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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 11:07 am
Posts: 713
Location: Cobourg ON
First name: Steve
Last Name: Denvir
City: Baltimore
State: ON
Zip/Postal Code: K0K 1C0
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thank you one and all for the insights/input. I’ve decided to forego the music store work and just offer my services on Kijiji (Canada’s Craigslist).

Thanks for the reminder Tim. I hope my advice works as well for me as it did for you :-)

Now, perhaps a stupid question.

Do I have to stock an arsenal of strings? I’m only planning on doing acoustics, but even that seems fraught.

Thanks again

Steve


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:47 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 907
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
JSDenvir wrote:

Do I have to stock an arsenal of strings? I’m only planning on doing acoustics, but even that seems fraught.



I have figured out that I can string almost any acoustic in my personal quiver with a set of light gauge, medium gauge and a few singles. This means not only your basic 6 string but my resonators, lap guitar, and even my 12 strings. For my personal use I have settled on a brand and composition that I like, it is common enough that many people will accept these. I buy these sort of in bulk - maybe 6 sets of each and a few 10's, 12's, 13's, 14's singles.

Since these are fairly expensive coated strings not everyone wants them so I keep a few sets of relatively inexpensive basic non coated PB's in medium and light gauge. Also because I do work on electrics and nylon string guitars I keep a couple of sets of each. These back up my personal guitars as well as let me have something on hand for repairs.

However, in my case, probably 60 percent of my work comes thru a store and when I pick the guitar up I ask them to put in a set of the strings that the owner specifies I still have to dip into my stash, but if they want something I don't have they have to provide it.

Lastly, I'm hard on strings when I'm making a nut or saddle where I have to tighten and loosen them a lot. Its not uncommon to break a string and I almost always replace the full set when I'm done. Having extras of the common E, B and G strings means I have one when I break something. Along this line, I try to do as much as I can with the old strings.

So, yes, you need some strings


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:14 pm 
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Walnut
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:56 pm
Posts: 5
First name: Ian
Last Name: Pender
City: Portland
State: Oregon
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
Freeman wrote:
I do setups for my local music store as well as people who have heard about me in other ways.

I try to meet the owner when they bring the guitar to the store, if not I get their phone number and ask them several questions about how they play, what they expect of their guitar, what they think is wrong with it. If I had a dollar for every one who says "I want my action as low as possible without buzzing...."

Before I do anything with the guitar I measure EVERYTHING. I created a little spreadsheet (PM me an e-mail addy and I'll send it to you). I start with the condition of the guitar - is it hydrated, condition of frets, neck angle and structural issues. Those are red flags - if the guitar is dry or frets are bad I stop there and discuss with owner.

If it passes that test I measure relief, nut (1st fret) and 12th fret action, intonation, and a couple of other things. I've even learned to measure the strings that were on it - you'd be surprised how many people don't know (or the store will give me a completely different size which will throw everything off). Based on the measurements (1) I know what needs to be done, and (2) can give the owner an estimate.

The columns in the spread sheet include "as found", "target", "reference" and "final". The target and reference are the values for a given parameter and where I got it - for instance Martin might recommend relief at 0.010 but a setup tech that I respect might prefer 0.004. I'm quite sure that Dave and Hesh have values that they use - its nice to be able to point to something like that when you are talking to your customer.

By the way, I can fill out that spreadsheet in ten minutes, if the owner is there she can watch me take the measurements and we discuss them at that time.

Based on all of that I do the setup and fill out the "final" column. Some things might not apply to one guitar - intonation or pickup height for an electric might be left blank for an acoustic, neck angle might not apply to an electric. But the important thing is that I go thru the ritual for every guitar.

When its done I print a copy of the spread sheet and include it with the invoice - that way the owner has a copy and I keep it in my database. I tell the owner that if there is any problem, usually a buzz because we pushed it too far, to call me immediately and I take care of that - even if it means making a new nut or saddle.

Last comment about the spread sheet - I put a second tab on it with a lot of helpful information - each time I find specs that are useful I put them there so I can find them easily.


I'd be interested in seeing that spreadsheet. I try to document action specs, both before and after, in the notes section of a work order in my shops POS software. Often times, customers will ask what I did to their instrument, and having that info, along with my notes, gives the front desk employee something to go with. It's also cool being able to look through past work orders to see what I've done to that customers instruments in the past, (a surprising number of my customers expect me to remember off the top of my head how I set up a previous guitar of theirs, maybe six months or more ago, so I'd be lost without these notes). I am, however, looking for a cleaner way of documenting the work that I do, so I'd like to see what you've got. Something I've been thinking about is having some sort of print out that I can hand to a customer after the work is done, similar to what one receives after a doctor visit, detailing what procedure was performed, and listing ways that the patient can maintain their health, since I don't always have time for face-to-face interactions with the customer.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:02 am 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 9906
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Yes, you will need at least some of the more popular strings as I did when I did some work from my home shop.

