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Thread: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

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    Default Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    So, I have my own preferred layouts, graphics, slideshows and others way I prefer to see a luthier's page laid out, but am curious what the general public likes to see when they are in the market and looking at previous work done by an instrument builder (or currently available instruments). High quality content (both visual and auditory) is an obvious bar to have to set, but layout and browsing experience is such a subjective and broad stroke in the population of mandolin enthusiasts, so am I curious:

    Do you like to just see a smorgasboard of photos on a page?
    Do you like having a slideshow of each individual instrument with a description beneath it and embedded sound clips?
    Is a high level but transparent price listing a must have for you to consider delving further into a website?

    What do you all like to see in your perusing of mandolin eye candy on luthier websites? Or perhaps even more pertinent, what do NOT like to see?

    Any examples of luthiers who are doing it right? (lets keep it positive)

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Great inquiry. Everything I have to say below is with the understanding that our beloved luthiers are entrepreneurs and what they do each day takes time and money….

    I’ve often been a little frustrated with Luthiers’ web sites because of either a lack of information or an overload. When I go to one, I really just want to easily see what they make, what the instruments look and sound like, and the price. Secondary considerations are information about the luthier, some testimonials, and a list of potential modifications and/or upgrades.

    It sounds a little superficial, but it’s essentially a shopping experience. Sometimes I’m just checking out what someone’s doing, but 99% of the time it’s with at least a germ of a thought about owning an instrument from the builder. So, from my perspective, it would make sense to have a retail approach, at least to some degree. These are major purchases. Potentially thousands of dollars. A functional, easy to navigate web site with things like models and prices seem like reasonable information to include.

    Here’s a mandolin web site that I appreciate:
    https://www.bigmuddymandolin.com/

    Pava has a great site but no prices. I think a baseline price for each model would be good:
    https://pavamandolins.com/models/f5/

    Likewise, Ellis:
    https://www.ellismandolins.com/

    Gilchrist too:
    http://www.gilchristmandolins.com/

    And... Red Diamond:
    http://www.reddiamondmandolins.com/

    Pava, Ellis, Gilchrist, and Red Diamond are, to me, great sites. I'd like to see prices though.
    Last edited by Kevin Briggs; Sep-07-2021 at 1:22pm.
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    Great inquiry. Everything I have to say below is with the understanding that our beloved luthiers are entrepreneurs and what they do each day takes time and money….

    I’ve often been a little frustrated with Luthiers’ web sites because of either a lack of information or an overload. When I go to one, I really just want to easily see what they make, what they’ll instruments look and sound like, and the price. Secondary considerations are information about the luthier, some testimonials, and a list of potential modifications and/or upgrades.

    It sounds a little superficial, but it’s essentially a shopping experience. Sometimes I’m just checking out what someone’s doing, but 99% of the time it’s with at least a germ of a thought about owning an instrument from the builder. So, from my perspective, it would make sense to have a retail approach, at least to some degree. These are major purchases. Potentially thousands of dollars. A functional, easy to navigate web site with things like models and prices seem like reasonable information to include.

    LHere’s a mandolin web site that I appreciate:
    https://www.bigmuddymandolin.com/
    Great reply! I completely and wholeheartedly agree that most luthiers who make some incredible things out of wood and wire with their hands, minds and some tools aren't and shouldn't have to also be expert web developers, photographers, videographers and audio engineers! Ha-ha.

    I think info and a backstory is always charming as well. For me that is like reading the liner notes on a hardcopy music record. Getting to know the human behind the craft a little more.

    Other considerations I am thinking of now are in the same line as testimonials, but I love to see artists that own the instrument of the luthier playing those instruments and adding their own flair and style to the tone of the instrument.

    Clean, easily navigable and simple...with sufficient quality content.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    FWIW, my original website had lots of photos, videos of instruments in action, tutorials, personal info, etc. etc.. I think it was 4 pages or more with links to others. I traded a mandolin to have it built professionally by a web designer.
    I did not make a single sale directly from web traffic.
    When the site got too old and decrepit to work well, and when I tired of fixing it and maintaining it I took it down, went to an online web builder/host and made a small, simple site to replace it. Just a few pictures and basic information, and the most important thing; contact information. That is all the site is really good for; providing people with a way to get in touch with me if they want to.

