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 Post subject: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:33 am 
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Just had to vent a little, guys... I hate ukes.

Yes, I know - they are inexpensive and getting lots of folks into playing stringed instruments again, and that's a good thing. BUT - unless they are a high end boutique brand, they are not worth my time to work on.

I am sick of these whiny college kids wanting their action lowered a 32nd of an inch. It's got fricking nylon strings, people! Are your baby fingers that tender? I am tired of these budding Jake Shimabukuro's complaining about fret ends sticking out on their cheap plywood POS that they leave next to the stove in the kitchen. I've had it with self-appointed know-it-all's asking me endless and stupid questions about getting a good tone on their $50 uke, who then decide I don't know WTH I'm talking about.

Ukes used to be beneath my contempt, but now I hate them. They don't take long to fix, but I have a minimum charge for work, and I'm going to smash the uke of the next pinhead who complains about my prices. Time is money, and working on ukes makes no financial sense to me. I also don't need the frustration.

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These users thanked the author Chris Pile for the post (total 3): DanKirkland (Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:32 pm) • Imbler (Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:36 pm) • Hesh (Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:25 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:35 pm 
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We can completely relate Chris and feel your pain.

This is why when we had the chance to take over a music store we declined and only wanted to do repair work with no obligation to support some of the utter crap that's out there these days.....

We call these disposable instruments because our minimum might exceed the purchase price.

There is also the issue of overhead. We have to triage the thing, listen to the customer, record things, keep records, insure everyone's property, pay the rent, light bill and of course t*ses...... It's not worth it for us so we use our minimum to justify not working on this kind of non opportunity and instead try to stay busy with higher quality instruments AND customers who have a clue.

Feel better, this is a struggle for all of us. One thing that greatly..... greatly improved our lives was being in control of our own destiny and not working for anyone else. We decide what needs to be done, we triage things with the customer present and anyone who attempts to tell us how to do our job is shown the door.

Wish we were closer I would go drinking with ya and I'm buying of course.


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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:49 pm 
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laughing6-hehe laughing6-hehe laughing6-hehe

Sorry to laugh so hard Chris. Glad you let it out. I hear ya!

I always picture one of those rotating displays at the airport duty free shop. Right there next to the name plate key chains. Just grab a uke before boarding!

I'm sure there are bulging container ships mid Pacific as we speak with more.

At first I thought it was a coincidence. The screws used to clamp the bridges on frequently went right through the braces sometimes cutting them in half. Then it dawned on me. That was the plan. Gives the screws something to bite into. [:Y:]

"I am sick of these whiny college kids wanting their action lowered a 32nd of an inch. It's got fricking nylon strings, people!" laughing6-hehe
All I got for you is one of my favorite Hesh-isms. "punitive pricing!"



These users thanked the author david farmer for the post: Hesh (Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:37 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:50 pm 
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I'm sort of the antithesis of this. I'm retired and repairing musical instruments is a hobby. I don't need to make money at this, I can take as long as I like and charge what I want. I treat a $3000 guitar with exactly the same respect as a $300 PacRim or a $30 yard sale special. Its somebody's guitar, they want to make music with it, its hurt and I can (maybe) help them.

We have a wonderful Mariachi music program in our high school - I get to work on a lot of interesting instruments (the kids are pretty hard on them) - I do a lot of it pro bono or at least, very cheaply. It makes me happy to see some kid playing a vihuela or bajo sexto that I repaired.

I'm willing to work on guitars that are beneath most of you - that's fine by me and a bonus for my little shop and the people who frequent it. I'm also smart enough to turn down the 1952 000-21 that was a family heirloom - I'm not the right person for what they wanted.



These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: Hesh (Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:38 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:03 pm 
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Heres the thing. Work is work and your hourly rate costs you the same no matter whether its a cheapie or an expensive guitar.

Its like a mechanic shop... It costs you the same $75/hour whether you bring in a 3 year old Toyota or a 1990 Geo Metro... Doesnt matter that the one is WORTH $35,000 and the othet $500.... Time is time and parts cost what they cost.

And so yeah - fixing the fret ends is probably the same amount of work on a $500 Epiphone as on a $50 uke.... And so it should cost the same... Worth of thr instrument doesnt change the cost of the work - what it changes is the decision on whether the work is worth the money....

