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How Many Kits Are Sold Each year?
Author
Post
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3594
How many kits do you guys think might be sold each year by the "Big 3," and by John Hall and Steve Kovacik, etc. Just curious .. I asked Tom Erlewine the question once, and he said that Stewmac doesn't like to give up that information ... so he declined to answer. I have a feeling the info is not divulged by any of them, since the are private companies and have no good reason to tell anyone.

Anyway, what kinds of quantities would you guys think they might sell? I'm just curious about how big a market kit guitar is -- I don't think it's very big, but I certainly could be wrong.

Hundreds of kits sold each year? Thousands? ??

What's your guess?

Jul 01, 07 | 1:33 pm
leftykitman

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 137
My guess Bill is that because of YOU basically kit guitar building has taken off and that's the reason for all this scarcity of wood.Really it's probably in the hundreds all put together.I might not post alot but I do browse here faithfully every day.
paul

Jul 01, 07 | 4:27 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Ha! -- thanks, Paul, for the badly needed laugh today!

I only wish I had enough time and resources to build that many kits! I would then learn quickly and soon be building as beautifully as you do. Seriously, what envy I have to supress, of your building skills. I am serious in the KitGuitarBuilder site where I say I haven't built anything since 7th grade woodshop. So, it's an uphill battle, learning woodworking, tools, and guitar building all at the same time. But, heck, what else would I be doing?

Anyway, thx for the response.

Bill

Jul 01, 07 | 4:38 pm
Ted

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 158
Gee Bill,
I have no idea. I don't know anyone (except the folk here) that has built one before, infact I don't know anyone who had even heard of guitar kits before I told them about it. I'd guess a thousand or so at least - there has to be more of us freaks out there. For everyone we see on the boards there would be a couple of lurkers.
I will however reflect Paul's comment. I would NEVER have attempted my first kit had it not been for this and its sister site.

Jul 02, 07 | 2:38 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
That's interesting, Ted. That's been my experience, too. Only about two people I've ever told about guitar kits has ever heard of them before.

I guess I was the same way. I never knew they existed until about 4 years ago.

Seems like more people would be interested if they knew about them.

Thanks guys.

Jul 02, 07 | 5:30 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
My guess is that there are two different visions of guitar kits. The most prevalent would be the concept of a guitar parts package – sort of like LMII has been doing for many years. The idea that a person can buy the stuff necessary to complete a guitar in one package is relatively new. Martin kits and their advertising (read the ad at Musician’s Friend) would lead you to believe that the experience would be the same as purchasing a R/C model airplane. To top it off the Martin (MF) ads infers that when you are done you will be a Luthier. Of course that is not the case. It is my belief that LMII , unlike Stew Mac and Martin, is not catering to the Newbie builder and their philosophy is more of a one stop-shopping concept. Bill as you know, I believe there is a need for something more comprehensive in the market place. Your question however, is very interesting; my very unscientific guess would be, only in the hundreds per month. I would base this on the fact that Martin (GMC) is very willing to sell off to third party re-sellers, the very parts that they use in their own kits. If a huge market were available for the parts package they certainly would not be doing this.

EBay has not helped the reputation of kit guitars, listing after listing for a kit built guitars invariably will note the problems at the neck joint, consequently the value is little, no matter how good the construction materials -- the public view is, it is a Kit guitar. It is my belief that this forum and Bill’s kitguitarbuilders site will go a long way to improve the image of Kit built guitars. The special person who wants to take on the challenge will be more willing to make the $$$ outlay with the added reassurance of help and documented successes. Way more than two cents!

Ken

www.kennethmichaelguitars.com

Jul 02, 07 | 7:15 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Thanks Ken -- good insight. I agree that something more comprehensive will help the marketplace for kits; yours will be part of that. I'm hoping my book (two weeks; fingers crossed) and the upcoming article in Acoustic Guitar magazine will raise the consciousness of kits as a potential quality alternative.

Do you really think it's hundreds per month? Any way you could pick some brains at Martin and find out some kind of figure for them?

Bill

Jul 02, 07 | 7:38 am
davidmor

Total Topics: 34
Total Posts: 567
I would be surprised if it were hundreds per month. Honestly, I would be surprised if it were over 100 a month. If you think about it, most people who buy a kit guitar will most likely do a bunch of research online. There is a very good chance that those people will stumble across this site, OLF, and Acoustic Guitar's forums to get questions answered as well as just talk guitars. Do you see the forum membership growing by that much every month? Admittedly there are probably quite a few kits that get sold that never end up being built. Actually, that probably represents a fairly significant percentage of the kits sold each year. I am thinking about adult children buying a kit for a parent who always wanted a guitar, people who buy them as gifts for others, and people who buy them, spend a few hours on it and realize they don't have the skills, patience, or tools to continue. Those are one time buyers.

