Starting a Guitar Business with Highline Guitars
Chris Monck: The other day I did a complex inlay design on a fretboard. It took me three minutes to cut the inlay design. It took another, probably 25 minutes to cut the pocket. Then I held my breath and I took that piece of inlay, flipped it over It was perfect. So what used to take me hours and hours? We're talking several days of tedious cutting with a jeweler saw on routing by hand, took me less than 35 minutes to do it with the X-Carve. That's a game changer.
Now these episodes are going to feature the stories of how people are starting in a growing their business with the aid of CNC technology. My name is Brandon and I'm on the team here at Inventables. Inventables is the company behind the X-Carve and the X-Carve Pro are CNC's as well as Easel, the world's easiest CAD Cam software. So Easel can help you design your product. Then our X-Carve. X-Carve Pro or a bunch of third party machines are gonna help you carve your product.
But usually the hardest part of that entire process is who you're going to sell that product. So in this series, we're going to focus on the Sell part of Design Carve Sell. And to kick us off, we're talking with Chris Mock of Highline Guitars.
And Chris has sold a whole bunch of guitars. He combines technology like CNC's with old world handcrafted techniques to create one of a kind of one-off guitars, you haven't seen anywhere else. And this crazy Steam Punk design is actually one of the first ones that I saw from him, and I definitely knew I had to bring them on into chat.
We get into a bunch of things like how CNC's can help you reduce your overall labor costs, how do you price to where do you get your first sell, and how do you grow a business in a niche that is already pretty crowded? Now, before we get into how Chris started selling guitars, let's find out how he actually built his first guitar. Brandon: I want to welcome you. Chris, thank you so much for jumping on and chatting with this excited to see how you have built a business, selling guitars, also teaching people how to build the guitars too. So you do some pretty cool stuff, I like to rewind it a good ways back. How did you get involved with making things like it's like the music piece. Did that start before the making or how did that work? Chris Monck: I played guitar just, you know, noodling.
And I did that for a number of years and, my son who, he was about, I think, eight or nine. He asked me if he could learn to play guitar. So I said, sure, of course I didn't want to buy him a really expensive guitar and have it be, one of those flash in the pan hobbies. So I bought him a cheap guitar and he started to learn to play. And then after about, two years. It was pretty obvious he was going to stick with it.
And he came to me and asked me for a new and better guitar. I asked him, what kind of guitar do you want? And he said, I want to Gibson SG Angus Young Signature Model. So I took a look at it and that's a $2,500 guitar. bowing lawns and shoveling walks.
I had made toys for him when he was a little kid. So without missing a beat, he asked me if I could build them a guitar and, being the dad who wants to inspire, I accepted the challenge and I built a guitar. And I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to build another guitar and I just kept doing it and I would build a guitar, sell it, and then use that money to fund the next guitar belt. So it was like a self-sustaining hobby. And after a couple of years of doing this, I was cleaning out my computer and I noticed that I had created hundreds of designs. So I started.
Maybe I could turn this into a business. I could sell these plans to people who want to build guitars. And at the same time, as part of my effort to promote what I do, I created a YouTube channel and just was going in that direction. So I started selling the plans and I was building the guitars, doing the YouTube, and it's just grown from. Brandon: Yeah. Yeah, you're doing a lot, which is really interesting.
There's a different, different, a couple different angles. I wanna ask you about, but, even. That going back to when you're building the first guitar for your son. So did you just have a normal kind of workshop set up? Chris Monck: Yeah. I had a small wood shop, all, most of the tools in my garage, and I just back the cars out, pull the tools out and do the work that way.
And over time, I had acquired a drill press and a band saw and a plunge router. And then I added a built sander, a joiner and a planer. So I was building everything, using what I would call a modern. traditional techniques I was using, I wasn't doing it with just chisels and a bone saw I was using power tools, but everything was guided by hand. it was still the old fashioned way of building things.
I hadn't gotten into CNC yet, but that was something I started to really look at seriously. Brandon: Yeah. So how did you learn to build a guitar? Chris Monck: When my son asked me if I would build a one, I had no idea how to build a guitar. I knew I had to do some basic woodworking because I had done other projects in the past.
But what I did was I went to my local library and they just happened to have a book on how to build your own guitar. I ended up buying a copy of that book. And that's what I use to learn the basics of the woodwork that's necessary to build a guitar. So that's how it started. And there was a little bit of resources on the internet that I could rely on.
to answer some of the questions that the book didn't answer. But one of the things I found was when building guitars, there are so many details that people don't talk about. And that's why I created my YouTube channels.
