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Posts posted by mledbetter

  1. In general, with any business startup - the advice should be the same. Quality goes without saying, and all the advice here so far is excellent - don't skimp or settle on products or tools that affect your quality and reputation. You can't buy a reputation, so the good news is a good reputation doesn't have to cost you a cent, but a bad reputation can cost you everything..

    Beyond quality though - check out a few business books. I'm in the marketing business so the stuff that comes to mind to me goes for any new startup. Whoever said "stand out" is dead on. In sales, this is your unique selling proposition, or unique value proposition. What makes your guitar any better than the next guys.. maybe there is a certain niche you are catering to, maybe you've figured out a better way to build a mousetrap, etc.

    Look at Tom's shoes.. they make an ugly, utilitarian shoe that looks like something you'd see worn in other parts of the world.. not america.. BUT they tap into our rapidly growing cause-conscious generation and hit them up with a very unique sales pitch You buy a pair of shoes, we'll give a pair of shoes to someone in another country that can't afford any. They have skyrocketed and other companies are scrambling to cash in on their unique business model. I'm sure someone told them that the shoe market was flooded and not to get their hopes up..

    Markets are always flooded, but the sub-sections of the markets aren't always flooded. Within the custom builder market - look for subsets that appear to have a need. Listen to consumers conversations and get in tune with their needs. The kits you are mentioning - could be you are onto something. That market is a little tough, depending on what kind of kit you're wanting to look at. Look for needs though. The custom market is flooded with weird exotic looking guitars and with strat / tele copies, true.. but there are so many other approaches out there. different finishes, materials, etc..

    The only advice I would give about the kits is to consider what the maximum price is that the market would handle. if you have a great reputation and build a custom guitar to order - you can sell that for anywhere from 1000-1500 for basic stuff, upwards to 2500 or more for carved and exotic stuff. Given the time and work that goes into something like that, it's still a decent profit margin. You build a body and a neck - unless you have automated machinery, you could be sinking more time into the construction than you will profit from in the final sale. Kit buyers tend to be looking for a bargain. So at that point you have to be thinking about volume. A good guitar builder might build 15-20 a year and do very well. Selling kits, you could potentially have to sell hundreds of them to make a good profit.

    And all that goes into the advice someone else said - write up a business plan. You have to. At the very least, run through some income projections using a spreadsheet. Enter your cost of materials, time to build, figure out how many you can make and sell each month - you'll have natural production barriers based on available time, resources and ability. Compare your projected sales with projected cost and see if the profit works out to be worth it.

    The business stuff can be boring, but you have to do it. Don't lose sight of the goal or the dream, but make sure you aren't headed down a path to hardship before you even get started. Many times you'll uncover other ideas that make the business idea even stronger!

    Best of luck!

  2. Gibson haters always talk crap about Gibson "build quality",but most of those guys are buying the "faded" low end models....

    Their best build quality seems to be on the LPs in my experience,but all of my Gibsons are and have been "heritage quality instruments"...meaning you will hand them down to your kids and they may hand them down to theirs,if any reasonable measures are taken to keep them out of bad weather.

    I'm not a gibson hater - but i've probably been guilty of spreading the above statement :D When I lived in nashville i'd go frequent the gibson showcase there at Opry Mills. I think gibson makes some fantastic instruments - but the problem is that you could walk through the store and pick up a $10k Paul that played like crap and then pick up a $1k Studio paul that played like a dream.. Go in the next day you might find something different. There is always something to be said for the in-store setup, however, on a 10k instrument, one would hope they spent some time with it before putting it out on the shelf. The problems I found weren't just set up related though - you know a guitar is solid when you pick it up. If a guitar doesn't "feel" right unplugged, it probably won't feel right plugged in either. Most of the big manufacturers are guilty of inconsistent quality. I would say the biggest reason Gibson gets singled out is that they cost so much more. Now you have Epi's that are up in the > $1k range.. hard not to scrutinize when an item gets so expensive.

