Do most luthiers live in a different century or do they just lack an understanding of expediency

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by pageburst, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. pageburst

    pageburst Silver Supporting Member

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    I understand the concept of workflow. What I do not understand is why my guitar needs to be physically present while the cue thins out. Placing a deposit should certainly suffice as a firm commitment and should a spot open up sooner rather than later next day or two day air is always an option .

    Well then that’s simply a question of price and should be a negotiation.

    Thanks Dana, that is quite helpful as it provides me with a better understanding of what’s involved in the process.

    I think somehow there is a disconnect to what I am saying. I understand that there may be a wait as previous jobs are being completed. What I do not understand is why my guitar needs to be there during that time. While I understand a luthier may work on several guitars at once, once the work starts on mine I would expect it to be done with reasonable expediency. It is neither necessary nor conducive to the final result for a luthier to remove the fretboard and then leave the project on the shelf for 2 months. What that amounts to is basically my guitar becomes the I’ll get to it when there is down time between my other projects job. Sorry that’s unacceptable to me. I knew a local mechanic/garage that engage in that horse crap. Keeping cars that needed serious repairs for months and getting to them between breakjobs and clutches. I’d hire a master wood worker and buy the needed tools and templates before I’d put up with that sort of BS.

    I think expediency is a specific enough term that perspective relativism shouldn’t affect the meaning. Unless you are allowing for lunatics and those without intellectual integrity, It’s as simple as the golden rule. I would want the luthier to value expediency as it relates to my guitar the same way he would want a mechanic to value expediency as it relates to his car (if he brought his car that he needed to be repaired). There should be no meaningful dissonance with regard to expediency if we are both intellectually honest. We all know what is is.
     
  2. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    I can relate to the fact that you don’t care for the luthier’s offer, but to insult the guy by asking if he “lives in a different century.”... He’s/They’re clearly busy enough that he doesn’t need your job.


    If you find a guy who can drop everything he’s doing to bang this out for you, you may want to wonder why he’s not busy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  3. Tone Meister

    Tone Meister Member

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    The best luthiers I know set you up with an appointment and that secures a place in his work que. You are notified to bring it in when you time comes up. I wouldn't understand any of the odd scenarios you mentiomed either, like the instrument being there for the duration or sitting idle for two months with the fretboard removed.

    Somewhere in the middle there is a solution with a competent, honest, efficient, responsible luthier.
     
  4. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Page, slow down or you’re gonna screw this all up.

    You’re asking for trouble with your approach.
    You’ve engaged the TGP deal-gone-bad failure mode of soliciting advice from total strangers about which total stranger you’re supposed to ship your guitar to along with a bunch of cash.

    Don’t ship. NEVER send your guitar to a stranger. Ever.
    So stupid. . You’re begging to get bent over.

    It’s also maybe less of a “lutherie issue” and more of a repair shop job.
    Most legitimate luthiers build their guitars, they don’t fix yours.
    There's obviously some crossover but for the most part I’m thinking anybody with a name would pass on an artsy-craftsy Historic Les Paul fingerboard/inlay/fret transplant on general principle.
    It’s just not what they do.

    Anecdotally, I’m good friends with Scott Walker, Santa Cruz area luthier, don’t know if you’re familiar with him, but he builds some absolutely stunning guitars. Good dude, and we’ve been collaborating on design, r+d type stuff, going on twenty years.
    I trust him, told him the kind of shape my old main player 1960 Strat’s in (completely trashed) and asked if he could refret it.
    He said, “aw man, I don’t do restoration on old guitars, I build brand new ones”
    The amount of unknowns he’d have to deal with on my guitar would screw him up for years.
    He’s booked.
    I couldn’t pay him enough to change his production schedule for years worth of clients. Domino effect. .

    He said “Take it to Gary Brauer” duh.http://brawer.com/
    That’s Gary. It’s “a repair shop” not one guy building custom guitars, a bunch of very experienced folks taking on every kind of guitar related issue.
    That’s the kind of situation you’re looking for locally, wherever you are.
    Don’t ship to strangers.
     
