First commission

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lamanoditrento
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First commission

Post by lamanoditrento » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:36 pm

While I've been content to just make guitars for family and friends (sometimes whether they want them or not :wink: ), I have been approached by a potential customer for a commission build. When asked, I had thrown out a number which I thought was pretty reasonable for a handmade guitar but unlikely anyone would accept it from a green luthier. Well to my surprise they accepted the offer and now want to pay a deposit to firm things up.

So this is pretty exciting; but also pretty intimidating as uncharted territory for me. So I would really appreciate any thoughts, advice, recommendations before I commit myself...
Trent

simso
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Re: First commission

Post by simso » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:56 pm

Go for it, from humble beginnings can come greatness.

What have they commisioned you to make, woods inlays shape

Steve
Steve
Master of nothing,

Do your own repairs - http://www.mirwa.com.au/How_to_Series.html

blackalex1952
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Re: First commission

Post by blackalex1952 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:38 pm

Make sure that they understand that you will 'take your time' to make sure it is a hand built and hand tuned instrument. The hardest thing I find with pre paid builds is the expectation and the pressure to finish the job...I have always stood up for doing my best rather than being pressured time wise..things don't always go to plan. Cheers! Ross
"Everything I say on the topic is based solely upon inexperience and assumption!"

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kiwigeo
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Re: First commission

Post by kiwigeo » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:39 pm

Not sure if I'd call you a "green luthier" :)
lamanoditrento wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:36 pm
While I've been content to just make guitars for family and friends (sometimes whether they want them or not :wink: ), I have been approached by a potential customer for a commission build. When asked, I had thrown out a number which I thought was pretty reasonable for a handmade guitar but unlikely anyone would accept it from a green luthier. Well to my surprise they accepted the offer and now want to pay a deposit to firm things up.

So this is pretty exciting; but also pretty intimidating as uncharted territory for me. So I would really appreciate any thoughts, advice, recommendations before I commit myself...
Martin

Crafty Fox
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Re: First commission

Post by Crafty Fox » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:26 am

Looking at it from your client's point of view:
This was some years ago.
I always wanted a hand-built guitar personally made just for me and I had a friend who was an astounding woodworker......I know because I am a carpenter........I had the cash, and constantly badgered him to build for me but he wouldn't. Said he knew nothing about guitars even though I had a few to guide him.
Fast forward to a time when I still didn't have my personal instrument and three kids competing for the budget.... I finally built my own. Well 15 of them so far!
So, what I'm saying is, your client wants that personal attention and I would be more than flattered by that confidence.
Enjoy the ride. And take your time.
Ken

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lamanoditrento
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Re: First commission

Post by lamanoditrento » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:53 pm

Steve, they have asked for a jumbo with darker wood for back and sides and seems pretty amenable to suggestions for everything else wanting only restrained aesthetic. I sent a picture of a Chechen B+S set I got off BobtheBuilder and they now seem dead keen on it. I was hoping to steer them to engelmann spruce or silver quandong for the sb, qld maple neck - not sure about everything else.

Thanks guys. Good advice - last thing I want to do is rush or feel pressured to complete it for a deadline.

Yes Ken, I am extremely flattered. They saw the little parlour guitar I built for my wife last year and it gave them their first thought of a custom guitar. Cheers all
Trent

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Steve.Toscano
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Re: First commission

Post by Steve.Toscano » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:51 pm

Well done Trent, and i hope you get many more!!

Some advice (or moreso - things i wish someone told me when doing my first lot of commissions).
- Don't cut yourself short when quoting, you are offering a premium product so charge a suitable price.
- Provide realistic time frames so to not end up rushed, i go with the under promise over deliver theory here. Also provide regular updates to the customer throughout the build.
- If sending the guitar to the client make sure to include a good quality case in your quote. I got caught out in the earlier days by not quoting a case and then being left with an awkward situation when coming to packing a guitar up to go overseas.
- Chances are you will get consecutive customers from the existing customer showing off the guitar to friends so be sure to include something the owner can carry in the case to give out with your name/brand on it. Fancy business cards and/or branded picks work well.

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TallDad71
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Re: First commission

Post by TallDad71 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:33 pm

I would suggest that you keep a log of every hour you spend working on this new build, include everything such as shopping, consultations, tidying up workshop, sharpening, researching new designs, lunch hours when working full days as well as the cutting, bending, hitting and sticking.

When you divide the total into the fee you have quoted you will, no doubt, come to the conclusion that they snapped a bargain.

Oh, and make them a photo book, that will help to bring new clients in.
Alan

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WJ Guitars
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Re: First commission

Post by WJ Guitars » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:00 pm

Great news having the opportunity to build a guitar for a client. I have now had 3 clients the second client opened the door the next client.

