Selling simple builds as a hobby?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by CrackTheSkye, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. CrackTheSkye

    CrackTheSkye Member

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    Ok, this may be a weird question or maybe not. You be the judge.

    Anyhow I've been thinking about doing some simple builds that would build my skill and would also net me a little cash on the side by selling on reverb, ebay, possibly here.

    I've been thinking about starting a hobby that not only would occupy my time but add to my finances as well. Now im not looking to get rich or start a business, but maybe a little extra money for gear. What sort of things are easy to build at a relatively low cost that I could also sell? Cables, loopers, A/B boxes, pedalboards, etc...? Not really looking to use DIY or BYOC circuits or build effects at this time.

    I also have access to a machine shop with water jets, a large variation of materials (aluminum, steel, Diamond plate, etc...) which would make it relatively easy to make certain things such as pedalboards. Also a recent thread on volume pedal size got me thinking I could possibly work up a volume/Wah/expression pedal of the "ideal" size. Putting together the innards would be a different story though.

    Just wondering your guys opinion on this. Is it worth doing? Anyone do this with success?

    Thanks
     
  2. 8len8

    8len8 Member

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    Just make sure if you do it that you are responsible. If you get sick or have a family crisis you'll need to have someone fill in for you, or you'll need to state realistic turn-around times up-front. You don't want to end up getting a bad reputation like some small builders discussed here.

    Also, think about stuff they talk about on Shark Tank. What would make your product or offering better than what's out there already? Lower price, better quality, new features... If you are just going to offer the same thing a dozen other well-known builders offer then you might not get many customers.
     
  3. CrackTheSkye

    CrackTheSkye Member

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    Definitely not looking to make it a business as my original post indicates. Would only sell what I build. No waiting lists, no orders, etc... I sure don't want to get caught up in something I can't handle. I'm also not looking to reinvent the wheel, just wanna make some things as a hobby that I could potentially sell.
     
  4. manticorefx

    manticorefx Member

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    That's a great attitude to have. The whole order taking thing never made sense to me. I don't take money if I don't have the thing on hand and finished, working, ready to be boxed up and shipped.

    You could try pedals with low parts counts, and hand wire them on stripboard or pad-per-hole. Maybe a simple true bypass looper. Or a buffer. Just don't expect to make back much of what you spent on parts until you get pretty good at making a finished product. A few years ago, I built a few OCD clones to get my skills up, but you can make a buffer maybe 1/4 of the components.
     
  5. colonoscopotamus

    colonoscopotamus Member

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    You might be able to recoup your costs - if your builds are demonstrably high quality. Don't expect to make any sort of profit unless you treat it like a business. There are so many companies out there who can take advantage of the economy of scale to sell for a lower price (especially if you factor in the value of your time) than your costs are going to be, that there's just no way (unless you do the research, marketing, and volume required by an actual business) to make a profit at it.
    There's no reason, if you build things you want to build and take your time to ensure they're quality builds, that you couldn't get close to breaking even (make sure to factor shipping costs into your calculations) on a piece-by-piece basis. If you get enough pieces out there like that, you may be able to see a little profit come in as word of mouth spreads though, again, without treating it like a business (and especially markeiting it like one), you shouldn't expect that to happen any time soon.
    The only difference between a well built byoc kit and MANY tgp darlings is a couple component values and excellent marketing.
     
  6. cj_wattage

    cj_wattage Member

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    Good call. If you only sell things that are already built, you can entirely avoid a huge chunk of the trouble that smaller operations run into.

    Seems like the kind of thing would fall easily into the "common sense" bucket, but apparently it isn't all that intuitive for a lot of people.
     
  7. Non-Digital Tom

    Non-Digital Tom Member

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    I couldn't tell from your post, but are you currently building pedals now (if so, how long and how many have you built)? Or are you saying you've never tried building pedals, but you're thinking of getting into it for the reasons you stated?
     
  8. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    Check out the prices on kit builds sold as used... Not far from what you are thinking about doing. Tough market... Hard to recoup parts cost much less you time.

    Unless you offer a unique twist, have an incredible reputation as a builder, build a brand, or have some incredible cost advantage ... You'll be hard pressed to find any profit.

