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Giving deposits to builders

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Stu Rose, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. Greetings,

    This thread is because of the Darren Huff thread in Basses which pissed me off on many levels. It seems many people were ripped off and I feel its somewhat the buyers fault, ya know buyer beware!

    It is really bad business on the buyers part to give small custom one man builders ANY money months or years in advance of them actually working on your bass. Anything can happen to these folks that would leave you holding the bag.

    The fact is most basses only take 30-40 hours to make but because builders juggle a bunch at the same time you the buyer have to wait much much longer.

    If a builder has a year waiting time he should put you on the list and then call you a month or so before production and ask you to send the deposit, If you do not pay he drops you off the list and moves to the next person. It's that simple.

    Also at that point you should have a delivery date and I'm suggesting it should not be more the 2 months tops which is a reasonable time.

    This might mean builders have to re-think their build process but that is not the buyers problem that is what customer service is about in any business.

    IMHO anyone who pays anyone way in advance is asking for trouble. Maybe a big custom shop like Fender would be an exception because of the size of the company your deposit is pretty secure.

    Just my .2 cents. Good Luck!
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I would love to learn where you discovered this 'fact.'

    Do you think the small makers stock every kind of bookmatched face wood, body wood, neck woods, pickups, preamps, bridges and tuners - in every possible finish?

    I expect they mostly source that stuff on demand and buy -after receipt- of the deposit (mostly ensuring that the customer won't change his mind again).

    If a builder has a year waiting list, it's not because he's starving for work. If you're not willing to pay to put your name on the list, that slot on the list will go to someone who is.

    Otherwise, you can go to the builder who has no waiting list, pay your deposit, and get your bass in a week - yes?
  3. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Let's say the builder has already set aside 'body' wood during the order process. And, he schedules October 20th for initial guitar body work. This means that on that day, he will have wood, and labor spent on the project. IMO, this is worth a deposit in advance.
  4. Most one man builders will acknowledge and are plenty of interviews out there to watch MTD, Schjold, Elrick, they can make about one instrument per week working a 40 hour week, you do the math.

    They also need non production time to sell basses, buy materials, do their books, etc... that is why they can only make a limited number in a year.

    You should be able to get a bass made in one month again if they are not juggling 10 others at the same time. The problem is production and small shops, etc... Mike from MTD said after they build X amount of basses they clean the whole shop turn it into a paint booth and paint X number at the same time, I'm sure they wait until they have many basses piling up before they do that.

    The builders make a bunch of blanks up front; bodies, necks, finger boards, etc... when you order most of the time all the parts are ready to build unless you have a special request.

    The reason it takes so long is because they have many basses ahead of yours and they are making 10 at a time.

    My point is don't give a deposit until they are almost ready to start yours 6 months from now and then you should get you bass in a month or two IMO.

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Tobias_Design

    Michael Tobias Design (MTD) is a Kingston, New York-based manufacturer of electric bass guitars founded by luthier Michael Tobias in 1994. Tobias, along with two part-time helpers, currently builds about 10 electric basses per month at his shop in Woodstock, New York.

    Which averages to 33.3 hour per based on a 80 hour production week for fifty weeks per year.
  6. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    A small deposit in order to be on the waiting list make sense to me so the builder know that I am serious about placing the order, another payment when builder is ready to work and he needs to buy the materials, remaining balance when the bass is completed and ready for shipping.
  7. low2groove

    low2groove Tyranis 4 / Lower Groove Guitars

    Jan 21, 2007
    My delivery time is 4-6 months and I get non-refundable 40% down. Once you have made the down payment you have 48 hours to cancel the entire order and receive a refund or change your mind on any specs and contact me with those changes. After that you are committed! Balance on the instrument is due in full before shipping.

    I don't use CNC machinery so your build time estimate is wrong. I'd say I put closer to 60 -80 hours into a build.

    Lower Groove Guitars
  8. What do you think about $250.00 to hold the spot and 40% when you actually start, balance before shipping. It's a bit better protect for the buyer.

