So I've built my business from the ground up after years of apprenticeship and have acquired much skill and knowledge,but sometimes I struggle with what to charge, especially with basket cases like the guitar that just came into my shop.


It's a US made Kramer strat style with Floyd Rose trem, two humbuckers, three way switch and a coil tap switch.


The issues:  1. Separated fingerboard (rosewood) from nut to 2nd fret, and warped.  2.  Refret needed.  3. Neck attachment holes stripped and need plugged/redrilled.  4. The previous wire job is a shambles and needs a complete rewire with 3 new pots.  5.  Setup action n'at....


I'm interested in hearing back from established luthiers in the US on how you price out your work.  Of course you're all welcome to chime in no matter what country you live in!


be blessed,



Views: 136

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Chris has left some very good advice.

- Steve
As per Frank: Charge what you have to pay, in your area, for professional work, a la auto mechanic, plumber, etc.

This job could turn into a tarpit gig, be not afraid, to walk away from it!
Hi Gregory, hours worked is a good way to work out an eventual unit pricing for standard procedures - We know how long most things take and the degree of expertise required (which has a price premium) and publish a price list based on how much each particular service/procedure is.

Very easy to charge a customer who is looking at a black and white published list - he knows just how much he is up for and has faith that your quote will be ballpark. For a working example:

Our book tally would go in $AUD:
1. Clean reglue fingerboard separation: $30
2. Refret (board level and true/reradius included) unbound RW $300
3. Bore out and plug neck holes/refit neck. $15 per hole
4.3 new pots (CTS) $26.50
5.Replace existing wiring $30
6. restring and setup (Floyd rose/locking nut) $75
So by itemizing we come up with around $520 which is a base line figure with all going well. This may be more than the guitar is worth. Commercial technician rates in Australia are $90 per hour.

Hope this is of assistance,
Some times no matter what you charge you lose.

I am not a electriction and I won't change parts but if it is just a simple thing I may try. I had a guitar that I sold several years ago that had the end pin came loose and the owner tryed to fix it and just ruined the jack so I said I would work on it but after resoddering the jack and later replacing it with a new one,I got serious and found the controls were the fault so I could not charge him what I would like but after I sold him a new one be band system I got rid of it.

The other day a man brought in a L 48 Gibson that 40 years ago the owner refinished it and it should have been burnt then but some years later it was used to hammer some ones head in with so the rim needs replaced. It is mostly gone with the neck and end block holding it to gather. The only thing not messed up is the gibson logo. So I have that to start with. I told him it waould take about $2000.00 and he said sounds good to him and gave me one half down and said no hurry. Any one want to come help me for a while?

As a lot of people seem to do here, I display a 62€ per hour rate in my shop, and calculate standard prices for standard procedures. For example, a refret on a bound fingerboard is 200€ including final setup and cleaning. For what's needed on this guitar I could charge (without seeing it, so I may be wrong) :
- unglued finger board 20 minutes
- neck attachement holes 20 minutes
- complete rewiring 30 to 60 minutes

I always make my prices like this.

VERY IMPORTANT : compare the time you sold and the time you really spend on a guitar, so that in the future you can fine tune your prices and not lost money.
I base my rates on $60 per hour. With flat rates on certain items. Saying no is an art form that certainly needs to be done.

However, I do offer at my own discretion a lower rate for young people, but they have to wait. That way I can take on some of these type of basket cases at my own pace. These customers grow fast and soon become loyal adult full rate customers because I helped them out when they were younger. This has paid off in the long run.

This does stem from personal experience. Way back in the mid 1970's I took my guitar to the only 'Luthier' in town. He took one look at my beautiful Japanese junk guitar insulted it and then slammed the door on me. Ouch! I went home and fixed it myself - and here I am today.
Dear Tom, Pierr-Antoine, Ron, Rusty, Jeffery, Steve, and Chad:

Thanks for your input on pricing. Seems that the majority of you charge based on hourly rates, which I agree is a good place to start. I also feel that regardless of the time, my (our) pricing should also be based on ability to do it right and stand behind the work. For instance I reglued the loose fingerboard and figured $30 for that, even though it took me all of 10 minutes. At any rate, (no pun intended) I ended up charging the guy $455 for the whole ball of wax. He came to pick it up last week, and just about pee'd his pants with excitement when he saw and played the repaired guitar. He was so impressed with my work that he gave me an extra $50 tip. I need more customers like him! Hopefully he'll spread the word about me here in the Atlanta area, then I can quit my day job! peace, littleguitargreg
In this case, charge by the hour and give a high estimate.

Learn to say no, and find some young wannabe to send jobs to.
I charge $250 for a fret job $275-$300 if it has binding on the neck.$60 +parts to rewire $50-$75 to fill and re-drill neck sound like the fingerboard separation /warp could have some truss rod issue like it was over tightened but $30- $50 just to glue it


© 2023   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service