Carl Thompson's being forced to move! Friends are helping raise funds.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Blackbird, Jun 25, 2002.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I have been told that the building where Carl Thompson's been building his basses for years has been sold and all the tenants, including Carl, are forced to vacate.

    Apparently, some friends are helping raise funds to help Carl by selling T-shirts on his site. I think they go for $20 or so, they're pretty nice.

    I just thought I'd post it in case some of you guys are interested...
  2. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    my tshirt is on its way...i think someone already beat ya to this one, bw ;) best of luck to mr. thompson and the crew.
  3. supergreg


    Jan 20, 2002
    Im going to order a shirt as soon as I get money. He must be getting up there now. Do you know how old he is?
  4. ill get a t-shirt soon i also hope to own a carl thompson one day but a t-shirt will do for now.

    i bet les claypool will help raise some funds as les and carl are pretty close friends and hes been making basses for les for years.....some nice ones at that.
  5. Carl Thompson needs money? Hahaha! That's funny.

    Tell him to sell a couple basses, he'll live. That's how he's been living for years.
  6. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    If you honestly think Carl makes enough making basses in NYC to be able to relocate his entire shop at the drop of a hat, you obviously have no idea how much money an independent guitar builder really makes. He's not Paul Reed Smith churning out 1000 medicore overpriced guitars a month for $3000. He probably makes fewer than 20 basses a year--you do the math.

    And, at Carl's advanced age, I'd like to think he'd be able to retire with a little money to support himself. Don't think he's got a pension plan from Carl Thompson, Inc.

    If you don't want to buy a shirt, fine. Don't buy a shirt. But, that doesn't mean you need to be an insensitive jerk, too....
  7. supergreg


    Jan 20, 2002
    I would think that Les and Stanley are going to help him out.
  8. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Hey, don't dis PRS. He might get it right yet.


    And Greg, Just because they're helping doesn't mean nobody else shouldn't. Not implying you won't, but a lot of people would leap to that conclusion.
  9. supergreg


    Jan 20, 2002
    Oh no I didnt mean that at all. I am planing on buying one of the shirts. I would just like to think that Les and Stanely would contribute and help him out. Sorry if I came off sounding like nobody else should help.
  10. banjofreak


    Mar 13, 2002
    Les does help out when he can, he usually overpays considerably for the basses Carl makes him. Carl is a proud man though, so even if Les said he'd write him a check, I doubt he'd take it.

    I contacted Les' people and they have added information on his site to help us out. I was hoping to actually have them take the shirts on tour with Les and sell them out of the merchandise booth, but I'm not sure if that's feasible. Les will be in NY in the next day or two and Carl is meeting up with him, hopefully Les will offer some assistance then. Carl said he's going to make Les wear the shirt at the show up there.

    Anyway, thanks to everyone for the assistance. You are 100% correct that Carl has far from made a fortune for himself over the years. He currently has an almost 2 year waiting list on basses, so making more instruments to cover costs isn't possible.

  11. OK, let's say Carl sells his instruments for $6000 each and he can complete 10 instruments a year; what's his proprietor's income--and more importantly, what are his hourly wages? Let's make some reasonable estimate:

    -Wood, hardware, electronics, tools, and supply costs will run approximately $750 for each instrument--$7500/year. Wood is cheap, but the grades with which CT deals aren't. I'd argue that the lumber he uses for necks and fingerboards is even more expensive than his tops.
    -The rent on a tiny shop space would be at the very least $8,000/year. This is Manhattan we're talking about.
    -Electricity and heating costs would be at least $1500/year due to the extensive amount of ventilation and air filtering required to remove wood dust (CT has had health problems), including some pretty nasty stuff from poisonous woods like wenge.

    What haven't we accounted for?
    -Fire and property insurance. Any business that uses at least some powered tools--planers, tablesaws, etc.--and generates a fair amount of sawdust, and more importantly is in Manhattan, is going to have non-trivial insurance costs.
    -Profit taxes, which are fairly minimal for a business as small as Carl's.

    So, for now, we have Carl getting ~$40,000 a year in proprietor's income. Take 26% off of that for Social Security, because self-employed people have to pay the costs of both employer and employee.

    So, we come out with Carl Thompson making a little under $30,000 a year. For a regular 40-hour work week, that's about $14 an hour. Carl Thompson could make more money doing data entry than building basses.


    As our resident luthiers will tell you, nobody gets into instrument-building for the money. David King has estimated that he earns at most $6/hour from building his bass guitars, which sell for $2000 and up. Michael Tobias works out of a shack in the woods. Matt Schmill's shop space could compare unfavorably with a World War II submarine. Roger Sadowsky probably has the highest margins of any "boutique" builder and he still had to move his shop out of Manhattan.

    I have a friend whose father built mandolins and Irish bouzoukis, the complexity of construction of which makes even the most ornate neck-through bass guitar look like two planks of wood held together with finishing nails. He calculated that he would have been better off economically by flipping burgers. The advantage of luthierie was that he was able to work at home and raise my friend and his sister.