    Does MTD use CNC, I know his necks are all by hand.
  9. Bump
  10. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
  11. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    What do you think about the customer checks the down payment policy of the builder and if he doesn't agree with it, he doesn't order an instrument ? Asking for a 40% deposit for a 3000 or more bass doesn't just insure the buyer is serious, it also insures, to a degree, that he has the money to pay the balance in full. It also helps with the payment of necessary materials to start the build.

    Yes, the Darrin Huff thing sucked for all involved, but there's no way to circumvent the deposit method, at least not with non repeat customers, to accomdate everyone. The customer has the luxury to check a builder's reputation beforehand to see if they are reliable, but the builder has no such protection toward the customer.
  12. In this country we have consumer protection laws and builders should use good business practices and only ask for reasonable deposits, maybe belong to the BBB, etc...

    Too many players get G.A.S. and forget to use common sense.

    I agree you should check out a builder but waiting a year for a One Man shop to make you a bass while he has your 1k, 2k etc... is INSANE IMO.

    Just the other week I did NOT order a bass from a great builder and nice guy because he wanted 1k now and said it's a one year wait. I was not comfortable with that even though I love his basses at some point common sense must take over the need to wait a year.

    To each his own.
  13. There aren't many builders with a good reputation that don't have a year wait.
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    This is wrong, a lot of time in the process of building a bass is spent waiting. So while 40-60 hours of actual labor have gone into a bass. There is a lot of down time while wood is in clamps waiting for glue to dry, or waiting on parts, and especially waiting for the finish to cure. It takes a solid month for a nitro finish to dry enough to start wet sanding and polishing.

    Not to mention there is a lot of time spent discussing the build with the customer, do you not think the builder should be compensated for that as well?

    Wrong, large production manufacturers build a bunch of neck and body blanks up front. If a one man operation taking custom orders did this, he would have money that he can't afford to loose tied up in a bunch of blanks that will possibly never get used. The point of a custom instrument, is that the customer can choose the wood combo, electronics, number of strings, and body shape that they want, with the builders input.

    I am just going to go ahead and say you have absolutely no idea as to what you are talking about. You have been watching to many reality TV shows where they build an entire car in a week, or completely remodel a house in two days. What you don't see is that the quality is extremely compromised, or the entire time frame is a lie. If you want quality its going to take time. You also have to take into account, that if mistakes are made they have to be corrected, or that sometimes what seems like a perfectly stable body or neck blank, can sometimes be anything but stable after it is cut. This means the builder has to start over, which comes out of his pocket.

    I think you should stick to buying off the shelf, because after reading this thread I wouldn't even except you as a customer, because you have unrealistic expectations.
  15. steelbed45

    steelbed45 TRemington Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2011
    Nolanville, TX
    Perhaps the builder's business is actually in equilibrium with what the market will bear here. Sounds like it.
  16. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    You also have the option of buying a used model of a custom bass. I've done that twice with great success. The bass may not be exactly what you might specify, but as with life in general, there are trade offs. Up to you to decide which trigger to pull.
  17. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    More like 10 cents. A handful of posts in the Darren Huff thread and now a brand new thread. If someone wants to put down a deposit and take their chances why are you getting so worked up about it?

    I wouldn't do it, but I wouldn't insult people that did, as you did in the other thread, "What IDIOTS would pay a one man builder in advance who takes more then a month or two to make you something and that has some risk to it." :rollno:
  18. Actually I own and owed a few basses custom ordered with no issues, Ken Smith, Mike Lull, Etc... These bases took a couple months not a year. I went to Kens and picked out my own wood etc... and gave him the normal deposit but again 2-3 months not a year and I was also close enough the Smith factory I could go there if there was a problem.

    If you must wait a year that is fine, just do not pay a big deposit until they are actually working on your bass. Small deposit no issues. Talk to the builder a reasonable one would understand the concerns.
  19. I think its a good topic and people could benefit from being smart consumers. .25 cents
  20. I was in a Wedding Band. We did well; we also required 50% down. It was required at the time of booking, not the week before, or just before we started.
    Maybe it is not analogous, maybe it is close.

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