PDA

View Full Version : What we're up against



Sven
04-20-2017, 12:20 AM
The title isn't dead serious. I'm not a pro builder and I can easily get enough material for my builds. But look at this vid from a Chinese guitar maker. The fact that the factory is in China is of less importance, it could be anywhere and still frighten me with draining the wood supplies and flooding the market at the other end.

That said, look at the machines! Gang drilling for side dots, applying brace glue in a cnc machine - I couldn't imagine stuff like that. And still some hand tools show up.

I almost felt sorry for them mis-spelling a three letter word at the very end.


https://youtu.be/GOuuVyfA96g

Timbuck
04-20-2017, 01:13 AM
That was great Sven...I use one or two of those methods myself..But not as quick or in such volume...scary stuff :uhoh:

mainger
04-20-2017, 04:57 AM
Phoar! One pass headstock shaping :O

99461

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
04-20-2017, 05:18 AM
They must be very proud to be producing such generic objects in such a large volume.......just what the world needs......
Always interesting to see factory methods though. Thanks for posting this.

Vespa Bob
04-20-2017, 05:22 AM
Creating instruments with no soul.

Bob

anthonyg
04-20-2017, 05:38 AM
Well after your introduction I thought I was going to see a machine doing everything and was surprised to see SO much handwork. They were shaping the neck heel by hand and I was a littler perturbed by how freeform they seemed to be in gluing on the fretboard. There may be errors there.

Anthony

Mivo
04-20-2017, 05:56 AM
They must be very proud to be producing such generic objects in such a large volume.......just what the world needs.......

Inexpensive, mass-produced musical instruments of a presumably good quality that was previously unheard of, is a good thing for the world. It means more people have access to better instruments. The quality of products out of China has really increased in recent years.

I don't see it as a danger for custom builders. You guys make instruments that meet a client's exact desire. Works of art often. There's little overlap. Custom ukes have gotten more expensive, so while a grand may no longer buy a luthier-built instrument with some extras, it will now buy a very well built high-end Chinese uke. And $200 probably now buy much better quality factory ukes than just a few years ago.

Everyone seems to win.

resoman
04-20-2017, 05:58 AM
I almost felt sorry for them mis-spelling a three letter word at the very end.

Almost but not quite. That video is seriously disturbing, especially seeing those hundreds of guitars traveling on the conveyor.
If people would quit buying this stuff they'd go away

Bonanza Pete
04-20-2017, 06:04 AM
We can only hope they sound poorly. Otherwise we are in trouble.

Rrgramps
04-20-2017, 06:10 AM
I just came up from my shop, trying to decide on which binding machine to build or purchase. Then I saw this video, and think how Ribbecke, Dooling, Fleishman, LMI and SM binding machines don't have near the automation shown in this video.

Then I thought, "doesn't matter," that's not what my hobby for. In fact, my hobby doesn't even have to have a salable product. It's my own personal mountain, and I may never reach the top. ...and I don't care. But I do care that the company in this video sells mediocre instruments, which may drive some of the market away from custom luthiers who are in it for their livelihood.

They still can't or don't produce a Ken/beau/Pete and others here, quality instrument. There will be market room for those.

bikemech
04-20-2017, 07:30 AM
The title isn't dead serious. I'm not a pro builder and I can easily get enough material for my builds. But look at this vid from a Chinese guitar maker. The fact that the factory is in China is of less importance, it could be anywhere and still frighten me with draining the wood supplies and flooding the market at the other end.

That said, look at the machines! Gang drilling for side dots, applying brace glue in a cnc machine - I couldn't imagine stuff like that. And still some hand tools show up.

I almost felt sorry for them mis-spelling a three letter word at the very end.


https://youtu.be/GOuuVyfA96g

Certainly this says more about the market and the world population than it does about the Kepma Guitar company.


They must be very proud to be producing such generic objects in such a large volume.......just what the world needs......
Always interesting to see factory methods though. Thanks for posting this.

I'll bet they are very proud. In addition to the modern production methods, there is certainly a lot of hand-work going into those guitars. And perhaps the quality is better than some imagine.


Creating instruments with no soul.

Bob

OK.....


I almost felt sorry for them mis-spelling a three letter word at the very end.