    I know it is entertaining to browse web sites, read tutorials, listen to sound clips and all that, but if the luthier is not making money from the web site he/she is basically paying to entertain window shoppers.
    Last edited by sunburst; Sep-07-2021 at 5:23pm. Reason: an effort to improve clumsy wording

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    FWIW, my original website had lots of photos, videos of instruments in action, tutorials, personal info, etc. etc.. I think it was 4 pages or more with links to others. I traded a mandolin to have it built professionally by a web designer.
    I did not make a single sale directly from web traffic.
    When the site got too old and decrepit to work well, and when I tired of fixing it and maintaining it I took it down, went to an online web builder/host and made a small, simple site to replace it. Just a few pictures and basic information, and the most important thing; contact information. That is all the site is really good for is providing people with a way to get in touch with me if they want to.

    I know it is entertaining to browse web sites, read tutorials, listen to sound clips and all that, but if the luthier is not making money from the web site he/she is basically paying to entertain window shoppers.
    Well yeah, haha. I can attest to the efficacy of John’s approach. :-)
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    I did web development for quite a few years but these days you can have a viable site including e-commerce with a decent templates site. The bottom line is to have a presentable-looking site with decent photos and sound files, if possible. Frankly I would prefer that the luthier spend the greater amount of his or her time building mandolins.

    As for listing prices, that is entirely up to the luthier. If you are interested just contact them. It is easy enough to find out how much these go for anyway
    especially since many luthiers sell through music retailers.
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    Registered User Willi Bahrenberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    I like nice pictures on a website. Sound samples not needed, as long as there's at least some folks showing off their instruments on youtube. John's website is perfectly fine in that regard. Nicely lit pictures and a verly sleek layout.

    I also like some (rough, at least) info on prices, although I understand that especially smaller builders tend to be a little reserved here.

    In Germany not very many luthiers make bluegrass instruments. And for those who do, the mandolin often seems to be an afterthought. Just look at Joe Striebel who has a great reputation and a nice website - but hardly any meaningful info on or photos of his mandolins. And no sound sample to be found on the web
    But then, his website is titled www.striebelguitars.com after all
    Last edited by Willi Bahrenberg; Sep-08-2021 at 4:12am.

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    Registered User Willi Bahrenberg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    This is a cool idea for a thread topic by the way - shout out to the OP!

  9. #9
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    As for listing prices, most of my work is custom and I have no standard models, so prices vary widely. Listing even ballpark prices for new instruments is not really practical. Some repair prices are more-or-less standard, but repairs are as varied as ways to break instruments.

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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    I think Brian Dean is presently one of the most talented and creative luthiers on the planet. I recommend taking some time to explore his website and Flickr photos.
    The best mandolin eye candy I have found on the internet.
    http://www.labraid.ca/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/l4braid/
    Enjoy and proudly Canadian,
    Barry

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    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Yeah, Brian's site is great. This is timely, because I've been thinking about redesigning my site, which is very out of date and isn't responsive. I appreciate this thread.

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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    I like both Austin Clark’s and Audey Ratliff’s websites. Both sites are fairly direct and to the point, with models and pricing clearly displayed.

    I’m a little prejudiced since I have done business with each of them.
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    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    I'm a fan of Northfield's website. Very easy to navigate, and is as sleek as their instruments.

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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    Yeah, Brian's site is great. This is timely, because I've been thinking about redesigning my site, which is very out of date and isn't responsive. I appreciate this thread.
    For what its worth Andrew, your site and posts have been drool worthy eye candy for me for years! Love your instruments. I think it was you who got me hooked on lusting over a GBOM.

    Thanks everyone for the great posts and feedback. Admittedly, the original idea for this was a bit selfish as I am in the process of beginning to update a friend's website for him so all of this has been super helpful.

