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AKan

Need To Make Money: Don't Know Where To Start

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I am currently in high school, but I have been building/repairing guitars for almost 2 years now (please don't let the fact that I am only in high school detract from the fact that I build guitars). I have "flipped" a few guitars here and there (repairs, neck breaks, etc. . .) and I have currently built 5 functioning guitars (Including 2 neck through guitars). I need some sort of source of income since I have depleted most of my savings in the process of building these guitars and purchasing tools. Flipping guitars and buying/selling stuff on ebay isn't much help at the moment.

I would like to put my skills to use so I can earn some extra money, but I have no idea how. Where should I start? I can upload pictures if you guys want to see some of my guitars. Thanks.

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If you are thinking that guitars are going to make you money, then I think you need to rethink your strategy. 1 in a 10000 may make it and that may take many years before you are noticed. Not to be a Balloon buster but the skinny is there are many with years of experience and talent that are still out there making nothing. If I look back at the ones that have sold and those that have not vs the hours total? The return is much less than the national hourly wage. I can now produce a guitar in less than 5 days if I want and it is still not saleable for the time spent.

Just My .02cents.

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I got into business fairly young. It's tough, but not as bad as most people make it out to be. It's no different than being an artist (not that that's saying much).

The thing is, it's a job you do with long term goals. You need to do it because you love it and not for the money. If money is your goal, you'll definitely get frustrated, start hating it, and will quit before it gets anywhere.

It's still doable, though. If your work is unique and catches people attention, it'll get noticed. It also needs to be top knotch to gain a reputation and actually sell stuff. Just like being an artist, you'll inevitably go through a long period of being broke, in debt, etc., but if you're good enough and passionate enough, you'll succeed.

Bottom line, it's a long term business. Unless you want to just sell one here and there as a hobby, you need to be completely committed and willing to suffer for a while.

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I am not trying to make a living, I just want to make some extra cash.

Then bust your arse and do it. Don't think about it, just do it.!

I wish you all the best on your endevour. :)

MK

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I am not trying to make a living, I just want to make some extra cash.

Then bust your arse and do it. Don't think about it, just do it.!

I wish you all the best on your endevour. :)

MK

That along with the advice of get a real job.

The reality is pretty much every kid who plays guitar either wants to be a rock star or a luthier.

The reality is get a real job and build as a hobby on the side selling what you can. If the hobby takes off, good for you. But you're not going to get anywhere in life if you dont have a job to start off with.

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want money: get a job

want to build guitars: get a job

if you are serious i would start by hiting the local music shops and see if they are hiring for any thing then work your way to repair and setup

the second places would be hardware stores/ lumber shops that way you can get a discount on tools and wood.

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All I can say is that it can be very hard to make money building guitars. Build two or three and put them on consignment in a local shop and see how that goes.

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I have a 2.5 year waiting list, and average price of $4500. The guitars I put into stores on consignment (ready to go, no wait times), simply dont sell.

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I have a 2.5 year waiting list, and average price of $4500. The guitars I put into stores on consignment (ready to go, no wait times), simply dont sell.

People often ask me why I don't put my guitars into local stores and that's exactly my reason.

We've talked a little in the past and I know my approach is different from yours. I sell more by doing non-commissioned builds and selling it as is through DAG or by having people find it posted in some forum. Normally, I can expect a new build to sell within two weeks of making the photos public.

I've found custom builds slow me down drastically and don't bring much new business. This is due to the nature of my work, though. All of my guitars are completely unique and the custom work is often from guys wanting something that is only appealing to them. I even recently began turning down all commisoned builds. A have a few in the works, but they're the last ones. I'm going to be doing all my own designs and posting them for sale. Most builders would think that's crazy, but it suits my approach and my clientele and should greatly improve business. My non-commisioned work sells quickly, but I have to sell it online where a large number of people see it and someone who it clicks with and can afford it can snag it up. A store front would do me no good.

For the OP, my point is, if you go into business, there isn't one successful approach, but an infinite number, each specific to each specific builder. I could never build like a lot of guys do and make general models consistently. But, at the same time, those same guys would never take my approach of making everything completely different and catered toward a very small niche market (in what is already somewhat of a niche market) with no employees, very low volume, but high price tags. When you find what approach suits you and find out exactly how you work (that takes time), you need to own it and proceed accordingly. Often what works for a particular builder will be an approach that hasn't even been done. Go with your gut, but be pragmatic. Just don't expect to make things and have it all work out by itself.

