#1
i been lookin at this career field for a long time and i want to know some things from experience..


Is work in this field steady or free-lance?

Could i use the knowledge as a luthier to possibly work at guitar center?

What would an average guitar maker/repairer make in a year?

Would i be able to support myself or possibly a family in the future?


Thanks
#2
Well one thing is for sure, Guitar Center will hire anyone, so I don't think you would have a problem getting a job there, especially if you are competent at what you are doing with guitar maintenance.

I think the general nature of jobs like freelance luthier is that they aren't really going to be stable unless you dig yourself a niche in a market somewhere. I think it would be better to get into some sort of carpentry while doing luthiery on the side, until that is your luthiery business grows to a level where it can support you.
#3
I dont think guitar center has on hand luthiers they usually contract that work out like most music stores... And if they did want to hire you on full time here is the issue..

Guitar center will pay you like 7-10 bucks an hour (just guessing, because they hire anyone) Now there going to have no doing grunt work for that and fixing guitars during business hours which means the 60 dollar a hour work your doing is now knocked down to 10 dollars an hour. Thus the reason most people free lance..

Im going through the same thing. I have a music store that has been trying to hire me. But they want me to work on guitars during business hours. So here's an example for a setup that takes me an hour i get 50-75 bucks. For that same hour if i was working there i would only get like 7-10 bucks an hour.. Its not worth my time or gas, so i just free lance for them... And i have my normal job which pays alot more then $10 bucks an hour and i get the benefit of free lance work and its stable because i still have my day job and insurance and that whole jazz..

Hope that helps..
#4
PM some one like Perry Ormsby about making a career in guitars, though you may not like his responce

(basically its alot harder than you think and money put in > money gained, for a very long time)




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#5
Quote by Absent Mind
PM some one like Perry Ormsby about making a career in guitars, though you may not like his responce

(basically its alot harder than you think and money put in > money gained, for a very long time)

Don't PM Ormsby. He's great at making guitars, but he's incredibly bitter and will pretty much just call you an asshat for trying.
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#6
Quote by DuctTapeNinja
Don't PM Ormsby. He's great at making guitars, but he's incredibly bitter and will pretty much just call you an asshat for trying.


Which is why Ive been writing articles for Australian Guitar Magazine for over 12 months, encouraging people to build guitars. Must be why i run guitar building courses attended by students not only all over Australia, but internationally as well.

Educate yourself.

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
#7
Quote by ormsby guitars
Which is why Ive been writing articles for Australian Guitar Magazine for over 12 months, encouraging people to build guitars. Must be why i run guitar building courses attended by students not only all over Australia, but internationally as well.

Educate yourself.

I speak from experience. You pretend to want others to try, but that's all it is, a facade.
You should re-examine your priorities. I mean, all that preaching of a lie? That must be awful. I don't envy you.
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#8
Realistically you gotta put a lot of money into it in the first place, If you aint got a CNC routing facility (which saves loads of time and money in the long run) your gonna be struggling to knock them out at a fast enough rate to make any money.

One guitar could take anything from 50-100 hours depending on what your doing, then when you factor all the material costs in including replacing any tools/machinery over time your gonna have to charge serious money.

You gotta be really good at it and have an amazing amount of patience bearing in mind you got people like Perry knocking out awesome guitars like he does. Your going to be as good if not better than Gibson/Fender/PRS because for the price people could buy these guitars rather than yours. You gotta give em something special for em to choose your guitar over the big names.
#9
Quote by Reckoner
i been lookin at this career field for a long time and i want to know some things from experience..


Is work in this field steady or free-lance?


Both, and neither. If you are good at what you do, can run a BUSINESS, and work with people, you CAN make it. There are many who dont. They are lots that do.

Quote by Reckoner


Could i use the knowledge as a luthier to possibly work at guitar center?


You really dont want to work at Guitar Center. If you have a name for yourself, you will earn a lot more going out on your own. Its getting the name that is hard. That only comes from repeat quality work over many years. You wouldnt go to that trouble, setting up a business, getting a rep, to then ask for a job that earns $10 an hour. Maybe i've misunderstood?

Quote by Reckoner


What would an average guitar maker/repairer make in a year?


Head over to the MIMF.com forum. There are hundreds (thousands?) of "pro" luthiers there. Pretty quickly they will school you on how hard it is to make a living. Some of those guys have been trying for twenty years. But, having said that, they are a grumpy bunch, and dont seem to be open to new ideas. Myself, and another local luthier make a good living. Ive also invested a LOT of money doing it. There are another two or three repair guys that do well for themselves. I know of 23 luthiers in my home state (2 million population) that cant get enough work to go from part time to full time. These guys are building guitars for sale, and cannot find buyers, due to various reasons. All of their guitars are great, its the BUSINESS end that needs a push, not their skills.

