Page 1 of 2
#1
In 2 years when I come back from my mission, the school I'll be going to offers free access to a really sweet wood shop (/metal/electronics/everything shop). I'm thinking about starting up a little local business of building bodies for people, because I'm thinking that if got together a few common body templates, that I could turn out bodies pretty fast. They'd be unfinished, and no neck, but it'd be cool for DIYers I guess. And since my overhead is next to nothing, I could sell bodies for cheap. Any thoughts on this? Any thoughts on how I should price?


Here's where I think this may grow if it works out:
-Theres a nice spray booth, so I could do finishes
-I think I'd stick to standard fender/gibson/ibanez/prs templates in the beginning since I have those in CAD already, but I might could charge extra and do completely custom body shapes
-I could make some neck templates and do necks (but there it gets significantly more time consuming then)
-If I get good at this kind of thing, I could do guitar/electronics repairs


Tell me what you think: IE is it useful? would I make money (it'd mostly be in it for the fun though)? would you personally get a cheap custom body to build yourself? What kind of options would be simple enough for me to start off with that I could offer? etc?
#2
I think if you do the neck thing.. ask people if they want set in or bolt on necks. Both will be time consuming i guess.
#3
the thing that springs instantly to mind would be that you might get baned from the woodshop if the school find out your operating a business from there, they wouldnt be covered on insurance or anything, could be a problem if your doing technology for a subject.

do some market research and find out how many people play guitar in the town and how many would want to use a school kid to do the body, my guess wouldnt be very many. not being offensive but as far as their concerened you could be rubbish at making bodies, so untill you get a reputation you wont do much business
#4
I didn't consider the insurance situation, I'll find out about that.

And then about your second concern, I agree again. The school has it's very own craigslist kind of deal, and then there's craigslist itself so I figure I'll advertise through those avenues and by word-of-mouth. I figure I'll use these free advertising methods to "probe the market" while making myself some bodies. Then, I'll sell them for way cheap, maybe at-cost in the beginning, and I could do a discount for referred friends. I could also talk to the guitar professor and other musicians to try and spread the word. My main concern is that too many people wouldn't want just a body, but to do necks may be significantly more difficult. Maybe I could find a CNC shop to help with the necks? is that cost-efficient? warmoth necks? ebay necks?
#5
yea you could undercut competition on the bodies get the necks from somewhere else and sell them for the same price untill people start to hear about you, then if you start to do unique shapes start making your money back on them by charging a bit more. spose thats the start of a very basic stratergy for you. its all going to be in the marketing if you make money from this, and it isnt going to be easy
.
.
lucky for you im in the middle of a business degree

message me if i can help anymore...
#9
^Good point, it'd be a little more standard.

Taking into account the increased labor and parts costs, would I sell more guitars if I completed them? Or made kits?

I'm pretty handy with a soldering iron, so my signature deal could be weird electronics and pickup combos. I couldn't make higher quality instruments in the beginning (lack of experience), so I could cater to experimenters with neat electronics.

If I got this thing off the ground, how much would it cost to make a complete guitar, and what profit margin should I ultimately aim for?


EDIT: Here's the kind of electronics that'd be crazy fun to do:
http://guitarnuts2.proboards45.com/index.cgi?board=schem&action=display&thread=1174521066
After the guitar was done, I'd probably tell the guy it wasn't so I could keep it for a while longer
Last edited by flashbandit at Jan 30, 2008,
#11
How much cheaper than Warmoths $180, do you think you'll have to go, to make up for the fact you have no reputation, no known warranty, no clients with repeat orders, no CNC, no website to sell from, no automated payment systems, no selection of wood to choose from, no drying racks (how long do you store the wood to ensure its dry?), etc etc etc (lets not even get into the finishing side of things yet).

Of course, dont forget tool maintenace, router bits, mistakes, sand paper, thicknesser blades, etc etc etc etc etc

$120? If so, you're going for the client who is willing to take a risk on the quality, to save a few bucks. Those same guys will also over look you, and spend their money with the cheapest guy...

So, the question is, can you compete with an Alder or Swamp Ash body from Eden, for $45??

No.

Finishing. If you can match the finish of a $99 chinese strat, and do it with enough expertise to 'sell' the finish for a $200 'upgrade' on your bodies, i'll give you a job tomorrow. I'll even pay for the plane tickets and visa!