And in reality - a $50 uke is a kit... The FOB china price is probably $12 or so... And there is just no room in that price for filing down fret ends, levelling frets, any setup, or a glued on bridge..... Add about $500 worth of Luthier time and now the setup and playability is better than a $250 uke..... But people still look at it as a $50 special....

I think it would be worth having a demonstration model in your shop.... To show these folks what a real uke is supposed to play and sound like.



These users thanked the author truckjohn for the post: Hesh (Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:39 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:26 pm 
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truckjohn wrote:

Its like a mechanic shop... It costs you the same $75/hour whether you bring in a 3 year old Toyota or a 1990 Geo Metro...


I wish! Come to California where the mechanic will look at you with a straight face and tell you that they charge $150/hr. I know attorneys who have practice for 20 years who charge less than that! But just try to live in SoCal without a car for a week and you will be pulling out your checkbook.



These users thanked the author rlrhett for the post: Hesh (Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:40 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:54 pm 
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truckjohn wrote:
Work is work and your hourly rate costs you the same no matter whether its a cheapie or an expensive guitar.

And in reality - a $50 uke is a kit...
.


I wish.

For your next build, what would be easier to start with, all the wood and hardware un-used, laid out on the bench, or the same stuff already cut and assembled wrong with gobs of mystery glue? I'll take the raw parts. ready.... set.... go!

Fixing a well-made instrument is relatively predictable. That makes the customer and me happy. Poorly made instruments have a strong tendency to unravel like a ball of yarn. One ugly surprise, hot melted onto another. Surprises aren't fun for either of us. The rate may be the same, but an hour spent making a customer unhappy is not nearly as valuable as one that produces satisfaction. Paid or not. I can only afford so many un-happy customers so I must avoid unpredictable repairs.

Freeman wrote:
I'm sort of the antithesis of this. I'm retired and repairing musical instruments is a hobby. I don't need to make money at this, I can take as long as I like and charge what I want. I treat a $3000 guitar with exactly the same respect as a $300 PacRim or a $30 yard sale special. Its somebody's guitar, they want to make music with it, its hurt and I can (maybe) help them.

We have a wonderful Mariachi music program in our high school - I get to work on a lot of interesting instruments (the kids are pretty hard on them) - I do a lot of it pro bono or at least, very cheaply. It makes me happy to see some kid playing a vihuela or bajo sexto that I repaired.

I'm willing to work on guitars that are beneath most of you - that's fine by me and a bonus for my little shop and the people who frequent it. I'm also smart enough to turn down the 1952 000-21 that was a family heirloom - I'm not the right person for what they wanted.


I think that’s great Freeman. Really. They’re lucky to have you, and you them. Unfortunately, donated Luthier hours are dwarfed by those needed to keep a significant number of disposable instruments out of dumpsters. While those instruments may work well for you and the students who benefit from your work, on balance I think they are colossal waste.


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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:14 am 
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rlrhett wrote:
truckjohn wrote:

Its like a mechanic shop... It costs you the same $75/hour whether you bring in a 3 year old Toyota or a 1990 Geo Metro...


I wish! Come to California where the mechanic will look at you with a straight face and tell you that they charge $150/hr. I know attorneys who have practice for 20 years who charge less than that! But just try to live in SoCal without a car for a week and you will be pulling out your checkbook.


When I moved to California I spent 3 hours in line(s) at the DMV (dept of motor vehicles) getting my 1 year old Acura plated, changing my Drivers license etc. I had just renewed my plate in Michigan the month before for $67 dollars.

Twice while I was at the DMV Brinks made a pick-up of cash using a two wheel cart and two armed guards in the DMV and one in the truck....

They charged me nearly $125 for a California drivers license after taking one of the most incredibly stupid 35 question tests that I have ever had to take. It asked me questions such as what the legal drunk level test was several years prior in California, not what it was now. My ex failed the test twice and then they would not let her take it a third time in the same day.... She was so very pissed we almost got divorced over it...;) Had that test been just a little more stupid than it was I could have been strumming my Guild to Richie Havens Woodstock version of "Freedom" several years earlier....;)

The plate for my Acura was pricy too. I had just had it smog tested for another $100 and it passed with flying colors although it was not built for CA emissions standards. Because of this there was a one time fine of an additional $300 for a total of $560 for a license plate and for only one year too.

