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New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training
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Author:  KBA [ Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

Greetings my friends,
I am a first year Luthier whom is training myself and have decided to save up for a CNC machine to custom build electric guitar bodies, necks, and whatever I can really that will make a profit. There is no luthiers around me currently I can train with, no schools, so it is all online. I have a lifetime dedication to harmony and have decided a luthier is in line with the fostering of freedom and harmony allowing me to live in love and in peace. I have been examining and watching videos on YouTube which show people using CNC machines to produce electric guitar parts. I am intrigued and would like to start. Ideally I would use all parts manufactured that are as close as possible to my location, which is in Indiana in the USA. Least carbon footprint possible. Supporting my own people. I also am interested in acoustic guitars too. My situation is that I am currently with little funding but the ability to take what limited funding I have and save up to buy a CNC machine. Well eventually. I am considering buying used electric guitars and fixing them up and selling them for a fee. Perhaps painting, changing equipment, etc. I saw a video of a steampunk themed guitar, maybe themed guitars would be a good starting point. I have also seen nice equipment put into used guitars that have created value. Maybe I could rebrand guitars in this fashion and add my own value to them. Even selling them online. This way I can build up money to buy the CNC machine. I am in a small town where there just really is no where to work. So this is what I think of to gather money for my first CNC machine and equipment. Perhaps the X-Carve or Shapeoko XL to start with, does anyone have experience using these machines? I have seen that the Laguna machines look very nice but currently are to expensive for me to be starting out with. Or should I go as far as to build and program a machine on my own using some type of software, all replies are welcome.

What first CNC machine would you recommend and software?
Any ideas on ways to fix up electric guitars for profits?
Any advice for someone starting out (advice that will help)?
What legal ramifications are there for using open source builds, or designs that look like the famous guitars like Les Paul, Stratocaster, etc. do I need a whole new design?

Thanks for viewing my thread, I really do wish you all the best. Thank you for contributing to my search to add value to this world and help my fellow man.
Kind Regards,

Author:  Michaeldc [ Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

You have a huge learning curve in front of you! If I were you and cnc was gonna be your main focus, I'd learn Fusion 360 like you thought of it and go from there. The cnc machines you have mentioned will never be able to produce competitively marketable products.

Cheers, M

Author:  Marty M. [ Tue Dec 25, 2018 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

I have an X carve as my 3rd cnc router, and it's an OK place to start learning about CNC, but really you want something more industrial in nature if you plan on making a living building guitars. While an X carve is OK to make a guitar body, I haven't found it quite accurate enough to make a neck that I'm satisfied with. I just purchased my last upgrade add -ons and when the weather breaks, I'll give it try. If you are planning a career move to luthiery, you may want to learn how to make a guitar first too. You can buy a preslotted fretboard and truss rod easily enough on line and the rest can kind of be accomplished with Home Center tooling and basic woodworking skills. Intrument specific tooling can be expensive too, but you can buy things piecemeal. Check out Stewart Macdonald, ebay, LMii, and Philadelphia luthiers supply for handy parts and gadgets.

If you are serious about cncing, then really you need to learn the CAD and CAM behind it. As mentioned, it's a pretty large learning curve but there is free software out there for people that aren't earning a lot of money from it. That's where I'd begin too. ... -hobbyists

Author:  sdsollod [ Tue Dec 25, 2018 11:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

CNC is fine, but in my opinion, you should start out learning what goes into building guitars. A kit is a good first start. Then, go to scratch build. CNC can't do it all for you. Once you know what goes into building an instrument, you can use CNC to help increase productivity. Learn from books, videos, anything you can find, including this forum, but start at the beginning... Best of luck!

Author:  KBA [ Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

I have been reading a lot since posting this thread and have decided that I will need books, hand tools, and power tools. I have been considering starting with a Openbuilds 1010 or something similar, or even building my own machine... I am just starting out and hitting the ground running. I saw a nice tutorial by DIY builds on building a CNC machine for $900 though may stick with the Openbuilds. I am keeping my eyes open as of right now and contemplating all the good ideas. I am a quick learner with computer software, most especially with so many tutorial videos available online today. First though I plan to get some hard copy books though to go ahead of the tutorial videos. The more I am learning the more I like the idea of building acoustic guitars. I would like to eventually move to the Laguna 4 x 4 or something similar at some point in the future. But must take baby steps as of now. I have been comparing prices from various online vendors and am gathering a starting point of what to cut my teeth on price wise to hand build an acoustic. It may be wiser to go with a kit at first but ideally I would like to do one by hand, but the time frame it looks like I may need to save up or build a CNC machine one step at a time to get some electric guitars under my belt to get some profits coming in. Fusion 360 is going to become something I will need to become familiar with. Whatever I produce I will not allow it on the market unless the quality will match anything anyone else makes. That is something that brings me much joy in my thinking of the future!

