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Thread: The rising cost of "hand"made ukes

  1. #101
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    Aug 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Canada View Post
    I suggest that the individuals who think luthiers charge outrageously unjustifiable prices should attempt to build a really fine custom made instrument! Afterwards return to this thread and comment. Most instrument makers who continue to build are driven by their passion for the art. Many end up just quitting and finding more lucrative jobs which probably pay a better hourly wage and may even come with added benefits like health insurance and/or pension!
    I'm just a hobbyist, but for me, crafting a good quality instrument is hard, really hard. I just demolished and discarded a tenor uke I had been building and had dozens of hours invested because I messed it beyond what I thought was reasonable. Odd thing is, I'm very pleased with how my first uke turned out, and I even added bindings, a sound port, and a pickup to it. I have a tenor guitar that I just completed that is hanging up while the Tru-Oil cures. It turned out well, also. So my hat is off to those who can make and sell these things at a sufficient rate to support themselves and their families.

  2. #102
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    I guess the myth of how hard it is to build a ukulele should be busted... at least not if you are a talented woodworker. I couldnít make one, but I have gone by to see Fred Shields a few times, and although his designs are not complex, his woodworking is excellent. Tight joints, smooth transitions, no sharp edges, nice necks, and great intonation. You wonít get the bling, but he seems to knock them out without too much stress.

    And if you think about it, being a luthier is a great job. A person may not get wealthy, but they donít have to worry about living close to work... work lives close to them. If you have a significant waiting list, you already have your year set and can fill in with spec or even non-instrument work as needed. No 8 to 5; you work when you want to. A great life if you can do it. Like a surfboard shaper. Go catch waves and make boards in between. The ultimate goal is building only spec, since commissioned instruments bring a level of unrealistic expectation.

    And as others have said, if the market supports a price of 4000 pounds great. If it doesnít it will sell for less. Is it worth it to me? Probably not, but maybe one day it will be. From an acoustic and playability perspective, all the embellishments donít add anything. I play everyday, and if I find a plain looking but great ukulele for a lot less, Iíll jump on it.

    John
    Last edited by 70sSanO; 09-20-2019 at 07:38 AM.

  3. #103
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    Mar 2014
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    Ames, Iowa
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    3,893

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    I often wonder what made a particular luthier decide to make ukuleles for a living. Is it the love of ukulele, the love of woodworking, or both? Are they players in the sense that they regularly go out and play ukuleles? Do they like music, or are they just intrigued by musical instruments? I'm a woodworker. Probably not a good enough woodworker to make a nice ukulele, but I have a wood shop and I work out there making things. I suppose that I could give it a go, I mean I have a lot of tools. I'm sure that there are lots of ukulele players that are also woodworkers and want to take a stab at it. But I'm talking luthiers who make a living at it. For me, when it comes to ukuleles I would much rather play them than go out in the shop and spend hours making them. So I always wonder what was the motivation. I would be interested to hear what some luthiers have to say about it, especially those who have been at it a long time and have made a name for themselves. What keeps them going? Some of these guys have been shelling out ukuleles for a long long time.

    Anyway, I went to my calculator and in the US, the standard work week is 40 hours. When I was working we figured 2080 hours a year, which does not take into consideration twelve holidays and vacation time off. Divide your income by 2080 and see what you would have to get for an hour of your labors if you decided to build ukuleles and then figure out how many hours you would have to work to make just one. That doesn't include the overhead, the time it takes to pack them up and ship them, the time answering emails and talking on the phone. I figured it out for myself, and I don't think that I could keep it up day after day, week. It was an interesting five minutes on the calculator crunching numbers. Frankly, I don't know how anyone can afford to build ukuleles at any cost. My hat is off to those who make a living at it. If they can do it, more power to them.
    Last edited by Rllink; 09-20-2019 at 08:44 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  4. #104
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    McDonough, GA
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    4,505

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    I often wonder what made a particular luthier decide to make ukuleles for a living. Is it the love of ukulele, the love of woodworking, or both? Are they players in the sense that they regularly go out and play ukuleles? Do they like music, or are they just intrigued by musical instruments? I'm a woodworker. Probably not a good enough woodworker to make a nice ukulele, but I have a wood shop and I work out there making things. I suppose that I could give it a go, I mean I have a lot of tools. I'm sure that there are lots of ukulele players that are also woodworkers and want to take a stab at it. But I'm talking luthiers who make a living at it. For me, when it comes to ukuleles I would much rather play them than go out in the shop and spend hours making them. So I always wonder what was the motivation. I would be interested to hear what some luthiers have to say about it, especially those who have been at it a long time and have made a name for themselves. What keeps them going? Some of these guys have been shelling out ukuleles for a long long time.

