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Thread: Tipping a Luthier

  1. #51
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I don't tip, I over tip.

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  3. #52
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Oh crap, I was supposed to tip? One more thing to feel miserable about, thanks.

  4. #53
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    OK. So I made the trip to the luthier today. He examined the Gibson, said there's a hump where the neck meets the body, but that it is in great condition otherwise - except for where some guy carved his initials in the headstock. He raised the bridge slightly, which stopped the buzz, put some WD-40 on the tuners, then retuned. I had told him I thought it was a 1920, but that I have no idea of the value. He went online, and based on the serial number, said 1920 is about right. Then he went on Reverb to try to establish the value. He estimated between $2500 - $3000, but said I needed to ask others who might be more familiar with vintage Gibson valuations.

    After all that, he handed me the Gibson and said I was good to go. I had put a 10 in my pocket just in case, and handed it to him, and thanked him for the last time.

    FWIW, I don't look for opportunities to offer gratuities, but I do tip my hairdresser, and tip according to the level of service at restaurants. I'm really turned off by all these pay-at-the-counter places where tip jars have sprung up over the last couple of years.

    Back to the luthier. Turns out the guy builds custom guitars and even teaches a class at the store where he works. I suspect he's not an employee, but, rather pays somehow for the space he uses at the store. I took a picture of some of his creations and will attempt to post them here.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Sherry Cadenhead; Feb-13-2021 at 5:19pm. Reason: Too many pics.

  5. #54
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Could you post some pictures of the mandolin? Going online and checking what Reverb has them offered at is probably the absolute worst way of determining value. You need to know what they have been selling for, not what people are asking for them.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I expect that, if you’d taken your car to him, he’d have probbaly just kicked the tyres.

    Seems to me that people generally tip those of a lower social standing than themselves. Whilst I might tip the person who brings me the food in a restaurant - because they’re usually paid a pittance anyway (and in the UK the tax authorities assume they’re receiving tips and tax them accordingly) - I wouldn’t presume to be of a better social standing than most other people and consider them to be at least my equal.

  7. #56
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I've been following this thread with interest.

    Over the 30 years that I've been doing repair work, I've found that on some jobs, when things are going smoothly, I make the equivalent of a very nice hourly wage. At other times, it's more like $5 an hour. And sometimes, I end up working for nothing.

    To do the work well takes patience, many hours of study, and many more hours of experience. It's not an easy line of work. That's why there are not more people who are doing it. Anybody who has tried to do an invisible varnish touch-up on a 100 year old instrument understands the difficulty of the craft.

    Very few of us live in large, fancy homes, and can afford to buy a new car every 3 to 5 years. Tips are not expected, but are gratefully appreciated when they are offered.

    Sherry, Mike is right about dating your instrument and estimating its value. On-line serial number lists are often inaccurate or out of date, and Reverb prices are often not realistic. For market values, I check prices on the websites of the better known vintage dealers and watch what sells and what does not. I'll sometimes also check "sold" listings on Reverb or consult the VG price guide, but even that information is not necessarily representative of fair market prices. I also bear in mind that private sellers often are not able to get as much for their instruments as the well known dealers.

  8. #57
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    All my luthiers have their own business and they are super experienced. I have never tipped any of them but am appreciative of their work and I will refer my friends and folks on MC who live near them. In addition, I have a large closet of instruments and if I have the money to pay for their work I can keep them in business. If a luthier works for a shop that is not his or her own and I get supremely personal service I might consider tipping them.

    So, in my opinion, it is not necessary but these days might be considerate especially if times are tough for this luthier. OTOH my current guy has a 4-6 week wait for work done. My extra tip to him is that I am in no real rush. If I did need it super fast that might be another reason to pay over the asking price with gratitude.
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  10. #58
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Could you post some pictures of the mandolin? Going online and checking what Reverb has them offered at is probably the absolute worst way of determining value. You need to know what they have been selling for, not what people are asking for them.
    I posted pics in another thread but am happy to do so again.Click image for larger version. 