Ive seen a LOT of people try this. It seems like an awesome "business". Fact is they all fail, after struggling to sell their wares for the cost of materials. Fancy waking up to a bitching client who wanted a lefty strat last week, painted black, when you know you arent even making minimum wage?

The ONLY way to do it, is to invest a LOT of money, stockpile timber (and order in bulk), and run a CNC machine. This type of business relies purely on VOLUME of sales, to even get past the break even point. Of course, you'll need staff to machine wood, answer phones, ship orders, to keep up with the volumes you'll need to make any profit.

This isnt an attack on you personally, but more of a reality check. Take it or leave it.

Of course, by all means, give it a go and prove me wrong. I enjoy seeing guys make a living for themselves, especially when the odds are stacked well against them. Hell, EVERYONE told me to forget about making guitars for a living.

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
Last edited by ormsby guitars at Jan 31, 2008,
#12
Wow... I'm still trying to digest all of that...

Thanks for that thorough of a response. I was hoping that it wouldn't have to be a "profit by volume" kind of business. I thought guitars sold with a reasonable margin of profit.

So lets assume I wanted to try this. I mean, I have a free wood shop, some spare time, why not? Could you give me any advice on how to start with the business side of things? I'm going into it with the full realization that it is likely to fail, so I won't invest me life into it, but I want to try and stay afloat for as long as possible.

And thanks again ormsby, I appreciate your advice (and love your guitars!)
#13
if you are thinking about doing this ill have a tv yellow sg junior body with a dog ear p-90 rout. how much would that cost me? bear in mind im from england.
#14
The problem is, you need to sell them on forums, or ebay. Ebay and custom stuff, doesnt work. Forum buyers, are looking for bargains.

The free wood shop will not last. And if your at school, how many hours do you expect to spend in there?

Whats the cost for FOUR guitars worth of swamp ash?
How long to machine that timber ready for gluing?
How long to glue up?
How long to remachine to 45-48mm thick?
How many hours does it take you to then build four strat bodies, ready for paint? Dont forget neck joints, wire cavities, trem claw holes, strap buttons, etc.

Remember, i teach guitar making, and am a pro myself, so i'll know when you are not quite being truthful with your estimates I will pull you up on those estimates too

I know how long it takes me to build a strat, and without tooting my own horn, you'd be amazed at how quick it can be done. BUT, its take a long time to get there. I know i can make money doing it, because i have a reputation (higher sell price, last time i made a body only for a guy, which was years ago, i charged nearly four times the price of Warmoth), and experience. But i also know i can make more money, easier, by doing other things.

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
#15
Quote by flashbandit


I'm pretty handy with a soldering iron, so my signature deal could be weird electronics and pickup combos. I couldn't make higher quality instruments in the beginning (lack of experience), so I could cater to experimenters with neat electronics.

Whats going to stop these same guys, who afterall, are already researching DIY stuff, to choose using you over the DIY mentality that will be pushed on them from the various guitar electronics, and general DIY communities out there? Why choose an internet based transaction for electronics, when their local Guitar Center can organise it too?

Quote by flashbandit

If I got this thing off the ground, how much would it cost to make a complete guitar, and what profit margin should I ultimately aim for?


What are your costs? Overheads? Insurance? Tax? Sundry items? Living expenses? Rent? Car Payments? Girlfriend? Drinking funds? Lifestyle costs? etc etc etc etc

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
#16
Quote by ormsby guitars
Whats going to stop these same guys, who afterall, are already researching DIY stuff, to choose using you over the DIY mentality that will be pushed on them from the various guitar electronics, and general DIY communities out there? Why choose an internet based transaction for electronics, when their local Guitar Center can organise it too?


What are your costs? Overheads? Insurance? Tax? Sundry items? Living expenses? Rent? Car Payments? Girlfriend? Drinking funds? Lifestyle costs? etc etc etc etc


thats a big one

Listen to what he is saying, he has it all right... I always thought it would be cool to do a Paintball Custom Shop and custom mill guns, I could also use my school, but only to some extent, then for the work I would do I would only need a small Table CNC mill (not including a computer), a computer, programs: $10,000 give or take... then plus my other costs, Insurance, shipping, material.... It just wouldnt be worth it, It would be fun, but fun has a cost.

