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How Much Should You Charge?


~john~
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i was wondering what you think is an "ok" amount to charge people to have a guitar made for them?

After you add up the cost of metirials for it ofcourse.

Maybe .50 cents per. hour for every guitar you have completed. That may be a bit high depending on how many of a particular style you have completed. If you have built 50 Strats, you would be hard pressed to ask $25 per. hr. for an acoustic. If you have completed 4 guitars you may be worth $2 per. hr.,but then again if you can't at least build a guitar that is as clean as a $200 budget guitar(you probably shouldn't charge for your time).

Peace,Rich

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Ive said it before, and i'll repeat it again.....

If you cant work out how much your guitars are worth, you arent ready to build them for sale yet. Simple as that. If they dont play as well as any USA made, brand name guitar, you arent ready to sell yet. If you dont have people contacting you to order guitars (as opposed to you building them to sell first), you arent ready to sell yet.

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Ive said it before, and i'll repeat it again.....

If you cant work out how much your guitars are worth, you arent ready to build them for sale yet. Simple as that. If they dont play as well as any USA made, brand name guitar, you arent ready to sell yet. If you dont have people contacting you to order guitars (as opposed to you building them to sell first), you arent ready to sell yet.

i pretty much agree with everything you said except for the last statement..my first three guitars were made specifically to sell in my store..and they all did. my next two were custom ordered. i probably average one custom order to two for sale in the store. that's how i've built whatever reputation that i have. my for sale models become "demos" for customers to check out playability, etc. then if what i have doesn't fit their idea of their perfect guitar i'll make it for them.

a beginner almost has to make a few guitars for practice, a few to put up for sale in someone's store and then custom jobs. otherwise no one would know to contact them.

but i do definitely agree that if you don't have a fair idea of how much your time is worth and how your guitars will stack up against what's available on the market you won't know how much to charge.

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My friends ask me to make them guitars alot and for the most part i do tell them that i wont, i will make them for birthdays and stuff though.

I can pretty much work out the cost of a guitar by just adding up what i spent on the parts, what i was wanting to know is how much people like you (Perry) charge for your time and skills.

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what i was wanting to know is how much people like you (Perry) charge for your time and skills.

The correct answer is: NOT ENOUGH.

:D

My hourly rate cannot be compared to yours, as we have totally different markets, working conditions and costs, expenditures, other income, and location factors.

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How many hours would a pro have in a 'typical' (ie: nice, but not over the top) custom?

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i was wondering what you think is an "ok" amount to charge people to have a guitar made for them?

After you add up the cost of metirials for it ofcourse.

Maybe .50 cents per. hour for every guitar you have completed. That may be a bit high depending on how many of a particular style you have completed. If you have built 50 Strats, you would be hard pressed to ask $25 per. hr. for an acoustic. If you have completed 4 guitars you may be worth $2 per. hr.,but then again if you can't at least build a guitar that is as clean as a $200 budget guitar(you probably shouldn't charge for your time).

Peace,Rich

Do people selling custom made guitars really look at hours put into it? To me the price of guitars is too regulated, with all the factory guitars and such. When I was selling mine I looked at what my instruments compared to on the market. Guitar making, or any instrument making, is too much of an art to make the money you think you truely deserve.

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i was wondering what you think is an "ok" amount to charge people to have a guitar made for them?

After you add up the cost of metirials for it ofcourse.

Maybe .50 cents per. hour for every guitar you have completed. That may be a bit high depending on how many of a particular style you have completed. If you have built 50 Strats, you would be hard pressed to ask $25 per. hr. for an acoustic. If you have completed 4 guitars you may be worth $2 per. hr.,but then again if you can't at least build a guitar that is as clean as a $200 budget guitar(you probably shouldn't charge for your time).

Peace,Rich

Do people selling custom made guitars really look at hours put into it? To me the price of guitars is too regulated, with all the factory guitars and such. When I was selling mine I looked at what my instruments compared to on the market. Guitar making, or any instrument making, is too much of an art to make the money you think you truely deserve.