Almost but not quite. That video is seriously disturbing, especially seeing those hundreds of guitars traveling on the conveyor.
If people would quit buying this stuff they'd go away

Disturbing? Maybe you are commenting more on consumerism or on the usage of world resources than the techniques of the factory; that I can understand. But factories are producing instruments in large numbers because people demand them. And there are a hell of a lot of people out there in the world.


We can only hope they sound poorly. Otherwise we are in trouble.

Why would you be in trouble? Do you sell to the same market?

I have to say, I don't quite understand all the derision in this thread. Maybe you are all coming at it from a small-builder's perspective. Ok. I get that. But I found the automation, the techniques, the speed, the volume fascinating. I had not previously heard of Kepma Guitar but I would guess they are producing the guitars in the volume and quality that their market requires, otherwise they likely would not be in business. I'd guess that some of these same techniques are used in North American factories as well. Godin? Martin? Magic Fluke? etc.

RichM
04-20-2017, 07:47 AM
I don't want to quote bikemech's entire post, but he makes a lot of good points. There is a demand for mass-produced guitars. Watching this video, I see a factory that has automated many processes, but also continues to do skilled and semi-skilled handwork. Those are decisions that make sense for a factory; they know they are cutting corners, but they are choosing the ones that make the most sense for the product.

I've toured the Martin factory a few times, most recently about a year ago. Each time I go, there is more automation in place. While there is more handwork going on at Martin, a lot of the images in this video are very similar to what I saw at Martin. Martin makes as many as 80,000 guitars in a year. They make more instruments in a day than many luthiers make in a lifetime. So yeah, there's automation involved.

Many Asian imports are junk (believe me, I've owned some of them). But many are quite good. I bought my first guitar in 1975 for $60, and it was junk. According the the infallible internet, that $60 would be worth around $200 today, which would buy a darn good starter guitar. For people starting out, or of limited means, there are much better choices available today. Leaving politics out of it for the time being, why wouldn't we want people to have more choices?

I own instruments from some of the finest luthiers building today, and I'm thrilled to own them. I also own some mass-produced instruments by companies like Eastman, which are very good. But they aren't in the same league. I can't see someone saying "I was going to buy a $10,000 boutique guitar, but now I'm going to buy a $150 guitar from China."

As far as instruments having no soul-- I think that comes from the player.

Michael N.
04-20-2017, 07:57 AM
What's the problem? It's nothing new. The American factories have been moving to greater and greater automation for many decades. I think Martin switched to spraying sometime in the late '30's. I can't think that they took that decision because they thought it was slower. . .

Bonanza Pete
04-20-2017, 08:05 AM
Bike Mike, my comment was not a derision of the automation employed by this company. It is the future.
I was merely responding to comments that they must be poor quality. A person had better be able to offer something unique or exceptional to compete doing it manually.

Timbuck
04-20-2017, 08:28 AM
I don't think that the word is mis-spelt ..if you look again there is a very large red T in the centre...maybe it's a case of not seeing the T's for the wood ;)

jcalkin
04-20-2017, 11:07 AM
I did repairs for a music store that sold a few brands of off-shore instruments. Some of the guitars were reaching for the $1000 retail range. They were beautiful to look at. But a number of them had problems, chiefly to do with wood shrinkage. If the salesmen agreed that the guitars were NFG the store was ordered to smash and toss them. It was cheaper to replace them rather than ship them back and repair them. The store was desperate to make some money off them but I always declined the repair work as too complicated for the fee the store was willing to pay. Defective, low-end Fender amps were also ordered into the dumpster. Its an often overlooked form of waste that must be rare among small-output makers.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
04-20-2017, 11:11 AM
The overlap happens when I buy 5 spruce tops, they buy 100,000 spruce tops and the same for rosewood back/sides...now all rosewood is on CITES. Thats overlap.
But I agree that affordable instruments (of any quality) are good and better thing then say, plastic toy guns or some other non necessary thing.


Inexpensive, mass-produced musical instruments of a presumably good quality that was previously unheard of, is a good thing for the world. It means more people have access to better instruments. The quality of products out of China has really increased in recent years.

