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When Are You No Longer A Hobby Builder?

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So today I registered "Searls Guitars" as an official buisiness - being the start of the tax year I figured since I've been a bit more active in building/selling than previous years I better cover my butt.

however it made me wonder and I pose this question to the others on here:

When are you no longer a hobby builder?

When are you a "luthier" rather than a hobby builder - as in - what's the fine line/definition of a hobby builder vs a luthier?

I still don't consider myself a "luthier" yet I've made dozens - I guess it's a mindset.

I remember reading Neal Moser say about a decade ago you don't really get the hang of it till you've made over a hundred guitars!

Your thoughts?

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When you're doing it full time :) I consider myself a pro builder but I still call it a hobby business because it is, even though I built 8 instruments from scratch per year for three years in a row, I get the full stress of a full time job away from my regular day job, all in my spare time...

It'll always stay a hobby business for me, I'd have to pump out over 60 basses per year to make the kind of profit required to replace the day job. No way in hell I'd want to do that many, its way too stressful lol

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When you can't take a weekend off and do something else.

When the stress sucks.

When the cost can't be supported without selling guitars.

When you have to work on it every night after regular work.

When your kid asks you when you are going to take her to the pool at 4pm... then at 5pm... then at 6pm...

When you take days off from your real job to work on guitars to "Catch up"

Or when you make guitars for a living.

I build 14 - 15 guitars a year. I sell almost all of them.... the ones I keep are selfish as I don't need more guitars and usually get sold the next year. I do it because I like to build not for the money. I usually can't wait to start the next build... hate finishing and all the tedious stuff. For me I try to make sure none of the above happens.

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I think people put too much stress on being a professional. There seems to be a stigma attached to being an amateur or a hobbyist. People take it less seriously than they do when someone says they are a professional even if their work is as good or better. Having seen you work and build threads here, you are a luthier.

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Demonx, I checked out your site and saw you're in VIC, if it helps, for tax purposes you need to earn more than 20k a year from your hobby to have to declare and register your business name (sole trader). Mine's been registered for several years and i'm being told I should be better off getting rid of it as I make just under that from it.

@Restoration AD I fit exactly 5 of your 6 points, I don't have any children so... Its good to see i'm not the only one in this situation. :lol: i love building guitars as a hobby but the business and stress side of it are often way too much, the old romantic idea of being a full time luthier doing your craft which I had when I started building 8 years ago is now completely gone, I much prefer my day job to the daily stress of building and answering countless emails of customers regarding every tiny little aspects of the build. I still love it as a hobby though but rarely get the time to do a bass for me, as a matter of fact, I don't even own one of my instruments expect for the two first ones (unsellable). I need a break for some quality me time with my tools :P

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for me its simple, when you can build a properly working, functional neck that others want to play on then you are a Luthier.

I agree with this. I've seen this conversation a lot. A lot of people want to put a special, almost mythical meaning on the word. A luthier is just somebody who makes string instruments. If you have advanced enough to make a good instrument that can be worth something to somebody, you're a luthier.

If you're a good builder, you'll always be learning and improving, so it's not like you can set up some marker of greatness before the term applies. Writers call themselves writers even if they're not published. Why should this craft be any different?

I believe it's not a title to achieve, rather it's just a name for what we do.

If it's your profession, then you're a professional. Your level of skill and dedication will determine if that happens. I think that's pretty straight forward.

Edited by NotYou
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