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Thread: Tipping a Luthier

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Tipping a Luthier

    I have a 1920(?) Gibson Oval A on loan from a friend who wants to sell it. It needs a bridge (probably) adjustment, the tuning pegs need lubrication and one or two of the peg heads is loose. I'm taking the mandolin to a luthier and will probably ask him about the instrument itself. I have no idea what he'll charge, but, I presume not much. What sort of tip is customary in this case?

    I tried researching the subject of luthier tips in the Cafe. Got lots of "tips," but saw nothing on tipping luthiers.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Absolutely and always. I tip heavy. Sometimes, I feel like my luthier is not charging what he should be. I make up the difference.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I usually "pay tribute" to my luthier. I just think of him as my instruments' doctor!

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    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I think its the right thing to do. Does hurt to make a luthier proud of what he does for his customers.

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    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    No particular percentage?

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I am not well to do. I assume my luthier charges me what he considers to be a reasonable fee. However, I'm all for those who have money sharing the wealth.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Money is always great, but sometimes it is just as nice to get a follow up call, text, photo or video from a happy customer....

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Absolutely and always. I tip heavy. Sometimes, I feel like my luthier is not charging what he should be. I make up the difference.
    I’ve been charged more than enough on some occasions.
    Play it like you mean it

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  14. #9

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I’ve been charged more than enough on some occasions.
    I guess I am fortunate.

    My husband tips the guys who do our lawn, snow removal and landscaping on both out properties (actually anyone who comes to the house to do work). When we need them, they always show up. We appreciate their work. The same goes for the luthiers.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  16. #10
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    As a luthier I can tell you that it is apparently not customary to tip a luthier. Once in a while someone pays me more than I ask for a repair, and even one or twice for a custom instrument, but it is certainly not the norm.

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  18. #11
    Registered User Kevin Stueve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Never tip a luthier more than 45 degrees or he will fall over
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

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    This Kid Needs Practice Bill Clements's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Nice of you to ask.
    Since most luthiers would not expect your kind gesture, whatever you think is fair would most certainly be appreciated.
    "Music is the only noise for which one is obliged to pay." ~ Alexander Dumas

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  22. #13
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I would venture to guess that luthiers are seldom tipped for regular repair work. For that matter, you seldom tip a car mechanic, a plumber, or an appliance repairman. Not that offering extra money is unwelcome, mind you -- it's just that it's not really customary and expected.

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  24. #14
    Registered User poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Tipping? He has a business and charges whatever he finds necessary. I like the Chinese way: They consider tipping condescending and insulting.

    I once was in China with some colleagues and a girl from the hotel offered to show us around. At the end of the day, they offered her some money and she was deeply hurt, "I thought we were friends" she said.

    Ask for his/her price and pay. If you really like the guy, give him/her a gift.
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    My luthier doesn't charge enough. I usually pay more. He goes, that'll be £35. I go, ok here's £45 cos you did this and that as well. We're still friends. There are only so many bottles of whisky you can give.
    Bren

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  27. #16
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    It’s demeaning and I would no more think of tipping a luthier than I would my dentist or the doctor who gave me the covid jab the other week.

    People in the UK still tend to tip restaurant staff and cab drivers - I expect they tip the former because they earn a pittance but I’m not sure why they tip the latter. They have a totally different attitude in New Zealand where tipping is positively discouraged. Must UK visitors to the US are surprised (appalled?) at the amount people tip. If people are paid properly, tipping is unnecessary.

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  29. #17
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I tip by spreading the positive words and testimonials on the Mandolin Café !

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  31. #18
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Possibly more fun than tipping a cow.
    Tom

    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain
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  33. #19

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    Tipping? He has a business and charges whatever he finds necessary. I like the Chinese way: They consider tipping condescending and insulting.

    I once was in China with some colleagues and a girl from the hotel offered to show us around. At the end of the day, they offered her some money and she was deeply hurt, "I thought we were friends" she said.

    Ask for his/her price and pay. If you really like the guy, give him/her a gift.
    I wish they did that at the airports in China because it would save a lot of time and money.

    Every culture has its practices. If people are offended by money, I send them a gift I think they’d like. When they say it wasn’t necessary, I say- that’s why they call it a “gift”. All of it, tips, gratuities, gifts, they are all given as an act of kindness.

    If you appreciate the work, then by all means tip the luthier. Or buy him or her lunch, a cup of coffee, etc.
    Last edited by Mandobar; Feb-12-2021 at 8:13am.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  35. #20
    Frodo Lives! Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    As an American in America, she is asking a legit question as tipping is a very real “thing” here. I’ve tipped the luthier before when picking up my instrument. I don’t recall how much, but anything too small would’ve likely seemed pointless, and anything too much over the top and awkward. I’d just feel out the situation and go with my gut.
    "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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  37. #21
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    If people are paid properly, tipping is unnecessary.
    Yeah, but that's the problem. In much of Canada, waiters and waitresses serving alcoholic drinks are paid below minimum wage, a wage which isn't great in itself. Then, to keep wait staff from pocketing their tips and not declaring them on their tax forms, their income is taxed according to a percentage of cost of food and drink served which they are, in theory, getting in tips. My daughters all waited tables. One refused to serve a group of Toronto students who were turning up in the bar regularly, ordering $250 worth of food and drinks, then refusing to tip because "we're poor students." My daughter told them, you're costing us money in our taxes, so we don't want you here.

    Many of us in North America would rather see wait staff paid well, but tipping in bars, restaurants, hotels, and taxis is established custom here, so that's what we deal with. Individual rebellions against tipping only hurt people on low incomes.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  38. #22
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Ask your luthier how much they expect the job to be, unless you deal with them a lot. I wouldn't presume the charge will be 'not much', because (at least here in Europe and UK) there's a huge range of luthier charges. Some luthiers repair violins for orchestral professionals, and affluent amateurs who can afford $50,000 for a cello. Others deal with modest school instruments for parents on a tight budget. The 'fair' charges for the first might be three or four times what a guy would charge who is an adequate craftsman but took up school instrument repairs when he retired from the bank. Within 15 miles of where I live, I could get a fiddle setup that would cost either less than I think it's worth, or enough to make my eyes water. Checking first means you're both happy if you go ahead (assuming it's good work).

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  40. #23

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    As a builder, I don't expect it. I too have had a few people insist to overpay me for something but I could count that on one hand. As a tipper, I tend to only tip employees and not owners of business. I expect a business owner to properly price his wares in manner that he is going to make a comfortable profit. Employees however aren't so fortunate and I reward them based on their performance. As an example, I tipped my two roofer's employees because they did exceptional work and cleaned up well but I did not tip the owner because I know he was making money off his employees.

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  42. #24

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I’ve always believed that the owner of the business doesn’t get tipped since he is making more money than his workers. If you are extremely pleased with the work then throw them a bone. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that most luthiers don’t have employees.

  43. #25
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Traditionally tipping the owner of a business is NOT customary. Tipping an owner used to be considered insulting. Yes, I realize the world has changed and respect is out the window.

    Tipping an employee ?, yes at your discretion.

    My go to repair guy/luthier undercharges so I pay him for what the job would cost elsewhere. That is not tipping; it is paying a fair amount for the job. I avoid the others because the others.. here locally, are hacks and grossly overcharge given the quality of work.

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