Thinking of starting guitar company

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965
I want more mini humbucker guitars.

I sound like I'm joking, but I'm dead serious.

Of course, that raises the obvious question: what kind of aesthetic are you going for? What portion of the guitar market are you targeting? (Metal? Jazz? Country? Blues? etc)
 

jerrycampbell

Member
Messages
5,968
This may sound odd, but asking what other people want is a fool's errand. There is no unique concensus as to what people want. I think the better approach is to decide what YOU want, and then make it so good that other people want it too.

With that said, it's time we see some standaradization with pickups. These things should be drop in by now, no soldering required. I'd love a guitar where I could easily exchange pups on the fly.

Both good points!
 

rsm

Senior Member
Messages
14,080
See of you can use some of John Backlund's designs. :)

I've wanted this (just not orange)

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Deed_Poll

Member
Messages
3,088
I think there's a gap in the market for boutique old Epiphone Coronet style solid bodies and DC LP Jrs and Specials. There is a guy Harvester who does his own interesting take on that stuff and more besides like Wandre guitars that have a cool '60s aesthetic. I agree with others that if you don't have a unique selling point nobody is going to buy from you when there are a million people out there with a reputation.
 
Messages
965
I think there's a gap in the market for boutique old Epiphone Coronet style solid bodies and DC LP Jrs and Specials. There is a guy Harvester who does his own interesting take on that stuff and more besides like Wandre guitars that have a cool '60s aesthetic. I agree with others that if you don't have a unique selling point nobody is going to buy from you when there are a million people out there with a reputation.

THIS.

I would LOVE to have more options based on the old '60s Epiphone solid bodies...the Crestwood, the Wilshire what have you.

It would even be cool to have a version of the '60s Riviera that's faithful to the major details.
 

serial

Member
Messages
2,249
To start a successful guitarmaking business, you should start about twenty five years ago building top-notch guitars for a highly-regarded shop. Then when people recognize what you can do, start up doing things the way you want to.

This works and you end up with a great company making killer guitars.

If you want to build Strat and Tele copies, don't bother-you missed that train!
 

RTR

Member
Messages
3,513
A good road map to follow or get an idea what to do is read up on Paul Reed Smith. Started small and practically would beg a popular touring guitarist to play one of his guitars. Fast forward 10~20 years and the guy stands on his own.

I don't own a PRS and have only played a couple but I like them and respect what he had to go through to build the company he dreamed of.
 

sleep

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,416
Who would have thought there'd be so much (seemingly, perhaps not intentional) discouragement on a gear site?

OP, go for it, especially if you've OK financially and can afford to not "make it".

Here are some thoughts:

Leo Fender and Les Paul weren't professional luthiers. They were inveterate tinkerers. Without them, there wouldn't be the guitars that a lot of the professional luthiers are making a living ripping off now... a bit ironic. I think from that you can safely say that you don't have to be a pro service guy with decades of strat refrets behind you to make something that could potentially matter, having a vision and being able to refine it is more important in the long run.

The guitar is still a pretty blank canvas; there is a lot of room to run and really, very few materials have been thoroughly explored. There are more ways now of making different things with different materials (3d printing/fusbile glass/laser sintering/CNC/etc) that never existed before and might have great acoustic properties if used correctly.

The "hands of pros" angle is meaningless now. You can have your guitar seen by enough people on youtube or message boards that you don't need them; think of sites like Destroy all Guitars where weird stuff played by no one you've ever heard of sell pretty briskly (from watching their inventory, anyway).. Besides, music is so fractured now genre-wise that what "pro" would you have using it anyway?

Just have a vision, execute it well and with honesty, back it up with functionality, and I think you can be OK.

Please, no more Strats/LPs/Epihones/other clone guitars. It's done. It's over. That ship has sailed and will capsize soon. It's exactly where hair metal was in the late 80's, with so many people doing the exact same thing that no one's listening anymore.

Good luck!
 