    As far as the new types of builds for their fingerboards.. I'm not surprised that Gibson is trying to figure out new ways to manufacture fretboards. Between the dwindling supplies of hardwoods and the threat of G-men breaking down their doors and taking their raw materials - i'd be looking for alternative building methods too. We can scour the web for individual pieces when we're building our own instruments.. these big guys have to buy palettes of material so it's a little harder sometimes to come by materials. I wouldn't be surprised either if the Lacey act goes through some major changes in the coming months - and maybe gibson won't be so scared of indian rosewood slabs anymore.

  3. Am I correct in thinking that this will be more for the people who appreciate such items and not necessarily those who build them? Of course those who build will go there, just want to make sure I have the right perspective on the place.

    Couldn't have said it better myself. We're also going to build a pretty good directory of small and independent builders on there, so in addition to what you mentioned above - it's a good way to go see who's out there and what they are building, if you are in the market for something.

  4. I've seen 2-3 of these posts lately with folks building guitars in their college classes and I think that is awesome.. Our state school used to have people just design some piece of crap in cad and kick it out in a stereo lithograph printer or something like that for a final grade.. but they too have switch to having everyone make an electric guitar as their final project. They have the computers, a big CNC, and obviously an instructor that knows their stuff. I wish I had graduated from college with a brand new guitar as a take-away :D

    Neat looking design. I always loved those kinds of projects - making something better is a lot more difficult than people think. Especially with ergo - you have to put tons of thought into where arms and hands go and if you look at electric guitar designs today - they all still mimic the strats, pauls and teles that started the whole movement - which were designed to mimic the curve of acoustic instruments (which by the way were pretty darn ergonomic). People thought ned steinberger was nuts - but seriously - an electric guitar could be literally any shape you want. Of course - we're often limited by the standard hardware available to us - steinberger was also able to fabricate his own bridge. Premier Guitar did a neat piece on the original steinberger prototype. Check out the crazy swivel mount he had in the back to attach the strap to. Since the guitar basically had no "horns" he had to create an extra piece to attach to the back to REPLACE the horn he got rid of in his design haha. The original headless rectangle design wasn't really for ergonomics though - the goal there was more for extreme departure from traditional design.

    Nice work on yours. The only thing that looks at all awkward to me is the transition from the top of the lower bout down to the control area - when you omit the space behind the bridge, it makes that line kind of hard to plot. Guitar design is a lot harder than most people think. We all like curves, and a well designed guitar body has curves in all the right places. It flows. So anytime you remove something, you really have to consider how the contour will take up the space.

    The only other caveat to these really off-kilter designs is the utility of what to do with your guitar if you don't have a stand nearby. Can you set it on the floor and lean it up against your amp or the wall? I know from a design project point of view that doesn't matter - but from a product design point of view, it's important to take a lot of different scenarios into consideration.

    Again, though, great stuff? What a great opportunity to be able to do this in a school setting.

  5. Case in point - a buddy of mine builds these kick-ass amplifier stands. Totally hand made. Where do you talk about something like that. ProjectGuitar isn't really the right place..

    You mean except that Josh at Atlas Stands posts his amp stand builds here and gets much love?

    I simply mean that this forum is a guitar building forum, not that there isn't room to sneak some other things in as well. I've seen Josh's posts here - i told him about this forum. Josh has a growing company. He posts info about his products lots of places and the more opportunities he has to do so, the better. Same goes for any independent builder trying to get their name out there.

    thus - the purpose of opening up the other forum. If people are annoyed that I have done that, or that I posted it here - then I do apologize.. But I did put it in the advertisement board - i thought that was where it was supposed to go :D


  6. So basically you're just trying to start another version of projectguitar.com ??

    Folks.. this site is in NO way another version of projectguitar. Project guitar is about building your own guitars - this forum is for people that appreciate hand built guitars, amps, stands, straps, pedals, etc.. I've tried to make that as obvious as possible for this very reason - i don't want people thinking i'm jsut trying to make another projectguitar site.

    Case in point - a buddy of mine builds these kick-ass amplifier stands. Totally hand made. Where do you talk about something like that. ProjectGuitar isn't really the right place.. TDPri really isn't the right place.. Sure there are amp forums but that's more or less amp geeks talking about their tubes and speakers.. This is simply a way to build a community that addresses any and all handmade gear related to guitar, bass or other musical instruments. There is a boutique builder of hand made snare drums that would fit perfectly in that forum. That's all.

