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Thread: Tipping a Luthier

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    I usually "pay tribute" to my luthier. I just think of him as my instruments' doctor!
    Do you tip your doctor?

  2. #27

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    No luthier content, but watching the recent HBO doc on Tiger Woods, caused me to rewatch some online videos of his tournaments and do some online reading concerning his career and stats. His career and talent came as no surprise to me, but what was shocking were several mentions of what a poor tipper he is. (none of which is in the documentary, of course) One example was while playing $100,000 a hand blackjack he tipped the waitress $5 when she brought his drink -- then asked for it back when he realized he had already tipped her earlier in the evening........

    I'm still wondering how rich you have to be to consider playing $100K a hand backjack......... And, how many "hands of blackjack" got played between his first and second drink -- again, at $100K a hand....! Certainly, it is his money and his right, but...
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Feb-12-2021 at 2:59pm.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    The luthiers i go to do really good work and i adjust the fee upward because the quality of their work is worth more than they charge, and i'm grateful when they fit my instruments into their busy schedule.

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  5. #29
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    Do you tip your doctor?
    This thread is worrying me. i'm booked for a minor operation when such things become possible again. Should I go into surgery with (sterilized) $20 bills pinned onto my gown? Will the doctors, nurses, and orderlies ignore me if I'm not throwing money around like a gangster in a nightclub? My attitude is to tip people in occupation in which they're traditionally tipped, but I don't even do that all the time. My postie, who belongs to a good union, makes more money than I do, so he doesn't need my cash. I don't tip people who are in business for themselves, including artisans, though I in some cases, I may give a seasonal gift, e.g., I gave my mandolin teacher Christmas cash along with his December payment. Still, I've worked in many jobs, professional and labour, but have never been tipped by a customer, client, or student. I certainly wouldn't want to contribute to expanding the custom of tipping.
    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.

  6. #30
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I have never and have never considered it. If at a business, we have an agreed to price. If on the side, we have an agreed to price or if they say nothing, I give them wine or beer. I take people at their words for what they expect in the form of compensation.

    Jamie
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  8. #31
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    The guy I use works 1/2 days at the local music store. No way is he an owner of the business.

    A couple of years or so ago I took my Alvarez to him to adjust the setup. I didn't tip him then, but later gave him a Christmas card with $20.

    Then recently I changed my strings (despite the fact I was out of my element) but couldn't get the tuning right. I took my mando to this guy, he tightened the strings, tuned it and handed it back to me - no charge. I didn't have cash on me, but came back a day or so later with a thank you note and $10 bill. He seemed to appreciate it (the money, not the card).

    The consensus (if there actually is one) in this thread is I should not tip the guy. Maybe I'll wait until Christmas like last time. If he ends up giving me a lot of info regarding the Gibson (which I don't expect from him), I may reconsider a current tip.

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  10. #32

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    Do you tip your doctor?
    I give my personal physician a Christmas gift, and one on his birthday (it is generally a gift certificate to a local restaurant, so he can take his wife out to dinner).
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  12. #33
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I generally don't tip business owners. However, apparently it is considered bad form not to tip your tattoo artist. So when I get inked i tip. But my luthier nope.
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

  13. #34
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    We don't agree on a price beforehand.
    He does some work, which might be undefined because I don't know what's needed, and afterwards he tells me what he wants.
    If I think it's worth more, I pay him more.
    Bren

  14. #35
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    We don't agree on a price beforehand.
    He does some work, which might be undefined because I don't know what's needed, and afterwards he tells me what he wants.
    If I think it's worth more, I pay him more.
    But Bren -- how can you possibly judge, yourself, "what it is worth?" And worth it to whom? Are you suggesting that you're a better judge of the pricing schedules for instrument repairs in your area than the luthier himself/herself?! That's almost certainly wrong, unless you, too, happen to be a fellow luthier -- in which case, you'd probably undertake the repair yourself. Or are you instead making some different kind of judgment, about what it's worth to you, based on (say) how badly you needed the repair done -- which only relates to your personal circumstances, and not to the luthier's? This kind of "what it's worth" reasoning can get silly pretty quickly. And if the repair job is worth less to you because of some personal circumstance, do you offer to pay less money? I doubt that very much!

    The luthier repairing your mandolin is a businessperson, offering a skilled service to you for an agreed-upon price. The luthier typically sets that price, and then offers you a price quote or an estimate. If you are agreeable to paying the cost, then you usually leave your instrument with the luthier (creating, in legal terms, a bailment) so they can complete the repair. This is a simple business contract.

    It would be pretty unusual to bring a mandolin to a luthier to carry out entirely "undefined" (your term) work on it, with no expectations whatsoever about the overall cost -- not even some maximum amount. It certainly wouldn't be prudent, for example, to bring your car to some mechanic and tell him to do whatever he wished for whatever price it might come to! Few people do business the way you've suggested. Not recommended.

    Tipping a luthier for repair work is not typical. Deliberately overpaying for repair work is not typical, either. Does this sometimes happen? Apparently, yes. But it is not expected, and it is not part of the custom/culture that I know.