Edit: Naturally I hope to have it at a quality not even comparable to the high production numbered guitars coming out of other countries. The highest quality that can be achieved.
Edit: I know what books I would like as of now, the hand tools I am gathering information and am making a list, the power tools I am considering, the CNC machine I am uncertain of as I need to find something accurate with a proven track record. The openbuilds lead 1010 is what I am currently researching. I am looking for as many opinions and experience as possible and enjoy reading replies geared which help.

Author:  KBA [ Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

Steve Sollod I am browsing through your website and am wondering on the tele-style, did you hand made/craft the neck and headstock and What I first noticed is the headstock, from what I understand the tele body is not trademarked but the headstock shape is, am I correct in this? I am not familiar with copyright laws as I am just now researching to become a luthier. I really enjoy a copper and blue color combination.

Author:  sdsollod [ Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

KBA, thanks for checking out my website. Yes, the tele-style guitars were made by hand from scratch. I used free plans I found on the internet. Admittedly, the headstock is close to fender, but it is slightly different. Also, since I am a small time builder I'm not worried they will come after me. I don't think anyone would confuse my builds with fenders. You might find the telecaster forum interesting. Google it...

Author:  Tim Mullin [ Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

You first need to understand guitars, how they’re designed, what makes them playable. You need training from a craftsman, a human being, before you need a machine or even a “kit”. Your claim there are no schools nearby is not at all accurate — there is at least one school of lutherie in Indiana, and a bunch more throughout the US with reviews and testimonials.

By jumping into cnc, you’ll be joining all the other clowns who think they can make a bundle cranking out Partscasters. You need to understand the craft before you get excited about a tool.

Do some research on training and plan to invest your limited resources on knowledge and skills.

Off soap-box.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Author:  KBA [ Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

I wish the schools here in the USA were where I could simply walk in and be greeted with open arms. I just can't afford to go to the lutherie schools... right now. There is a degree in violin making that is another city over, but I can not afford to go there. I am hoping to find someone to train under. I would even volunteer if I could find someone. I hope to harmonize myself with all the available information and jump in to the craft, and hopefully jump in without injuring myself. I hope to bring value to the craft and make people smile.

I have been reading some of the tdpri forums and am trying to soak up the information.

Ideally I would produce everything on site. But will have to import parts in until that day comes, including wood. The exotic woods will still be imported. The parts I can not manufacture on site I will try to get as close to site as I can, with the highest quality that is available. I am hoping to offer set neck, and on request neck through or bolt on. I am keeping my eyes and mind open.

Author:  rlrhett [ Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

Please don’t take offense, I certainly don’t want to discourage you. But looking at CNC first is a bit like never having turned a wrench on a car and wondering if you should start with a three bay garage with lifts or a five bay one.

I have simple advice. Buy Melvin Hiscock’s book and build a Tele. Do it with whatever tools you have available. If you need to get a tool or two, get them and see where it takes you. Once that guitar is built, play it. I assume you are a reasonably good player and you can tell the difference between a good guitar well set up and junk. If you are satisfied try to sell it (and not to a sibling, or neighbor, etc. A real arms length purchaser.)

Just doing that will answer more questions for you than a dozen threads and a hundred well intentioned posts.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

Author:  KBA [ Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

rlrhett - The player enlivens the music always and opinions would be subjective. This is influenced by practically everything under the sun, and with a focus on providing a valuable addition to this world , locally, that will appreciated by my people. Then I see it as always being what I intended it to be, a valuable , local, instrument produced to better mankind. Your advice does resound in logic, and I have considered it, what you have advised, since day one. If the instrument produced follows scientific model of perfection and the value is there, I certainly see it as a profitable situation for everyone. Persistence is needed in all things in life. With instrument making, I will contribute something to society.

I thoroughly enjoy all advice. I honestly hope to gather the information of everything pertaining to electric guitar building. Someday acoustic. I can not pay my bills in dreams unfortunately. With more and more jobs being moved to other countries with a different economy that are not the USA, now is the time to focus on producing something of value.

I would enjoy other ideas to read of crafts that bring value to the world, like wood furniture making, cabinets, etc. Naturally this forum is related to lutherie but I will take what I can get.

Author:  Marty M. [ Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

Since you mentioned it, there are plenty of good build threads on TDPRi if you read the Challenge threads and do a search for specific types of builds. There is no FAQ there, and only the current threads tend to see daylight. I can tell you that there is a huge archive of great information if one searches it out. The Challenge threads detail building instruments over a 60 day period and usually show most steps along the way. You'll see many different approaches to the same task as opposed to the same couple that are repeated over and over in most current forum threads, videos, and books. A few of the challenges included a few beginners who had never built guitars before. They are worth the time to read. I've been a member there for about what seems to be 20 years or so and a lot of good basic information is shared. The Home Depot section membership changes quite a bit, but people are ready to help and answer questions.

Author:  KBA [ Sat Dec 29, 2018 8:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

What do you guys think of the CNC Router Parts Desktop standard? It seems to look fairly low level professional and has a much longer Z axis than the open builds.