Quote by Reckoner


Would i be able to support myself or possibly a family in the future?


Thanks


See above.

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
#10
I didnt mean PM Perry to get a negative responce BTW, I meant pm him to get a realistic responce.

and Duck tape is an idiot




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#11
Quote by jscustomguitars
Realistically you gotta put a lot of money into it in the first place, If you aint got a CNC routing facility (which saves loads of time and money in the long run) your gonna be struggling to knock them out at a fast enough rate to make any money.


I have to disagree. I dont have a CNC. I live in one of the nicest suburbs, have an awesome factory, and drive a couple very cool cars. My only income is guitar making and repairs, plus a handful of parts sold via the web each week. I also dont try and make money building generic strat clones, which require low cost high volume production.

Money wise, i started my business with $2000 cash, and some cabinet makers tools. Since then, Ive invested $50,000+ into expanding.

Quote by jscustomguitars

One guitar could take anything from 50-100 hours depending on what your doing, then when you factor all the material costs in including replacing any tools/machinery over time your gonna have to charge serious money.


Lets assume 75 hours per guitar (thats a lot!). Thats 25 guitars a year (40 hour week, 4 weeks off a year). Speed up your tooling, and get it down to 50 hours per guitar (we just did a run of 6 @ 23 hours each @ $2800 each) and its 38 a year. 38 x $2500 is $95000 pa minus costs.

I honestly reckon, on my own, no CNC, i could build 100 strat clones in a year. But, I'd NEVER be able to sell that many. And i couldnt think of anything more boring either!

Quote by jscustomguitars

You gotta be really good at it and have an amazing amount of patience bearing in mind you got people like Perry knocking out awesome guitars like he does. Your going to be as good if not better than Gibson/Fender/PRS because for the price people could buy these guitars rather than yours. You gotta give em something special for em to choose your guitar over the big names.


Not only do you have to be better than PRS/Gib/Fen, but spray better than Squire/Epi/Cort/LTD, fret better than Yamaha... etc etc etc. Fact is, some companies can retail a guitar, for less than the cost of the materials we buy. Not to mention decades of brand recognition going against you.
If you 'just want to make guitars', you wont make it. You need to find the niche. You need to find that sector that isnt being capitalised on. Hopefully that matches the type of guitar you WANT to make.

Of all the people i know that build or repair guitars, none actually decided it was a career they wanted, and planned for it. They all just 'fell' into the role. Personally, i think there is a certain mindset you need... its not all just about ambition, you need hand skills, business skills, people skills. Without all of those, you wont succeed. With all these, you still may not succeed.

Of course, there are luthier schools, but im honestly stumped if i can think of more than maybe two people who have come out of those schools, and REALLY made it. Most end up working the tech bench at Guitar Center (or worse, the night sanding shift at PRS/Gibson, on minimum wages). And there is nothing wrong with that, but it IS a monotonous job, working on student grade guitars dropped off by people that dont look after their guitars, or cant be bother restringing them. You dont want that "job". Its a crappy job. You want the career of being a builder/repairer who works for himself.

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
Last edited by ormsby guitars at Mar 11, 2008,
#12
Thanks to Perry for an interesting and extremely informing read !
#13
Quote by ormsby guitars
I have to disagree. I dont have a CNC.


Sorry I should have put it better, I meant It would be a lot easier and save time and money if you had CNC stuff IMO. (I think its cheating though and you cant really call em hand made!)

Just out of interest, how much of you income comes from running the builders courses?
Last edited by jscustomguitars at Mar 11, 2008,
#14
Quote by jscustomguitars


Just out of interest, how much of you income comes from running the builders courses?


No doubt some peanut will call me a lier, but the first few times i ran it at a loss, to get the people through. The plan was to then raise it up to where i wanted the pricing to be, and have the testimonials, and referees to back up the quality of the course. Id also never taught before, so i needed to "test the waters" and make sure it was all going to work to plan. Then, expand to have a 'community workshop' where people can come any day, and work on instruments.
Before that happened, i got REAL busy, started a new band, and took on more responsibility with a club im involved with. So, it all got put off until recently when i started offering them again. Ive advertised a bunch of dates, but at this stage it looks like i'll do one more course in October, then never again. Insurance is a KILLER! Works out to about $25 an hour for me, which is not really worth doing.

Regards,
Perry Ormsby

Pevious builds:
HERE!
#15
That sucks, I was thinking about doing something simular in a few years when I have a little more room but it might not be worth doing. I might give it a go just to see but it'll not be for a while. After all, I've only been building for about 9 months (not including the 1 year course I did when I was 18 (10 years ago! lol)