  5. Dubious

    Dubious Member

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    You want last century components installed and are complaining that the Luthier is living in the last century?? If he is skilled in these old school proceedures you should be thankful theres still guys willing and experienced to work on old school stuff! It aint the easiest, fastest or most convenient... but oddly enough people like yourself want it eh?
     
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  6. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

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    Well, at my shop, I ask to have the guitar dropped off in advance of when I have it scheduled. There are times for example that I can fit in the fretboard removal with other guitars having the similar heated work done. Then it may get set aside while I complete the guitars ahead of it. If it is not at my shop at that time, it may miss out on getting ahead of the curve and end up taking longer in the end. Most of my clientele have more than one guitar, so the delay (while never great news) is not the end of the world.

    BTW I certainly was born in the previous century where I learned and honed my craft. That was back in a time when customers understood what fine craftsmanship was and how long it took. Today in the modern world of online stores and info at your fingertips, nobody wants to wait. There is no patience anymore...and we’re starting to loose the art of craftsmanship too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  7. Chuck Hairy

    Chuck Hairy Supporting Member

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    I always thought most luthiers lived in garages.
     
  8. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Well, it's not usually a particularly well-paying position :(
     
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  9. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    This. Bob Smakula, who I learned what I know about repair from, will assess your instrument, give you a rough estimate of when he can get to it, then you take it home until he notifies you that he is ready for it.
    I understand, having done some repair work, that some jobs do take time (especially lacquer) and have to to be done in sequence, but way too many repair people can't schedule themselves, so guitars sit in the shop for weeks or months with nothing happening to them, and poor communication besides, leading to bad experiences for both parties.
    Some common sense, patience and respect on both sides makes it work well, like any business.
     
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  10. pageburst

    pageburst Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks Kimock. That make sense. I’ll have to find a good repair shop in the NY metro area.


     
  11. pageburst

    pageburst Silver Supporting Member

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    It was meant to be less insulting and more U must be kidding me, incredulousness. And yes I’m well aware that a less busy shop may not deliver the results I am looking for. With that said business is business. If you don’t need my business tell me straight up or, if the price needs to be X to justify the level of attention necessary to complete the job in a timely fashion, give me a number. I think that just makes way more sense
     
  12. Jacobite_Rebellion

    Jacobite_Rebellion Member

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    If your normal "wait time" for a guitar build is three months and a luthier says he can build you one in four months, he's not being expedient, to you.
    If your luthier normally takes five months to build a guitar and and agrees to make one, for you, in four months, he's being expedient, to him.
     
  13. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    Three things. Guitars are all hand made. Even the $39.95 Rogue. It doesn't take a whole lot of math, to recognize the labor and materials are tiny to build a guitar, if you want* to do things fast and efficiently. Even if we use solid woods, and take the time to tune the tops, bodies, necks and so on to specific frequencies, the convention is it takes an individual with no automation about 40 hrs to build a flattop, much less for a solid body. So you're instinct is correct, it shouldn't be a big deal to expect two week service from a conventional* repair person on a conventional repair. Yet, we can't get that reliably, if ever. Its usually months.

    Second thing. You said "Luthier". Luthiers are folks that are doing things differently, not conventionally. And, they almost all are individuals, self-employed, work out of their homes. Starting to see the pattern? I love luthiers, and custom builds. I love repair persons and folks that really know instruments. I also accept that they've chosen an obscure occupation for a reason: so they can work when they want to, and not work when they don't want to.

    Third thing. The consumption and commerce of guitars is in sales, not repair. So 99% of our guitar industry is focused on production, not repair. Its that way on purpose, because its more profitable to sell new, than repair existing. As a result, the consumers are *guided* to buy new products. Those same producers of new products may offer parts, but as far as I know, they don't offer much of a repair service. Sending a Fender or Gibson or Martin back to the factory is going to take...months.