    Hope that clears up any confusion. I hope a few people will check it out and start some discussions.


  7. Just a suggestion. I thought from the name that the forum would be dedicated to handmade accessories, like straps and picks and stuff. It looks like just another guitar building site. Something to think about.

    Thanks for the feedback! We will work on the "first impression" factor a little more. The basic idea is any gear that isn't mass production stuff. Could definitely include straps and all that stuff too.

    What it won't be is a place to go check out someone's latest MIM strat or Boss pedals..

  8. Some time I could post more of the progress shots - but the last post was Jan of 2006 and I'm just now getting it finished!! Honestly, i've moved a couple of times, changed jobs several times - this thing has sat in a box for years. Took some dings and scratches, so I sanded off the blue and went with an amber. This was my first actual build that I started and i wanted to get it finished - so i certainly accepted some imperfections, but I learned a lot and it really plays pretty well. It SOUNDS incredible.. The vintage style tele bridge is would pretty hot. In combination with the warm neck pickup, it really rings clear as a bell.




  9. Just an announcement about a new handmade guitar gear community we've started. I know several folks that are in business as small builders of guitars or related gear, and the idea here was to start a forum that can be used to raise awareness of the independent builders. You can check it out at www.handmadeguitargear.com It's brand new, so there isn't much there yet, but every forum started out empty at one time right? Check it out, and if you have some cool gear to post, let us see it - tell us who built it, and what you think of it. Thanks!

  10. OK.. i'm embarrassed to say that the one thing that has held me up on this whole process has been getting around to the finish. Seems when i have the time the weather is awful.. and when the weather is nice I don't have the time haha. Anyway - the weather is kind of mild these days and i'm gonna get this thing done. I tried out this new grain filler I had heard about and wondered if anyone had used it before. It's called TimberMate and I picked it up from woodcraft. Interesting stuff. It's wood filler putty, however you can thin it with some water and use it as a grain filler. Apparently you can remove it with water, reconstitute it if it dries out.. thaw it if it freezes, etc.. You can tint it with any kind of dye you want... I was intrigued. It can also take stain afterwards and pretty much anything you want to put on top of it is ok. The literature says that the laquer top coat catalyzes it and it doesn't shrink, separate, etc..

    Here is the product...


    Here is the slurry brushed onto the back of another body that is done and waiting a finish. The alder just had a couple of scrapes and a few areas the grain needed to be filled. This will be my test.


    If all goes well - I plan on dying a batch really dark black and filling the korina body with it. When I sand it off, the black will be left in the grain accentuating it. I had planned on doing a dark burst on this thing anyway, fading the edges to black to really highlight the carve.

    So yeah - if anyone has used this stuff i'd love to hear what your experiences have been. I'll sand this thing off in the morning and see how workable the stuff is and report back. if all goes well, i'll clean up the binding and get out the cans of deft :D

  11. ok.. 6 years later - i'm gonna finish this project!! haha.. seriously, i have moved twice, changed jobs 3 times, stuff just happens. Got the neck's back profile halfway carved tonight and made a new fingerboard blank. I used the one for this on a maple neck for another project. Still zircote - but a different piece. I will do a few things to make the project a bit easier - no hand turned knobs, etc.. gonna keep that stuff a little more simple. Anxious to get this finished though. I doubt anyone in this original thread is still even on here - but if nothing else, i might get some new feedback from some new folks.



  12. I was really fighting doing that, but you're not the first person to suggest it.. so I might just do it. I still have some black mixed too so I could even burst it to match if I really wanted to dial it in. It's a flamed neck so it would certainy bring out the fig.

    Looks nice

    I would either stain or paint the headstock to make it darker so it matches the body better. Other than that I love it!

  13. I have FINALLY gotten to get back to this thing.

    It's been so hectic here in nashvegas i haven't had much time.. I commute 4 hrs home every weekend to see my fam so i'm pretty much brain dead every evening.

    Anyway, since i last typed the neck has been carved and fitted with SS frets.. They look killer on the ziricote board. Anxious to get the neck finished and the final level done. My headstock was a bit too thin so I laminated a piece of ziricote on the back to add about 1/8 thickness to it. It's coming along real nicely. A little more shaping to blend it in and that'll be done.