I'm a terrible business person, but I can make this business work because I recognize that shortcoming. My customers see me more as an artist and less as a businessman or even craftsman. I know that and I milk it for all I can. If someone like Kauer came at their customers like that, they probably wouldn't trust him. That's because he apparoaches his work like a businessman and a craftsman. He knows that and so do his customers, so he approaches it as such and is very successful.

I often use Kauer as an example when talking about the business end of things because we're friends who are both the exact same age (babies in this business), but come at this is in practically opposite ways. We're both seen as two very different types of builders, but we still maintain a lot of respect for each other. I completely acknowledge I couldn't run a business like he does and, honestly, that's not what I want to do.

To be fair, he's financially far more successful than I am. :D

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Doug's a cool guy, yeah. Head screwed on tight and oriented the right way.

It has already been said, however I wouldn't want this to detract you from trying....get a real job and stick to repair/building as "a hobby with intent". You won't make any money quickly unless you rob customers, put out substandard work, rush your jobs, cut corners or a combination of these. Accept that even then it will still be more an unprofitable labour of love for a long long time whilst you eat dirt trying to start something up "on the next level". Even then the chances are not that good.

If you are good, the business will find you through the reputation you create through time, experience, solid and consistent work. There is no magic bullet to making money quickly without these.

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There is a local guy who jumped in too fast. Too confident, not enough skill. Took in jobs, stuffed them up, had to get others to fix them. That's killed his reputation, as one of these clients found out, and speaks to a LOT of other guitarists. For YEARS, any time someone mentions his name, that story will be told. It wont be long before people find out he now buys premade bodies and necks, chucks his logos on, and calls them 'master luthier customs'.... someone is going to take a neck off one day and see a big fat warmoth stamp... and it will hit them that they've paid $1200 more than those parts are worth.

Same with putting out work whilst you're 'learning'. Those jobs come back to haunt you, years later. Discounting NOW, to make up for slight issues with an instrument, will all be forgotten about years down the line, when you CAN do good work, but those old crappy jobs are floating around.

You have to have a reputation in this business. That reputation is generally hard won. It's really really easy to damage it.

There IS money to be made. It can be a wonderful lifestyle. I'm going to break through to a six figure profit this year, without employees, and doing less hours that before. But it doesn't come easy, and those success stories are few and far between. Last year was my best year yet, and this year will be better, but that's due to ten years of constant quality work and constantly trying to innovate new ideas, methods, and skills. Not to mention a bit of luck too, Im sure. Plus, I already had a previous woodworking trade behind me, with honors and awards for excellence. Coming in fresh, and learning those skills, whilst learning guitar making as well, makes it very very difficult. Not to mention, you have to get your name out there... and that can only be done by putting out work, selling that work, having people talk about that work, etc. You cant sell as easily without a reputation, and you have to sell to get the rep... It's a vicious circle.

It's not all about quality of work, but marketting also. Running a business. Cashflow. Advertising... where, when, how, to whom? Price points? Niches? Chucking one advert in Guitar Player wont get you work. How do people find out about you? Who are those people? etc etc

If you saw someone post this on a forum, what would you think: "I love my iPhone, so Im going to start making cell phones..." Crazy, right?

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I think that is a different game to the quick buck AKan mentions. If he wants to post photos showcasing his work I guess that would clarify things somewhat.

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I have a 2.5 year waiting list, and average price of $4500. The guitars I put into stores on consignment (ready to go, no wait times), simply dont sell.

People often ask me why I don't put my guitars into local stores and that's exactly my reason.

We've talked a little in the past and I know my approach is different from yours. I sell more by doing non-commissioned builds and selling it as is through DAG or by having people find it posted in some forum. Normally, I can expect a new build to sell within two weeks of making the photos public.

Hmmm... what's DAG?

I have to admit, I've never sold a guitar on consignment. Lots of people asking questions, liking the guitar but in the end, the brand name wins. That, or the cheaper Korean/Chinese import.

Its definitely easier for me to do a custom, commissioned build in terms of money.

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I have a 2.5 year waiting list, and average price of $4500. The guitars I put into stores on consignment (ready to go, no wait times), simply dont sell.

People often ask me why I don't put my guitars into local stores and that's exactly my reason.

We've talked a little in the past and I know my approach is different from yours. I sell more by doing non-commissioned builds and selling it as is through DAG or by having people find it posted in some forum. Normally, I can expect a new build to sell within two weeks of making the photos public.

Hmmm... what's DAG?

DestroyAllGuitars.com

They work pretty much how an agent would work. They spread builders' work around and take a cut if they sell it. They're 1000x more connected than I am and get tons of exposure. Just being on there gives me a lot of credibility. If not for that site, I'd barely sell anything.