I don't see it as a danger for custom builders. You guys make instruments that meet a client's exact desire. Works of art often. There's little overlap. Custom ukes have gotten more expensive, so while a grand may no longer buy a luthier-built instrument with some extras, it will now buy a very well built high-end Chinese uke. And $200 probably now buy much better quality factory ukes than just a few years ago.

Everyone seems to win.

mainger
04-20-2017, 12:23 PM
They must be very proud to be producing such generic objects in such a large volume.......just what the world needs......

What's the proportion of guitar players in any given population? 1-2% maybe?
Population of China: 1.3 billion. 1,300,000,000... That means having to produce at least 13,000,000 guitars just to meet the low end of the domestic demand...

rubykey
04-20-2017, 03:28 PM
Yes it is a sobering reminder of what a huge use of resources gets expended to make these guitars and our many many many many ukuleles. Most of us here own cheaply made ukuleles produced in Asia. And precisely because they are so inexpensive the hording (AKA UAS) is so tempting. Thank you for sharing and thank you for all your insightful comments.

My takeaway is this. Support the Crafts People who make ukuleles. Treat yourself to a hand crafted ukulele. It doesn't have to be high-end custom. There are builders on this forum who make beautiful instruments for a reasonable cost. I recently bought a Blue Frog soprano from Vic Jones. It's such a delight to actually communicate with the person who designed and built the instrument and to know that his creativity, heart and highly skilled craft went into making it. I think about that often while I make musical merriment.

Pete Howlett
04-20-2017, 03:39 PM
Anyone remember Taylor Guitars 'Factory Fridays'? I learnt so much watching them... rather than ridicule and whine it woudl be well for us to watch and learn.

BlackBearUkes
04-20-2017, 04:40 PM
What the hell makes you think luthiers in small shops want to be like Taylor guitars? They don't for the most part. The day a small shop has to tool up like the big boys is the day we see nothing but same old- same old. There will always be big factories cranking the stuff out, doesn't mean we have to add to that. Screw that!


Anyone remember Taylor Guitars 'Factory Fridays'? I learnt so much watching them... rather than ridicule and whine it woudl be well for us to watch and learn.

sequoia
04-20-2017, 08:09 PM
There is an old saying that sausage tastes great but just don't watch it being made... This to me is an example of mass production on an industrial scale and that is OK. But I agree that making guitars like sausages is just bit jarring. But hey, it is a business and always has been. And you know what? Some of these mass produced guitars don't sound half bad. Well... not that great maybe, but they are affordable and bring music to people who can't afford high end stuff.... Anyway, yes, a disturbing video on some levels. ..... I think maybe as someone pointed out, that it is not so much the manufacturing processes that are suspect but the wood and how it holds up over time. Only time will tell. That being said, I learned how to play on a 70's Yamaha 6 string and you what? the the thing didn't sound to bad at all. Eventually it just fell apart, but hey I had fun.

Michael N.
04-20-2017, 10:59 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SvfNhMlnBE

The antitheses of the earlier video. Hardly an electron in sight. These workers are highly skilled at their particular task and their speed of execution is amazing. Stentor violins are at the cheap end too.

DownUpDave
04-21-2017, 12:23 AM
I enjoyed this very insightful thread and interesting video. In a past life I was production manager of a medium size woodworking shop. We had a lot of automation but we also employed a lot of highly skilled cabinet makers. Marriage of technology with hand skills is very common in many industries.

The first ukulele I bought was a Gretsch G9120 all laminate tenor for $135.00. On the label it said "crafted in China", it played well and sounded good, I still own it. Fast forward to today and I have owned or still own ukes by Howlet, Collings, Compass Rose, Mya Moe, Ono, LfdM, Kinnard, Ko'olau, I'iwi and others. It is because I was able to start out easily and cheaply that the passion for ukulele grew.

The point being that having inexpensive musical instruments available to those just starting out is a GOOD thing. I can't see what is wrong with making music accessible to the masses. It allowed me to do something new and extremely enjoyable, playing an instrument. I then became a customer of high end instruments and custom luthiers. This is the usual progression of a hobby, be it golf, fishing, tennis or guitar.

