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 toughest thing I've ever attempted, 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.
2023 Pricing Update
The pricing mentioned just above is no longer accurate. Here's the story...
In 2022, I explored several ways to bring prices down, but they nearly all amounted to lower quality guitars, which I'm not down with. Instead I decided to lean into one of my greatest strengths - product quality - and improve several things that weren't up to snuff. As you would expect, this increased production costs. Add to that increased material and shipping costs, and I came to the conclusion that I had no choice but bump the base price to $2500 (including case).
I'll be honest, I'm a cheap bastard. I hate it when things get more expensive, but I'd be a stupid cheap bastard if I didn't acknowledge how this affects my business. I can't just ignore this stuff.
In addition, in the last year, I've externally validated several aspects of the product in the real world with customers, and continually added more features and enhancements as I always do. I firmly believe those things alone justify the price increase regardless of supply chain costs.
Bottom line, if you look at what $2500 buys in the boutique guitar world, you may find similar quality to TEN32, but the feature comparison is just no contest. If you disagree, I'm more than happy to argue that point - email@example.com
Up next, lets look at my approach to finishing guitars.