Messages
2,571
I'm always more interested in what a company offers that is unique or better than what other companies offer for the same or lesser price... as opposed to asking people what they want. What people want is so diverse and different, you can't please everyone and you never will succeed on that account. Consequently, if you don't have a firm grasp as to what you offer or want to offer, then you have no brand or unique image in the market. Might as well give it up before investing too much time and money in being 'something' you don't know what you should be.
 
Messages
1,075
Me and a builder friend of mine are thinking of starting a company together. What are some things you guys would love to see as a standard on a guitar you are looking to buy. I know I hate seeing a guitar $1000+ with a cheap plastic nut, pick ups that are just so so and no case.
Man, if those are your benchmarks, stop right there and rethink this. The market is flooded with good $1000+ guitars with good nuts, pickups, that do come with cases.

I've been playing for about 40 years. I just recently bought my first PRS, and they just had their 30th anniversary. It took them 30 years to earn enough of a reputation for me to lay down my money, and they are considered by many to be hands down the best guitar builders in the industry.

Paul did not get there by thinking he should have better nuts and offer cases.

Just my $0.02
TRJB
 

Blue Light

Member
Messages
7,471
And of course you've got all those Asian manufacturers to compete with.
If it were me, I'd be tempted to do what the DePinto guys did. They run a nice shop in Philadelphia. Then they got into designing these wild guitars that are manufactured in Korea.
menu-g-galaxie4.jpg
 

jazzwannabe

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
989
Old saying: If you want to make a small fortune in the guitar business, start with a large fortune.
 

slider

Member
Messages
1,579
Leo Fender found a way to make a good quality instrument quickly and inexpensively. Outsourcing certain parts is not a bad thing, maybe you can find a formula- good cheap parts, put together with skill and your own twist on it. I would like to see an American maker that can find a way to do something other than boutique guitars for doctors, lawyers and technocrats.
(By the way, it's spelled Salinas. Attention to detail may serve you well in business.)
 

K-Line

Vendor
Messages
8,685
The smartest thing you said the whole time is doing it as a hobby. That is what I did for about 12 years. After that, I make a meager living. It is a passion, not a way to load up the old bank account.
 

handtrix

Member
Messages
2,384
I don't know... Going on just that, sounds like you're accessorizing ?
You're gonna' need to finance a CNC amongst other things. Ask yourselves how far you are willing to take it.
Skills are one thing. An auto garage can only go so far without a piece of 50k diagnostics; but a grocery store doesn't need the expense of ten counters to sell merchandize, either.
 

Whitecat

Member
Messages
1,890
Many find doing quality repairs etc., is an excellent start point... it can be quite lucrative too.. and it "gets your name out there".. once that happens, making the nextstep is far easier.

Of all the approaches suggested, I like this one...

All my favourite luthiers started out either working for a larger company or doing servicing/repairs. I'd imagine if you fix a lot of guitars you get a real sense of what works and what doesn't.

Nik Huber is a great example - he managed to corner the PRS service market in Europe, now he's got a 2 year waiting list for new build orders.
 

icr

Member
Messages
2,959
There are 104,600 guitars listed on e-bay right now. If it takes you a month to build a guitar, then there will be 104,601 guitars listed a month from now.
 

bgmacaw

Member
Messages
8,079
I would like to see an American maker that can find a way to do something other than boutique guitars for doctors, lawyers and technocrats.

But that's where the money is...

I wonder if manufacturer in the US could still compete on the lower end of the market, under $500. I think it might be possible if the company was based in a business and manufacturing friendly state and city/county. It might be necessary to go the "Assembled in USA" route, kind of like Duesenberg guitars are assembled in Germany or how Supro is doing their amps.

They would also need to do online sales and marketing well (like Rondo and GFS, only better) and more or less forgo the outdated dealer model. I like the "go fund me" approach Eastwood is taking for their custom shop. This helps gauge the popularity of a design before committing a lot of resources to it.
 




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