Cause I wanted to try to share the information that people aren't getting from the books when they try to build a guitar. Brandon: Yeah. So when was that first guitar? what year? Chris Monck: Oh boy. I just did a video on that, where I was talking about, I happened to have that first guitar right here and it was about 20 years ago and I don't remember the exact year.
So it was probably, 1992, 93 was sometime in that range. Brandon: When did you start Highline then? Like officially. Chris Monck: Highline came along about five or six years later. I, cause I was doing, just selling stuff, I try to eat, see, I did a little bit on eBay and then I found Reverb in Chicago. So I started doing guitars through reverb and it was probably around, 98, 99.
I started to think, okay, I got a brand that's so I came up with the Highline name and created the website and did all that. Brandon: When you made your first a guitar for your son, go into that next step of, I can make one and sell it to someone. I feel like that's a pretty big hurdle, actually making money from the things that you make. How did you start getting those like initial sales? Chris Monck: The initial effort was done through eBay. So I would post up and guitar on eBay. And at the same time, when I was building the guitar, I would shoot video of the process.
And I was also sharing photos on. I was on Facebook at the time, Twitter, and I was sharing those photos and updates as I was doing this work. And so then people would see it and they would email me and ask me, more details about it.
Or, in my videos, I would point them to my E-bay channel or to my eBay store so that they could check and see what was available. And that was how I was marketing the guitars. Brandon: So were you working off of commission or would you just build like a spec guitar and then sell it? And what was that Chris Monck: I'd spec my own guitars. I was doing some commissions and as my notoriety increased and people knew who I was.
I started getting requests to build commission instruments and. The thing was, is, I really wasn't too keen on doing commissions. I wanted to build guitars that I created that were my own design, my own specification, but those commissions started coming in and some of them, I couldn't ignore it because the money was too good. So I accepted those commissions and I started building quite a few guitars, based on those commissions and. that continued and up until recently, when I finally decided I'm not doing the commission builds anymore. I'm just going to build guitars that I designed and create for myself.
Brandon: How were you initially pricing, how are you figuring out how much to sell what you were making? Chris Monck: When I'm going to build a guitar, I'll spec out all the parts, the materials, everything, and then figure out what that's going to cost. And when I was doing a commission build, that would be the deposit. I've stopped doing that just rolls into the price of the guitar. And in the past, when I was building guitars using, the band saw the router and drill press and all that, my labor was a big part of it.
And it was generally, based on what I was going to charge hourly. it was coming out to around $1,500 for the labor plus the cost of parts and materials. They had the potential value of around $2,000. However, there's a reality when you're first starting out.
A lot of guys aren't going to pay $2,000 for a guitar from somebody they've never heard of So I had to eat it on the labor cost. And what I did was I was just charging enough to slightly more than cover the cost of the parts and materials. So I can at least make some profit, but I was still losing a lot in labor. And as I've told people in my videos about, don't sell yourself short, one of the things you don't want to do in the very beginning, you should, but don't dwell on it is how much that guitar is worth based your hourly wage for building. Cause you'll find out your hourly wage is dropping down to less than $2 Brandon: Right.
Chris Monck: when you have to eat those labor costs. But once you start to build a reputation and you can start to raise your pricing and at the same time, look for ways to reduce your labor cost so that instead of taking two weeks to build a guitar, it takes you to three or four days. three guitars, every two or three weeks. Brandon: Yeah. It's almost at the beginning, you were investing in a client base or testimonials, or just the reputation.
Chris Monck: Yeah, exactly. And YouTube played a big part of that because. I started to see my subscriptions going up and, I try not to focus too much on subscriptions, but that's an indicator of your reputation and it's to the point now where I can comment on another guitar builders, Instagram photo, and they'll say, oh, I know who you are. So I'm starting to get that reputation or, I've had the reputation out there for a little while and, just trying to maintain that. and build off of it as much as I can.
Brandon: You mentioned that you sell plans as well, and then you were doing YouTube. Did you ever want to just going to build a guitars? Like that's gonna be my main thing or you always liked having these other kind of additional ways to bring in income? Chris Monck: Yeah, I'm a big believer in having as many revenue sources as you can because in the world of building guitars, which is tied into the availability of parts and materials, I wanted to have other sources of revenue. Other revenue streams that I wouldn't necessarily live off of them, but they would be there to help support my business. You'll find that with building guitars, the market isn't what it was back in like the seventies, eighties, and nineties. That's when the baby boom generation was spending money on guitars, playing and recording with guitars.
