Charles Shifflett Luthier - home page

Charles Shifflett Acoustic Guitars

Charles Shifflett Guitars....

And custom guitar prices:

I've been building guitars for some years now. Prices are one of the hardest things for luthiers (and most artisans) to talk about. But here is how I am presently working things: My most economical guitar right now (today, early 2003) is $4,600 Can dollars plus case. (that is about $2,700 U.S. ) That guitar is a Flamenco. It is a fine guitar, but is a little faster to make than a rosewood guitar because, using cypress for back and sides means I don't have to pore fill (no large open pores as in rosewood). And also this style of guitar traditionally has less ornate purflings, bridge etc. than some others guitars. The most often ordered guitar is an Indian rosewood/Engelman spruce Classic guitar is 5,000 Canadian dollars, plus case & any applicable tax.

Generally, my guitars are about 5,000 to 10,000 Canadian dollars. Often a customer works his/her self up to spending 5 K or so, but then can't resist adding some options making a few changes while waiting for their guitars turn to be built ......and over a few visits we, together design a truly one of a kind instrument.

As well as some very dry, stable Spruce, Cedar, Mahogany and Indian Rosewood, I have in stock woods such as Flamed maple, Hawaiian Koa, African Blackwood, and many others. Options such as Brazilian Rosewood, and African Blackwood can add $1500 to $3000. Prices are affected not just by rarity but also because some woods are harder to work than others...for example although there are no large open pores to fill, Big leaf maple shows the tiniest flaws in sanding, especially when French polished. (But then the light refraction of French polish on Flamed Maple also adds a depth to the finish that no other finish can!)

Other options:

There are numerous options that I could list and worry and fret over additional costs....... Sorry just can't be bothered! If you want something different and the cost isn't really significant to me.... then you probably won't pay much extra for it........ Eg: so you want a 640 or 660m.m. scale fingerboard instead of a 650. My cost is nearly the same. Or perhaps you prefer Rosewood or Kingwood binding instead of Ebony binding; I have these in stock & the cost to me is I may not need to charge you more for it.

A very short course on 'Luth-speak', and repair prices:

Here are some definitions (so we can talk the same language)..

Action --is the distance between the strings and the frets. Measurements at the 1st, 5th, and 12th fret are the most important. --Also, the overall playability of the instrument.

'Intonation' and 'Compensation':
When a string is pressed down to the fingerboard, the string is stretched, raising tension. This makes the string play sharp = a rise in 'intonation'. To set the intonation correctly so that the guitar will play in tune, this effect must be compensated for. We could move all the frets away from the bridge to varying degrees, but what we do instead is move the bridge saddle further away from the frets. But 'intonation compensation' done correctly must be done for the specific 'action' of that instrument, and even for the specific strings in use, and of course different amounts for different brands and guages of strings (because they are made differently with different materials etc.)
This is why the bridge saddle on steel string guitars is on an angle. Alas, putting the saddle on an angle just gets the saddle in the ballpark of where it actually belongs. The vibrating length of each string must end at exactly the right place, for it to play in tune, especially up the neck because the further up the neck you play the more evident the problem is. On factory built guitars it is sometimes necessary to mill the bridge slot wider in order to use a wider saddle, that can be shaped to solve this problem. Sometimes it is even necessary to relocate or replace the bridge. None of this is unusual or a problem for a good repair shop. In fact even 12 string guitars can be made to play in tune

Now, on to some repair prices..

Here is the usual waiver

This Spring of 2003 Common Repairs 'price guide', is intended to give customers an approximation of prices. Final prices will vary somewhat, depending on the instrument's age, condition, value, quality and stability of previous repairs, etc. I've noticed that some luthier's published prices are much higher than mine (and I am sure some are lower) ...but many of the more expensive luthiers are from major American port cities and I think it's a cost of living thing that probably evens out over all. I certainly am not trying to 'undercut' anyone! I am quite busy enough already thank you and I really am not interested in those customers who are looking for the cheapest bargain work instead of the best work.

Acoustic 'Set-ups'

6 string guitar $75
12 string guitar $90
- supply and install new Phos. Bronze strings
- adjust truss rod, as necc.
- clean frets and fretboard
- check out tuning machines
- check nut
Banjo, Mandolin, archtop guitar $80
- also includes locating bridge for best intonation
Electric 6 stg guitar $85
Electric 12 stg. guitar $135
-also includes adjusting saddle heights and locations for best playing action and intonation.

