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NewPlayer

 

Posts: 141
Joined: Nov. 29 2012
From: San Francisco

Time Spent Building a Guitar 

Hello Luthiers,

I was curious to know how much time is actually spent on building a single guitar? From choosing wood to adding final touches. What aspect or part of the guitars takes the most time?

Finally, I have heard the cost of materials ranges from $200-$500? Is this correct?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 0:58:40
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1539
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

I spend about 300 hours building one. That includes a French polish finish.

I would put the usual cost of materials at $400 to $500 US. Some tuning machines cost $1000 or more, though.

Now you understand why I become apoplectic when people call me and ask if I can make a guitar really cheap by substituting cheap woods--as if the cost of the wood were normally a big factor. And what would be the point in investing all that time using cheap materials?

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 2:32:20
 
TANúñez

Posts: 2556
Joined: Jul. 10 2003
From: TEXAS

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

I agree with everything Ethan said. For me, the neck takes up the most time. A lot of carving and shaping. Also French polishing takes up a good amount of time as I am finding out. Switched over from lacquer and I don't think I will ever go back.

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Tom Núñez
www.instagram.com/tanunezguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 2:35:13
 
NewPlayer

 

Posts: 141
Joined: Nov. 29 2012
From: San Francisco

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

300 hours??? That is some serious work. I have a new found appreciation for luthiers such as yourselves. I wonder how much time is spent on factory made guitars, such as the Ramirez FL2 or HSL's 2f etc ...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 3:43:43
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1539
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

Considerably less.

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 4:33:10
 
krichards

Posts: 597
Joined: Jan. 14 2007
From: York, England

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

Yes about 300 hours for me too, including finishing

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Kevin Richards

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 8:00:24
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 902
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

wow 300 hours! that is loads! unless of course you are building 3 at a time and all 3 take 300. Most Luthiers I know quote about 100 hours. My average is about 85 hours including polishing. I do make 3 at a time which really helps. I find polishing to be the most time consuming part of guitar making which is about 15-20 hours

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 9:19:19
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

300 hours is about right and it includes everything, French polish, a little nap in the armchair, petiing the dogs and reading foroflamencos luthiery section. The last one is the most timeconsuming part.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 9:26:44
 
Wayne Brown

 

Posts: 124
Joined: Oct. 22 2012
From: Huntersville, North Carolina, USA

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

That first build may take considerable more time. You will need time to make your solera, forms, jigs and a lot of head scratching. Once you build one, you have to build another and then you may approach the 300 hour range. So have fun and best of luck!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 13:14:00
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 902
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

So you guys are only building 7 guitars a year? This is based on my average working week of 40 hours.

Those must be some pretty long naps you take there Anders!

Do you guys use no power tools at all?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 13:47:04
 
jshelton5040

Posts: 1500
Joined: Jan. 17 2005
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

ORIGINAL: SEden

So you guys are only building 7 guitars a year?


That's about how many we build but the two of us only work about 2-3 hours a day and we take a vacation from building from about April to October. If we worked more hours and year round I suspect we could complete 20-25 guitars but it would be hard my aging body and brain.

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John Shelton - www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 14:57:34
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

Those must be some pretty long naps you take there Anders!


Oh yeah, thats the reason I like building instruments. Oficially its called mental preparation and thinking, but reality is zzzzz.

Being realistic, I use some 120 - 150 hours (I dont count them) on a guitar. FP included.

I´ve been told that the old spanish builders made around 3 guitars a month when they were young. The guitars were often sold under other names, so they earned very little a guitar and had little time to do mental preparations... Which can often bee seen in the quality of the work.
How many hours do a Paracho maker typically use on a guitar?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 14:58:18
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1539
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

So you guys are only building 7 guitars a year? This is based on my average working week of 40 hours.


I generally build one a month and work an average of 70 hours per week building guitars (to make up for the low hourly wage). I have tried building 3 guitars together a couple of times and it doesn't work out well for me. I have to stay focused on one instrument or various cosmetic errors creep in.

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Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 25 2013 15:26:03
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

This is a hard question. I was advised by a teacher to not count how many hours it would take because it's really depressing to see what the hourly wage is.

I think it takes me between 100 to 150 hours depending on the guitar. The difficulty is the finish work, I reckon it takes 20 to 30 hours. Maybe I'm ready to time it on the next round. I've been trying to build three at a time. Right now I'm building five and doing ok so far.

I like building more than two at a time when it comes to the finish work because you can rotate working on guitars and let them rest while the shellac dries.

I usually start with the tops and inlay all the rosettes, then make all the necks. Then I thickness and brace the tops and then attach them to the necks. At that point I feel pretty good. Then I bend ribs and join backs, here is where it gets tricky for me, I try to assemble ribs and fabricate the backs at the same time. Then brace backs and close up. After that I find binding all at once is efficient and then final sanding and shaping.

My next idea is to make like 12 necks all at once in two weeks. then brace a few tops and grab a few necks and go. I find the necks are the slowest part, but that if I make them as sets they go slightly faster than one at a time.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 4:06:01
 
Arash

Posts: 4463
Joined: Aug. 9 2006
From: Iran (living in Germany)

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to estebanana

This thread is despressing.
300 hours each guitar?
That conde dude builds 300 guitars each hour.
You guys must be doing something wrong.