Michael N.
04-21-2017, 01:21 AM
Historically speaking the masses could never afford so called 'luthier instruments', that was always the preserve of the well off or the rich. The huge increase in demand that happened in the mid 19 th century/early 20 th century was filled by so called factory or trade instruments. They weren't factories as we know them now but they were more akin to the set up in the video that I linked to previously. The difference was that it was rarely done under one roof - it was a cottage style industry. The actual number of instruments that were being produced under these cottage style industries was astonishingly high. They were produced to meet the demand, quickly and cheaply. The people that made them had no notion of it being a high art or a high craft. They weren't in the least bit concerned with all that nonsense. They were much more concerned with making enough money to feed the family.

Pete Howlett
04-21-2017, 11:21 AM
I'll learn from anyone - factory or individual...

SteveZ
04-21-2017, 12:04 PM
In the end, it's all market-driven business. Factories don't make thousands of anything on speculation. Wholesalers who order the stuff don't take too many risks or they won't be in business too long.

Pueo
04-21-2017, 12:59 PM
I'll learn from anyone - factory or individual...

It was a pleasure meeting you at Mike's shop on Oahu Pete, I hope you are doing well!

I do love factory videos, and it is crazy to see the volume. The only parts of the video that kind of gave me pause was the stringing and the shot of all of them going back and forth on the hanging conveyor.
That stringing segment - I think about the amount of care I use when re-stringing my instruments and I was just blown away, hammering in all six bridge pins at once, using a mechanized winder, just cringing!

I guess beer purists might have a hard time touring the Anheuser-Busch brewery, same type of thing.

The waste and competition for ordering does make sense though. How much wood is wasted by instruments that do not pass QC and are tossed?
Does it make it any tougher for Pete and Sven or Beau to get Rosewood when these folks buy an entire shipment?

I know that they will never compete on the sales side, completely different customer base.

All that being said, I do have a Kala concert ukulele that lives in my car.
It has always been there at the ready for when I need a decent ukulele to play and don't want to worry about one of my more expensive ones.
And I have heard Kimo Hussey play it, and you know what? It sounds pretty good when he plays it!

CeeJay
04-21-2017, 01:07 PM
Creating instruments with no soul.

Bob

The player supplies the soul...not the wood...no matter how well crafted.......

sequoia
04-21-2017, 08:24 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SvfNhMlnBE

The antitheses of the earlier video. Hardly an electron in sight. These workers are highly skilled at their particular task and their speed of execution is amazing. Stentor violins are at the cheap end too.

Thanks Michael. Interesting video... One wonders why Stentor moved their factory to China. Because of labor obviously. No way Westerners are going to work that hard for that long and do that kind of quality work monotonous hour after monotonous hour. But hey, if your previous job was walking behind a water buffalo knee deep in mud and dung under a hot sun for 12 hours a day 6 days a week and you had a chance at this job you would jump at it.

Verring dangerously off topic here, but here is a video of a test on a $99 dollar Chinese violin. Disturbing in other ways. How can you compete against that kind of price for that kind of value and quality? Well, you can't.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFaCpYRMKB8

cml
04-21-2017, 08:53 PM
Anyone remember Taylor Guitars 'Factory Fridays'? I learnt so much watching them... rather than ridicule and whine it woudl be well for us to watch and learn.
I agree with Pete.

Also none of you fulltime luthiers would be in business if it wasn't for the low and mid price factory ukes. They create an interest and a user base of players that then can start lusting for a custom built instrument by a luthier. Be happy that they exist and provide you with future potential customers as well as spreading the joy of music.

As for materials, they have the same rights as us to buy them, so either we adapt or we change what we work with.

Mivo
04-22-2017, 08:17 AM
How can you compete against that kind of price for that kind of value and quality? Well, you can't.

You can't, but you also don't need to. Even if the materials and quality are the same, the prestige isn't.

People aren't always buying only the product, they are also buying "feeling good". There's probably a wide range of what "feeling good" is caused by, from the intrinsic to the extrinsic, but it's probably safe to say that a $10,000 violin is more likely to achieve this for the average player than a $99 one, even if they sounded and played exactly the same.

The difference in how the buyer (and sometimes as important: others) perceive the two violins is already strongly present before either instrument has made a single sound. The price tag alone probably impacts perception strongly.

Luthiers sell more than the instrument. Chinese factories sell just the instrument.