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  16. #36
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I don't think anyone wants to stop you from tipping if you have the money, Sherry. I think we're wary of living in societies in which people expect you to tip for more and more services. If you enjoy using your money that way, more power to you.

    (Added later: Your question in the OP, "What sort of tip is customary in this case?" implied both that one should tip a luthier and that there is an agreed-upon standard. I think that's what many of us were having trouble with, not the fact that you chose to tip.)

    Re: sblock's comment above (#35), the times I felt that I was overcharged were when I asked a luthier to look at some problem, while he was doing other work. After picking up my mandolin, I found the same problem when I get home. Essentially, my complaint was that he didn't complete the job asked for (as though I asked my mechanic to check out that strange noise along with the oil change, only to find that he didn't). This has happened to me more than once, and I've decided to find another luthier next time I have to take an instrument for work. My complaint isn't really about the luthier's rates. Rather, it's about not completing the job asked for while my mandolin was in his shop. Apologies if you felt that the comment I thanked was a swipe at luthiers. I respect craftspeople greatly, but as with any businessses, occasionally we have bad experiences. Incomplete work is especially annoying during co-vid times when we're trying to avoid running back and forth to businesses.
    Last edited by Ranald; Feb-12-2021 at 7:27pm.
    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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  18. #37

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    If there’s an expectation it’s not a tip, it’s payment.

    Gratuity- something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  20. #38
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    Question Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Like tipping?
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  21. #39

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    Tipping a luthier for repair work is not typical. Deliberately overpaying for repair work is not typical, either. Does this sometimes happen? Apparently, yes. But it is not expected, and it is not part of the custom/culture that I know.
    OTOH, and probably unrelated.....I work for a shop, a customer brought in a vintage guitar for several repairs adding up to my estimate of $1400. I called the customer and explained the estimate in detail. He squirmed, but agreed to the estimate. (keep in mind, the guitar is worth several times that amount, FWIW) When the repair was completed he was contacted, he came into the shop and offered my boss $1000 for the work. My boss refused and returned the guitar to the backroom and the customer left, never to return. Keep in mind, as a repairman, I don't get paid until the customer pays the shop I work for, then the shop pays me. After a year, my boss hands me the guitar saying, sorry, the guitar is yours in place of your payment. (legally known as a mechanics lien, in most states) Needless to say, I'd rather have the money than the guitar, especially a year later....

    My point is that sometimes customers not only DON'T TIP but sometimes try to negotiate a lower price after the work is complete. So, there's that...

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  23. #40
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    for the OP, i say do what you feel in your heart.

    life is short. any time, especially in this current day we live in, if there's an opportunity to help someone, to make someone have a happy moment, or feel whatever they have done is of value to you and you appreciate the time and effort they gave to you, leave a tip, buy them lunch the next day, etc

    i live in a pretty rural area, folks around here are not used to getting "tips". anytime i take my animals to the vet, i leave a tip large enough to feed the staff(5) lunch the next day. other day i had a new set of tires put on my truck (Toyo Open Country H/T II Tire, a road tire primarily, absolutely wonderful, smooth, no noise, excellent stick in rain/snow, should be decent on mild off road-i used to buy Michelin or BFG's-the Toyo's are far superior so far-fyi), theres 5 guys that work at the small but excellent all vehicle private owned garage-paid my bill, left $75 for the guys to have lunch the next day.

    its the small positive things we do in our lives that make a difference, most of us probably are not in a financial state where we can do daily large things.........and every now and then getting yourself into another instrument of some sort.

    d

    d

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  25. #41
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I have heard Tiger was a better tipper with Strippers

  26. #42
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    I give my personal physician a Christmas gift, and one on his birthday (it is generally a gift certificate to a local restaurant, so he can take his wife out to dinner).

    By definition, that is not a "tip"


    I tip the gas jockey at my local fill-up. He's out there every day in 30 degree weather at 6:00 Am.

    In restaurants I consider 20% to be the norm and add or subtract depending on the quality of service and the attitude.

    My parents were in the restaurant business in Monterey ( Cannery Row 17 years) and Carmel , Ca for many more.
    It is a tough business. Their restaurants were different, very little turnover in local customers and extremely low turnover in staff.
    No manager or minor share owner was allowed to accept tips. ( my parents rewarded long term staff with shares and annual bonuses.))

    I recently discovered the owner of a local restaurant I frequented for many years takes all the tips, gives 50% back to the servers, takes his 25% of the total and shares the rest with his "head cook" ( the owner being the chef) his brother in law, and the dishwasher his nephew. I had a conversation with him about this and advised him of the facts, Not legal Nationally or in the state of Oregon.
    We have parted company. Owners should not accept tips. In this case it is disgraceful theft.

    "overpaying" what should have been the charge is not tipping, it is fairness.

    In addition, every time I take an instrument into the particularly gifted guitar tech, I bring him a new tool from Stew Mac. A gift is not a tip. It helps him do the job. We both win. At Christmas time Gift card from Stew Mac.
    Last edited by Jeff Hildreth; Feb-12-2021 at 8:52pm.

