Let me explain my thinking here.
First of all, if youíre expecting to sell several hundred of these, then you can build them to sell for a lot less, but Iím assuming that the market for 8 string guitars is extremely limited and thatís very prominent in my thinking.
Ice says he could get local luthiers to build him one in the $1,000 to $1750 range. Maybe he could, but I donít know a single reputable luthier in the US, Canada, or Western Europe who can build a new instrument from scratch for a $1000. Perhaps he lives somewhere where cost are much lower. But assuming he could find a luthier to do it, my next question would be what are you going to ask him to build?
This is not some variation on a Strat. Itís a completely unique concept and would have to be designed from the ground up. What material would you use? What shape and dimension would you use for the neck? And Iím not talking about the approximate shape. Itís not enough to say I want a U shape or a C shape. You have to be specific to the fraction of a millimeter. If you make the profile too thin at the edges itís going to twist. Make it too thick and itís going to be too hard to play. What shape does the peg head have to be. I know my standard 7 string head wonít work, so Iíd have to design one from scratch. All this design time costs money.
What construction methods are you going to use for the neck? Iíve just switched to a 3-piece maple laminate for my 7 strings because I didnít think the one piece was stiff enough, even with graphite reinforcement. How many experimental necks do you suppose youíre going to have to make before you get it right? Anyone want a free neck? I have one Iím about to put in the scrap pile because after being on a guitar for a month it never really stabilized. Itís just too flexible near the top of the fingerboard. Between the wood, the building and finishing, Iíve invested a lot of money in that neck, money that I can only get back from the other guitars that I sell. Building an 8 string, I would have to count on building at least one neck that doesnít work out. That has to be built into the price.
How about electronics? Which pickups are you going to use? Itís not like the market offers a huge choice in 8 string pickups and everything you can get is all going to require different routing. So are you going to build a different body to try every option? My first idea would be to build a single body with a large rout that would allow you to insert a separate block with the test pickups. That prototype would be scrap when youíre done. And what do you do with the pickups that donít workout? Itís not like thereís a red-hot resale market for them. I have about $2,000 in miscellaneous electronics sitting in a series of drawers here that I may or may not ever get to use. Those all have to be built into my prices somewhere.
And finally thereís the issue of profit. Let me put this as simply as I can. If thereís no profit in this, why bother? Itís not about ďcompanies are raping you with profitĒ. Thatís a ridiculous comment from someone who simply doesnít know any better. Itís about getting a fair return on your time and investment. Thatís what business is all about and make no mistake about it, building guitars is a business and a very difficult one at that. I just raised my own prices by $400 across the board. That makes my guitars $2400 for a 6 string and $2450 for a 7 string, and anyone who thinks that Iím raping them can go to someone else for their guitar because at $2000, I just couldnít make enough to both maintain the level of quality that I demand and actually make any money.