I also decided to make a photo build gallery in a book format, refer to attachment pdf example. Another aspect which I am still learning is the pricing. I made a written quote that detailed the component costs and labour hours. The client had specific requirements such as the fingerboard width at the nut being wider than standard and selection of timber with guidance from me to ensure that the right combinations work for the guitar required. I keep the client informed during with emails and some on site meetings during the build to avoid having issues that client may not have understood or wanting changes that were not practical or feasible.

I also made sure that a case was included in the price and I added a couple free items such as a cleaning cloth, silca gel sacks in the case plus a usb stick that had pdfs files of the manual, hand over document, original agreed to quote, draft and final payment invoices.

I prepared a handover document that listed the items supplied with the guitar. I am still coming to grips with the pricing and at this stage need to look at the labour costs should be increased. You are building a handcrafted guitar that has more attention and qualities than what is generally in the music shops.

Go for it.

Regards
Wayne

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WJ Guitars
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Re: First commission

Post by WJ Guitars » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:05 pm

Here is the Attachment pdf manual example left out of my previous post.

Regards
Wayne

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WJ Guitars
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Re: First commission

Post by WJ Guitars » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:09 pm

Sorry example file is too large to submit.

Regards
Wayne

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kiwigeo
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Re: First commission

Post by kiwigeo » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:00 pm

How big is the file Wayne?
WJ Guitars wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:09 pm
Sorry example file is too large to submit.

Regards
Wayne
Martin

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WJ Guitars
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Re: First commission

Post by WJ Guitars » Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:58 pm

The pdf file is 22.8MB. It includes:

- Photo Front cover
- Content page
- Photo gallery pages of the completed guitar
- Many photo pages of the guitar build with descriptions
- Photo pages with descriptions on how to install strings
- Information page on the guitar pickup installed
- Care and maintenance page

Regards
Wayne

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kiwigeo
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Re: First commission

Post by kiwigeo » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:06 pm

Current limit for attachment size is 30Mb so your file should have uploaded. Let me check with Jeremy and we'll see what we can do.
WJ Guitars wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:58 pm
The pdf file is 22.8MB. It includes:

- Photo Front cover
- Content page
- Photo gallery pages of the completed guitar
- Many photo pages of the guitar build with descriptions
- Photo pages with descriptions on how to install strings
- Information page on the guitar pickup installed
- Care and maintenance page

Regards
Wayne
Martin

simso
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Re: First commission

Post by simso » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:21 pm

lamanoditrento wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:53 pm
Steve, they have asked for a jumbo with darker wood for back and sides and seems pretty amenable to suggestions for everything else wanting only restrained aesthetic. I sent a picture of a Chechen B+S set I got off BobtheBuilder and they now seem dead keen on it. I was hoping to steer them to engelmann spruce or silver quandong for the sb, qld maple neck - not sure about everything else.
When I build an acoustic guitar for a customer I have a materials allowance and it is typically 500 aud, when materials exceed this price during the quotation period I increase the allowance price by 1.5 extra. Example I am currently making a cutaway dread out of Tasmanian myrtle for a customer, the myrtle added another 155 in my costs so instead of 500 for the woods it’s become 655, this additional expense was was added into the bill at plus 230, when you are building for a customer with custom woods you need to have a safety allowance, trust me you will use it. Same applies for custom machine heads and so forth.

Everything else is built by hand out of raw products so I know what they cost me.

For other note, typically I build a custom acoustic for 3500, the same time spent doing repairs will net in around 6000 so I only build acoustics on the rare occasion.

Steve
Steve
Master of nothing,

Do your own repairs - http://www.mirwa.com.au/How_to_Series.html

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kiwigeo
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Re: First commission

Post by kiwigeo » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:38 pm

simso wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:21 pm
For other note, typically I build a custom acoustic for 3500, the same time spent doing repairs will net in around 6000 so I only build acoustics on the rare occasion.

Steve
If this is the case then we should encourage people to spend more time breaking guitars than playing 'em :mrgreen:
Martin

simso
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Re: First commission

Post by simso » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:52 pm

Way more money in repairing guitars than making them, that is a definite.

Steve
Steve
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Do your own repairs - http://www.mirwa.com.au/How_to_Series.html

Ormsby Guitars
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Re: First commission

Post by Ormsby Guitars » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:33 pm

simso wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:52 pm
Way more money in repairing guitars than making them, that is a definite.