If you think you can do it, then do it, just dont expect big results... If you do make it a big business then I congratulate you, most business' like this fail.
#17
ormsbys guitars is right. Its really really hard to start selling guitars. I tried not long ago. Still got 2 in cases under my bed. People dont want to pay any money. They want a bargain. Go look thru ebay at some of the ridiculous offers people make on guitars. And alot of the threads on this site. Dont see many saying "Im looking for a well made, high quality and probably expensive guitar" no most are where can "I get the cheapest price" or "is this 200$ gibson real". Why do you think spider and marshall MGs are so popular, isnt the quality. I took some of my guitars to the local store and the owner tells me they are really nice but no point in hanging them up. Nobody will pay for them people beat him up on the price of a 100 dollar chinese guitar. Dont make guitars anticipating selling them only make them if you have them sold.
#18
Man reality is a f**kin bitch lol




Quote by dogismycopilot
Absent Mind, words cant express how much i love you. Id bone you, oh yea.

Quote by lumberjack
Absent Mind is, as usual, completely correct.

Quote by littlemurph7976
Id like to make my love for Neil public knowledge as he is a beautiful man
#19
NOTE: I'd tried to post this right after ormsbys last post, but... was UG... down for a while?... sad


I'm planning on having a job at the same time as this thing starting out, so I won't worry about money in the beginning since I'll know that I'm investing in my future. Also, as far as making tons of cash is concerned, I'm not worried because I'd mostly be doing it for fun. I plan on being a physician down the road, so this is just for fun, unless it works out very well for me (which we've all agreed is unlikely). So, I'll take your questions like a pop quiz and answer from the top of my head.

Whats the cost for FOUR guitars worth of swamp ash?
Well, a single piece of solid hard ash (one piece body) ran me $70ish for my first axe. So if I built 2 or 3 piece bodies of swamp ash, I'd imagine around $100? That's probably way off, but do let me know please.


How long to machine that timber ready for gluing?

What, to run it through a jointer? Like, 10-20 minutes slow.

How long to glue up?
10-20 minutes slow

How long to remachine to 45-48mm thick?
With a nice planer, maybe 30+ minutes

How many hours does it take you to then build four strat bodies, ready for paint? Dont forget neck joints, wire cavities, trem claw holes, strap buttons, etc.
Now this part I wouldn't be sure on, but if I traced everything with a router and templates, 1-2 hours per body?

These are guestimates made from very limited experience, so please let me know if I'm far off. I imagine that if I did 4 bodies at once, I'd cut set up time and be able to speed things up.


And about the electronics, it was just an idea. There are some weird electronics out there that many people don't know about, or are difficult to build, but I don't think I could provide anything truly original, at least with the limited knowledge I have. But I know first hand that electronics in general are pretty daunting, and often difficult to understand so I think there'd at least be some market for my electronic services. I could also offer mods (black ice, tone, push-pull pots, coil splitting and tapping, pu configurations, SSS -> HSH etc) for people's instruments.

And to address the DIY mentality my customers may have, I think if I found a cheap way to buy necks, all I'd have to do is finish and assemble everything and sell a completed guitar I could sell for more.


Ormsby, I really appreciate your feedback. You obviously have a lot of doubts about this being successful, as do I, but what are some other problems I may face, and how might I address them?


if you are thinking about doing this ill have a tv yellow sg junior body with a dog ear p-90 rout. how much would that cost me? bear in mind im from england.

Thanks for your interest, but I haven't started yet, nor will I for a while But since you're the first to prove that a market exists for this, what do you honestly think a fair price would be, from a consumer's point of view?
#20
It takes a hell of a lot longer to make a body, even with great tools. However, in a day you could probably make 2, 3 or even 4 bodies, working full time. And swamp ash is about 40$ a blank, so 4 bodies worth would be.... $160.
Quote by Chaosinborn

Quote by gh0sthack

Didn't Kerry King use MGs at some point?

I think he just endorses them because he likes sacks of money
#21
I would estimate in a 8 Hour day you could get 4 - 5 bodies... (finished), but that isnt including the time you took to make templates, jigs, setting up bits, setting up machines... and overall planning what you are doing.

I would think you can get a small market, You may make some money, but not enough to make a business, but as a side job for fun... go ahead, it sounds like fun, I do the same thing with Custom Cabinets (not guitar cabinets, kitchen/ bathroom style) at the moment, though the business I get is generally Family and Friends, and I only get about $600 for a Cabinet that cost $500 - 550 in material and other expenses, though I did a job for someone I didnt know where I ended up making almost $200 (still not enough for a career, but being a High School Student and doing it part time, it was a nice price for something I enjoy doing)

So I still say good luck and have fun

#22
Hey, I definitely will try it out. In the mean time, I've got a bunch of pdf/dwg/dxf templates for bodies and what not. If anyone else has some good templates, I'll trade! I'm looking for neck pockets, pickup/electronics routes, etc. Are there like, sets of contour templates for routing carved tops? That'd be useful! Yeah, basically if you have anything I need, I'll give you everything I've got, just PM me.