Body (guitar):

Pickguard, steel. stg. guitar, remove and reglue $75-100
Bridgeplate repair w/ rosewood overlay, new B pins $60
Repair small cracks in bridge $25
Remove, refit, and reglue existing bridge $100
Remove and replace bridge, (steel string): -
-with after market 'martin style' bridge $120
-with custom bridge $250+ up
Raise or lower bridge saddle: -
-via movable cartridge $20
-via sanding or shim $30
New bone saddle, (guitar):
-non-compensated $50
-partially compensated ('B' string) $60
-fully compensated, (faceted wide saddle) $70-100
Rerouting saddle slot for wider/deeper saddle $60
Raise or lower existing nut (sanding or shim) $30
New bone nut:
-banjo, uke. $40
-6 stg. guitar, elec. bass $60
-mandolin, 12 string guitar, multi-bass, $75-$150
Recycled Elephant Ivory, nut or saddle, add$25
Reglue loose or broken brace $50-130

Crack repairs:

-glue and cleat every inch, per inch $15-25
-splinted as well per inch $25
-finish repairs as well add $75 and up

Fret & Neck work:

Complete Fret Dressing

-includes:-leveling, recrowning, and polishing $100 - 125
(F5 mandolins & 5, 6, and 8 string basses, add $25-50

Complete Refret

- includes: removing old frets, a light sanding of the fingerboard, installing new frets, and then a 'complete fret dressing' as above:
-on 'unbound' rosewood neck $250
-on 'unbound' ebony neck $275
-on plastic or hardwood 'bound' neck add $50
-lacquered maple fretboard add $100
-badly worn or 'humped' fretboard add $50 to $100
-change radius of fretboard add $100 to $150

Broken Neck Or Head

-$75 and up
-repair finish to same add $75 and up

Neck Reset

unbound neck $400
* -plastic bound neck add $75
* note that when doing a 'neck reset': it is often a good idea and sometimes necessary, to replace the bridge saddle, nut, or even do a complete refret at the same time.

Finish Repairs/"refinishing":

It is a good idea to seal the broken finish on a repaired neck or body crack, to protect it from spills, humidity, oil, etc.. Respraying large areas of the body with lacquer (or worse yet refinishing) will negatively affect tone, and is not recommended !!

Pick - Ups, and Installations:

I am often asked 'How much do I have to spend to have you put in a pick-up'? I Generally respond 'How unhappy with the sound do you want to be'? Due to widely varying expectations, it is very difficult to recommend any electronic pick-up. In spite of this, and because of demand from good customers, I generally stock and install the following pick-ups:

Dana Bourgeois TMC______$250. _$325. Installed

Highlander IP-1_________$225.___$300. Installed

Highlander IP2____$300______$375 installed

Highlander mic (for use by itself or with IP2)__$275

These pick-ups are capable of very good, reliable performance, and are even a very good value for most of us. For different reasons, they are both quite finicky to install and get that performance,sometimes requiring a return visit for minor "tweaking." In spite of that, most, (but not all) of the customers I have installed these for are very happy with them in every way. (of course I can't guaranty either of them at all, if you choose to install them yourself.) Fishman and Miniflex, and other products .

Calton Cases

"The last case you will ever need"

I am a dealer for Calton Cases of Canada. It is the opinion of many professional players and certainly myself that these are simply the best instrument cases in the world! This is as close to 'airline proof' as you will ever see. These cases shouldn't be confused for the ill-fitting generic 'one-size-fits-all' versions of Fibreglass cases.
Calton Cases have a very strong fibreglass exterior, and the padding and very plush lining is custom fitted to fit each specific instrument, one instrument at a time! It does take about 15 minutes to even measure up an instrument for a case and over 6 weeks to deliver. There are numerous options that cloud the issue of price, but some are under $400.00. US dollars (what is that? about 7,000,000 Canadian?). E-me with your snail mail address if you'd like me to send you a Calton brochure.('treeware'). And tell me what your instrument is so I can give you a current price.
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last updatelast update Sept. 15, 2005