RPA_Ukuleles
04-22-2017, 10:12 AM
Maybe it's just the luthier's lament that something we put so much care, precision, and heart into, could be pumped out without any connection to the instrument.

Flooding the market with crazy cheap goods not meant to last, just seems like greed. Even tho there's a place for that in the world too, it's hard to look at.

So we steal their high productivity ideas!! That will show them. :old:

BlackBearUkes
04-22-2017, 10:42 AM
While this sounds good and fairly correct, at this point in my career (coming to an end soon), I'd rather just sell the instrument because you can't eat and pay the bills with prestige. I don't think my prices are too high for a hand made instrument, but it is getting harder to sell anything with what we compete with.


You can't, but you also don't need to. Even if the materials and quality are the same, the prestige isn't.

People aren't always buying only the product, they are also buying "feeling good". There's probably a wide range of what "feeling good" is caused by, from the intrinsic to the extrinsic, but it's probably safe to say that a $10,000 violin is more likely to achieve this for the average player than a $99 one, even if they sounded and played exactly the same.

The difference in how the buyer (and sometimes as important: others) perceive the two violins is already strongly present before either instrument has made a single sound. The price tag alone probably impacts perception strongly.

Luthiers sell more than the instrument. Chinese factories sell just the instrument.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-22-2017, 01:43 PM
Wait. What kind of flag decal is that? Nice touch. Haha
There were some cool processes in the there but this video makes me even more proud that I do things by hand. Mass production like this only lends more value to what we do. The world will always seek good, honest handcrafted art.

Pete Howlett
04-23-2017, 06:46 AM
I hope you fellas aren't missing the point - factory production methods can be scaled back to the individual luthier and adapted. I certainly learnt a lot about binding in plastic, a completely 'honest' hand process from the Taylor vids and their sunburst spray video is a masterclass. What I did find fascinating was it took them almost a year to work out the necessary compensation of springback in their bending machines - or maybe a year to refine the entire process. This was because they used 'trial and error': the process that most of us use. The much ridiculed on this forum, Mathias Wandell showed how this is done mathmatically and he did it in a day - they should have hired him because he would have saved them a shed load of money!

I am optimistic about the market for high end ukulele. With AnueNue charging $1500+ for instruments and Kala elitegetting in the the game things can only get better for us boutique builders. Like Duane Iam looking t retiring from full-time building in the next 2 years and willconcentrate thereafter teaching the next generation of builders. I am fortunate to have achieved much at the right time and now, after many years of being wagged by the tailof the dog, get to make what I want. The market for highend ukulele will only strengthen. We have to be pro-active in promoting it in our own countires and communities. Rather thans ee CITES as a threat to my future income stream it is a bonus because it will have the gradual effect of localising purchasing trends...

Despite having to manage PD life is good and the outlook, optimistic!

i would also say that I bet Taylorconsiders their proucts 'honestly' produced... not all companies are sharks in the pool :)

CeeJay
04-23-2017, 01:37 PM
You can't, but you also don't need to. Even if the materials and quality are the same, the prestige isn't.

People aren't always buying only the product, they are also buying "feeling good". There's probably a wide range of what "feeling good" is caused by, from the intrinsic to the extrinsic, but it's probably safe to say that a $10,000 violin is more likely to achieve this for the average player than a $99 one, even if they sounded and played exactly the same.

The difference in how the buyer (and sometimes as important: others) perceive the two violins is already strongly present before either instrument has made a single sound. The price tag alone probably impacts perception strongly.

Luthiers sell more than the instrument. Chinese factories sell just the instrument.

Emperors New Clothes and Materialism.

ThomD
04-23-2017, 09:03 PM
Most of the mechanization in that film seemed nothing but positive. It all looks like it would do a superior job, and most of it was invented in US small shops, or has been around for ever. Gang drilling is certainly not second rate, compared to jigs, or hand work. Nice machine for sanding dished backs.

It isn't that they can't make better, more unique, or personalized instruments, it is that the market isn't large enough. If they want to, they can easily target any market. And it has been done to some extent already through partnerships with custom luthiers, like Kenny Hill.