Maybe we can find a way to open our repair shop in California and run it like the DMV.....;)

Seriously though there are two things that every Luthier must master:

1) The work.

2) Not hurting yourself in business by thinking that you have to be all things to all people.....

Freeman this is not directed at you and I'll add in advance that we run a bit of a socialist Luthier shop for a lack of a better term. If Robin Hood had Lutherie chops he might have been our business model sands the tights..... We price appropriately for the work, risk, overhead etc when we can get it with no reservations. When someone can't afford us AND helping them does not create undue risk for us we help them. We also do lots of free work including helping the homeless with donated, repaired guitars, vets too.

There is a class of instruments AND clients that represent very high risk though and learning to spot them in advance and not get any on ya is key to survival. Interestingly they are not always the disposable instrument crowd either. Collectors can be high risk even with a valuable instrument AND the very worst are flippers who see every dime spent on repairing something as coming right out of their pocket when they flip the thing....

It's not the low or even no pay that will hurt you. It's the exposure to high risk in the age of "getting flamed on the Internet....." that is the gift that just keeps on taking forever more that has to be avoided.

The client who comes in spewing disdain for the last Luthier that he visited complaining about this or that and telling you that you only need to add glue right here and it should not cost very much is the client that we show the door. We will not be told how to do our job and since we are not a music store we do not agree to work for everyone.

Of the successful Pro Luthiers that I know this is widely practiced and considered basic survival. We know of clients who have been "banned" from our competition for being jerks..... The worst scenario that you can encounter is attempting to help someone with their cheap, Chinese POS and having them not be happy and flaming you with a negative review. As such I'll never stop helping people but I remain vigilant always for the jerk who needs to be sent packing.

Of the lawsuits in our area that I know about it's always the case that a Luthier tried to help someone and the inherent limitations of the instrument AND the perceptions of the client that were incorrect created a perfect liability storm.

Lastly when I used to work for a Fortune 1 corporation.... there were two primary missions for every employee.

1) Shield the organization from risk....

2) Make money

Sadly that's the way it has to be too and how we run our business with a number 3 added, be good people and help people.

David I have a new one for ya. ;) Client last night declined on $250 worth of work because he had already spent $1,100 on his parts guitars..... He had the money but had a preconceived notion that a new bone nut, full set-up, fret dress, and CTS pots, switchcraft jack and switch and advanced wiring with coil taps and blend pots parts and labor should only cost $100. :? [headinwall]

I asked him what he did for a living and he was a professor at the University, an economist....:) He asked me if I was willing to let him walk out the door for money. I showed him the door, shook his hand, and went back to being an Internet troll. ;)

Remember repair Luthiers if you touch it..... you own it.......

Peace!



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 Post subject: Sorry to hear all that
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:52 am 
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I've spent 50 of my 73 years working full time directlly with the public doing repairs.

I like my work, and I sure hope I dont't grow old and grumpy. . .

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:04 am 
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Frank Ford wrote:
I've spent 50 of my 73 years working full time directlly with the public doing repairs.

I like my work, and I sure hope I dont't grow old and grumpy. . .


I like my work too and this is a retirement gig for me but I was already old and grumpy 30 years ago....;)

Frank you know Rick Turner and he's old and grumpy too. :D He's the one who told me that I don't know jack unless I learn the repair business. In the words of the great Mick Jagger, so I did..... :? :D

Disclaimer: This is a "let it all out" thread and does not necessarily represent the normal, natural demeanor of the contributors to this tread. I'm known to be even more disgruntled at times. [xx(] :D [uncle]



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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:48 am 
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I set the bar pretty high for my own performance in the shop. I am hard on myself. I blame my tool & die maker training. And when my shop was open to the public so many years ago, most clients appreciated that I worshipped at the church of the painful truth. Those that couldn't handle it, went to lesser talents in town for service (I sound awful, but it's true).

But since "the stoopid" seems to be growing, I am glad I moved the shop home and only deal with the public in small amounts. Keeps me from killing someone. Venting releases the pressure. Maybe it's just time to say NO TO UKES. After all, I said no to banjos a long time ago, and haven't regretted it.

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Last edited by Chris Pile on Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:01 am 
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Hesh wrote:


There is a class of instruments AND clients that represent very high risk though and learning to spot them in advance and not get any on ya is key to survival. Interestingly they are not always the disposable instrument crowd either.