You should all team up and start making some money instead of writing depressing essays in the foro, fight against eachother and complain about farts.
Estebanan makes the necks, contructordeguitarras the body, Anders the rosettes and mental preparation, Tom makes the plans and fine tunes, Tanunez marketing and sales.
And if you want i can give you the materials for good price, directly from the trees in iran without greedy middle men like Madinter.
We have Cypress, Palisanto, Cedar, Spruce, Ebony, Limewood (my favourite), etc. And we don't have stupid strict rules like in Brazil and we don't give a damn about nature too. I will also kill some Buffalos and camels and give you enough bone. We are used to kill animals and other living creatures with our own hands, no problem for me (ask Ruphus).
Basically I will do the dirty immoral part of the job and you the rest.
And who needs good tuning machines, a 9$ DerJung is enough. Professor D. said they are unimportant and i trust him in this matter.
French polish? Do you want to make money or make love? Again, too romantic and time consuming. Think about my suggestions and let me know.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 8:49:20
 
krichards

Posts: 597
Joined: Jan. 14 2007
From: York, England

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Stephen Eden

quote:

My average is about 85 hours including polishing.


So you are taking only 2 working weeks to make a guitar? That seems incredible to me.
And you must be making at least 20 per year?

I make only about three per year. In fact, I'm working on No 32 now, but I made my first one in 1978, so I'm averaging about one per year. I'm not trying to make a living so I can afford to take my time, so, about 300 hours.

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Kevin Richards

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 9:18:08
 
El Burdo

 

Posts: 598
Joined: Sep. 8 2011
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to krichards

Kevin, you need to take it easy. I made my first in 1990 and am on number 5 right now. I'm not good with wood.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 10:38:57
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 902
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

Yeah that sounds about right. It usually ends up around the 21 a year mark. I Usually build in 3's which takes about 7-8 weeks to complete all three. I have played around this year with 5 and 7 too but nothing seems to get me any further than 21.

I use one prefab part, slotted finger boards!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 11:06:17
 
Ruphus

Posts: 3782
Joined: Nov. 18 2010
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Arash

quote:

ORIGINAL: Arash

And if you want i can give you the materials for good price, directly from the trees in iran without greedy middle men like Madinter.
We have Cypress, Palisanto, Cedar, Spruce, Ebony, Limewood (my favourite), etc. And we don't have stupid strict rules like in Brazil and we don't give a damn about nature too.


Indeed, do I hear that autocrat looters have since years now engaged with cutting down the remains of littered forests. After sky-high rocketing of prices for wood the temptation of cashing in must have been overwhelming. It made them even taking out of the only big trees in the capitol.
And because of those extreme profits I doubt that they would hand over some at a price still worth for you to ship to abroad.



quote:

ORIGINAL: Arash

We are used to kill animals and other living creatures with our own hands, no problem for me (ask Ruphus).

Many torturers are too coward to dare touching their victims and handle them wire tethered and thelike.
The remaining kind of temperaments are the indifferent and the animal lovers. The indifferent do not appreciate the pleasure of tormenting and may even detest it, but they vastly won´t confront torturers either.
Whereas the animal lovers broadly mistreat their charge, for not going out of their way in the first place to inform themselves on the needs and natural requirements of the animal. Their opinion on keeping will consist of traditionally passed cluelessness, personaly made up truisms and of comforting themselves.

And when you consider how much time and efforts it took to somewhat spread information about animal cognition and mentality in the west ( where still the majority has little clue on the differences of thinking between men and other species ), you may estimate what common sense in Asia may realize about animal´s perception and cognition.

Animals there will be considered mere thing and in the same time treated under assumption of human thinking routines.
Hence, the diametral opposite of educated mind which acknowledges the creatures value and right, whilst increasingly realizing basically different ways of cognitive and habitual processings.
-

Just yesterday I had a hard time making someone understand why "walking" your dog by keeping him on a leash through your cars window was so typical for the Asian way of "pet love".
When the dog be run over, you just get yourself another one.

It was near impossible to convey to the guy why animal and little children are unpredictable, and that you cannot just rely on your wishful thinking that the dog may not accidentally run into your car while on the leash of the driver.

He kept on saying: "Why should the dog throw himself under the car and be run over".
Too little trained with providing any other thinking strategy than his own.

Filing the animal world of no more relevance than disposable goods, and yet in the same time counting it as of human thinking routine, albeit on only foolish level, naturally.

Arash, my friend,

Instead of feeling teased about more than obvious reality, how about investing that energy constructively?
I have prepared a little primer on pet keeping. It only needs to be finished and taken a correction reading.
I want it to be copied and laid out at veterinaries´.

It is written in German language and would need translation into Farsi ( and other language, if anyone here is willing to support this little action in his Asian / African country as well ).
Are you prepared to translate it into Farsi?
- with your own hands? ;O)

Ruphus

PS:
Sorry for OT. Not intending to hijack!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 11:10:53
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1539
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Anders Eliasson

quote:

I´ve been told that the old spanish builders made around 3 guitars a month when they were young.