The problem I never figured out when playing with the idea of being in the business full time back about 20 years ago (compared to other people who were smarter), is that at the time the custom freak show makers were just winding up. The Kasha inspired guys, the guys making guitars that looked like shells. Creative stuff. The call was to just make higher quality versions of existing Martin guitars styles, etc... Yet the industry couldn't seem at the time to make a compelling case that they could actually do that. The Responsive Guitar being an example of the problem. One guy we all know, tooled up to make responsive guitars that he figured had a lifespan of under a decade. Then the internet hit, and any secrets there may have been were spread absolutely everywhere, with all kinds of interest and new entrants.

So it seemed the market didn't care or believe that standard forms could be improved through radical new strategies, partly because those instruments don't sound like what people are looking for, and all get amplified anyway; Everyone thought they could make a better guitar "by hand" but couldn't really explain why; Most makers are pretty much into jigs and standard models anyway, just not as much stuff as the biggies. Hard to figure out where the honest business lies. Of course you can lavish more attention on every detail, which is the luxury approach, and that is good, but it doesn't make much difference as to whether you are making handbags or instruments at that level. Who is your client at that point, and what is the output from that person that made the more expensive guitar productive.

By the way, the last custom guitar expo I went to in Nashville, was attended by Bob Taylor and a few of us hung out with him at the end of one evening. It was just one of those chance meetings in a lobby. He didn't have any idea who any of us were. Nothing gets by that guy though. He knows the business from the smallest beginning, to where he is now. I went right back home after that and re-read all his articles in Guitarmaker, went out and bought a welder.

ThomD
04-23-2017, 09:08 PM
Wait. What kind of flag decal is that? Nice touch. Haha
There were some cool processes in the there but this video makes me even more proud that I do things by hand. Mass production like this only lends more value to what we do. The world will always seek good, honest handcrafted art.

And you should be proud.

As a group though, luthiers are pretty hand work avoidant. Lots of jigs and production tricks. It's hard to really honestly sell hand work from most shops. Is buffing a spray job hand work? I'm sure it does qualify. It is certainly the sainted workmanship of risk. Building two piece, without hand bending, with forms, and using radial dishes, etc... Just compound the use of non-hand methods, and build in a production mentality. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Pete Howlett
04-23-2017, 10:05 PM
It is a fraught subject isn't it? If I can build a jig that can be operated with a hand held or table router I will; it makes sense to me. I will never, however, abandon hand bending for machine bending or buy in CNC craved necks as most production Hawaiian and some mainland shops do. I have a CNC but that is principally used for cutting my pin bidges, logos (most outsource this to places like Gurian and Precision Pearl) and curved ablam. Our 'local' Gurian here in Europe is in Germany and does not have the sophisticated on-line design tools of Gurian so I make up my own purflin if I need something new like coloured lines against a wood binding. It's a skill that I would descibe as 'shop made purflin and binding' and it will involve machines!

I think we have to face it that there aren't that many makers who can hold their hands up and say they do exclusive 'honest hand work'. I do honest work, some of it by hand and some of it using jigs and tools I have built. I'm often pleased with the results of the question I always ask myself when something takes to long to execute, "There must be a better way of doing this". Sometimes the reply is, "No there isn't!" and we have to face it that hand work is sometimes the only way...

I think we have to be very careful if we claim to work with integrity how we describe what we do and how we personally define the term, 'hand work'. I admire the work of Collings guitars. Bill openly admits that a machine will be used wherever possible so the bulk of the time can be given over to detailing and finishing - stuff that is probably best done by hand...

Often when I have posted a long reply like this I get pretty much shot down for my views. As a caveat: these are my views and are not the views of all luthiers. I hope you respect my right to express them as I do yours to challenge them without getting personal about it :cool:

Michael N.
04-24-2017, 01:34 AM
And you should be proud.

As a group though, luthiers are pretty hand work avoidant. Lots of jigs and production tricks. It's hard to really honestly sell hand work from most shops. Is buffing a spray job hand work? I'm sure it does qualify. It is certainly the sainted workmanship of risk. Building two piece, without hand bending, with forms, and using radial dishes, etc... Just compound the use of non-hand methods, and build in a production mentality. And there is nothing wrong with that.