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  28. #43
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Tips? ... Yes, please:...

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  29. #44
    This Kid Needs Practice Bill Clements's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    "life is short. any time, especially in this current day we live in, if there's an opportunity to help someone, to make someone have a happy moment, or feel whatever they have done is of value to you and you appreciate the time and effort they gave to you, leave a tip, buy them lunch the next day, etc"

    Bravo!
    "Music is the only noise for which one is obliged to pay." ~ Alexander Dumas

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  31. #45
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    HA!!!!

    Did this question come up from my comment a few days ago in the mandobass thread??????

    It is worth mentioning again: In 40+ years as a luthier, I can remember almost no mandolin player ever tipping me. About 50% of the guitar players do...yet almost every upright bass player does, and often gives me a big hug of excitement (before covid!) regardless of the amount or price of the work.

    Just so we balance the scale in fairness:

    In the same manner that folks here on the 'cafe and within the community voice strong opinions and preferences on builders and repair people, ALL of the luthiers that I know as both professional peers and friends keep detailed lists of PIA customers & those who are not welcome back that we share amongst ourselves. When in doubt or another's name is dropped, we always call up each other for a background check. It is a small community- you know who you are, and so do we!

    In addition to my standard warranty, I always offer the following: If you are unhappy at the time you come to pickup your instrument, wait five minutes. I'll clamp the thing back up in the giant old Emmert vise, grab a big mallet, & break the neck in half again like it was before your brought it here, and we'll call it even....

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  33. #46
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I donít exactly tip but I round up generously and pay cash. Is that really tipping? My luthier has gone above and beyond a few times for me. Expedited work. Higher quality hardware when he thought it was appropriate (I agreed). Theoretical consults that never resulted in work.

    And I give a christmas gift, sometimes in cash, if I am in the shop anytime around then... I gave a bluechip pick one time.

    I always recommend my luthier when I can and genuinely want him to succeed, which is something I think he appreciates.

    With the current economy and my luck of job security (I work in healthcare) I have been tipping generously everywhere I normally tip
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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  35. #47

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    HA!!!!

    Did this question come up from my comment a few days ago in the mandobass thread??????

    It is worth mentioning again: In 40+ years as a luthier, I can remember almost no mandolin player ever tipping me. About 50% of the guitar players do...yet almost every upright bass player does, and often gives me a big hug of excitement (before covid!) regardless of the amount or price of the work.

    Just so we balance the scale in fairness:

    In the same manner that folks here on the 'cafe and within the community voice strong opinions and preferences on builders and repair people, ALL of the luthiers that I know as both professional peers and friends keep detailed lists of PIA customers & those who are not welcome back that we share amongst ourselves. When in doubt or another's name is dropped, we always call up each other for a background check. It is a small community- you know who you are, and so do we!

    In addition to my standard warranty, I always offer the following: If you are unhappy at the time you come to pickup your instrument, wait five minutes. I'll clamp the thing back up in the giant old Emmert vise, grab a big mallet, & break the neck in half again like it was before your brought it here, and we'll call it even....
    The PIA list also makes the rounds of music store owners.....just saying....
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  36. #48
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I'll never forget as a child one time after leaving a coffea shop I noticed my Dad didn't leave a tip. When I asked him why? He said the lady waiting on us was the "owner" and didn't get tipped, only the help get tips. But I do give extra if I think the service was underpriced.

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  38. #49
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    HA!!!!

    Did this question come up from my comment a few days ago in the mandobass thread??????

    It is worth mentioning again: In 40+ years as a luthier, I can remember almost no mandolin player ever tipping me. About 50% of the guitar players do...yet almost every upright bass player does, and often gives me a big hug of excitement (before covid!) regardless of the amount or price of the work.
    No re: the mandobass thread. I'll have to look for that.

    It appears, condino, you aren't offended at being offered a gratuity.

  39. #50
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Seems to me that a tip is a gratuity. It is an expression of gratitude independent of the business agreement you have. Are you grateful for the work that was done for you, above and beyond being satisfied with the agreed upon work and price? Some folks are very grateful; some not so much. I've seen situations where someone does not want to accept a gratuity or where someone is not allowed to accept a gratuity, but I've never seen anyone who was actually offended by an offer of gratitude.

    Don't overlook the fact that many good luthiers do some extra work on your instrument that was not part of the business deal - such as cleaning your crud off the fret board, adjusting the intonation when all you requested was new strings put on, giving the instrument a good overall cleaning, or lubricating a tight tuner knob - things that improve the sound, playability and looks of your instrument. How about a luthier tuning your instrument for you or giving you a verbal appraisal of an instrument - a free gift of his/her expertise? Are you thankful or not for the luthier's gratuity to you, or do you even recognize the gift?

    There is clearly no social custom for mandolin owners to tip their luthiers. It is truly an expression of gratitude, not the result of social pressure.
    Tom

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