What Annoys You Most ???

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rickbass, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the relationship between a client and a luthier has to be one of delivering what is expected, (on the luthier's end), and one of not jerking around the luthier, (on the customer's end).

    I believe a good relationship with the client and the luthier produces a better instrument.

    So, what I'm asking with this thread is - What really ticks you off so that you just want to get a client's instrument off of your bench ???

    I know your name is your reputation, but it seems to me you wouldn't go "the extra mile" for a someone who treated you poorly.

    In other words - luthiers' bitch session.
  2. M_A_T_T


    Mar 4, 2004
    What bugs me are rude potential customers. When people are like that I just say I'm busy with other work, or something.

    What also bugs me are people that think I work for cheap. The instruments I've sold have sold for not alot of money, even custom orders. I'm trying to get away from that and sell for higher, build my rep., but I get people thinking they can have a custom hand built version of a Warwick for about half the cost, for example.
  3. something that gets a bit annoying is when a younger player contacts you to price out a bass with some completely off the wall specs, and when you finally take the time to actually do all of the research and give them an answer they say "thanks! i don't have any money, but i'll keep it in mind."
    tjclem likes this.
  4. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    It does really help the final result if the customer has a very good idea of what they want. Not that I find it annoying in any way, but I've talk to many, many potential customers who really have no idea of what they want. I then have to guide them through different wood ideas and such, with questions around overall sound that they're going for, etc. This can mean even having them give me examples of songs that they like the sound of the bass in, what style of music do they play the most, do they want dark, deep lows with growl or a bright bass that will cut through when slapping etc? It also involves questions around cosmetics. Do they tend to like darker woods, fancy woods, lighter colored woods, etc? Of course, I view this as one of the many services that a custom builder should provide. My ownly complaint around all this is that I have had a few customers who have said "I don't know, just do what you do best and build it....". Well, if the customer doesn't really know what they want they might not be happy with what they get if I build it for what I would like!

    I really don't mind potential customers who are window shopping, it goes with the territory for ANY sales job, and for us smaller builders who don't sell through Guitar Center or Musicians Friend, we have to act as sales people as well as builders. Most sales jobs have a low % return on customers who actually end up spending money. My wife is in real estate and it is amazing how many contacts she has to make to eventually get a house listed for sale, or people who call about buying a house and she'll spend a few weeks putting together CMA's and taking them out and then they end up not buying anything (well then, we'll think about it and call you back...).

    What I find most annoying is if I make a small mistake that I could have easily prevented. I'm pretty hard on myself, and most people would never notice these things unless I was to point them out, and even then they might not, but I get really P-O'ed at myself for small mistakes when working.

  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I read an article about luthiers that pretty much says whay you say --- sometimes, a luthier will find, at the completion of an instrument, that they have just worked for minimum wage if you do the math with the dollars/hours/materials. :eek:
    tjclem likes this.
  6. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    As a related side note to this thread, in my previous thread from last fall where I introduced my new new designs, at one point someone said I should make the bottom of the bass (the bridge end) look like a womans butt... (fyi... that thread is here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=106238)

    Well, I recently had a guy who wanted just that! He had drawn up a bass body on an old garage sale sign that was as close to the shape of his girlfriends butt as he could get it.

    Sheesh.... I told him I could do it, but that once I started on it his deposit would not be refundable, should he decide he didn't want it or couldn't afford it or whatever until I was able to finish the bass and sell it first. I never got a deposit from him.... I wasn't so sure I wanted to put my logo on it either! :smug:

  7. I've only had 3 paying customers so far but I've done more free work than that as part of my apprenticeship.

    What annoys me is how no matter how stoked I am with a design or overall project AND enjoy creating it, by the time I'm done, I want to simply throw a hammer at it and quit. :meh:

    I haven't experienced this only with basses. It happened when I built my racecars. They were gems in their own right but I could hardly stand to look at them for quite awhile after finishing.
  8. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    It's not just you. When I build an instrument it gets so far into my head that by the time it's finished all I can see is the mistakes. It takes me quite a while to regain objectivity to the point where I can actually believe a compliment.
  9. i'm right there with both of you hambone and timmy b. sometimes it gets to be that the most exciting parts of making them are starting them initially and then getting them the hell out of your face and to the customer. in between it can get a bit nerve wracking to constantly focus in on mistakes. i'm always wanting to just go to the next one.

    i've also found that i've made myself very neurotic about making basses and entering into it as a business. i visit talkbass all the time while at my day job, and if i'm not doing that i'm going to other luthiers' sites or thinking about my own various projects. it's enough to make you crazy. especially since it seems like every bass player in the world is attempting to make one themselves.
  10. M_A_T_T


    Mar 4, 2004
    With the amount of profit I have made off my instruments, I have been working for only a couple bucks an hour...but I like the work.

    That's annoying too. I had a guy once call me thinking he could get a custom flat-top mandolin outta me for $200CDN! :eyebrow:
  11. MattS


    Jan 17, 2011
    Milford, CT
    I have a good relationship with all of my customers. All are very loyal, easy-going, and appreciative. However, I have one customer now that is annoying the hell out of me! Long story short, I'm re-tolexing his marshall cab, but it took a lot of time to research what was needed (didn't like the old glue, screws would be better than those rivets, white piping?, etc...), and he wanted to save as many parts as possible to save money, but that wasn't possible for most of this because the parts on it were plastic and broken or very rusty. My time line has been a little off; I was sick with allergies for a while, and I've been busy trying to find a new full-time job (I do instrument repairs as a side hobby thing in my spare time, almost like a part-time job outside my full-time job). He didn't give me the cab until two months ago, he didn't decide on the parts until a month ago and I didn't receive them until a couple weeks ago, and it's also a lot of work. The original glue is very thick and gooey. After the delay, I told him that this will take longer than anticipated but it won't add to the cost/quote I originally told him. I also told him that I can only work on this on the weekends and that I'd keep him posted. He was cool with that. Right now the cab is 90% stripped and clean, I just have to strip a few edges, then I cut the new tolex and glue it on, screw in the new parts, put the speakers back in and it's done. BUT he's been texting me every few days with "how's the cab?" since he dropped it off and it's annoying. At one point I told him "if you are not happy with the progress, please pick up your cab and take it somewhere else", I know for a fact that IF he took it anywhere else it would cost him way more and it will take longer. That seemed to shut him up a bit, but I'm on this thread today because he texted me again asking about it today. I've never had a customer be this annoying, he didn't give a deadline, he didn't give a deposit/I didn't ask for one because I didn't think he'd be this annoying, he said "take your time" cuz he's not in a band not playing shows, I've done all the necessary steps and have worked on it a lot since the plan was set. The cab was pretty beat and has been toured with, he basically wants the cab to look new in case he wants to sell it and/or have to use. It's going to look amazing when it's done, I just want him to stop annoying me. At one point he was texting me asking about it while I was in the middle of working on it, so I had to stop and tell him. I don't really know how much longer it's going to take, i'll likely be working on it more tonight and tomorrow, but I'm sick of hearing my phone buzz and then I look at it and it's him haha. Any advice? Thank you for reading.
  12. Jisch

    Jisch Supporting Member

    I have only built two basses to a customer's specifications, I have turned down twice that many. Both of my custom builds have been awesome experiences for me - collaborative and creative, hopefully I can continue that streak by vetting out potential customers. The ones I turned away were far too specific (about weird things) and demanding, I just got a bad vibe and thinking ahead to the build gave me a headache. I have a very stressful job, I build basses for fun hopefully I can keep it that way.
    Dadagoboi likes this.
  13. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Wow zombie thread! To answer your question @MattS, if I were you, I'd stop, make a solid calculation as to when it would be done, and then give him that date. Then, don't talk about it anymore, just keep referring him back to that date, and make darn sure you finish by that date. I'd suggest padding it a bit too. No one likes to get something late, but early is usually a nice surprise and welcome...
    Dadagoboi and Will_White like this.
  14. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    I'm not a luthier, but I do work on basses alot for extra income.
    What makes me want to throw the bass and the player out is disrespect.
    And considering its not my business or livelihood I need to worry about, I have.
  15. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    I'll say it... cheapo's. The guys that expect you to toil over an instrument for 40-50 hours and expect you to charge 200 bucks over your material costs. I pull those weed quickly with a high price just to make them go away. Or hey bro can you build a bass exactly like a Fender? I have no response for that other than a face in hand movement..
    MattS likes this.
  16. Jisch

