Transparency, Pricing & Purchasing

I mentioned towards the end of my introductory blog post that transparency and honesty are important to me, and they really are, so I decided to expand on that a bit here.

No need for a rant about how expensive everything has become or to speculate or point fingers about the reasons why. I think it's obvious we're all feeling increased financial pressure in one way or another, and probably even worse, we don't feel like there's much we can do about it.

I'll admit, I'm especially wary of money as I write this. Starting a business is challenge in a number of ways, but in a world where we feel like our self worth is directly linked to our financial status, it's been painful to burn through the limited savings I did have, followed by amassing a pile of credit card debt, just to try and make this whole TEN32 Guitars thing a reality.

Combine that with the fact that our futures seem more uncertain than ever and the fact that a lot of us don't feel like our own employers are even on our side...it can feel like there's no way to win, and that's a miserable, hopeless feeling.

This is why I think it's important to express the fact that my goal has never been to make money.

I told a good friend of mine recently that money was "like....9th on the list of things I'm trying to achieve with this business". His response has stuck with me ever since.

He said "I think that's the way its supposed to be".

Damn right, Fred! And BTW, a huge "THANKS" to you sir - for working with me and providing feedback on all those shoddy prototypes along the way. The guitars wouldn't be what they are without you. Speaking of which - I have a lot of other people to thank as well.

So, rather than trying to make a fortune on the misery of others, or line my pockets with kickbacks from drug companies for overprescribing death pills, or one of a hundred other disgusting examples we've all heard about, I decided to approach this the same way Todd Helton approached hitting baseballs:

Focus on the process, let the results take care of themselves.

Coming from the tech world, I know the current trend in product development is the "MVP", or minimum viable product. Basically you squeeze out a few turds, throw them up against a wall like a rabid primate and see which ones stick.

I've been trying to avoid dropping F-bombs so far in this blog but I did just make a monkey crap reference, so.....fuck that! What ever happened to building something awesome and pouring everything you've got into it - not because you're interested in lining your pockets but because you love it?

This is already too long, so I'll get to the point. I could launch this website and my products and pretend like I'm a polished corporate entity demanding a premium price, but that feels (and is) completely fake.

The reality is, this whole journey has been the most challenging endeavor I've taken on thus far in my life, by a large margin. I lose sleep worrying about money and failure all the time. But I know my process, and I know the results it yields, which means I also know that eventually I'll prove that my guitars are worth a considerable chunk of cash. I'm not there yet, though. The part that matters right now is the proving.

This brings me to pricing.

When you add up all of the features and options I can offer, it's been suggested I should start pricing at $5,000 per instrument, which sounds great but again just doesn't feel real to me, at least not yet. 

That said, until a more appealing path presents itself, this is a lifestyle business for me. The 8 things that came before money on the list I mentioned above all had to do with spending my time doing what makes me happy. I consider myself lucky that building guitars that are worth some cash is one of them. But just like you, I have bills to pay, a future to save for, and dreams to live out, all of which costs money, so if the market will bear more in the future, I'll take it.

TEN32 pricing will be commensurate with what you, the players, indicate it should be (econ-101), so pricing will start where Fred and I agreed it should for his build - $2,000 - including a case.

I currently have 5 models. Each model breaks down in to three series:

Series 1 is a flattop, but always includes mandatory shaping such as forearm contours and belly cuts, for comfortable playing. Pricing starts at $2,000 with case. 

  

 

Series 2 has a carved top with a single contour, but you can save some money by selecting a flat back (belly cut still included). Pricing starts @ $2,375 with case. If you want a carved top like series 2 with a strat-style blade switch, a component shelf becomes necessary due to the physical height of the switch.

  

  

 

 

Series 3 is the same as series 2, but also includes a secondary contour. Pricing starts @ $2,750 with case. Again, if you want a strat-style blade switch, a component shelf becomes necessary due to the physical height of the switch.

 

 

 

 

Obviously more expensive electronics, hardware, and finish work will increase the price further, just like any other builder.

There are a few caveats:

  1. The LT and HSV models are too wide to meet TSA requirements for carryon luggage. Nothing I can do about that. It may make more sense to buy a standard neck (no bolt-on headstock) for these models.
  2. LT and HSV models don't have any Series 1 contouring for comfort. Their shapes just don't call for a belly cut or a forearm contour, but I'm open to a discussion if you disagree.
  3. Series 2 and 3 development on the HSV isn't yet complete (which is why you don't see them above), but if you want to see what that looks like, please reach out and I'll send you a rendering.

I'd also like to mention that, if you want a TEN32 Guitar but cant afford the price, I'm open to other forms of value exchange. I don't know exactly what those are, but I'm willing to listen if you make a compelling case.

Purchasing

This is more complex than I would like but there's no way to offer hundreds of build options seamlessly on a webpage without a big spend on web development, which just isn't in the cards for me right now.

On each model's page you'll find a link to configure that model. This link leads you to a google form that covers everything I have on offer. If you submit the form, I'll follow up with you to nail down any gray area the form is unable to capture and ultimately use your selections and our conversation to put together a final quote.

I will eventually have a cleaner solution here, but for the time being, supply shortages and huge variability in material costs dictate I'll have to check prices and create quotes on a case by case basis.

Up next, lets look at my approach to finishing guitars.

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