    Anyway, I went to my calculator and in the US, the standard work week is 40 hours. When I was working we figured 2080 hours a year, which does not take into consideration twelve holidays and vacation time off. Divide your income by 2080 and see what you would have to get for an hour of your labors if you decided to build ukuleles and then figure out how many hours you would have to work to make just one. That doesn't include the overhead, the time it takes to pack them up and ship them, the time answering emails and talking on the phone. I figured it out for myself, and I don't think that I could keep it up day after day, week. It was an interesting five minutes on the calculator crunching numbers. Frankly, I don't know how anyone can afford to build ukuleles at any cost. My hat is off to those who make a living at it. If they can do it, more power to them.

    From (luthier) Kent Carlos Everett's website, one of his books: On the subject of deciding to becoming a luthier. This is very insightful and a good read. Being an artist/luthier is not for the faint of heart or those looking for wealth and security.
    http://www.everettguitars.com/library.html

    How to Make a Living Doing Something Crazy
    By kent everett

    Taken from Everett's popular 2007 Healdsburg Guitar Festival lecture.

    "This little book should be read by millions of young people hoping to start out
    in the world as artist of various kinds. "
    Tim Olsen - Founding Editor - Guild of American Luthiers
    -Hodge
    Humble strummer of fine ukes.

  5. #105
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    Feb 2008
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    Big Island, Hawaii
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    Iíve been hesitant to jump into this conversation but the last two comments compelled me to do so and itís enlightening for me as builder to know what the ukulele community thinks.

    70sSan0 paints a lovely portrait of how many creative people pursue their art or craft. Iím sure this is true for many people. ( and I know surf board shapers who live exactly the life style you described! Haha). In my particular case, the stresses and expenses of being self employed, without pension, retirement plan or paid health care, worrying about the future of living with a debilitating disease that makes working even more difficult (likely due to the environment hazards or toxic dust and chemicals we work with) and working 70 to 80 hour weeks (that includes weekends) is what probably led to the heart attack I suffered earlier this year. To be fair, since that event I, too, have been more inclined the lifestyle that 70sSan0 mentioned. When I think of all that Iíve given up in life, relationships Iíve ignored, and things Iíve missed, for this selfish pursuit of my art I sometimes feel a bit resentful and wonder if Iíve made the right choice. (Iím reminded of the Charlie Danielís song about selling your soul to the devil.). But to answer 70SSan0ís comment directly; yes, it certainly can be a great job and I wouldnít trade what I do for anything..

    To answer the comment: Why does someone decide to build ukuleles? Of course I can only speak for myself. I canít really call it a compulsion or obsession but I feel I have no real other choice but to be creative. Every day I must create something, hopefully something to make someoneís life just a little better in some way. Itís as vital to me as breathing every day and I canít imagine a day without creating something new. Why ukuleles? When I moved to Hawaii
    30 some years ago I knew that in order to be having the privilege of being allowed to live in this beautiful place I had to return the gift. My life long love of Hawaiian music and culture along with being somewhat clever with my hands made building ukulele a natural fit and I feel like Iíve made some very small contribution. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for this journey. And I must say that the very best, the most rewarding part of this experience has been all of you wonderful, kind, intelligent ukulele people Iíve encountered and have gotten to know, either virtually or physically. Iíve often felt that the ukulele has only been a vehicle to experience and be a part of the ukulele community that has made my life so fulfilling. For that I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I canít imagine my life without ukulele being a part of it.

    Sorry, this has turned into a pretty sappy diatribe. In the end, itís all just stuff. What we do with that stuff, how we share ourselves with it, how it makes us feel or become better people because of having it, is whatís really important. As long as we are discussing such things with a certain amount of respect and Aloha its all good. There is a legitimate market for all levels of art and craft in this world. Whether itís worth what it costs is purely a personal matter. Oh, and if you really want to know what itís like to be a luthier please do read Kent Everrettís short but insightful book of the subject. Every word is gospel. Thanks Doc_J.

    Good lively discussion. Iíve enjoyed it. Mahalo.
    Chuck Moore
    Moore Bettah Ukuleles
    http://www.moorebettahukes.com

  6. #106
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
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    5

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    Thank you for your comment Mr Moore, I appreciate your insight so thoughtfully presented.