    Jisch Supporting Member

    At the present time I'm pricing way too low, and I'm ok with that, hobby-ist rates. I'm just looking to fund the next build.
    MattS likes this.
  17. earlysecond


    Jan 26, 2016
    I'm not even close to being there yet (cannot be considered a builder of guitars). I DO have the problem, glad it is not just me, every scratch built I have done (on #4) all that I can see is the flaws. This may prevent me from ever selling a single thing. Nobody else sees the flaws (well on real luthier does sometimes) but they glare at me. How does one overcome this??? It is maddening and I brought this weakness over from painting cars and probably every other thing I have done. Too high a personal expectation for perfection.

    Secondly I can see that I may end up with the gripe. . . once you build something custom you are married to it for life. What methods, other than the obvious aspect of quality can help to overcome this.

    I will share that I have slowed a bit on builds and posting because while my work is improving, there a flaws in my final products which make them less than a joy to play.

    • Dodgy Electronics
    • Less than nice fretwork (discovered it only after I played it a lot BUT it was my first attempt in fairness to myself)
    • Minor design flaws that can turn out to be major sound/durability flaws
    • List is longer but these are the worst.

    OK so my post likely does not belong here but it does feel good to vent to those in the know.

    I will turn the post back to the original intent then sign off.. .

    When I have done other paying hobbies, I grew very irritated with customers on one issue- scope creep AFTER I bid a project. So when I was repairing or painting cars for friends they would say something like "hey, while you have the paint mixed up to finish my bumper cover will you please just paint that door ding on the driver's door?" I finally got to the point I would just say, "No, sorry can't JUST do that as it is not how it works"

    So if I ever build a custom and the customer comes back with, "hey before you finish that up can we make it fretless, I changed my mind?" Thinking my response is going to be "No, sorry not doable"

  18. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    You can't overcome it, to do so would be settling, which is something you should never do. The only way to beat it is to improve, which will come with time/experience.

    It probably really doesn't feel like it, but it's actually an asset that A) you can see the flaws and B) they bother you, as it will encourage you to build better instruments (or just quit!) and not settle for second best. Keep striving for perfection and you will eventually get there, or very close to. Only when you start consistently building instruments you are happy with is when you are ready to set up as a business in my opinion.

    You can of course go too far the other way, when the most tiny/microscopic flaws makes you tear your hair out...that right there is my world! But I wouldn't change it, as it ensures as close to perfection as possible.

    I think that was still on topic enough!
  19. earlysecond


    Jan 26, 2016
    Thanks Manton! Means a lot. I WILL continue to improve and likely cannot, in good conscience, sell anything to anybody yet. I will say that my latest neck, number 5 but the 3rd usable one is a huge improvement on even the last one so I am happy. I am also learning that I need to be much more intentional and take my time.

    I'm sure it is a challenge and am sure that customers really add to that challenge! Someday, I will likely find out!
    Manton Customs likes this.
  20. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    scope creep, or 'significant' changes after a project is bid and the deposit is received. it may not seem obvious to a non-builder that changing out a preamp or bridge, or changing the hardware color before the originally specified parts are installed could really be that big of a deal, but if your first part is something I don't use on my stock builds somebody has to eat the cost for a part that was ordered soon after receiving the deposit and now will just sit in a drawer until I give it away to somebody.