You also have to define "kit" as Ken mentioned. When I think kit, I think something like a Stewmac kit. Other than glue, finishing supplies, tuners and strings, you can build a complete guitar straight out of the box. They have a very limited selection, and they have complete and detailed instructions based on what they supply in the box. Martin does the same, except the instructions are non-existant. I hesitate to call LMI's offerings a kit simply because every part can be substituted and many items can be deleted. You can also have LMI do all of the specialized work, some of it, or none of it. If you went with the manditory items only, you would have about 1/2 of a guitar. It is more like Ken said, a one stop shopping store. Their instructions are not very beginner friendly either. Out of the three though, LMI is heads and shoulders above the rest for the builder who has some building experience. If you have never done it before though, the "Kit Wizard" is a very intimidating thing for a first timer. I know, that is why I went with Stewmac for my first. I had no idea what 90% of the items listed on the Kit Wizard were, and I wasn't comfortable making selections with no understanding of what I was doing. The Kit Wizard is a wonderful thing for people like me who have a handful of builds under their belt and wants to order all the parts at one time in an organized way and at a discount. It also accomodates scratch builders like myself.

My guess, and this is purely a guess, is that adding LMI, Stewmac, and Martin together (that includes guys like John who sell Martin kits) would probably show somewhere just under 100 a month.

Interesting topic though, I would really like to know what the true number is!


Jul 02, 07 | 12:39 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
guitar kits have been going out since the 70's. Martin started them in Woodworkers Dream, then it was change to Guitar Makers Connection. WHile I can't say what the other 3 do I can tell you that I and Steve do about 300 kits a year and I know Martin has to do at least 4 times that amount
Kits have allways been a popular item. The web has really helped with information.
john hall

Jul 04, 07 | 2:12 pm
Dyflam

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 4
"... people who buy them, spend a few hours on it and realize they don't have the skills, patience, or tools to continue."

Oh man, I am so hoping I am not one of them. I have a feeling there are a couple different types of builders. Those who attempt and fail, those who attempt and succeed and quit, and those who succeed and continue on. Of the ones who continue on I would guess they attempt a few kit designs before moving on to true guitar building... ground up. What's my point? I don't know... just a noob guess.

Jul 27, 07 | 2:04 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I deal with over 100 kits a year and of them the unbuilt is actually a minority. Most of my customers will send pictures of the kits when they are completed. It is up to you if you finish it or not
john hall

Jul 28, 07 | 3:31 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Dyflam -- Go for it. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

I've talked with the people at woodworking shops in this area about kit guitars, and many of them have said they've thought a lot about building a kit, but hey weren't sure their skills are up to it. I am surprised that some of these guys who routinely make things from wood would feel that way. But then, a lot of them said they don't play the guitar anyway. Heck, if I didn't play, I don't know if I would care to build one either.

Maybe a lot of us here on the forum are more adventurous ... I don't know. It just isn't all that difficult to build a kit guitar if you can follow instructions and ask questions when help is needed -- even before this forum got started on other forums. (Though, interestingly, not that many of the guys on other forums have built kits either; they are more prevalently scratch builders, it seems.)

Just rambling
Bill

Jul 28, 07 | 3:32 am
davidmor

Total Topics: 34
Total Posts: 567
Hey, just because someone doesn't play doesn't mean they can't get hooked on guitar building! I never had any interest at all in guitars or playing for that matter until I built my first kit. Once that was built, I was hooked on building them. But it still took me almost 4 complete builds before I finally got the bug and got serious about learning to play the darned things. I am now just as interested in learning to play as building them.

Now if I could just get this dag-nabbed fingers to do what I want them to do!

BTW, I have to thank Gerald Sheppard for getting me interested in this journey. I saw his article in Woodcraft magazine last year and that is what got me going. I had been searching for years to find something to use all my woodworking tools on that could possibly turn into a source of income when I get too old to do what I do for a living now (which is coming a lot faster than I care to admit). I saw the cover with a picture of a beautiful neck joing and it was like a 2x4 smacked me across the forehead. I literally saw the picture and said out loud "That's it!" My wife kind of looked at me like I had gone looney, but when I explained what I wanted to do, she got right on board and has been extremely supportive. I bought my first kit and there has been no turning back. I still have a ton to learn and experience, but I am more excited today about guitars than I was that day I got my first Stewmac package in the mail.

Whoops, I went waaayyyy off topic there didn't I!

My Blog


Jul 28, 07 | 10:58 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
David -- I didn't mean to demean woodworkers who don't play at all. However, you must admit that most woodworkers who don't play guitar aren't all that interested in building one. I think you're a rarity. When Woodcraft magazine contacted me to write a companion article to Gerald's interview in that issue, one of their instructions to me was: "Write it for woodworkers who probably have no interest at all in building a guitar and know nothing about the field." So, maybe they gave me that first impression that chair and table builders, and pen turners, don't really care much about guitars.

Heck, not that they can't build great guitars without playing them! After all, look at yours-- they're WAY prettier than mine!

As far as playing, I'm not at all surprised that you got the bug ... but I am surprised it took "almost 4 complete builds" before it happened!

Peace.

Bill

Jul 29, 07 | 6:55 am



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