    Edit: that said, I build amps I don't need and give them to friends... Some times free, some times at cost. Much more gratifying that the money I might make as a side gig. (I know that might sound obnoxious to some, but it is what it is).
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  9. CrackTheSkye

    CrackTheSkye Member

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    I have built some things just for myself. Not many though. I know that I am not a professional when it comes to soldering. Like I said tis is merely a hobby to hone my skills and only once I'm comfortable with my work will I put anything on the market. I think you guys are getting this all wrong. I'm not looking to create my own circuits or construct anything too complex at this time or possibly never (still have a lot of learning to do on that aspect). Things such as buffers, TB loopers, cables, etc... is what I'm after as well as pedalboards. I will probably start with building bare bones pedalboards and work my way up. As far as materials for this project my dad works for a company where he has access to discounted materials at company cost as well as any machine tools we would need. I think this will help out tremendously with keeping costs down as well as increasing quality. Like I said this would be more of a hobby as well as a chance to spend time and build things with my father. Just wondering if there was also potential to sell these projects for a little money on the side. Like I said I'm not looking to get rich. Recouping my build costs plus a few dollars extra would be fine enough for me.
     
  10. TheoDog

    TheoDog Silver Supporting Member

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    There is a lot of competition in the industry these days, and many of your potential sales competition is treating it like a business.

    I picked up a phase 90 (cheap on CL), did a couple mods to it and resold it. After shipping and fees and parts, I earned about $1.79.
    Enclosures and switches run the cost up quickly to where many consumers can opt for a manufactured item from a builder with a reputation for the same or lower price than your product.
     
  11. Semitone

    Semitone Member

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    I think you will be lucky to recoup costs. Without a brand, resale value , reputation, as well as bulk purchasing power, you will be essentially selling your labor...for free, IMO.

    Even then, as I said, you would be LUCKY to recoup cost. Most likely lose money.

    I think you got it right...it will be a hobby. Keep you overhead low and have fun. Maybe along the way, you might find a way to turn it into a business.
     
  12. tremolo3

    tremolo3 Member

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    Sell local. Things on internet are getting crazy for small builders.
     
  13. Alchemy Audio

    Alchemy Audio Silver Supporting Member

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    Go for it! I got started repairing and modifying pedals on my kitchen counter. You'll be lucky if you turn a modest profit on hobbyist builds. If you are confident in your soldering chops and realistic in your expectations, give it a shot. Good luck!
     
  14. Non-Digital Tom

    Non-Digital Tom Member

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    It used to be aspiring DIY pedal builders went here - http://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/, and here - http://www.geofex.com/. That's just for a start. There's a whole recommended course of action for people who are serious about it. Memorizing the GEOfex site is almost mandatory. Many of the people on the DIY forums are engineers or experienced electronics technicians. They tend to prefer if noobs don't post at all. Just use the search function, study, build, search some more, study, build, etc... keep doing that for a year or two (at least). Then maybe post if you have a question or comment that hasn't already been covered.

    There are guys on there who've done hundreds and hundreds of builds. Few of them would ever consider pedal building as a means to make a few extra bucks. Most have invested hundreds if not thousands of dollars in tools, equipment, and parts, just as a hobby. There are a lot of old school boutique pedal makers on the DIY forums (Analog Mike, Zachary Vex, a bunch of others). Some of them have contributed quite a bit to the scene. Still, professional pedal builders are in the minority on the DIY forums. There are many who feel that anyone who doesn't at least know Ohm's Law has no business trying to present themselves as a pedal builder (hobbyist or pro).
     
  15. Ulug

    Ulug Member

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    Custom bone picks...
     
  16. filtersweep

    filtersweep Member

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    I really want to pay someone for their knowledge- deep knowledge- related to a product. I would consider it risky to buy from some unknown hobbiest.
     
  17. Drill71

    Drill71 Member

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    I think you can do it just fine.
    Even i do my own cables, and they're coming pretty good. If you pratice a bit, and start from there (cables), and then move on to the pedalboards, and always be honest to your "client", you'll have no problem, and you'll probably do fine.
    On the pedalboards, i can see you earning some money, on cables, tb loopers, etc, i don't know...
     
  18. Rydell

    Rydell Member

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    I've been doing it locally for a few years now; guitar electronics, simple low parts-count pedal mods, and a bit of amp work. Anything outside of my comfort zone gets referred to someone else. Although it's far from a living, I enjoy the work and it's always fun to listen to someone else rocking a guitar or pedal I've worked on. My advice would be to be honest about your abilities and prepared to make it right if a piece of gear doesn't work out for someone.
     
  19. DeaconBlues

    DeaconBlues Member

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    ^This

    Also, someone mentioned "bone picks". I'll add bone slides to that idea.
     

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