It's not uncommon for someone to be keen for a recommendation of different strings from what they have been using OR what was already on the instrument. It's often the case that for kids or older adults a string gauge change is part of how we make the instrument easier to play.

We have a practice of sitting every client down to try their instrument when they pick it up. We also preposition them when dropping it off about our guarantee that we will be asking them to try it when they come back AND if they are not "thrilled" we rip up the bill.

It's always the case that folks notice a difference at once even when cowboy chord players because of how we do our nut slots that I am a broken record about here. It's something that is immediately noticeable and very much needed on nearly every instrument that we repair.

Because of how noticeable things are when they pick up it's yet another reason why documentation of before and after specs is a waste of time for us. Our mission is to improve the things and that's all we really care about. I'll add that because we have first person contact with the actual Luthier doing the work, most of the time we have substantial opportunity to understand what they want and perhaps just as importantly they have the opportunity to understand what we are agreeing to do for them and why. If we don't think that what we do for them will be immediately noticeable we may not take the instrument in or heavily qualify that what we will be doing is minimal and maybe adjust the price accordingly downward.

I only had to keep 15 - 20 sets of strings when working from home with 12's, 13's, 9'2, 10's, 11's, and normal tension D-Addario classical strings likely taking care of 95% of the clients. One 12 string set is prudent too. I never stocked bass strings and A2G doesn't either because of the large variety of different types and lengths. Your repeat clients will give you a clue what to stock too.

Be sure to contact someone such as Heritage to add insurance to your home for this. Homeowners does not protect the valuable personal property of others on your premises unless your policy has a specific rider for the commercial use of your home. There is also the issue of liability for clients if they break their neck on your front porch, etc. Predug holes in the woods and snowmobiles gassed up and equipped with drag lines help with getting rid of the bodies. ;). Anyway our Luthier insurance and we have two separate policies that do different things also covers it if we screw-up such as knocking someone's guitar on the floor etc.



These users thanked the author Hesh for the post: Clinchriver (Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:39 am)
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:21 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 907
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Ian_Pender wrote:
I'd be interested in seeing that spreadsheet.


PM me an e-mail address - I can only attach to an email


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:27 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 907
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Steve, I would also suggest putting in a small stock of nut and saddle blanks in the usual thicknesses. Both bleached and unbleached so you can make it fit the guitar. I also keep a few pieces of fretwire in the normal sizes and a few sets of pins.

Just stock up a bit when you are buying from one of your suppliers - often you'll get a price break if you order in quantity and the shipping will be less. I have a mandolin right now that needs some frets, I have mando fretwire but its not the right size. I can order it but shipping is going to be as much as the wire so I'm thinking of buying a bunch of other stuff that I don't need right now.....


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:06 pm 
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Koa
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:14 am
Posts: 526
Location: Shefford, Québec
First name: Tim
Last Name: Mullin
City: Shefford
State: QC
Zip/Postal Code: J2M 1R5
Country: Canada
Focus: Build
Status: Semi-pro
Hesh wrote:
Be sure to contact someone such as Heritage to add insurance to your home for this.

This is the second time insurance has come up in this thread. I think it bears repeating.
Some of us Canucks have traded war stories on our search here:
http://luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10101&t=45266&hilit=Insurance+Canada

At that time, there were at least two of us who had been told by Heritage that they don't provide coverage in Canada. That seems to be incorrect! I've just got off the phone with Rob Gallo at Heritage -- thought I would give them another call, as my current coverage expires in February. Rob assured me that they do indeed provide coverage, including home-based builder-repair operators.

His email is rgallo@musicins.com. One caution he did mention was that their MINIMUM premium is about USD750, PLUS USD100-150 for Canadian underwriting fees and taxes. So, not cheap.

It's not likely that I'll change, but I'll work through the process of getting a proposal and compare to what I have now.

Keep in mind that when you insure a commercial operation in your home, you need to ensure that your residential insurer is informed. When I informed ours two years ago, they promptly cancelled our home policy! There is a lot of merit in using a common broker and insurer for both so that there is no finger pointing in the event of a loss.



These users thanked the author Tim Mullin for the post (total 3): pat macaluso (Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:11 pm) • JSDenvir (Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:49 pm) • Hesh (Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:59 pm)
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