    CT is an honest small business owner and a true artist. He doesn't need uninformed, sneering comments from willfully ignorant people.
  12. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Little under $30,000 a year is still well above $10,000 more than I make. I won't try to sell you T-shirts if I'm forced to move. And if you want to, Ad's statement is basically true. He sells a couple of basses and gets by.
  13. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    okay, let's try this-

    How many different pieces of merchandise do you see the Fender logo stamped on? Are they doing something wrong?

    We are selling shirts to help this guy out. He could of taken the other road and had Les' rainbow bass mass produced when Les got big and everybody wanted that bass. But, he is an artist where each instrument is a little different from the next. I am not saying that is a good or bad thing, but that is the way he wanted to run his business.

    He wants everybody that buys a bass to get something special, not just another of the same.

    Each bass being different takes more time than jigging up for a model and whipping them out. Yes he could of made lots more money mass producing, but he stuck to his morals and for that I respect him.

    Oh, and Oysterman if someone wanted a shirt with you on it, you would be happy to sell them one.
  14. $20,000 goes a lot further in Sweden, man. New York is pretty ridiculous. Plus, moving in the city entails paying a massive deposit and often a finder's fee to a rental broker. I sincerely doubt that CT has much in the way of savings, and I forgot to mention health insurance.

    Oh, and do you live on your own? I see from your profile that you're 20--very few 20-year-olds in this country, at least, are anywhere near 100% self-sufficient.

    What I really objected to in Ad's statement was the sneering tone of it. "A few basses" represents several months of work for a guy who sells 10 a year.
  15. banjofreak


    Mar 13, 2002
    Carl is not selling the T-shirts. Carl has never used his name to sell derivitive products (except his strings). He has long wanted to have T-shirts made to give out to his friends, but he never did it. Several friends of his (including myself and dhuffguitars in this thread) are doing this for him. Like I said, he isn't one for handouts. We figured that people might be interested in owning a CT T-shirt, and if that could allow us to help Carl out, so be it.

  16. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Firstly, let me make it clear that I have nothing against Carl Thompson whatsoever. I don't know anything about the man, just a little about his work (which I'm not too fond of, but I do respect it!).

    Peter, I get what you're saying. But $20,000 doesn't take you very far here either. $20,000 - 33% tax. = $13,500. And Gothenburg is pretty expensive too, of course nowhere close to Manhattan, but a *small* inner city apartment could easily cost $100,000 - if you have the luck getting ahold of one of course. Kinda hard to swing that kind of money with my income... I am lucky to be able to stay here. I have a job and a cheap rat's nest of a home, both of which can be gone before the end of the year.
    But I know, Manhattan is ten, no, fifty times worse.

    Darrin, yes I think Fender does something wrong and I would indeed sell people T-shirts if they wanted my name on it. :D
  17. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Casey, my mistake! I forgot that isn't Carl's own site but arranged by fans! Now I feel dumb. :oops:
  18. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    And if it was as easy as "just make a couple more basses" he would.

    If the guy has a 2 year wait, how could he put everybody waiting on hold to "whip up" some basses to cover the costs of moving?
  19. Erick Warner

    Erick Warner

    Jun 26, 2002

    The more I got to know Carl the more I realized that this is one artist thats doing it right. I was so impressed with the way he did things, I started doing things that way. Instead of looking for the one thing that I could mass produce, I started looking at individual things and caring about them instead of the money. It's obvious that Carl doesnt do this for the money. He loves the music and the people. He's a great guy - I'd even take a bullet for him or cover a grenade with Casey's body. This T-shirt idea came up a long time ago, he had the artwork given to him and then it sat. It took some big hearted people that recognized what Carl was doing, and wants him to keep doing it, to get the money together and pay to get the shirts printed. All the profits go straight to Carl. It's not charity. It's recognition for someone thats actually doing it right. Not just building basses, but living life.

  20. I like CT basses, make no mistake. But if the man chooses to run his shop in an area that may be a bit expensive when compared to his profit, then you would think that he would have moved long ago.
    Well, the big thing is that he gets GREAT deals on his woods. He gets plenty of dough from selling $6000 basses and has a lot of friends and hook ups that allow him to do it cheap. Had the man ACTUALLY been selling t-shirts as a form of donation to ease his moving costs, I would still have my previous views on this subject. Erick is correct in his post. The man has T-shirts, not for a quick buck, but just to have t-shirts.
    However, it doesn't appear that Carl and company are that worried anyway, being that the fan-run website neglects to metion anything about the move in their news section, and their message board is vauge (at best) about the reasons that "Carl needs your help!".

    There is no doubt in my mind that Carl will be able to relocate and continue crafting his fine instruments. After all, he was able to set up shop and begin making them in the 70's and has probably relocated at least once since then.

    Peter, you would be one to recognize "uninformed, sneering comments from willfully ignorant people" though, wouldn't you? Ahhhhh, the pot calling the kettle "black".