Good point. I would much rather have a kind and reasonable customer with a disaster of an instrument than the reverse.

My frustration is mostly with instruments not worth fixing, not troubled customers. Hearing war stories from Luthiers in bigger population centers makes me realize how easy I have it. I almost never get people who are difficult. Perhaps because I'm so rural, or people find me 99% through word of mouth, or the lack of competition. Dealing with know it all kids and economics professors sounds hard.
There's a little more on the line when someone comes to me with something I must pronounce DOA. They have few options. Jump in the car for 5 hours to get a replacement or roll the online dice. I often have just told them their music has stopped for a while.

I'm sure the other two hundred thousand of these, made with no lining whatsoever, are just fine. Most likely they will be warmly passed down for generations. Honestly, These things serve no one.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:10 am 
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Frank Ford wrote:
I've spent 50 of my 73 years working full time directlly with the public doing repairs.

I like my work, and I sure hope I dont't grow old and grumpy. . .



aw man! your crashing our great grump thread with Yoda serenity! laughing6-hehe



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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:44 am 
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I don't do repairs but I've had people ask me to fix ukes. I tell them that I've never heard of one which is fun for me in itself since I've been playing guitar for over 25 years and I know exactly what they are. Then I explain that it sounds too complicated and that I have all the wrong tools since I only build guitars. You should try my approach, it's an awful lot of fun, especially when the person that you are dealing with is completely clueless. Take it as far as you like and have a good time!

On a side note- I don't like ukes as an instrument. I don't care for the sound or the style of playing. They seem like a toy to me. I've seen some of the folks here create some really beautiful ukes and mandolins and I have all the respect in the world for that- it's just not for me as I wouldn't build something that I refuse to play.



These users thanked the author fingerstyle1978 for the post: Hesh (Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:53 am)
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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:07 pm 
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fingerstyle1978 wrote:
On a side note- I don't like ukes as an instrument. I don't care for the sound or the style of playing. They seem like a toy to me. I've seen some of the folks here create some really beautiful ukes and mandolins and I have all the respect in the world for that- it's just not for me as I wouldn't build something that I refuse to play.


If you're talking about those who play the uke as if it were a small guitar, then I'm not fond either. But there are lots of playing styles - here are my mates Phil and Ian doing Sister Kate with some panache. I'd have thought few people would object to the playing style, though you might still not like the sound.

https://youtu.be/e-62eXNnB9k

Of course cheap ukes aren't worth the cost of fixing, but nor is any cheap instrument. I can see being cross at idiots who expect work to be done without paying what it's worth, but that's the fault of the idiot, not the instrument.


Last edited by profchris on Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:19 pm 
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profchris wrote:
fingerstyle1978 wrote:
On a side note- I don't like ukes as an instrument. I don't care for the sound or the style of playing. They seem like a toy to me. I've seen some of the folks here create some really beautiful ukes and mandolins and I have all the respect in the world for that- it's just not for me as I wouldn't build something that I refuse to play.


If you're talking about those who play the uke as if it were a small guitar, then I'm not fond either. But there are lots of playing styles - here are my mates Phil and Ian doing Sister Kate with some panache. I'd have thought few people would object to the playing style, though you might still not like the sound.

http://youtube.com/e-62eXNnB9k

Of course cheap ukes aren't worth the cost of fixing, but nor is any cheap instrument. I can see being cross at idiots who expect work to be done without paying what it's worth, but that's the fault of the idiot, not the instrument.


I'd like to give a listen but the link doesn't work.


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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:57 pm 
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Fixed the link (YouTube embedding won't work for some reason) and here it is again.

https://youtu.be/e-62eXNnB9k


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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:52 am 
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The Uke is fine, but I'm digging the guitar playing. What a great sound he gets with his fingers! Closest thing to a gypsy jazz "pompe" I've ever heard without a pick.

The guitar itself is a real beauty too. An Eastman?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


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 Post subject: Re: RANT: Time is money
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:55 am 
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rlrhett wrote:
The Uke is fine, but I'm digging the guitar playing. What a great sound he gets with his fingers! Closest thing to a gypsy jazz "pompe" I've ever heard without a pick.

The guitar itself is a real beauty too. An Eastman?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


I think the guitar is an Epiphone.


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