And thanks for all the feedback everyone!
#26
also, a suggestion, if you do a PRS or gibson they should come with a quilted top, or make models with quilted tops. if you sold that, i would definately buy one. like a PRS style with a quilted top. that would be nice, and have it not be finished, which is better so people could stain and laquer them themselves. also, are you going to be doing body bindings and stuff? cause a gibson esque guitar isnt complete without a binding on the body.
Quote by Øttər
I'll accept Jesus into my heart if the neighboorhood accepts my penis into it's street.
#28
I don't care about anything Ormsby says. I would definitely buy a copy of your violin guitar.
#29
BTW Flash you say you need pickguard templates? Why not just buy 1 of every design of pickguard available and use that as the template? You could prob get them pretty cheap over ebay and just put them onto wood if you want to. That is if you cant get them free off some one else.




Quote by dogismycopilot
Absent Mind, words cant express how much i love you. Id bone you, oh yea.

Quote by lumberjack
Absent Mind is, as usual, completely correct.

Quote by littlemurph7976
Id like to make my love for Neil public knowledge as he is a beautiful man
#30
That is if you cant get them free off some one else.
exactly

I'm trying to cut every cost I can. I think why a lot of businesses can't get off the ground is because they don't take risks. So what I think I'll try and do, is invest $1000 (or what ever my research suggests I should), and that'll then be money I won't e afraid to lose. I'll take that money and do whatever I can with it, building axes, reinvesting into the business, selling, advertising. I'll try and be as frugal as possible, while still making a decent product.

I would definitely buy a copy of your violin guitar.

Hey, I appreciate that


Lastly, I did a little ebay research last night. I pulled up all the guitar bodies that were closing within the next 2 hours in separate tabs, and came back in 2 hours to see how they sold. There was this one guy selling half of the ones that I opened, he couldn't sell any of them when the starting bid was like $30. A couple other raw bodies sold for a little bit ($40-50). Then some finished bodies were selling better, and fully loaded bodies sold amazingly. Then (of course) there were a few Fender Americans, and vintage Fenders that sold for like $500, but unfortunately I can't sell true Fenders Moral of that research is that I should at least finish the bodies, maybe load them with hardware so they just need a neck, tuners and strings.

Ormsby, if you don't mind sharing, what is the cost of body blanks to you? And the cost of a simple finish?
#31
This definitely would not be profitable. I'm selling a guitar to someone with pretty nice parts great wood, etc for 500$ parts cost around 300$, so I will be making 200$ for the entire guitar. I know for a fact if i just sold the body I would get nothing for it. People don't want bodies, they want guitars.
#32
for the price of a neck off ebay, i think you'd be okay, so long as you had some sort of market for advertising... (friend in a band? maybe give him a free/cheap one, and have him brag'er up?)

if it's only a side project, then it really should be about the enjoyment of the craft overall.

and besides, who wouldn't want an SG with a strat neck bolted on?

interchangable bodies, anyone?

------

Shwiggity.
#33
Ethics Question, would taking squire necks, stripping the logo and maybe reshaping the headstock be ok? I mean, I wouldn't sell it as a fender or anything, but I'd just separate the neck from the Squier-as-crappy-guitars stigma. I'm just trying to find the cheapest way to get necks.

(Don't hate me for asking...)
#35
Quote by flashbandit
exactly

I'm trying to cut every cost I can. I think why a lot of businesses can't get off the ground is because they don't take risks. So what I think I'll try and do, is invest $1000 (or what ever my research suggests I should), and that'll then be money I won't e afraid to lose. I'll take that money and do whatever I can with it, building axes, reinvesting into the business, selling, advertising. I'll try and be as frugal as possible, while still making a decent product.


I started with $2000. However, my partner at the time had just been given a pay rise, equal to my entire wage. That helped.
For the first 18 months i didnt make money, but i didnt loose money either. Ever bit of money i got, went straight back into the business. I was lucky enough to not have to rely on it to survive, my girlfriend paid for everything (when she was in university, i paid for everything, so she was returning the favor).