  7. #107

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    Gee, was just scrolling a site today and saw for for $8200. The $4000 one is a bargain comparatively. Oh well, good things these are priced all over so we can all play and enjoy them.
    Some of them are so beautiful though

  8. #108
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    Apr 2010
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    Mission Viejo, CA
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    Chuck,
    In no way was I trying to minimize the real life worries and concerns that go with being self employed. I have never had the intestinal fortitude to take that chance and spent 30+ years stuck in rush hour traffic.

    I’ll be praying that your health improves and things get less stressful; and there is a path forward to being able to retire or at least cut back some and enjoy life more.

    John

  9. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moore Bettah Ukuleles View Post
    Iíve been hesitant to jump into this conversation but the last two comments compelled me to do so and itís enlightening for me as builder to know what the ukulele community thinks.

    70sSan0 paints a lovely portrait of how many creative people pursue their art or craft. Iím sure this is true for many people. ( and I know surf board shapers who live exactly the life style you described! Haha). In my particular case, the stresses and expenses of being self employed, without pension, retirement plan or paid health care, worrying about the future of living with a debilitating disease that makes working even more difficult (likely due to the environment hazards or toxic dust and chemicals we work with) and working 70 to 80 hour weeks (that includes weekends) is what probably led to the heart attack I suffered earlier this year. To be fair, since that event I, too, have been more inclined the lifestyle that 70sSan0 mentioned. When I think of all that Iíve given up in life, relationships Iíve ignored, and things Iíve missed, for this selfish pursuit of my art I sometimes feel a bit resentful and wonder if Iíve made the right choice. (Iím reminded of the Charlie Danielís song about selling your soul to the devil.). But to answer 70SSan0ís comment directly; yes, it certainly can be a great job and I wouldnít trade what I do for anything..

    To answer the comment: Why does someone decide to build ukuleles? Of course I can only speak for myself. I canít really call it a compulsion or obsession but I feel I have no real other choice but to be creative. Every day I must create something, hopefully something to make someoneís life just a little better in some way. Itís as vital to me as breathing every day and I canít imagine a day without creating something new. Why ukuleles? When I moved to Hawaii
    30 some years ago I knew that in order to be having the privilege of being allowed to live in this beautiful place I had to return the gift. My life long love of Hawaiian music and culture along with being somewhat clever with my hands made building ukulele a natural fit and I feel like Iíve made some very small contribution. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for this journey. And I must say that the very best, the most rewarding part of this experience has been all of you wonderful, kind, intelligent ukulele people Iíve encountered and have gotten to know, either virtually or physically. Iíve often felt that the ukulele has only been a vehicle to experience and be a part of the ukulele community that has made my life so fulfilling. For that I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I canít imagine my life without ukulele being a part of it.

    Sorry, this has turned into a pretty sappy diatribe. In the end, itís all just stuff. What we do with that stuff, how we share ourselves with it, how it makes us feel or become better people because of having it, is whatís really important. As long as we are discussing such things with a certain amount of respect and Aloha its all good. There is a legitimate market for all levels of art and craft in this world. Whether itís worth what it costs is purely a personal matter. Oh, and if you really want to know what itís like to be a luthier please do read Kent Everrettís short but insightful book of the subject. Every word is gospel. Thanks Doc_J.

    Good lively discussion. Iíve enjoyed it. Mahalo.
    Chuck Thank you for your input. I'm grateful that you're here and building ukuleles that most of us can dream about. (Your instruments remain on my wish list.) Please take good care of yourself and wishing you improved good health.
    K
    Sopranos, Concerts, and Tenors including Baritone body at a Tenor Scale - 4 String, 5 String and 8 String :-)
    For Sale: Seagull Nylon String
    For Sale: National Mahogany Resonator
    For Sale: Gold Tone Resonator

  10. #110
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Paradise, California
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    302

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moore Bettah Ukuleles View Post
    Every day I must create something, hopefully something to make someone’s life just a little better in some way. It’s as vital to me as breathing every day and I can’t imagine a day without creating something new.
    And I can tell you that for me, Chuck, you have made my life better in a very good ukulele way. Thanks, always, for my three great instruments--and most of all for your friendship, insight and compassion.
    http://www.ukuleletonya.com

    Lucky owner of two MooreBettah tenors; don't ask about the ukuleles that burned in the Paradise fire, 2018--you'll just make me sad.

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