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Bradford
01-12-2011, 08:19 AM
Hi Guys, I'm going to be a vendor at the Gorge ukulele Festival in March and I'm looking to try something different. I'd like your opinions on this idea. I'm thinking of offering some ukulele kits, with the following twist. I'll put together a collection of parts, tops, backs, bent sides, necks etc. out of a number of different woods, based on a Martin soprano plan. The idea is the customer selects all the parts a la carte from this stock. For example, they could select a kit with a flamed koa top, myrtle sides and back, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard and bridge, with solid linings of yellow cedar, spruce endblocks, maple bridge patch, medium fretwire and gold friction tuners with black knobs. Do you think there would be any interest in this?

Brad

tattwo
01-12-2011, 08:27 AM
What a great idea Brad. I hope to see you up there in March

Allen
01-12-2011, 09:16 AM
My gut feeling is I think you'd get a lot of interest but would need to be pretty patient with customers as they are going to be rummaging through every little piece and asking you a 1000 questions about "what sound does this wood make" type of thing, trying to make a decision.

When I do my uke building classes I gave students a choice once and it drove me mad. They seem to be under the impression that picking that perfect piece of wood will make all the difference in the world, without actually having ever built an instrument before.

UkeforJC
01-12-2011, 09:16 AM
Hi! Brad,
that is an awsome idea. For people like me who doesn't have many tools and only build the ukes on the dinning table, what you plan to do is good news.
I would like to build some koa ukes, but I couldn't find any vender selling the koa uke kit in US.

Will you be selling the kits only at the Festival?

Bradford
01-12-2011, 11:19 AM
I hear you Allen, but I enjoy educating people. My experience has shown that it is far more important what you do with the wood, rather than the wood itself. Beginning builders will need to know that they are primarily picking the woods for appearance. UkeforJC, obviously the ideal situation would be for the customer to be able to pick through things and choose what they like, but if I go ahead with the idea, I can put together kits based on their preferences.

Brad

mzuch
01-12-2011, 12:04 PM
Brad, it's wonderful that you are doing this, but you may lose sales by putting up barriers to purchase. Newbies who might buy on impulse may be daunted by the need to make so many decisions. My suggestion is to assemble a complete, basic kit and let folks upgrade various parts if they want to.

Bosconian91
01-12-2011, 12:55 PM
I like the idea! I say try it and fine tune your offerings as you go along.

mzuch also has a good point - some people will chose not to buy if the buying process requires too much thought. Perhaps, you can have 2-3 variations of boxed sets available, aside from the a la carte. If this works, you can set up a web site for the a la carte offerings, where potential buyers can take their time choosing what to include in their kit.

Bradford
01-12-2011, 12:57 PM
Hey mzuch, that is a very astute observation and I agree with you. In this case my target customer already has built a kit or two and is looking to expand their experience. The truth is with my limited production potential, I can't compete with Stew-Mac or Grizzly in providing relatively cheap kits for newbies. With this, I'm looking to expand the choices available for the DIY.

Brad

Lori
01-12-2011, 01:26 PM
Hi Bradford

I think it is a great idea. I think there are many people looking to step up from the Stew Mac/ Grizzly Kits.

I think you should also offer assembly (by you or an experienced assistant) as an option, for those who wanted the hands on experience of selecting the parts, but would rather have an expert put it together. Sort of like having a custom studio on the road. When you get home, you can assemble the ordered ukes, and send them out at your normal custom price. It's a good way to build enthusiasm for a custom ukulele.
–Lori

Bradford
01-12-2011, 03:52 PM
Thanks Lori, that is an interesting idea.