Steve
Not if you charge $6001 plus materials 😂

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Steve.Toscano
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Re: First commission

Post by Steve.Toscano » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:42 pm

simso wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:21 pm

For other note, typically I build a custom acoustic for 3500, the same time spent doing repairs will net in around 6000 so I only build acoustics on the rare occasion.

Steve
Why charge 3500 for a build then? Doesn't seem like a wise business decision.

simso
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Re: First commission

Post by simso » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:54 pm

Ormsby Guitars wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:33 pm
Not if you charge $6001 plus materials 😂
Good to see you still visit the forum Perry, we still got to catch up one day.
Steve.Toscano wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:42 pm
Why charge 3500 for a build then? Doesn't seem like a wise business decision
That is why I repair more than build. I enjoy doing a build every now and then to keep my hand in, firm believer of every time you do something you push yourself and get better at it, certainly helps in the repair field, I also find it hard to justify a cost of greater than 3500 when I know what a person can buy in this price range.

Steve
Steve
Master of nothing,

Do your own repairs - http://www.mirwa.com.au/How_to_Series.html

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Steve.Toscano
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Re: First commission

Post by Steve.Toscano » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:47 am

Sorry for continuing off topic Trent....
simso wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:54 pm
I also find it hard to justify a cost of greater than 3500 when I know what a person can buy in this price range.
Dont take this the wrong way Steve (and i understnd your situation is very different to most builders as your focus is on repairs), but I think this is a trap a lot of artisan makers (and not just of guitars) fall into: not valuing their product, and with that attitude will never sell an instrument beyond $3500. :toi

simso
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Re: First commission

Post by simso » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:32 am

Steve.Toscano wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:47 am
Sorry for continuing off topic Trent...
I actually think the topic has been good as it allows Trent to see the turmoil that exists behind the scenes in pricing ones work up

I totally agree with you on pricing's, for me its not a big deal as repairs are my speciality not building.

One thing a builder has to always consider, we can have a fair figure in our head for making a guitar, say arbitary 5000 dollars, but if the guitar does not sell then bills dont get paid, kids dont get fed, shop closes, so if one is building guitars for a living they need to really stream line things.

If one is building as a side line and working else where, one can ask any price they wish.

When we are just starting out with the first commision its not uncommon to actually end up makign a paltry amount when you fi9nish the job and look backwards at what hrs you have put into it, but one has to start some where.

Steve
Steve
Master of nothing,

Do your own repairs - http://www.mirwa.com.au/How_to_Series.html

Ormsby Guitars
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Re: First commission

Post by Ormsby Guitars » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:58 pm

simso wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:32 am
Steve.Toscano wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:47 am
Sorry for continuing off topic Trent...
I actually think the topic has been good as it allows Trent to see the turmoil that exists behind the scenes in pricing ones work up

I totally agree with you on pricing's, for me its not a big deal as repairs are my speciality not building.

One thing a builder has to always consider, we can have a fair figure in our head for making a guitar, say arbitary 5000 dollars, but if the guitar does not sell then bills dont get paid, kids dont get fed, shop closes, so if one is building guitars for a living they need to really stream line things.

If one is building as a side line and working else where, one can ask any price they wish.

When we are just starting out with the first commision its not uncommon to actually end up makign a paltry amount when you fi9nish the job and look backwards at what hrs you have put into it, but one has to start some where.

Steve
Yep

Without a reputation you don’t get the dollars.
Without sales you can’t get the reputation.
Doing cheap work to start, sets a precedent that’s hard to change. Existing clients won’t pay double. New clients know you were half price a year ago...
It’s a catch 22 for new builders.

We just released, and sold out, a ‘run’ of ten guitars. $4000 each. Clients are told they get zero say in what they get other than neck shape, number of strings, and they can choose a rough colour we might use as a guide eg: ‘I like blue and green’. We called it the ‘secret run’. Clients are loving not knowing what they will get, because they are all guys who love everything we do. But none of that would be possible unless they’d been following us for years. And it gives us total artistic freedom to do what we like doing.

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kiwigeo
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Re: First commission

Post by kiwigeo » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:13 pm

Jeremy has played with some settings so try uploading your file again and let me know if you have any issues.
WJ Guitars wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:58 pm
The pdf file is 22.8MB. It includes:

- Photo Front cover
- Content page
- Photo gallery pages of the completed guitar
- Many photo pages of the guitar build with descriptions
- Photo pages with descriptions on how to install strings
- Information page on the guitar pickup installed
- Care and maintenance page

Regards
Wayne
Martin

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WJ Guitars
Myrtle
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Re: First commission

Post by WJ Guitars » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:41 pm

Thanks Martin for your assistance. I have used the 'Attachments' 'Add File' tab to attach the example pdf file. Hope this works.

Regards
Wayne

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