contact Mike Greenfield, Trevor Gore and Ervin Somagyi anyway but the options are always on the table! lol.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:12 pm 
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Michaeldc wrote:
pat macaluso wrote:
Michaeldc wrote:
It takes me right at 30hrs to build.

Wow, that's awesome Michael! Sign me up for your class!


I was always curious how long it really took, so I built one start to finish and recorded the time for every operation. When I added it all up, the build took 29hrs. Of course this is 29hrs spread over 6 or 7 days. Glue has to have time to dry... Normally I have 3-4 instruments going at once and it's really tough to keep track of time for each. Be aware that I use my CNC for all inlay work, fretboard profiles, fret slots, neck blocks, heal block tenons, rosette channels, and the headstock profile including tuner holes and inlay. I have also made numerous tools, fixtures, and jigs to make each operation faster and more accurate. I'm a systems engineer type with too much time on my hands... :|
Ah cnc, but that's still pretty impressive and thanks for sharing! I'd love to check out your setup someday. We often make the Trek just for Waterfront Pizza. Mmm...


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:39 pm 
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First name: Michael
City: Port Townsend
State: WA
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We often make the Trek just for Waterfront Pizza. Mmm...[/quote]

Best pie around!

PM me. I'd love to show you around the shop. I'm about a block from Alrich's grocery in uptown PT.



These users thanked the author Michaeldc for the post: pat macaluso (Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:53 pm)
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