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luthiering as a MAIN carrer?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jordan_frerichs, Oct 11, 2009.


  1. jordan_frerichs

    jordan_frerichs

    Jan 20, 2008
    Nebraska
    i am a junior in high-school and i have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what i want to do with my life. my most unique skill-in-progress is luthiering. I want to continue making instruments and selling them and making custom instruments for people, but i am not sure if money wise, that would be enough to support myself. i am wondering if it will just be something i do on the side for extra money, and for fun as a hobby. i am wondering if it is only possible as a main career, if you are one of the famous well known builds. like Micheal Tobias, or something.

    what are my chances? To all the tb members that regularly build custom instruments for others, do you currently do other jobs than building instruments, or is that all you need to do to have enough money to get by comfortably?
     
  2. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    The field is highly competitive and the markup is low. In short, it takes major volume and a market edge in order to make significant money.

    Its the kind of thing that I would not steer you away from, but it something you do on the side until the side becomes so big it consumes everything else and becomes your main focus.

    A career in carpentry or cabinetmaking might be a step in the right direction, however I can tell you from experience that the last thing I wanted to do after coming home from a day of carpentry was to even look at a piece of wood. :D

    You're a young man Jordan and you have a lot of time to decide what to do. By the time I was 25 I'd worked at half a dozen careers and I thought I'd do all of them forever. Statistically, the days of a person choosing a job and working at it until retirement are next to nil. The average person born after 1980 will have four careers before retirement (age). Retirement too is a soon-to-be forgotten notion, and you can thank your grandparents/baby boomers for that one. They've killed the future of 1950's thinking.

    This is a long diatribe to tell you not to resign yourself to any one thing forever because that tack is not correlated with career satisfaction by a long stretch. That said, if you like something, go with it, you'll never succeed at something you don't love, or at least its easier to succeed at something you love...
     
  3. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Well I can't give you much help here as I'm only a senior but....I'm planning on becoming a full-time luthier. I'm going to a 4-year for a degree in electrical engineering, so I can fully understand the electrical goings-on behind the guitar and amp (I'm not planning on restricting myself to only basses, or instruments for that matter - watch for custom pedals and amps), and also trumpet performance, because, well I also really love to play trumpet and I'm much better at at then I am at bass, and you can make just as good money playing horn in bands and I've got a better chance at it. But that's more of a side-thingy, what I really want to DO as a career is build instruments.

    Unfortunately for you just wasted a bunch of time reading that, because I don't really have much to tell you. It's just that, for me, the money side of it is not really important; I know that I am going to love doing this career, and that's what matters. I'd much rather live in a tiny apartment without cable, and spend my days working on beautiful instruments than have an expensive place with a cozy and incredibly boring day job. Several years ago, it was quite plain to me that I was a musician, and would be for life. At the same time I realized that I would very probably be bordering on poverty for most if not all of my life. And that thought has never bothered me.
     
  4. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Melvyn Hiscock said it best; "if you want to make a small fortune as an instrument builder, start out with a large fortune".

    Keep doing it as a hobby, but persue something that will give you the ability to support yourself, and if the hobby takes off into a full time business, then you have put yourself in good position to succeed, if it stays a hobby, then you are still enjoying it, but are not saddled to it for your lifeblood. keep your options open.
     
  5. jordan_frerichs

    jordan_frerichs

    Jan 20, 2008
    Nebraska
    maybe doing it as my main thing would cause be to get burnt out. if i felt like taking a break from the project, as a hobby thing, i could, but as a career, i couldn't, so it would feel like it was draging on.
    either way, i will continue building as long as i can. i still don't know what i want to do, but i want it to be something meaningful and fulfiling. something that has an impact on things, that changes things, makes them better. something that helps people. that doesn't sound like bass building
     
  6. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    As a luthier you can impact peoples lives, make their lives easier, or more fulfilling, it's all about perspective. Anything you do will impact something, it is up to you weather what you do makes things better or worse. The path you travel can be that of many men doing the works of the prophetic, or that of one on an journey of discovery. Your quest is to find the path that best suits you.
     
