Here is My Procedure for Commissions:

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Commissioned instruments: Yes! I do them.

Building custom handmade instruments, Double bass, violin, viola, cello, five string fiddle, etc.

Here is a recent Commission (link)

The customer must anticipate that, anything I have not already made (and have in stock) OR anything that is outside my usual standard work will be considered custom work. (I do occasionally accept trade-ins, but not always).

Most makers handle commissioning an instrument in one of two ways:

  1. They charge a non-refundable down-payment to get your name on the waiting list, and then full payment upon delivery (pending customer approval), or;
  2. They simply give an estimated time of completion, and when it is done you either like it or you don’t. No money moves unless you buy the instrument. If you don’t like it, they sell it to someone else and you both move on…

I will, at your preference, do:

  • The second option, after some detailed discussion with you, in order to determine as nearly as possible what it is you have in mind, or;
  • A modified combination: if you want to choose the specific billets of maple and spruce from which I will fashion your instrument, I will charge for the materials, just as if you bought the wood in the first place, then make the instrument. all work will be in the order of the waiting list, and you will pay the agreed-upon purchase price when the instrument is completed to your satisfaction… or;
  • A modified first option, such as: if you have specifications for a custom-made instrument that I feel may be unsaleable to anyone else, I may require full payment up front.
    (A couple asked for a “green violin” for their teenage daughter. I was quite sure I would have a hard time selling it if they didn’t buy it. So, I told them they would have to pay in advance. I never heard from them again. I guess that’s OK…I’m not sure I wanted a green fiddle out there with my name on it anyway. Blue, maybe…) 🙂

If you want a special instrument made for you, give me a call–see the “Contact  me” page–and get your name on the “list.”

From this point forward, I will also offer a “documentation package.” All handmade instruments will get a provenance document. All commissioned instruments will have progress reports as the build takes place. These reports will provide photos and commentary, culminating in a small (20-25 page) hard-bound book. The small book will provide a photo-story of the entire journey, but in simplified form.

For extra money I will provide a “blow-by blow” chronicle (120+ pages) of the full build. However, this must be arranged in advance, because I can’t go back and take pictures of something that was completed weeks ago. It is quite time-consuming, too, so it won’t be cheap. If you want to see an example of what that might look like, go to “Books by Chet Bishop” for a look.

Currently, I build all members of the violin-family and the five string variants of each. I had originally intended to focus just on violas and basses. Given time, all other instruments would have gone to commission work. Market demands have changed that plan, of course. 🙂 Now I build ’em all.

I will always be consider Fractional size instruments to be custom work. A good luthier can build Fractional size instruments to sound nearly as good as full-sized instruments, but they must be made quite thin and light. And they cost just as much as the full-sized instruments, as they require virtually the same labor, and almost exactly the same material cost.

I hope to hear from you…just to chat, and get feedback, if nothing else.

Commissioned Five-String Fiddle
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