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  11. #59
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I've been following this thread with interest.

    Over the 30 years that I've been doing repair work, I've found that on some jobs, when things are going smoothly, I make the equivalent of a very nice hourly wage. At other times, it's more like $5 an hour. And sometimes, I end up working for nothing.

    To do the work well takes patience, many hours of study, and many more hours of experience. It's not an easy line of work. That's why there are not more people who are doing it. Anybody who has tried to do an invisible varnish touch-up on a 100 year old instrument understands the difficulty of the craft.

    Very few of us live in large, fancy homes, and can afford to buy a new car every 3 to 5 years. Tips are not expected, but are gratefully appreciated when they are offered.

    Sherry, Mike is right about dating your instrument and estimating its value. On-line serial number lists are often inaccurate or out of date, and Reverb prices are often not realistic. For market values, I check prices on the websites of the better known vintage dealers and watch what sells and what does not. I'll sometimes also check "sold" listings on Reverb or consult the VG price guide, but even that information is not necessarily representative of fair market prices. I also bear in mind that private sellers often are not able to get as much for their instruments as the well known dealers.
    I don't know how this luthier feels about gratuities, but I will say he acts like he appreciates that I appreciate him. Novice that I am, bringing my own instrument in for work most musicians probably do for themselves, he treats me with respect and courtesy, even seeming to go out of his way because of my apparent dependence on him. I infer from Ray(T)'s comments he may think I look down on this (or any) luthier. To the contrary! I'm a professional myself and respect other professionals, in any field - and really anyone - who masters their crafts or strives to excel in their work.

  12. #60
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    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.
    Sounds sensible !

  13. #61
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Next big question is do you have the original case and what does it look like? That will affect the price.

    Also, have you got a picture of the back and the back of the neck?

    For the hive mind, does anyone here see this mandolin as being a $2500 - $3000 valued instrument?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  14. #62

    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    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.
    By definition, a tip is a gratuity.
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  15. #63
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Next big question is do you have the original case and what does it look like? That will affect the price.

    Also, have you got a picture of the back and the back of the neck?

    For the hive mind, does anyone here see this mandolin as being a $2500 - $3000 valued instrument?
    I believe the case is original, at least it looks it. I'll take pictures of the case, plus front and back tonight or tomorrow.

    I had the pictures I posted earlier at a recent lesson. We checked some online resources and he thought the value to be in the $1200 - $1500 range.

  16. #64
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    OK. So I made the trip to the luthier today. He examined the Gibson, said there's a hump where the neck meets the body, but that it is in great condition otherwise - except for where some guy carved his initials in the headstock. He raised the bridge slightly, which stopped the buzz, put some WD-40 on the tuners, then retuned. I had told him I thought it was a 1920, but that I have no idea of the value. He went online, and based on the serial number, said 1920 is about right. Then he went on Reverb to try to establish the value. He estimated between $2500 - $3000, but said I needed to ask others who might be more familiar with vintage Gibson valuations.

    After all that, he handed me the Gibson and said I was good to go. I had put a 10 in my pocket just in case, and handed it to him, and thanked him for the last time.

    FWIW, I don't look for opportunities to offer gratuities, but I do tip my hairdresser, and tip according to the level of service at restaurants. I'm really turned off by all these pay-at-the-counter places where tip jars have sprung up over the last couple of years.

    Back to the luthier. Turns out the guy builds custom guitars and even teaches a class at the store where he works. I suspect he's not an employee, but, rather pays somehow for the space he uses at the store. I took a picture of some of his creations and will attempt to post them here.Click image for larger version. 