Seriously, Look at the responce. Buy the time you have made enough guitars to make minimum wage. You wouldn't need to ask the question. The reference to $200 guitars points out the fact that even the cheap factory guitars are pretty hard to match for a person who has ony build a couple guitars. This is not really about value of your time or what a professional doing business charges. This is about small jestures from friends and family.

I probably should have not even posted that responce. I usually stop myself before I post to these threads with the back button. Unfortunately I wasn't bright enough to do so this time. My Bad.

Peace,Rich

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Do people selling custom made guitars really look at hours put into it?

I have standard prices, and options, and then a "ahh what the hell" factor. That could be plus or minus a heap of money.

Production style guitars are different. I know EXACTLY how long it takes to build three superstrats, or four teles, its the customs which you have difficulty earning a wage on.

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How much? Depends on how good your instruments are. I've taken the approach, when building for friends, to ask them to 1) pay for material costs (includes stuff like sandpaper, glue, etc) and 2) pay me a modest amount on top of that, whatever they feel comfortable with, but right now I won't take more than 150 bucks over cost for a 'normal' guitar (if it's got a ton and a half on inlay and detailing, things can change...)

A rule of thumb for newbie builders who are good enough (as Perry and other have said, compare your instruments to what's in the marketplace, and at what cost. Better yet, have someone else compare them for you, and tell you what they think it'd be worth, preferably a few music store owners as well as a bunch of players) I see on the MIMF quite frequently is 3 x material cost, although that seems to apply more to acoustics (lower material cost due to lack of pricey hardware and pickups) than electrics.

I'm not in this for the cash, and I'm only just getting to the point where I feel comfortable charging over cost price (ie, getting a token sum for my time/to invest in tools and future instruments; I want a self-finacing hobby, not a carreer), but if friends want guitars built, I'm happy to do it. Another reason I don't really charge is that I don't want the deadlines; they're done when they're done, and I'm VERY clear on that from the git-go. Also be clear on what kind of quality you can delivery, stand behind your creations, all that jazz. I just love the opportunity my friends give me to try out new things, build more instruments, that sort of thing. I don't play enough (or well enough) for it to be worth it to have 30 guitars myself, and I'd rather build good, solid, attractive instruments that will get played a lot, and since nobody in my extended family plays, it's the friends network that takes care of all that.

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Honestly Im with perry on this, if your guitar's dont play as good or better then a US *insert guitar here* your not ready to sell them to customers, and on that note If any of us were in it for the money, we would be charging $5k+ for a bolt on single pickup guitar right? Personally I have built 5 guitars, GIVEN 3 of them to friends as gifts, destroyed 1 and am still working on the 5th to get it where I want it (this excludes the superstrat I have a thread for here) and I would not sell a single one of them for anything, honestly there not up to snuff, im getting better with my building, but I still have far too long to go before I even consider building a body for somebody

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I'm working on projects for 3 friends. I won't talk to them about money - other than parts. I make it clear that I am an amateur who does this for fun and relaxation. I also won't be tied to a deadline. I had one guy who bought a Warmoth neck for a Strat I'm doing. When he brought it over, he asked me if he could watch me do the neck rout. I finally said no - I didn't want to be rushed. I work when I want to on what I want to - if I can help out friends, thats great.

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All are good answers so far. I'm assuming that John wants to build and sell guitars, and maybe some day be up there with the big boys. Name recognition is a huge factor. Even at the point of matching an established makers work, untill you have name recognition you wont get as much money for the same quality.

