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sequoia
04-22-2016, 07:37 PM
A musician friend of mine today bought one of my ukes. This is a good thing. I am not into building ukes to sell, but I need wood and I need tools so a welcome infusion of cash is always welcome. Trouble is, it was one of my favorite players and a pretty ukueule. I sold it for $485 which is way less than it is worth in my humble opinion. See you later little ukulele, hello Japanese saw...


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EssexRiver
04-22-2016, 07:41 PM
Really nice looking. Bet it sounds sweet, too.

sequoia
04-22-2016, 08:06 PM
Yeah. Unfortunately for me it sounded really good. Which is ultimately what it is all about... sigh. Guess I'm gonna have to build another player. Not that I have anything else to do...

robinashby
04-22-2016, 09:16 PM
At that price it sounds like it was stolen from you not bought!

Hope they were a good friend indeed.... maybe more so now!

nice build,

hugs from england,

r

Titchtheclown
04-22-2016, 10:49 PM
I look on moving my ukes on as an opportunity to fill the gap left behind.

DownUpDave
04-24-2016, 02:33 AM
Must have been a really good friend, actually I take that back. A really good friend would have gladly paid at least 2X that price. Seriously under valued for a beautiful hand built instrument. You do very nice work.

As long as both parties are happy that is the main thing and you love the new Japanese saw.

Vespa Bob
04-24-2016, 11:05 AM
Sequoia, I share your philosophy regarding ukuleles. We build them firstly out of the sheer love and joy of it, any financial gain being a secondary consideration. Sometimes it is necessary to sell a uke or two in order to continue our obsession and, as you said, it's a good thing, but I get a bit possessive over some of my creations and hate to let them go! Regarding price, although we feel they're worth more than we get for them, unless our name is Chuck, Beau, Pete, Ken, Allen, Michael, etc., as unknown amateurs we don't stand much of a chance! In my case I'll never be able to produce the quality of work required to become "known"!
Great ukulele, I hope your friend treats it well.

Bob

chuck in ny
04-24-2016, 11:25 AM
level of detail it would have been a bargain at a higher price. that wasn't the point of the exercise. your best work is ahead of you and you have done a good deed. you will be able to produce an even finer sounding instrument. that one, you deserve to keep. best is always yet to come and all that.
i suspect it's possible to sell at the ~$550. level coming up with <just> the right design, or materials. marketing is about getting out of your skin and into others'. i'm sure it's not your game. you would also need to tone down the bling. what you produced requires north of a grand so you're out of the low/mid price area. it's still fine to give the right person your work at pennies on the dollar.

sequoia
04-24-2016, 06:27 PM
A lot of things going on here: I am a builder of limited experience, I don't "market" my ukes, and I live in an economically depressed area. $550 (US) is a lot of money to my musician friends and neighbors. Far Northern California is not the land of milk and honey that most people think. So when someone really likes the sound of my instruments, I am flattered that they would pay that kind of money.

Second: Bling is necessary to sell these things because for half a grand the dang thing better shine and dazzle. Also the time spent (labor) on bling is immense and would suck any profit that a person trying to sell ukes for money would abandon immediately. Or charge twice as much.

Third: If I was in this to make money I would have starved to death long ago. To take up being a luthier as a profession is a hard, hard row to hoe with damn little return for the work. It helps to have a name as Torres and Amati discovered. My hat is off to those people on this forum who actually try to make a go of it. You know who they are...

Forth: To do what you love in life is a life well lived. To make music and to give the gift of music is a beautiful thing. Surely that makes up for any loss in profit? Right?

mainger
04-24-2016, 11:06 PM
These are very nice words. Good outlook on life!

Michael N.
04-25-2016, 01:23 AM
A lot of things going on here: I am a builder of limited experience, I don't "market" my ukes, and I live in an economically depressed area. $550 (US) is a lot of money to my musician friends and neighbors. Far Northern California is not the land of milk and honey that most people think. So when someone really likes the sound of my instruments, I am flattered that they would pay that kind of money.

Second: Bling is necessary to sell these things because for half a grand the dang thing better shine and dazzle. Also the time spent (labor) on bling is immense and would suck any profit that a person trying to sell ukes for money would abandon immediately. Or charge twice as much.

Third: If I was in this to make money I would have starved to death long ago. To take up being a luthier as a profession is a hard, hard row to hoe with damn little return for the work. It helps to have a name as Torres and Amati discovered. My hat is off to those people on this forum who actually try to make a go of it. You know who they are...

Forth: To do what you love in life is a life well lived. To make music and to give the gift of music is a beautiful thing. Surely that makes up for any loss in profit? Right?


It didn't really help Torres much either. He obviously struggled too.
Your last quote is interesting and I don't entirely disagree. I just don't see many Doctors, Lawyers or Plumbers giving of their time for free just because it will make someone else happy. If they exist I haven't met them.
The real problem is that makers are faced with a lot of competing pressures. On the one hand you have the more mass produced factory instruments (which have got better over the years) and on the other you have an army of amateur and semi pro makers who also sell their wares. Add on the fact that there are too many pro makers chasing far too few clients and things look rather crowded. Low demand, over supply, which usually leads to one thing: severe price pressure.
The only way to counteract that is to get a big reputation. Folk see reputation as adding greater value i.e. they are getting more for their money, they are buying into a lifestyle choice etc. Everyone wants a big reputation though and there's a very finite limit as to how many makers can have a that big reputation. You can't possibly have 5,000 makers with a big reputation, the very fact of having that many would just devalue the very term. So ultimately all you can do is to make the best instrument within your capabilities and . . . . market it or market yourself. Without some form of marketing you are dead in the water, irrespective of how good your instruments are. Either that or you struggle along at a 'paying for materials' level. I'm afraid there are many folk who are at that level, some quite happy to stay there, others not.

chuck in ny
04-25-2016, 06:34 AM
the point of the exercise for sequoia is having gotten to the level of being able to produce bling, having spent the time doing so, and not being out of pocket for the exercise. this is a worthwhile journey, with the next build already a ferment back in the subconscious.
i think the money in the market, and for someone who doesn't capitalize, don't worry, it's a small 'm', is in the mid price bracket between half a grand and a grand. call it $550. if a buyer will pay $400. for a pono, this is a buyer concerned with not dealing with possible slave labor countries, and represents an actual and existing market group, the buyer will jolly him/her self into $550. for a domestic produced unit. the hook would likely be something like producing with native area woods, walnut, myrtle and so forth. style would be 'naked kamaka' at the price level.
it would represent a piece of a living for somebody with a day job. you don't go to business school to discuss failure schemes like this. it's not about profit. it's about doing the right thing.

mzuch
04-25-2016, 08:21 AM
Congrats on the sale, Sequoia. I've been using this business model for the past six or seven years -- selling handmade tenor and baritone ukuleles for the cost of materials, typically $300 to $400 depending on the woods used. I charge only for the materials in the uke, not for my time or investment in tools, etc. So each uke is actually sold below cost. But I don't build for just anyone -- first you have to show me how you embody the spirit of Aloha. See my website for details.

I've found that I am more than rewarded by the karma that this practice creates. I've met some wonderful people, including professional musicians, students who later went on to music colleges such as Berklee, and others who have become online friends. My favorite so far is a writer who made me a character in one of his stories. I wouldn't trade these experiences for all the money in the world.

Flyfish57
04-26-2016, 08:45 AM
Congrats on your sale! Isn't it nice when other people support your addiction!?