Brad

Allen
01-12-2011, 09:02 PM
Don't try and compete with the big boys on kit's. Not worth the time or effort. Sell them as "Boutique Kits" and charge a premium for them.

bbycrts
01-13-2011, 12:50 PM
Hi Guys, I'm going to be a vendor at the Gorge ukulele Festival in March and I'm looking to try something different. I'd like your opinions on this idea. I'm thinking of offering some ukulele kits, with the following twist. I'll put together a collection of parts, tops, backs, bent sides, necks etc. out of a number of different woods, based on a Martin soprano plan. The idea is the customer selects all the parts a la carte from this stock. For example, they could select a kit with a flamed koa top, myrtle sides and back, mahogany neck, ebony fretboard and bridge, with solid linings of yellow cedar, spruce endblocks, maple bridge patch, medium fretwire and gold friction tuners with black knobs. Do you think there would be any interest in this?

Brad

It sounds like a neat idea. I've had a nice myrtle kit for quite some time now - bought it and realized I have nowhere to work on it! It's a tenor and does not include some of those basic parts.

I would want the fretboards to be preslotted...

I still want to come and visit some time...I have your contact info that you sent me last year...lutherie is like an amazing, wonderful magic all its own to me...I would love to see a luthier in action...

erich@muttcrew.net
01-13-2011, 11:05 PM
I would agree with what others have said. Not too many options, show people a few examples, let them decide what they (think they) want, advise them accordingly.... And maybe also (have someone) build and finish it for them.... Like a "Design Your Own Uke" configurator -- just an idea.

pahu
01-14-2011, 02:28 AM
Brad, I think (like Lori) that there are potential customers for a kit with quality woods.
I'm in there! Pls keep us 'in the loop' and remember that everyone can't attend a festival
so a website offering might be useful.

PhilUSAFRet
02-14-2011, 09:20 AM
If I lived nearby, I'd come by and buy a kit! Good idea, good luck

erich@muttcrew.net
02-15-2011, 12:23 AM
Me too. I'd come by and buy by and by ;)

Pete Howlett
02-15-2011, 05:01 AM
As someone who has been supplying quality koa kits for 7 years I can honestly say it's not a lively market. When Stewmac introduced their range of kits it very near killed my business which was, before their entry into the market, pretty regular. My kits are hideously expensive compared with the Stewmac offering. However, with the really initial critical part of the construction done there is little room for failure. I also provide options but often find most people want the basic kit. Very few have requested indigenous woods which is a real shame since every cherry uke I have or my students have put together has been a killer. At a festival a mix and match/pick and mix booth is a great idea. Just make sure you have enough parts for those who will be 'partial' buyers - I'd imagine there will be quite a few who just want a fingerboard or bridge. Don't be surprised if all of your kerfed lining goes...

Lastly - if you want a kit, make sure you are actually buying that and not a bill of materials. I have seen kits advertised that are not so in my opinion. A kit has to have enough 'serviced' parts for you to build with the minimum of specialised tools and should not require you to improvise with dangerous lash-up bending irons and such like. For me, the whole purpose of a kit is to get a result close to that available for purchase as a completed instrument. I'm not sure if it is still in the uketalk archive but Kevin Crossett who is now a respected builder made one of my kits as his first serious foray into building; his description of the process is how the experience should be for anyone buying a 'kit'.

agilitydog
02-15-2011, 05:51 AM
I think this discussion is important. It reminds me of building my first bike -a criterium bike-( mid 70's) because it was the frame I had available and wishing I had all the appropriate parts to restore a classic super colnago first. Weren't that many catalog choices in the early seventies. And the criterium bike didn't have the same stability downhill (ha!)
Point is, I love the idea: if there's no room for choice at some point learning suffers. Mistakes are great learning opportunities if you can survive the crash.

Bradford
02-15-2011, 09:08 AM
Thanks very much Pete. I really appreciate your input on this. I am hoping that there will be some interest in the indigious woods. I have been struggling lately figuring out how much I should do. Your commentshelped clarify things.

Brad

pcspud
02-15-2011, 11:00 AM
Read with interest the Kevin Crossett r/v - for anyone else interested here's the link
http://uketalk.com/reviews/ukkit.html

Pete Howlett
02-15-2011, 02:11 PM
Thanks for the link - please note that uk-ukes.com is no longer a website...