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Builders; could I get a rough time estimate for a semi-hollow build?

ChaseTMP

Member
Messages
1,992
I'm acting as an intermediary for a friend's custom build and I may need to utilize some real-world builder's experience in the delay conversations. I've been hearing "a couple more days" for weeks now and I wanted to have some opinions.

What is an estimate for the total build hours be (give or take), for a: set-neck, semi-hollow body (routed-out/non-braced), double bound, carved top and back, bound f-holes and neck, headstock inlay (2 pre-cut letters) and fretboard inlay (pre-cut blocks), four pots, two switches (3-way switch and a coil-split toggle), 2 control routes on the back, 2 humbuckers (neck coil-split), stop-tail (Gibson style), clear finish on body and painted headstock?

The order was placed 2/20/13 and we were told 5-6 months. On 10/3/13, I was told 2 more weeks. I know that angering the luthier isn't going to help anything, but if I keep getting the runaround, I want to be able to say "this could have been completed in…, even if you worked a half an hour a day on it, it could have been done…". I have know idea of the total time involved, but thought I read somewhere, around 20-25 total hours for something similar.
 

DamianP

Member
Messages
5,871
There are so many factors that affect how long any build might take that it`s impossible to say.

The level of mechanisation/tooling set up, workload, location, materials, time of year, type of finish, price and a myriad of other factors all affect how long such a build might take.

I would only suggest that 20-25 hours is way too little. All that work in 2 1/2 days?
 

Gordon Branch

Member
Messages
32
I would estimate 150 hours build time to be more realistic. 5-6 months is a reasonable build time as a lot of lutherie consists of gluing one piece and letting it sit for a day or two. Guys set up with lots of dedicated fixtures devoted to that design can cut the time considerably.
Bottom line, if you were quoted 5-6 months then a 1 year wait is way too long without a real good reason.
 

XKnight

Member
Messages
11,087
Unfortunately, some builders do excellent work, but end up promising delivery dates that they rarely meet. If you're dealing with a well known and respected builder than a few extra weeks or months will be worth it. If this is a guy who just does this on the side, then I forsee some issues. I wish you the best of luck. BTW, I'm not a builder, just a frequent buyer.
 

ChaseTMP

Member
Messages
1,992
Thanks for the replies. I know there is a myriad of factors that come into play, I was curious, more than anything. The luthier, I'm working with, is well respected and I'm sure, the instrument will be well worth the wait. I have a friendly rapport with the builder and if I was to mention when the build could have been completed; it would have been more of a playful jab, since we have established a good working relationship through the years on other builds.

I'm aware of the downtime between certain steps in the build process, but was genuinely curious about the build time, since I was equally thinking; "how is he making any money on this?" I know what my time is worth and for approximately $2000 in labor for this particular build, it seems to me, that the perceived 80 hours+ spent on this, is a tough business model. This is the luthier's main gig and he produces about 30 guitars a year, so there are only a couple in-process at a given time. Although he is a one man operation, he does have a shop and the associated overhead. I guess, the old adage may be true in this case, if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.
 

pattste

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,800
I know what my time is worth and for approximately $2000 in labor for this particular build, it seems to me, that the perceived 80 hours+ spent on this, is a tough business model. This is the luthier's main gig and he produces about 30 guitars a year, so there are only a couple in-process at a given time. Although he is a one man operation, he does have a shop and the associated overhead. I guess, the old adage may be true in this case, if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.
This. I spoke to several world class builders over the years at the Montreal Guitar Show. I definitely got the impression that they love what they're doing and probably can't imagine doing anything else. Most of them probably make less than minimum wage when all is taken into account. I would guess that the world's worst orthodontist makes more an hour than all but the very best luthiers in the world.
 






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