I don't know where you get the idea that luthiers are 'hand work avoidant'. I'd say that the vast majority of violin makers shy away from power tools, absolute minimal use. Steel string guitar makers tend to employ a fair amount of power tools whereas classical guitar makers seem to be split between those who are largely hand tool and those who are 'tooled up'. There aren't many that are totally hand tool but there are a large number who just use one or two power tools. The only power tool that I use is a bandsaw and quite frankly that sees very, very little work. I use my approach simply because I don't really care for power tools. I don't like using them. The odd thing is that there are makers who employ a lot of power tools, are obviously much more productive but charge a lot more than makers who are all hand tool.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-24-2017, 08:43 AM
After reading the recent comments and I've had a chance to think a little bit more about it I'm going to back down from my earlier comment a little bit. I think it's a matter of where you're coming from and what your objective is in pursuing your craft. While I revere the "honest handcraft" that I mentioned earlier I also marvel at some of the automated processes shown in this video. Some years ago I was blown away when I saw how Taylor bent their sides and especially by their robotic buffing machines. And yes, if I had the opportunity, the money, and the intention to do so I wouldn't mind adopted some of those time consuming practices. Watching an efficient industrial production line at work can be a beautiful and impressive thing, perhaps even as much as watching an artist pursue his craft with hands tools alone.

There are two TV shows here in the US that I am fond of. One is "How It's Made" where they bring you inside a factory and show you how cardboard boxes or plastic resin chairs are made. Fascinating stuff. The other show I like is "Handcrafted America" where they might show a lone hand-craftsman building a rocking chair with bow saws, spoke shaves and files. I learn from both shows.

But here is where I'll borrow Pete's caveat and note that this my own opinion and may be mine alone. Personally, I do feel that the more automated tools and processes that are used, the more it separates the soul and character of the maker from the finished piece. From the industrial engineer or businessman's point of view this probably isn't important. From the artist's perspective, it's paramount. From a consumer's point of view these things may or may not matter. It's never been my intention to make a lot more of anything or to make it faster or to even make it perfect for that matter. There is "honesty" and beauty in all forms of creation depending upon who you are and what your objective is. Whether I have 10 or 1,000 ukes left in me I just want to express my creativity as honestly as I can, in sync with who I am, in the instruments I build. What this means will be different for everyone.

But really, what was the American flag decal about? ;)

tobinsuke
04-24-2017, 11:26 AM
Wow. Beautifully stated. :cheers:

And this has been one of the more interesting threads to read in a while. It's nice to reminded that everyone is looking at the world through their own lens.

No idea on that flag decal.


After reading the recent comments and I've had a chance to think a little bit more about it I'm going to back down from my earlier comment a little bit. I think it's a matter of where you're coming from and what your objective is in pursuing your craft. While I revere the "honest handcraft" that I mentioned earlier I also marvel at some of the automated processes shown in this video. Some years ago I was blown away when I saw how Taylor bent their sides and especially by their robotic buffing machines. And yes, if I had the opportunity, the money, and the intention to do so I wouldn't mind adopted some of those time consuming practices. Watching an efficient industrial production line at work can be a beautiful and impressive thing, perhaps even as much as watching an artist pursue his craft with hands tools alone.

There are two TV shows here in the US that I am fond of. One is "How It's Made" where they bring you inside a factory and show you how cardboard boxes or plastic resin chairs are made. Fascinating stuff. The other show I like is "Handcrafted America" where they might show a lone hand-craftsman building a rocking chair with bow saws, spoke shaves and files. I learn from both shows.

But here is where I'll borrow Pete's caveat and note that this my own opinion and may be mine alone. Personally, I do feel that the more automated tools and processes that are used, the more it separates the soul and character of the maker from the finished piece. From the industrial engineer or businessman's point of view this probably isn't important. From the artist's perspective, it's paramount. From a consumer's point of view these things may or may not matter. It's never been my intention to make a lot more of anything or to make it faster or to even make it perfect for that matter. There is "honesty" and beauty in all forms of creation depending upon who you are and what your objective is. Whether I have 10 or 1,000 ukes left in me I just want to express my creativity as honestly as I can, in sync with who I am, in the instruments I build. What this means will be different for everyone.

But really, what was the American flag decal about? ;)

Mivo
04-24-2017, 11:44 AM
I struggle a bit with the terms "honest" and "honesty" in this discussion. Wouldn't "traditional" be less troublesome?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-24-2017, 12:27 PM
I struggle a bit with the terms "honest" and "honesty" in this discussion. Wouldn't "traditional" be less troublesome?