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DestroyAllGuitars.com

They work pretty much how an agent would work. They spread builders' work around and take a cut if they sell it. They're 1000x more connected than I am and get tons of exposure. Just being on there gives me a lot of credibility. If not for that site, I'd barely sell anything.

So how does it work? Do you have to send them your completed guitars? I have two I'm completing that I'm not sure how I'm going to sell.

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Sort of. Generally, Cliff, the owner, scouts people who he thinks are suitable and contacts them. Then he has to play a guitar first hand and decide if it's good enough. The quality standards there are as high they get.

I don't send him every guitar he sells. Once you're with DAG, you're basically represented by them, again, like an agent.

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to the OP -You can start by placing local ads and doing repair work. It's a start and word of mouth will soon be your best advertisement. as far as building customs for profit, take advice from successful builders and apply it to your own intuition about your work.

Best of luck with it- if nothing else, keep it as a great hobby. Guitars are tons-o-fun.

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NO NO NO

Please dont advertise yourself until you are confident you can accept, and excel, in every aspect of the repairs you are offering. Otherwise, it's commercial suicide. You'll be dealing with people's prized possessions, and they get pretty upset if something comes back with excuses or sloppy work.

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For sure. Back when I worked retail, they said the same thing at every job I had: A happy customer *might* tell one person, but an angry one will tell everybody they know.

In a business where you get limited customers and word of mouth is generally spread online and in public, one upset person when you're just starting can end it all before it really begins.

I've only ever had one really upset customer and was terrified because he's *VERY* connected in the music world (professional studio guitarist and sit-in musician for a ton of huge musicians). Luckily he understood it wasn't all my fault (shipping accident) and just canceled the order and let it go. At first, he thought it was my fault and was pissed. Again, very lucky he heard me out and was rational about it. We're even still Facebook friends. If he wasn't so understanding, he could have pretty much destroyed my business all by himself. Actually, if he tried to, I bet he really could have destroyed it. It scared the sh*t out of me.

I ended up losing out on $3500, but was still relieved that didn't end up worse. You have to really be on top of things to please everybody, let alone build a good reputation. Lot's of builders can stay in business, but only a handful have a known reputation because it's so hard to develop one. Every one of those guys took many years to get it and they're all outstanding builders and deserve it. You'll never see a guitar builder with a good rep who didn't earn it. This business is extremely critical.

Edited by NotYou
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Every time I finish a project and show some pics to my Dad he says, "Why aren't you selling them??!" I smile, knowing that there are probably 14 guitars for every human on this earth already made. :)

Make money FOR guitar building? Stay in school, work hard, study hard and get a steady well-paying job.

Make money BY guitar building? Maybe later, you need to cut your teeth on getting LOTS of experience. I fix a lot of junk for next to nothing. Hell, I buy guitars just to fix'em! My motto?: Make 'em play, make 'em play. I don't expect to make a business out of this. I'll fix a guy's guitar for a box of beer and the experience. But my expertise over the years has risen as a result. Things that used to take me 4 hours I can do in 1/2 an hour now. Thats more money in my pocket if I were doing it for someone. So basically, my advice is get really good at it before you even consider getting serious about it.

More tips, starting out is an expensive venture. You need the tools, materials, parts, a place to do it and the time to do it in. Oh yeah....you also need MONEY. Think of ways to avoid spending money. You can make some of your own tools or adapt existing tools and learn techniques to do specialized work. Example: I started out doing my fret dressing with an everyday triangle file. Take care of your tools. Its too bad there is a lot of junk out there and one thing I HAVE learned is that if you buy cheap you get cheap. I now believe that buying quality tools could mean that I only have to buy them ONCE in my life. You just have to take care of them. and also Keep your eyes peeled for free wood. :rock

Edited by Southpa
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NO NO NO

Please dont advertise yourself until you are confident you can accept, and excel, in every aspect of the repairs you are offering. Otherwise, it's commercial suicide. You'll be dealing with people's prized possessions, and they get pretty upset if something comes back with excuses or sloppy work.

Calm down ,your highness.

If you re-read the first post- he's already been repairing and flipping guitars. He asked how to "make some money" not start a guitar building business.

I advised him to take "your" advice, along with other successful people- but he HAS to start somewhere. You have your opinion, and I have mine.- obviously- you are the better builder/businessman- I'm not arguing that. But to tell him to "stay hidden until you're awesome" is kinda wrong to what he's asking which was "how do I make some money" ......

You make money by making yourself available- The long-term consequences of that are many, and varied.

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