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How do you work with a custumer?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jordan_frerichs, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    so i finished my first, and have started on my second. my science teacher saw what i was working on, and said he will pay me to make him a bass. he dosen't play yet, but he wants to learn, and really likes the idea of having his bass be made by a student. obviosly he doesn't know exactly what he wants, and i have never made a bass for someone other than myself. What should i ask, to find the thingd best suited for him? i don't know how much to charge for the labor (don't want to rip he or myself off). i am wondering how u work with your customers on making them custum basses. btw, i'm very exited about this:hyper:!
  2. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    ask him what records he likes the bass tone on.

    i think the best way to start is with a p/j set up. you have the best of both words as far as tone goes. if his hands are small, set it up with a jazz neck, big hands give him a p neck.

    also, charge him $100 above the price of the gear and then ask him for an A.
  3. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    So $100 for labor, or parts price + $100+ labor? he has pretty good sized hands. i don't like special sets much (not a fan of the bridge j, neck j is cool though). i have always wanted to try a special j, like a neck j, and then a p at the bridge.
  4. Ask for half of the price up front too, the first guitar I ever built for someone they decided that they couldnt afford it when it was finished.... Try to settle on what he wants to spend and make a binder full of pictures with hardware and with wood choices, especially for the top. Or if you have a computer in your class use that to show him some stuff.

    Its a good idea to make up a business card of some sort to give to him. If someone ever sees the work you do he can very easily give them the card and get yourself another client
  5. Yvarg

    Yvarg Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Irvine, CA
    +1 on getting half the money up front; especially being a student. That way you can buy most of the required parts right away and not have to wait around until you have enough money to buy what's needed (the major reason that my first build took nine months instead of three or four).
  6. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    right. thanx. i had not though of that. i work min wage at burger king and it is a pain in the ass waiting for cash for parts.
  7. I would use soapbars because if he decides he wants some other sort of tone at a later date, anything could be put in that shape.
  8. rokkitt


    Jun 7, 2007
    bronx, nyc
    hey, dont undercharge

    you are making a handmade product

    dont cheat yourself......shoot high!

    you can always come down in price....

    good luck!

  9. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses
    Make sure he understands you haven't built many instruments and you're still learning. If he's fine with that, ask for more than $100 on top of the parts. It will cost you more than that for the perishables alone (lacquer, sandpaper, tools?...)

    You don't want to build a whole instrument for free right? but at the same time you can't really ask for pro wages. It's not an easy task to decide what your time is worth when you start. Make a lot of calculations to find out what the instrument will cost, what money you should make and what amount of money you need to have in case something goes horribly wrong and you need to rebuild some parts. You never know.
  10. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    don't trust soaps. like to stick with the p j and mm
  11. Hey Jordan, Im just an amateur builder, but I guess you need to be careful that you make the bass for the customers needs and not your own. If soaps, for example, are what the customer needs, then thats what may need to go in.

    But only if thats what he needs :)

    I guess theres that old problem of the integrity of the artist vs the needs of the customer. Rather you than me dude :D
  12. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Dont trust soaps?:confused: :eyebrow:
  13. He's a student....I think he meant that he doesn't trust soap in general. :smug:

    +1 on letting him know that this will be only the second bass you've ever built, and it will look like it. If I were a student in your position, I'd build him a parts bass.
  14. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    Just FYI, soapbars are just a pickup casing shape. Inside a soapbar can be single coils, humbuckers, P, reverse P, whatever.
  15. Lee Barker

    Lee Barker Labor of evident value satisfies the soul. Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2005
    Redmond, Oregon
    owner, Barker Musical Instruments, maker of the Barker Bass, No Longer In Production.
    Two thoughts for you: No, three.

    First of all, it's first a student-teacher relationship, now morphing into customer-craftsman. It will be hard work to keep them separate, but please try.

    Second, you could be famous one day. That should go into the cost calculus. And sign and number your work.

    Third, to reduce the stress, build two identical basses at the same time. In the end, you'll be able to present him with the better of the two, you'll have another to sell (or keep for yourself), and you'll not have to "go back and start over" if a router slips for an instant. Oh, and you'll learn more than twice as much by building a pair.

    OK, a fourth. He isn't yet a bassist. He doesn't know what he wants, prefers, or likes, electronic wise. It takes years to develop the discernment of tone. So take a simple electronic setup that you prefer to do, and recommend it as "a good starting point in your education as a bassist." He's the customer, yes, but he's clearly not the expert--you are, so wear that hat!
  16. skiscem

    skiscem Supporting Member

    can you post a picture of the first bass you made? i am just curious :)
  17. OtterOnBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    Have him play the bass you already made and see if he wants it just the same. If there's something he wants different only give him two or three options. This gives him some input while keeping your experience with the instrument as a guide.
  18. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    +1 - Jordan, I'd seriously consider the parts bass option as your first customer build. Further, I'd keep it fairly simple. If he's never played bass, I'd probably recommend either a P- or a MM-style bass, 4 strings. Single pickup basses are easy for a beginner to navigate, have a good balanced tone, and will be useful to learn on. Also, my first was a P-bass, and I'm kinda partial to them ;)

    Believe it or not, I'd consider practicing using the Saga P-bass kits, and replacing the pickups with something better. The body comes sealed, but would require a finish, so you'd get practice there, and they are VERY inexpensive. Here's a little write-up of a Saga build.

  19. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    he wants a single-cut. for pickups i am thinking passive p or j, with or without wood covers. thanx on the tip of having a duplicate. i am kind of doing that. my own personal bass i am doing is a single cut as well. i figure i will do a step on mine, look it over for error in craftsmanship, and learn from that and do it better on his.
  20. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    ok, he said he wants a 4 string singlecut and the woods to be split down the center line, one half bloodwood, the other maple, and the sides to swap on the wooden pup cover and fretboard. he said he likes the way the bass sounds in a lot of music by Disturbed, so i guess that means i am going with a ray pup. i will do it passive since he is a begginer.

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