You're correct. "Honest" might be a poor choice of words and I regret having used that in my earlier post. "Honest to the creator or builder" might put it in a better context and that naturally will differ amongst all of us. I have a problem with the word "tradition". I respect it but I'm not married to it. I guess what this entire thread reinforces in me is something Ive said a thousand times; there's room for everybody and each of us has to find a way that is true to who we are. If my goal in life was to work on an assembly line and be the best at my job then there is certainly honesty (Being true to one' self) and respect in doing that.

Timbuck
04-24-2017, 01:13 PM
The flag decall gave me an idea ....I think all UK builders should put a First Class Royal Mail stamp alongside the label in the sound hole...just to remind the world where we live.

DPO
04-24-2017, 01:32 PM
The flag decall gave me an idea ....I think all UK builders should put a First Class Royal Mail stamp alongside the label in the sound hole...just to remind the world where we live.

That's a brilliant idea. Seriously , my next instrument will have an NZ stamp on the label.

sequoia
04-24-2017, 07:34 PM
Don't worry Pete. Nobody is going to flame you... The way I see it is that what we have here is a "time is money" situation. Labor is cost. If that extra labor makes a better sounding, better looking instrument, so be it. Where the Achilles heal of the handmade, boutique instrument is in consistency. Say what you will about the automated production line, but you have to admit it is consistent in kicking out the product. So to compete, the handmade luthier has to produce a consistently good product and that is where professional luthier skills come in. Do it great by hand over and over and over again. Sure I might make a great sounding and great looking uke, but can I do it over and over again consistently? Frankly the answer is no. Each one if different and frankly, some are better than others. But I'm an artist and not a production facility.

Sven
04-27-2017, 08:39 AM
... Gang drilling is certainly not second rate, compared to jigs, or hand work. Nice machine for sanding dished backs. ...
I loved the gang drilling. As I wrote (or think I wrote) I was a bit shaken by the amount of raw materials going into a giant load of guitars that, to me, look as if they aren't exactly infused with an individual artist's love and care. The way I like my instruments, the ones I buy and the ones I make. That said I love a good factory vid.

RichM
04-27-2017, 10:53 AM
After reading the recent comments and I've had a chance to think a little bit more about it I'm going to back down from my earlier comment a little bit. I think it's a matter of where you're coming from and what your objective is in pursuing your craft. While I revere the "honest handcraft" that I mentioned earlier I also marvel at some of the automated processes shown in this video. Some years ago I was blown away when I saw how Taylor bent their sides and especially by their robotic buffing machines. And yes, if I had the opportunity, the money, and the intention to do so I wouldn't mind adopted some of those time consuming practices. Watching an efficient industrial production line at work can be a beautiful and impressive thing, perhaps even as much as watching an artist pursue his craft with hands tools alone.

There are two TV shows here in the US that I am fond of. One is "How It's Made" where they bring you inside a factory and show you how cardboard boxes or plastic resin chairs are made. Fascinating stuff. The other show I like is "Handcrafted America" where they might show a lone hand-craftsman building a rocking chair with bow saws, spoke shaves and files. I learn from both shows.

But here is where I'll borrow Pete's caveat and note that this my own opinion and may be mine alone. Personally, I do feel that the more automated tools and processes that are used, the more it separates the soul and character of the maker from the finished piece. From the industrial engineer or businessman's point of view this probably isn't important. From the artist's perspective, it's paramount. From a consumer's point of view these things may or may not matter. It's never been my intention to make a lot more of anything or to make it faster or to even make it perfect for that matter. There is "honesty" and beauty in all forms of creation depending upon who you are and what your objective is. Whether I have 10 or 1,000 ukes left in me I just want to express my creativity as honestly as I can, in sync with who I am, in the instruments I build. What this means will be different for everyone.

But really, what was the American flag decal about? ;)

I'm trying to remember the name of the show that dedicated two episodes to showing how Lynn Dudenbostel built a mandolin. Fascinating stuff, but even Lynn uses a duplicarver for the initial top carving.

Edit to add: The show was called Handmade Music