    So the point is, the folks who have shaped the guitar infrastructure, have purposely focused it all on new production, and new sales. They don't want us to waste time and money on maintenance or giving our business to local mom and pops, they want us to just buy a new one when an issue arises.

    Which leaves us with the maverick luthier, who is going against convention to go out on his own, no support [or need] from the industry. That person has to be a little different and unconventional. As a result, I find that luthiers are very interesting people, but they aren't motivated to do things quickly, nor are they interested in maximizing their businesses into growth plans. To them, its constitutes concession to do things quickly, or, by the time they invest in machinery or training helpers, they've cut into their profits, or added risk with debt, or defeated the purpose of being a luthier, by getting consumed by business decisions. Instead of enjoying shaving wood, seeing the grain come to life, and taking the day off when the weather is nice to visit some friends.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
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  14. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    Sorry but i don't count chickens before they hatch...... If your guitar isn't here the day I am ready to start, I start the next job. I do not need to chase people and call them to ship it in now for the work. People seek me out from around the country. In fact some just send guitars without any notice, just a note inside to get the next spot in my cue......

    And I would never accept a deposit on any work that isn't in my posession because I would need to escrow that for the day you call and say "I sold that axe give me back my money...." in fact beyond payment for parts that need ordered up front or commission contracts I accept no monies upfront. Saves trouble down the road if someone gets impatient and pushes me....

    These are my rules. This is how I do business. My clients understand and I have a very loyal client base.
     
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  15. dirk_benedict

    dirk_benedict Supporting Member

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    May I ask a dumb question....rather than do such a costly, invasive and time consuming, cosmetic modification to a guitar, why not find another Les Paul with a fretboard that is more to your liking? Or is it that the inlays are some custom design?
     
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  16. Muttlyboy

    Muttlyboy Member

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    Guitar repair and building is a very specialized craft, and some of these people are really Artists.

    In Construction and Building Trades, in most cases time is money, and Construction Management types don't have patience for Artists (something a little out of square, a partition a couple inches moved over, sloppy wiring above the ceilings) "get it closed-up and painted,they gotta get the place rented"

    If I was looking to have such specialized and particular work to be done (and also with special rare materials), and if I found the special rare Artist that I could believe would do the job correctly...

    I wouldn't start cracking a whip.
     
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  17. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    I once needed a repair, in two weeks for an important gig, and this guitar was part of the feature.

    [I needed a fretboard removed and relocated to correct the intonation on a flattop. The saddle was too close to the bridge pins already, and - yep - the saddle needed to go back further to correct the scale. Its either a new board, or move the existing one.]

    I went to a guy I used before, well known, 90 minutes away, that is usually pretty quick. He had a big backlog, and said he couldn't do it in less than 4 weeks. I asked him who could, and he said everyone in the area was in the same situation. So, I made him a cash offer to work me into his cue - not bypassing anyone, but basically do my job on an overtime basis, including the premium payment to do so. We were both happy, and nobody else was bypassed. Just an option...
     
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  18. Jim DaddyO

    Jim DaddyO Member

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    So, you offer 10% over rate to move up in the line of work the repair guy has scheduled. Of course, the next guy is in a rush too, so he offers 15% over, and so on, and so on. Next thing you know, all the repair guys are being offered more money for the same work. The supply/demand situation is recognised and everyone just raises their prices because they recognise that the market will bear it and now it costs $100 just for a simple set up, and you are still in the same position of having to wait the same amount of time.

    Of course, you could get a fast sloppy job cheap if you are willing to let someone just duct tape the old fret board over the new one, but I don't think you will be happy with the results.

    The bottom line is, it takes whatever time it takes, and it costs what it costs. Not much can be done about the situation. It's like talking about the weather.
     
  19. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    And then, some young folk decide they'd rather do the work than pay for the work, train in the store, and we get more luthiers, restore the missing service industry for instrument repair, and we get our repairs in a week or two. And, a lot of folks learn to do something creative and valued, instead of playing video games, overstimulating on FB, spending too much time on TGP...:O
     
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  20. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

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    As soon as I got to this part, your credibility flew out the window.
     

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