I noticed in Brune's plans for the Barbera that had been owned by Sabicas that he noted plane marks on the side of the head and I think he said such guitars were made in a week or so. I really like that and wish I could sell guitars made that way. I would like to concentrate on the sound and playability and not worry about little things like that. But I don't think there is a market for it. I am told by the dealer I work with that what really sells guitars is their looks.

_____________________________

Ethan Deutsch
www.edluthier.com
www.facebook.com/ethandeutschguitars
www.youtube.com/marioamayaflamenco
I always have flamenco guitars available for sale.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 18:32:30

C. Vega

 

Posts: 379
Joined: Jan. 16 2004
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

ORIGINAL: constructordeguitarras

I am told by the dealer I work with that what really sells guitars is their looks.




Es verdad.

Many players, especially amateurs, tend to listen with their eyes.

As the late Jose Ramirez III said in his book Things About the Guitar regarding people who would come to his shop and check out/comment on the appearance of the wood in the guitar before anything else (I'm going from memory here so don't shoot me.), "Those I would like to send off to a good furniture store."
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 26 2013 19:04:19
 
TANúñez

Posts: 2556
Joined: Jul. 10 2003
From: TEXAS

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to C. Vega

I have had clients refuse a guitar because they didn't like the headstock! A few years back, I can't remember the maker but the guitar was very good and I remember the client picking another one that in my opinion wasn't the better of the two and he chose the other because he liked the head on the other better. Nuts!

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www.instagram.com/tanunezguitars
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 27 2013 0:58:50
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2955
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

Hmm... I guess I'm somewhere in between. I work about 32 hours a week (plus another 3 hours or so a week answering emails and uploading pictures, etc.) and finish a guitar every 3-4 weeks. I'm very focused when I'm in the workshop and I need plenty of time outside of work. I have other interests so not too much Foro time lately

I'm always simultaneously finishing one guitar and building a new one. Building and finishing/fine tuning both take about 3-4 weeks.

My french polish schedule is:
5-6 days of 2 bodying sessions a day (about 8 hours total)
1 week of rest/hardening
2-3 days to sand and French polish (about 10 hours total)
1 week to rest
Final polish and string up

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 27 2013 2:57:00
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Arash

quote:

Basically I will do the dirty immoral part of the job and you the rest.


Instead of doing rosettes and mental prep. Can I be your helper. It sounds to be more fun.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 27 2013 7:45:05
 
Anders Eliasson

Posts: 5780
Joined: Oct. 18 2006
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:


quote:

I´ve been told that the old spanish builders made around 3 guitars a month when they were young.


I noticed in Brune's plans for the Barbera that had been owned by Sabicas that he noted plane marks on the side of the head and I think he said such guitars were made in a week or so. I really like that and wish I could sell guitars made that way. I would like to concentrate on the sound and playability and not worry about little things like that. But I don't think there is a market for it. I am told by the dealer I work with that what really sells guitars is their looks.


Look at it this way. You´re basically doing the same as the old masters. You work like a pig and wear up yourself for very little money. They worked the same amount of hours and got payed relatively the same.

You have the advantage that you dont have to order the same amount of wood. Back in the 60th - 70th the Granada builders asked around for a truck, drove to Germany and filled it with spruce.

Some say that in order to be a true artist, you need to have a troublesome life, so maybe you´re the one getting famous and expensive after you stopped selling your own guitars. Thats what happened to many Spanish builders. Suddenly they were famous and fantastic builders, but it was someone else that got rich.
Maybe you have noticed that older spanish guitar builders can be somewhat grumpy....

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 27 2013 7:51:07
 
tijeretamiel

 

Posts: 438
Joined: Jan. 6 2012
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to Andy Culpepper

quote:

ORIGINAL: constructordeguitarras
I would like to concentrate on the sound and playability and not worry about little things like that. But I don't think there is a market for it. I am told by the dealer I work with that what really sells guitars is their looks.


Unfortunately, people do seem to judge sound/playability more with their eyes than ears/hands. In the era of internet shopping, where YouTube is becoming the 21st Century guitar shop, aesthetics of a guitar will become more and more important.

quote:

ORIGINAL: deteresa1
I have other interests so not too much Foro time lately


OTHER INTERESTS? There is a world outside the Foro?!!!

Oh yeah there is... :)

****
Been a interesting thread for the untrained person as myself; once again
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 27 2013 9:12:32
 
Stephen Eden

 

Posts: 902
Joined: Apr. 12 2008
From: UK

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

Of course a guitar has to have no visual flaws but you just can't please everyone all of the time with how a guitar looks so if you lose a sale on looks then it was never meant to be. I mainly build Classical guitars though and I would say 85% of those instruments have gone to a professional of some kind and most I have spoken to don't really care what the guitar looks like.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 27 2013 10:30:28
 
duendesoul

Posts: 32
Joined: Nov. 10 2007
 

RE: Time Spent Building a Guitar (in reply to NewPlayer

It's no different from practicing the guitar 30 hours a week to perform 6 paid hours.
if I divided my wage into 36 hours. It would be absurd also.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2013 23:48:40
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