  7. jordan_frerichs

    jordan_frerichs

    Jan 20, 2008
    Nebraska
    thank you for that advice. the bass that someone plays, is mearly a tool, through wich to express thereselves. i can't see how a custom bass could do an extremely good amount for someone. they are great to have, but more of a luxery. the bass doesn't make the music. the player does.

    I still blame you for the snow:D
     
  8. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I think blame is the wrong word here. Here in Wisconsin we APPRECIATE our snow, unlike you ungrateful twerps in Colorado 'n stuff.

    But that's a different thread......what are you thinking, trying to derail your own thread??!?!?!?!
     
  9. jordan_frerichs

    jordan_frerichs

    Jan 20, 2008
    Nebraska
    i am in nebraska. the name of my state literally translates to "flat land" its not like i can go sleding in it or something. my main outdoor fun is parkour, wich can't really be done in winter too well

    u r right tough BACK TO TOPIC. lets blame musiclogic in another thread :)
     
  10. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    The carpenter makes the furniture, or the building, but the tools provide the vehicle to create something bigger, better, or more precise. Like I said, it's all perspective. What you choose to do is you path, how you choose to do it is your goal, and who or what you effect through your actions will be determined by those you effect, you have very little control on how great or minimal the impact is, but you have all control of the intent. This is the most you can ask. Read Sun Tzu......"the Art of War" it will open your mind to many viewpoints you may never thought of. We as human being impact many things in ways we never imagine.

    As for the snow....My wife says I have a god complex.....I say what Complex? thus I will accept blame for snow.
     
  11. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Hmmmmmm....Swissconsin......Chedderomania.......The land of CHEEEEEESE!!!!!! I love cheese, and those wonderful little packages of curds you find in every store in Swissconsin. HAvarti to ya.:help: I just couldn't resist....LMAO
     
  12. jordan_frerichs

    jordan_frerichs

    Jan 20, 2008
    Nebraska
    dude, that really makes me think. i want you to know that i greatly appreciate it. i am going to write that down
     
  13. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    I already wrote it down, you just need to copy and paste to print;):D.....LOL
    Always glad when I can lend a thought.:hyper:
     
  14. Rocky McD

    Rocky McD

    Jun 28, 2005
    San Antonio, Texas
    Builder,mcdcustomguitars
    From personal experience I can tell you that the best way to ruin a wonderful hobby is to start doing it professionlly, yet, life is much better if you love what you do for a living. Do your luthier work as a growing hobby with hopes that someday you can make a living at it. In the meantime, work in a field that furnishes you a decent living and a field that is related to your luthier work. I spent 35 years restoring automobiles and much of that knowledge has carried over to building and restoring guitars.
     
  15. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Well, if we're recommending depth-opening authors now, read Plato, Descartes, Kant, Hume, Habermas & Foucault. Then read Margaret Mead, Jung, Beck and the DSM-IV. The former I read as a kid, the latter I wish I had - you're a person spiraling about in thousands of intertwining systems, and you'll work with people within systems, its easier if you have a familiarity with perspectives on how they work...
     
  16. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    Your chances of being successful enough to make a comfortable living at it are low. Of course, if you're smart enough and have some business sense you could build it up to where you're turning out enough basses with the help of a few guys working under you to get by okay. Pay the rent on your shop, pay your workers, buy tools, keep them in good repair and even draw a salary yourself. But then you'd no longer be doing one of a kind custom basses.

    Figure out how long it takes you to make one good bass and then see how much money you can realistically charge for it.

    But as a hobby that pays for itself and gives you a lot of pleasure it'd be great to do.
     
  17. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    It was much more fun as a hobby thankfully the wife has a decent job. Now when she retires in a year that will be when it hits the fan.....:(......t
     
  18. Lutherie is a fine main career - as long as you have a better paying, full-time main career to go with it.
     
  19. Sardine

    Sardine

    Feb 2, 2009
    Maine
    Quite a few doomsayers here. I personally know three full time luthiers, and I live very close to the Bourgois workshop. The three I know make a good living and have very impressive waiting lists. I'm currently studying with one of them, and I am seriously considering trying to make a career out of lutherie. So I would say go for it. Would you rather be part of a corporate "bigger picture", or craft instuments that have material worth? Think about it.
     
  20. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    Go for it while your young and don't have a lot of bills. That would make it much easier, family and bills make things much harder.
     

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