Quote by flashbandit


Lastly, I did a little ebay research last night. I pulled up all the guitar bodies that were closing within the next 2 hours in separate tabs, and came back in 2 hours to see how they sold. There was this one guy selling half of the ones that I opened, he couldn't sell any of them when the starting bid was like $30. A couple other raw bodies sold for a little bit ($40-50). Then some finished bodies were selling better, and fully loaded bodies sold amazingly. Then (of course) there were a few Fender Americans, and vintage Fenders that sold for like $500, but unfortunately I can't sell true Fenders Moral of that research is that I should at least finish the bodies, maybe load them with hardware so they just need a neck, tuners and strings.

Ormsby, if you don't mind sharing, what is the cost of body blanks to you? And the cost of a simple finish?


I live in Australia, so i pay double for everything
Finishing the guitars will x10 the amount of time you spend on them. That means you cant build as many. How much is lacquer, thinners, a decent spray setup? Filter cups and strainers? Gun wash and rags? Sand paper, and various polish compounds? Buffing wheels or pads, and foam cutting discs?

I can make three strat bodies, ready to final sand, in just under 2 hours. I spend 1-2 hours a day for over a week, just lacquering one guitar. 1-2 to wet sand and buff. So finishing is 10-20 hours work... or in that same time i can make 15-30 more strat bodies (and thats working on three at a time, jump the numbers up and setup times are absorbed over a larger number)...

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
#36
Ormsby, have you ever considered the accelerated lacquers that dry in like 15 min? I forget what the'yre called...like catalyzed, or at least that's what's chemically going on. Why aren't these types of lacquers as popular? Imagine they'd cut time, but they're probably more expensive. I imagine too though that you could sell them for a lot more.
#37
Primarily, they are what i use for the majority of guitars i build. They dry in 15 minutes IF the booth is heated to 60deg C, which effectily splits and cracks timber, breaks glue joins, and dries out fretboards (frets pop) because the heat cant transfer through the surface and body quick enough. Great for cars, with a .7mm sheet steel body, but not good for a 45mm thick strat.
Without heat (well, up to 35deg C), and fast hardners, i can have a body touch dry in 45 minutes, buffable the next day. They still gas out for a full 24 hours (99%), so you cant really do mulitple coats per day. Im looking to go to Infra Red, but its expensive (multi thousands of dollars for a couple globes), to speed cure times.

Nitro is less sanding, but many many more coats, and much more of a waiting period (20+ days) to cure enough for buffing.

Cost of 2k clears here are $80ish per liter, compared to $20ish for nitro. Nitro requires 50/50 (roughly!) thinning, at $15 a litre, where as 2k requires 30% hardner ($60 a litre) and only 10% thinners (reducer actually). Cost for 2k materials are much more, and its non reusable. Nitro can be poured back into the tin.

4-8 coats of 2k are required, to match 20-30 of nitro.

Nitro sanding is easy. Doesnt even matter if you dont get it even half right. 2k peels back and delaminates if the surface is less than 100% perfect. 2k is harder to physically sand, its tougher.

2k is harder to buff, but is a tougher material. Nitro is easier to buff, but can crack and discolour with age. Scratches in the surface are very hard to remove with 2k, and real easy with nitro.

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
#38
So for my situation, would you recommend finishing the bodies? How about loading them with hardware? And how about adding a neck and completing it?

And thanks for all the advice everyone!
#39
You've managed to turn your buisiness from selling body blanks into selling complete custom guitars lol

Belive me I know nothing about luthierism and the market for it, but it would seem after reading this thread that selling the final product, complete to spec of the customer is the way to go about it if you really want it as a job.




Quote by dogismycopilot
Absent Mind, words cant express how much i love you. Id bone you, oh yea.

Quote by lumberjack
Absent Mind is, as usual, completely correct.

Quote by littlemurph7976
Id like to make my love for Neil public knowledge as he is a beautiful man
#40
Quote by flashbandit
So for my situation, would you recommend finishing the bodies? How about loading them with hardware? And how about adding a neck and completing it?

And thanks for all the advice everyone!


You need to decide if this is a fully feldged business, or a part time hobby. You cant mix the two. One will possibly make money, the other will cost you money.
If full time, you cant use the free workshop. If part time, you wont make minimum wage, unless you are VERY good, and you wont have enough sales to create even a minor buzz. If you are VERY good, then you wont need to worry about if its a part time or full time business, that decision will be made for you

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
Last edited by ormsby guitars at Feb 2, 2008,
Page 1 of 2