So after 10 years of working factory jobs save for a precious few at Huss and Dalton, I had a long wait list and was building guitars full time. The wait list grew to 80 in two years, and even though I have a real shop and Phil and Smithers are helping me the wait list is about 100. How?
- Play your own game, but build what people expect. I tried metal bodied resonators because it popped in my head. Then I saw that the handmade guitar thing was really just about wood body acoustics. Sure there is that factory out west, but it’s a factory. It was hard to find the individual builders, even though there are a few stellar ones. Resonators are traditionally accepted and the human connection to the people who play them was in short supply.
- Market Share- I hate the handmade schtick of “this has been bespoken by my hands using the most exclusive bullshit, I’ve been doing it for a year, and only make them while the moon is full, pay me $$$$”. Schtick is artificial value. The reason for keeping things traditional was I wanted to keep my price down (the first four years these started between $1100 and $1800), which meant I had to build a lot of them so I needed to build something a lot of people wanted to buy. This is the balancing between creative inspiration and building what people want. This restriction is a GOOD THING. It is a great thing. It focused my energy into something that has been a part of many more people’s music than if I just did what I wanted to. This is the entire point. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU (the builder). This is not about The Guitar. This is about getting things to people that inspire them. Bob Taylor said, “Quantity is just as important as quality.” There’s a lesson to be learned there.
- Put yourself out of work. Don’t just jump. If it’s not really working as a side job why would it work if you made the leap? It’s totally cool having an awesome supplemental gig. In a culture of biggest and best I think we fool ourselves into wanting things that are actually not what we want.
- Deposits -Subsidize yourself. In the beginning I had deposits and I used that as a loan to myself to buy the tools I needed. Use separate accounts, don’t be a dummy. Pay yourself back.