Here is the flip side. I am a begaining hobby builder. I just finished my first guitar, and I bought the neck for it. Its PRS shaped with a nice quilt top. Everthing fell into place and it turned out nice. I got about $475 total in it (makes me wince when you see some of the $500 guitars I could have bought). But hey, I had fun doing it and love my new guitar. Now lets say some one is at my house and falls in love with my new baby. Am I going to sell it for $500 and make $25 just so I can claim to have sold some of my work? Dont think so. I didn't make it to sell, and I'm plenty happy to keep it. Right now it would take $2000 to get it out of my hands! Is it worth that much? Of course not. But right now I'm getting more pleasure out of owning it then I would a store bought $2000 rig! Why? Because I made it with my own hands, and it turned out nice, and it makes me feal good when I look at it. On the other hand, a year from now, when I get another one built, I could see me giving this one away to a friend or family.

If you're building guitars to sell maybe there is a math formula for pricing. If you are building from inspiration and some one ends up wanting to buy the finished project, don't give it away, you'll regret it later. I wish I could buy back some of the knives I've made and sold. While its true that I can always make another one, the copy of the first one (which was made from inspiration) never seems quite the same. I have learned this the hard way. Later, Dave

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All are good answers so far. I'm assuming that John wants to build and sell guitars, and maybe some day be up there with the big boys. Name recognition is a huge factor. Even at the point of matching an established makers work, untill you have name recognition you wont get as much money for the same quality.

I wish I could buy back some of the knives I've made and sold. While its true that I can always make another one, the copy of the first one (which was made from inspiration) never seems quite the same. I have learned this the hard way. Later, Dave

Name recognition is a 2 way street, as such you certainly don't want any early efforts out there with your name on them. If you sell a second or third guitar which is the best you can do now, but still far from proffesional, there's a chance it'll come back to haunt you if you're doing this at a professional level.

I never considered selling a guitar, even for a loss, until my work was better than the stuff coming off the production line at Gibson (not, adimittedly that hard if you're concientious at all points). I also wanted to have guitars which I'd banged aorund for a few years to be sure they weren't going to fall apart after 8 months of use.

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Name recognition is a 2 way street, as such you certainly don't want any early efforts out there with your name on them. If you sell a second or third guitar which is the best you can do now, but still far from proffesional, there's a chance it'll come back to haunt you if you're doing this at a professional level.

I never considered selling a guitar, even for a loss, until my work was better than the stuff coming off the production line at Gibson (not, adimittedly that hard if you're concientious at all points). I also wanted to have guitars which I'd banged aorund for a few years to be sure they weren't going to fall apart after 8 months of use.

I agree in general with all your points. The reality is that in most cases you are right. People in general probaly turn out a lot of junk while they are learning to use tools with skill. Hand eye cordination and all that.

I was not recomending that people should sell there early work. I was trying to say that if you do excellant work and are happy with something you made be it a guitar, bookshelf, baseball bat, or whatever, you don't have to give it away just because you have not made a hundred of them yet. I don't know what kind of work John does, and am not going judge it with out seeing it. I do know that craftsman are very rare these days and it takes years of practice with tools to get good at using them.

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Consider how close your guitars are to those on the market. if you are build an exact copy of a strat, you cant expect to get a lot more than an equal strat would go for. If you are building something unique, with nothing like it on the market, you can get a lot more for it, but you dont want to stray too far from ordinary or you will have a very small market to sell to.

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Interesting thread. I am a novice builder but cannot afford to build the number of guitars I would like. Last week I emailed every friend I have offering to build any guitar or bass they can dream up or go with a copy of something they like. My "fee" was simply that they pay for all material and $100 up to $200 for my time, depending on the complexity of the build.

It seems a lot of folks here seem to assume it is not possible to build a quality instrument without first creating large numbers of junky guitars that nobody would want. I know a lot of it depends on the skill of the person, but I feel my fee (which almost seems exhorbitant based on what I have read here) is completely justified. If I spend $500 on materials and charge $600 for the guitar, yes, you can easily go and pull an assembly line guitar off the shelf of a music store that will be just as playable, but you will not be playing a guitar you know was built just for you exactly the way you want it. I think $100 is a small fee for the uniqueness alone. Just my 2 cents.

Greg

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