Why so many Medium C’s?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by cnutjazz, Mar 15, 2020.

  1. cnutjazz

    cnutjazz Silver Supporting Member

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    A few of the small builders that I’m a fan of offer the full range of neck shapes and sizes but only seem to send medium C necks out to retailers. Is this just the easiest neck shape to sell? It seems like the industry decided it was at some point but I wonder if it’s a situation where that’s just the shape you come across the most so it sells the easiest. I’m a fan of the chunky soft v myself, about a .9 - 1“ being on a 1.650 nut being ideal, and I have smallish hands but it took me a long time to realize this because it wasn’t a shape I came across for years. Obviously companies are gonna do what benefits their bottom line but I really wish there were some other shapes to try from some of the smaller boutique guys in the stores because when placing a custom order it’s not always easy to nail down what specs of a neck you want without having a real-world example in hand.

    Also, has the “U” gone the way of the dodo? I don’t really see it anymore.
     
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  2. mikesch

    mikesch Gold Supporting Member

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    It's not what goes to retailers, it's what the retailers order. Retailers usually custom spec inventory based on what they think they can sell, ordering it just like a customer would. Something like a chunky soft V isn't a thing that too many people are into and retailers can't have money tied up in inventory for too long waiting for something odd to sell. I think the Suhr pro series is different in that Suhr picks specs based on what sells most, but larger retailers like Humbucker Music can order enough guitars at once to get what's essentially a custom build for the shop down to pro pricing.
     
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  3. FiestaRed

    FiestaRed Supporting Member

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    Looks like you answered your own question
     
  4. K-Line

    K-Line Vendor

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    Because about 85% of the people can get along with a med-C.
     
  5. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    I totally get this but I have quit going to guitar stores because of it.

    Finding a new guitar with a chunky neck today, that wasn't a custom build, is tough.
     
  6. LaceSensor1

    LaceSensor1 Supporting Member

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    Fender modern C for me

    Would pick this profile 10/10 times
     
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  7. Whitecat

    Whitecat Member

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    If you're a retailer and a half-decent salesperson then you can talk up most people who prefer thinner profiles and talk down most people who prefer fatter profiles. If you go all-in in the other directions you've probably eliminated a third of your potential customers.

    I know personally I do prefer bigger necks but generally anything that can be described as "medium" is fine, especially if the rest of the guitar is fabulous and sound awesome. We live in an age where you can be picky if you want to, but you'd be overlooking a lot of fine stuff if you're too picky. ;)
     
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  8. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

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    At one time when TCM was distributed via dealerships I offered 6 different neck profiles. It was confusing to those dealers who didn't bother to learn about them all, and so the "medium C" style got the most orders.
    Nowadays, since I am crafting each TCM guitar as a fitted-suit, anything is possible.
     
  9. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    Interesting.
    Do you use personal measurements and playing technique analysis to direct the client to the best specifications to ensure comfort and function? A true 'best fit' criteria list?
     
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  10. winterblu

    winterblu Supporting Member

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    I'm in the "V" camp. A medium to large soft or sharp V will tip the scales in the guitars favor for me.
    My second choice would be U neck, not a fan of the C's.
     
  11. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

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    Why yes, as regards the neck profile it very much proceeds like that.
    After an initial phone conversation, and emails, each potential TCM client is assigned some fun "homework" to do, in order that I can understand as best as I can what sound we are considering building, as well as neck preferences and more. It really is a fun process!

    Regarding the neck, when a client already has a favorite neck, I instruct them as to how to measure a variety of things about that neck. This includes teaching them how to use calipers. If on the other hand the client does not already own a neck that he/she would like to take measurements from, usually a friend does, or a local store.

    I find that most clients are rather well versed in talking necks, at least to the point at which I can get them thinking and measuring. Many times too, folks are not incredibly "married" to a specific set of dimensions and are happy to play a range of neck shapes.

    Every situation is different and fun. :)
     
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  12. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Bespoke guitars for the win.
     
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  13. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    I think there is an aficionado market that has yet to be fully exploited.
    Personal attention to fitting (see golf clubs for how-to), option choice, pro direction on sound/tonal choices, and luxury quality parts and finishes that remain in the functional zone (like high performance cars) rather than pure bling would allow next level Custom Shop expansion.
    When the Chinese figure out how to bring this detailed attention locally, combined with offshore pricing...watch out small builders.:eek:
     
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  14. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Yeah, that system isn't set up for customization but for mass production. I'm not sure what it would take to make it so and if there is enough demand to even bother.

    Heck, I looked into getting a fatter neck on an existing Eastman archtop and it drove up the price from $1400 to $4,000. That's just crazy for a plywood guitar and they aren't your typical Asian guitar factory.

    For $4k, I can be most of the way there on a custom archtop from a variety of builders.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
  15. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    I remember asking the folks at LSL one time about this. They said the larger neck carves (that I prefer) just sit at the dealers. The medium C sells.
     
  16. Chuckracer

    Chuckracer Supporting Member

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    People buy what they can get and builders sell what the dealers stock. So if people are buying Medium C's, that's what the dealers will order and that's what the builders will build...and that's what the peeps will buy. Life is a circle man. ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
  17. K-Line

    K-Line Vendor

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    Completely agree. At the beginning of my dealers, I would send out V's, U's, fat, skinny, etc. All I did all day long was field questions from dealers asking if they could swap necks on guitars because someone did not like the color but liked the neck. Dealers do not carry a large inventory much anymore. It is a tough one.
     
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  18. Mooster

    Mooster Member

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    A follow on question is what specifically is a medium C? One luthier’s interpretation of medium could be another luthier’s large D or thin C. I personally think the girth of the shoulders means more than it’s thickness. My take is most boutique guitars are bought online so having something described as medium C sounds like: “ Yeah, I can get along with that.”
     
  19. Funky Chicken

    Funky Chicken Member

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    If it is really that big a concern for you and you are already in the (maybe not here at TGP but in the rest of the universe) rarified air of $3000 guitars, just order what you want. As much as I have always been pretty adaptable as far as neck shape and size, the custom build that I own with a neck carved to my personal preference would be the model for any other guitar I had built for me.
     

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