    I did screw up the freatboard at the nut end, where it chipped out on me. So instead of a fender style nut, i'll have to file the whole bed flat and put in a gibson style.. shouldn't be too big a deal. Just one of those things.. seems half of this job is problem solving little things like that..

    The body: The back will be black and I have to shoot it still.. but the top is just about ready to clear. This is a dark blue on flamed with a black burst, and the flast lit it up a bit. It's a little darker than that in person which is the desired effect.. have to scrape the binding still.. if you're wondering where it went.. it has paint on it..


    Other pics..

    That's it for now. My father in law had a spare Nitrogen rig laying around so that's what I am spraying with. it's nice, pure propellant.. not moisture to mess with.. Expensive to get started with but he has extra regulators and stuff so it's not bad.. Just don't want to be around if the head ever breaks off one of those things :D I've got my bottle tightly secured to the wall.. it's a 3500 lb bottle so it's not something to be taken lightly..

  14. The one and only thing that I think would make it look better is binding the fretboard. Especially since the body is bound, I think it would look more 'finished' if the fretboard was bound, too.

    one thing at a time dude :D Never did any binding before so I stuck to the body for now. Other issue is I did a fender style neck and the binding can't follow the whole neck profile.. you have to stop it at the interface curve.. just keeping this one plain and simple.

    As to status.. I just moved took a job in nashville and had to leave my family in east tennessee.. I haven't gotten set up here yet but I am getting hooked up with some good woodshops to let me have some shop time and getting my own space set up where I staying, to do all my non-power stuff and my spraying.

    Thanks for the interest fellas.. Hadn't looked in a while. I promise i'll get back on it real soon.

  15. neck-figure.jpg

    After shaving the fingerboard flush with my scrapers and sanding block, i started carving. like I said, i'm about 80% done and it's all with scraper and sand paper so it takes a while! but the feel is supurb and the figure is coming out nicely. Looks much more "flamy" in purson. Not the best picture but you can see the general shape and grain of the neck.

    I'm doing kind of a reverse taper.. a chunky V at the low end for chording and digging into those bends and such, and a thinner flatter profile up top for easier fret access and finger speed.

  16. Thanks Drak.. I too share a love of teles.. I just prefer a neck HB and a different control config. i'll get that korina one finished as soon as this one is out the door. Just have to make a neck for it. The body is ready to finish. It's regular tele pups too.. it'll have a good vintage tone pup-wise and i'm hoping that korina will warm it up just a tad to tone down the quack..

    Speaking of neck carving, I kept dreading the neck process but that is absolutely the coolest part of the whole deal. I'm almost finished with the thing and have done it all with a scraper as my spokeshave is not with me at the moment.. took about an hr to get 80% done but it's smooth as glass and the flame is coming out super.

    I'll get pick of the progress up later today.

  17. Man, Im soooo glad you re-did the binding. I didnt want to say anything, but I could see several of the gaps you were talking about in the pics. Great job on the 2nd try!

    yeah i was expecting a few "constructive criticisms" the first time around. There are plenty to be had this go-round as well, buit they aren't as blaring as the first. Since i thinned the interior layer by hand there are a couple of thick spots where the outside thins out a tad but fortunately both places are where it comes up to meet the neck so it almost looks like I meant to do that..

  18. OK.. at long last, i've rectified my piss-poor binding attempt..


    My last one was .9 binding using stewmacs .09 bushing and router bit set which i really don't like cause they cut the channel so deep that if you use CA like I did you have to sand your wood down to meet the binding. I'd rather scrape the binding to meet the wood. So, i routed the old binding off with the same .09 bushing and used 2 layers of .06 binding.

    Inner layer is some faux abalone i had laying around (fabalone) and ivroid celluloid for the outer. Much classier than the cream PVC stuff i had before. I hand scraped the fabalone down some so it would be a little thinner and get the overall thickness closer to .09 rather than .12. I didn't laminate either, i put the fabalone down first, then put the outer layer and it worked like a champ.

    Other photos for those interested :D

    Better view of the flame

    Closeup of the horn

    better view of the fabalone :D

    now the body is done except for the neck ferrule holes. hopefully i can make some progress on the neck later this week. it's all done just have to glue the FB to the neck, then press frets, then contour the back.

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