View Full Version : Solid Body Luthier

09-22-2011, 06:26 PM
Could anyone refer me to a good solid body (as in electric) luthier who is very reasonable on price.

It may be a while, but I have, what I think, to be a good idea. I'd just like to see what I would be looking at cost-wise.

09-22-2011, 06:57 PM
I have a Monkey Wrench (http://monkeywrenchmusic.com/) tenor that I'm quite happy with.

09-22-2011, 09:32 PM

09-23-2011, 04:54 AM

It's pretty amazing those instruments can be sold for those kinds of prices. Wow

Pete Howlett
09-24-2011, 01:52 PM
That esty guy wants shooting! When will these amateurs stop undercutting us professionals?

Rick Turner
09-24-2011, 03:20 PM
Are the Unkulele's made in the US? I see implications that he makes ukes, but I see no declaration that these are actually US-made. Could they be imports?

09-24-2011, 04:28 PM
That esty guy wants shooting! When will these amateurs stop undercutting us professionals?
This makes no sense, do you want amateurs to charge more than you?

09-24-2011, 04:56 PM
Are the Unkulele's made in the US? I see implications that he makes ukes, but I see no declaration that these are actually US-made. Could they be imports?
I'm with you. there's a hook there somewhere

Rick Turner
09-24-2011, 05:38 PM
My friend, the classical guitar maker Kenny Hill once told me, "The problem with ukes is that they're 3/4 the trouble of building guitars for 1/2 the money." He was right...if you're trying to build decent ukes.

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 10:40 AM
No. I want amateur builders to stop undercutting professional luthiers by offering their often very good work at ridiculous prices - as a punter you may rejoice in getting a bargain but every bargain devalues the work of those of us who do this to put food on the table. This is my profession - I am not endulging some long held dream, spending 40 hours building an instrument and costing my time out at $5 an hour! I love what I do but really, after a while, the best part of it is banking... Besides, since most of these guys call themselves luthiers and if they are going to aspire to that moniker then they should live up to it. Sorry but this sort of thing really gets my goat! Working at a 'craft' is arduous and rarely financially rewarding except for a fewe at the top of the tree. A little understanding from the general public into what it takes to run a business would help. And just so you know, close on 40% of the retail costs of my ukulele are costs - that is money paid out before I can think of taking an income. So I think I am somewhat qualified to make the comment above and defend the position of myself and other professionals who have chosen this as a way to make a living.

Rick Turner
09-26-2011, 12:04 PM
And for me, close to 40% of the retail price goes to the retailer...try that on for size, folks... Same for Collings, same for Santa Cruz, same for my other boutique production shop brethren...and a few sisteren.

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 12:10 PM
That's why I resist it Rick - first start in the business was limited batch production 6 & 8 string tenors. 16 years ago I was charging $400 an instrument. I didn't have to buy the wood but I did have to pay shipping which was very sensible back then. I'm sure you have similar horror stories.

09-26-2011, 12:28 PM
Let me get this straight. On one hand we have a professional luthier in the UK wanting a degree of price protection so he can make a decent living. On the other hand, we have a professional luthier in the US who is ready to embrace Tea Party-style business deregulation, which presumably includes free market pricing. Yet you seem to agree with each other. No wonder the world is in such a confused state! :D

Rick Turner
09-26-2011, 12:46 PM
Well, don't overstate my positions on this. The Lacey Act and CITES have gone too, too far, and the US government has no business attempting to enforce misunderstood laws of other countries...that being the heart of the Gibson tempest in a teapot. If the US is going to enforce other countries' laws, let's start with immigration laws and make them reciprocal. Mexico has much more draconian laws re. non-citizens than does the US...for instance. As far as pricing, no matter whether you sell direct or through stores, you'd better understand that selling instruments is time consuming. Every minute you're explaining, promoting, selling is a minute you're not making ukes. Either you do it...and it costs...or a store does it...and it costs. My dealers earn their margins, and they keep me alive. I earn my margins when I sell direct because I can then afford to spend the time explaining my instruments, my options, etc.

Politically, I'm kind of a libertarian socialist!

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 12:46 PM
It's not price protection I'm looking for. It's honesty!

09-27-2011, 06:25 AM
My experience has been that if someone spends $150 on an electric instrument that they are either going to not play it because of the poor level of quality or they are going to spend more than they would have spent on a quality instrument making it playable. I see it all the time in the electric mandolin business. I used to be put off by that then I realized that these buyers could be my next customer if I priced myself right between the cheap crap and the high end stuff then I'd be the next logical choice for anyone that wanted to stick with the instrument but not prepared to go to the high end. Its been a pretty good niche market. I have struggled breaking in to the solid bodied uke market simply because it is so small, I'm new to it, and my prices are actually closer to the high end spectrum within the uke market because I don't differentiate much between pricing on my ukes and mandolins.

I'm probably one of those small builders that cuts in to Pete's pockets but all I can say is its a free market and I prefer that over a regulated one. I can sympathize with Pete though, because as I understand it, you can't have a business in your home in the UK. You have to have a separate shop which adds to the overhead whereas a US builder can work out of his basement and not worry about the electric bill, insurance etc. Is that correct Pete? That you can't have a business in your home?

For what its worth, I too am at 40% plus another 20% if I go through a dealer but this isn't my sole income and my compensation is the enjoyment I derive from building.

Michael N.
09-27-2011, 08:01 AM
Nothing to stop you having a business in your own home in the UK. You might have trouble getting insured, which is what happened to a friend of mine. They are a little worried that you will burn down the rest of the building. He did find someone to insure eventually .
It's perfectly legal to run a business though, providing you gain local authority consent and pay the business rate (tax). The cost is higher, especially the insurance. If you run a commercial enterprise from home but without adequate insurance you are at risk of losing everything, if something very unfortunate happens. You simply won't be covered.
In the US Is your home really covered if you don't have commercial insurance and you are running a commercial workshop?