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    Curious, is this Murphy’s in Irving (seems like you’ve said before that you use them)? If so, I need to get over there and see these guitars — they look great. I’m just down 183 in FabEuless.
    "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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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    On the few occasions, my customer has paid me more than I asked for a job that was kind of undefinable about what I was getting into, I have always really appreciated it. I've rarely thought of it as a tip. More like an understanding that the customer knew that this had gone far beyond what I'd expected but I would not cut the quality of the job short, no matter my cost (overhead and some sort of decent wage). It is always a new relationship between the customer and myself. And if I can get a job done in far less time than I expected, the relationship is simple I charge less. It's a handshake of sorts. But the work is always done right.

  18. #66
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    Curious, is this Murphy’s in Irving (seems like you’ve said before that you use them)? If so, I need to get over there and see these guitars — they look great. I’m just down 183 in FabEuless.
    Yes! Please do see him, Caleb! He's usually there from 12 - 5. The pictures don't do those beautiful instruments justice.

  19. #67
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Next big question is do you have the original case and what does it look like? That will affect the price.

    Also, have you got a picture of the back and the back of the neck?

    For the hive mind, does anyone here see this mandolin as being a $2500 - $3000 valued instrument?
    Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #68
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I believe the case is original, at least it looks it. I'll take pictures of the case, plus front and back tonight or tomorrow.

    I had the pictures I posted earlier at a recent lesson. We checked some online resources and he thought the value to be in the $1200 - $1500 range.
    The case is original and in great shape and the price you had prior was a realistic price. Do a happy dance if you can get more than that.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  21. #69
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The case is original and in great shape and the price you had prior was a realistic price. Do a happy dance if you can get more than that.
    Thanks, but I'm looking at possibly buying it, not selling it.

  22. #70
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    It strikes me how arbitrary tipping is. I too tip the person who cuts my hair, but I don't tip the person who runs to the back room ten times, looking for shoes that fit me properly. The logic is mostly about custom. Where I live, we're expected to tip the person who cuts our hair but not the person who sells us shoes, though they're both working hard and offering personal services. It bothers me to see people on low incomes pressured to tip others who may be making more than them. A person neither wants their barber to think they're a cheapskate who doesn't like to tip (and perhaps get second-rate service), nor to explain their financial problems, and why they can't afford to tip, to a casual acquaintance. rcc56 says of luthiers, "Very few of us live in large, fancy homes, and can afford to buy a new car every 3 to 5 years." This is also true of many of their customers, including a great many professional musicians.

    By the way, I was reading today of a telegraph boy in England who delivered a telegram to the colonel of the Home Guard, the richest man in the region, during WWII, and received a generous tip. The next time, he handed the telegram to a servant, and received nothing. From then on, he insisted that all the telegrams were confidential, and that he had to give them directly to the colonel.
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    "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."
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  23. #71
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Sherry, the instrument is an A-2 made in 1920. The bridge is an inexpensive replacement, which does not resemble any style bridge that Gibson used.
    The rest of the instrument appears to be in original condition, with original tailpiece, pickguard, and tuners.

    $1500 is probably about right for a private sale on a Sheraton Brown A-2 in this condition, assuming the neck is straight and it plays reasonably well.
    Do you like the instrument?

  24. #72
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    I dunno. Tipping cows seems problematic enough. If you get started on luthiers, who knows what might happen?
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  26. #73
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Do you like the instrument?
    I like it, but don't love it. I have my heart set on an oval hole A and this is the first one I've tried. I may end up buying this one, but I plan to try more. I have a budget of up to $3000.

    Thanks for the info on the Gibson.
    Last edited by Sherry Cadenhead; Feb-13-2021 at 11:04pm. Reason: Forgot thanks!

  27. #74
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    "I don't tip, I over tip."

    Similar to buying friends and loyalty or jury tampering.

    With respect to "tipping a cow".. have you.? 20 % ? , or is the cow the owner of itself therefore no tipping allowed ?

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  29. #75
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    Default Re: Tipping a Luthier

    'I like it, but don't love it. I have my heart set on an oval hole A and this is the first one I've tried. I may end up buying this one, but I plan to try more. I have a budget of up to $3000"


    Why not a Collings oval hole.?

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