Author:  Borg [ Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

I built 3 guitars by hand first. Then I built a CNC router to do specific chores. It speeds up the process but not as much a you might think. There is still lots of handwork. Guitar building is a test of craftsmanship and patience. It never really occurred to me to do it for profit but all my friends say I should try and sell them. Don't know if I will or not. Sounds like you want to start out on 3rd base. I don't recommend it. Build one from scratch and keep track of your time. You will soon see that it's very hard to compete with MIM Strats and Epiphone Les Pauls unless you don't mind working for $3/hr. BTW, both of those are very playable guitars, once they are gone through and properly set up.

Author:  rlrhett [ Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

I know people who have bought the Pro version with the Hiwin linear rails and it is a robust pro level machine. I don't know about their skate bearing version, but it might be also top notch. The difference is ~$4500 or ~$5500 with the motors and electronics. If you are willing to spend that kind of money, I would certainly consider the Pro.

Author:  Hesh [ Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

Get out now while you still can......

Or the old joke how do you make a million dollars at Lutherie? Start with two million...

Seriously it's very, very difficult to make any money let alone a living at Lutherie. Well established builders with a specific and winning value proposition can do OK but it took them lots of time and effort and sacrifice to get to that stage.

If you were to count the builders or repair people on this forum alone who make their entire income or even the majority of it at Lutherie you would likely not need much more than one hand. I'm not speaking of names and blasts from the past of the OLF either but current active members. Huge deficit of pros here and there is a reason for that, there is a huge deficit of pros in this field in general, it's very difficult to make a living at.

This forum alone not to mention all others are littered with the abandoned memberships of hundreds if not thousands of folks who also wanted to make a living at Lutherie and these days they are being told to keep the change as they drop off folks at Hartsfield....

It's also not a pursuit that one should go it alone in terms of learning. There are literally millions of things to know such as what a POS a Rik 12 is and what's unique about how the courses are implemented.

One of my friends who like me does make his living at this and at times comments here is fond of saying "you don't know what you don't know until you know it" and he's spot on. Lutherie needs to be learned with as much exposure to others already in the trade as possible.

We've got a successful Lutherie business in Ann Arbor with a huge client base, famous clients and we are by appointment only for anything beyond a simple set-up now because we have more folks bringing us stuff than we want or can handle. But it took a LOT to get here and it was not always pretty. I also studied under one of the best in the world AND brought with me knowledge of running businesses that was taught to me at the highest levels of a Fortune five company and decades of service.

Now for the positive. If it were me and I had a passion for this stuff and I really wanted to make a go of it AND not waste my time or anyone else's by being committed to doing what it takes to succeed... what a concept eh... I would either study under a Master Luthier or go to the Galloup School of Lutherie or both.

Even so you may find that the only jobs out here until you have a name for yourself (that can take 20 years........) is as a minimum wage tech wiping drool off cheap Epiphone Les Pauls on a busy Saturday when every snot nosed punk in town is playing a really bad version of Stairway at the local Mitt Romney's Guitar Center. Sounds attractive doesn't it?

Or doing some service for a stinking, one foot in the grave music store setting up crap instruments and pulling a saddle to lower it and finding a green, fuzzy toe nail with fungus growing on it that someone put under that saddle as a shim.... (true story.... only it was our business that I found the green toe nail at).

Lastly successful businesses regardless of what kind of business it is are at the end of the day some manner of combination of knowing your stuff, having chops in what you do, finding the sweet spot for your value proposition and being adverse to and knowledgable enough to avoid getting any of the 1,000 BS things on ya that small businesses must endure.

And really lastly never lose sight of the fact that with all but professional musicians the income available to you from providing goods and services to this market is VERY "elastic in demand" and often completely subject to the health and well being of the disposable income of others. Or, in other words come recession time and I'm calling us 24 months out now... people won't spend money on guitars when they just got laid off from General Motors. I'll add that going into any business that depends of the disposable... income.... of musicians is just freakin insane.....

But hey we do have good days too....:). I love what I do and do it very well. A day does not go by that someone is not expressing their gratitude to me for fixing their instrument AND.... sometimes their ability to play it too. I've received large monetary tips, bags of pot (we have three pot dispensaries on our block and it's legal here), lunch, gift cards, special treatment at local world-class medical facilities, free concerts, free front row tickets to see the stars after I worked on their guitars as well as donated instruments to fix up and give to homeless folks (something we do on the side because we can and because we should).

How's that for a motivational comment? You can thank me later :)

How you do will depend on your resolve, your ability to accept expert advice, your ability to understand in advance that you don't know squat about this and should approach it with a clean slate, your stash of cash to live on until things get going AND your ability to understand what unwanted liability is and avoid getting any on ya.

Good luck.

Author:  Bri [ Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

Hesh, way to sugar coat it. By the way, where is Hartsfield?

Author:  Hesh [ Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

Bri wrote:
Hesh, way to sugar coat it. By the way, where is Hartsfield?

Author:  Peter J [ Wed May 01, 2019 9:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Luthier to the scene, no experience, or training

One of my favorites:

I've often said that there are two things that everybody knows about musicians: they're all crazy, and none of them have any money.

We're trying to make a living building expensive things to sell to crazy people who have no money, so what does that make us?

Alan Carruth - 7-27-2010

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