    On the other side, it makes me kind of sad when I see a luthier's website who has beautiful instruments and is so dedicated to their craft but poor audio quality or photos don't allow their instruments to shine in a way that they would in person. I wish I could just travel around and help make videos/audio for everyone!

    Have a great day and keep on pickin'!

    -B
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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    These days website videos and audios are mostly viewed and heard on little bitty phone screens and through little bitty phone speakers. How much quality is really needed there?
    Maybe, if I can figure out how, I should link to some YouTubes of instruments in action...

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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    These days website videos and audios are mostly viewed and heard on little bitty phone screens and through little bitty phone speakers. How much quality is really needed there?
    Maybe, if I can figure out how, I should link to some YouTubes of instruments in action...
    Fair point, but I do believe there is a threshold. I get that zero people are listening on high fidelity speakers at home in their acoustically treated listening rooms...and in this day and age engineers are mixing specifically for ear buds and car stereos and such even!

    I guess the point I am trying to make is that there are some truly great builders out there who's content is really poor and the sound in clips/videos is not at all representative of their craft and instruments. And that just makes me kind of sad because I want to see talented luthiers thrive in a very digital age where not all of us can travel to Gruhns or Carters or Music Emporium or (insert other store) and not all luthiers can sell their instruments in a brick and mortar.

    P.S. that F mando on your homepage is making me drool! Its a beaut!
    Brian Carroll

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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    I used a template to re-build a new responsive web site around 2 years ago. Was a lot of work because I have a lot of pictures and all the pictures needed to be sized to fit the template. I chose a version of the template with all the bells and whistles, but only used a small subset of all the facilities of the template. Big mistake, it got hacked 12 months later. Was a major pain to work out how it was hacked, fix the problem and rebuild it. I got locked out of my account by the service provider and black listed by Nortons and had get all that reversed. The recovery took some time.

    What happened is the template I used uses the Bootstrap framework for all the moving images, and to do lots of other things. That was fine when I got the template, but in the meantime hackers discovered several security vulnerabilities in the Bootstrap framework. The Bootstrap framework is very popular, lots of web sites use it. Trouble is, vulnerabilities might be discovered and fixed with a new version, but the templates still run the old version. In my case there were a number of cross site scripting vulnerabilities. That is where inputs from the user are not edited properly, and a hacker can gain access by inputting something that fools the server to do something you don't want like running an OS system command, with the result something nasty gets downloaded into your web site. That is what happened to me, a phishing site was using my account. Cross site scripting vulnerabilities are the most common way web sites get hacked. There are other ways they can get hacked, but cross site scripting is the most common. I trawled through the log files and there were hundreds of hacking attempts every day, and it is still happening now, although not so many. I was not using any user inputs, but the files were still there that did. I fixed it by trawling through the template and deleting all the files I was not using, and that involved deleting around 250 files. So, there are traps to be aware of when using a template. If you are not using parts of the template, get rid of it, and if you can, try to avoid accepting any sort of keyboard input from users. Get rid of anything in the template that does. Most Luthier web sites don't need user input. That does not guarantee you won't get hacked, but it will decrease the probability that it will get hacked. The web site service provider told me that it is not a matter of IF you get hacked, but when.
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    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    I like good audio samples, video, and clear pricing. Photos move me much less than video.

  21. #19

    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Clear pictures, clear pricing, detailed specs, easy navigation, simple layouts, and good grammar matter.

    While videos and sound clips are fun, they tell me absolutely nothing how the instruments will actually sound. (Or feel!)

  22. #20

    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    These days website videos and audios are mostly viewed and heard on little bitty phone screens and through little bitty phone speakers . . . .
    And even with good speakers, a video can't tell you how an instrument will sound in person. Playing's believing.

  23. #21

    Default Re: Luthier Websites - Browsing preferences?

    Quote Originally Posted by redlineroots View Post
    . . . I guess the point I am trying to make is that there are some truly great builders out there who's content is really poor and the sound in clips/videos is not at all representative of their craft and instruments. . . .
    No sound clip or video is representative.

    For the seller, the important thing is simply to have a good player demonstrate the instrument. That will show that the mando is playable, and that's the most an online viewer can realistically hope.

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