But now that they've reached the retirement age, the generations that are coming up behind them are, they're more about. This thing Rather than learning how to play a guitar. So the numbers aren't there, the way they used to be. it's and I've noticed recently there's been a little bit of a resurgence and, we'll see where that goes, but I really felt it was necessary to broaden into.
Helping people who want to build their own guitars. Cause that's, part of the whole maker movement and the DIY movement, which is going pretty strong and people are looking for, especially with the lockdowns looking for projects that they can do at home. So I wanted to try to be there to help with that. Building guitars and teaching people how to do it and selling plans, it's the way it's working. Brandon: For your guitar, like physical guitar customers that are buying them. Where were they coming from? Was it like your online presence? Was it local Chris Monck: Oh, it's all online.
I've had a couple of locals, but, the internet is such a broad reach. That, and the thing is, back in like the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you would have maybe 500 decent guitar players in the city of Denver, all of whom were always looking for guitars, but now that number has shrunk down. So you've got to go way further out.
And I was selling internationally for a while, but I ended up having to back away from selling internationally. And I just focus on selling throughout the continental United States. That's worked out fairly well. I would like to get back to international, they're going to have to change a lot of rules about shipping around the globe before I'm going to go back to doing that because it's an absolute nightmare, as I'm sure Inventables knows selling CNC machines. Brandon: Yeah.
Yeah. Guitars are not small to ship. Chris Monck: Not only that, but the materials are, many of them are restricted. Brandon: Really? Huh? Chris Monck: Yeah. You're a certain species of mahoganny. All your Rose Woods, all your Ebony's.
So I had one guitar that was supposed to be shipped to England, and this is when I quit. They claimed a customs claimed had a Rosewood fretboard, which it didn't, it did not have a Rosewood fretboard, but I didn't have any proof that it wasn't Rosewood. So custom set, if it looks like Rosewood it's Rosewood, we're confiscating it.
So they confiscated it. Now, fortunately, eBay not only refunded the customer's money, but they let me keep the money that the customer paid and the guitar just disappeared. Never saw.
So I quit doing international. Brandon: I never would have even thought about restricted, that makes sense. that's crazy. Okay, so go in to how a little more Inventables came into the picture. I think I saw you're like, Hey, I got an X car video, way back in 2015.
Does that sound about right? Chris Monck: That's yeah, that's about right. exchange for an honest evaluation. And at the time, I had been thinking, how it would be really ideal to bring CNC into my workshop, because that would be a key way to reduce the labor costs by shortening the amount of time it takes to build a guitar. And I knew the only way to do that would be CNC. I had done everything else I could to reduce my labor costs.
The next step was going to be CNC, but at the time, as I was doing research, CNC was. It was still too complicated and expensive, but then Inventables came along with this X car, which was a whole different, approach to CNC. And I thought I've got nothing to lose. I'm going to try this.
So I accepted the X carve original, set it up, started using it, and I could tell right away, wow, this is a game changer, and it was. Brandon: What were the first things, I guess you started and making with it. Was it like profiles of the bodies or Chris Monck: I was doing pretty much everything. I knew that Easel couldn't do three dimensional tool paths and G code.
But I knew I had learned how to use Rhinocerious 3D so I can create those types of paths. But I could bring them into easel, and so I was able to do my fretboards, my neck and the body. And I did everything. there was a little bit of a learning curve in terms of, adjusting the belts and the V wheels and getting everything to run just right.
But once I had that done, I was able to start banging out necks and fret boards and bodies. And with that original X-Carve, I was reducing the time it took to build a guitar substantially. So like with a body using the old traditional way with the band saw, and the router was taking me two eight hour days to make a complete body to the point where it would be sanded.
Once I had that X-Carve up and running, I cut that down to a single eight hour day. I cut the time in half and right then I thought, okay, this is definitely the way . To go, as far as reducing that production time and reducing the labor cost. Brandon: For other business owners that have just brought a CNC into the shop. are there any tips you'd give them on ways to think about it? Like, this is how you can set it up or, here are some tips just when you're trying to put out a lot of product. Chris Monck: With the original X-Carve. I think, the key was understanding the limits of the machine, how fast you could carve into wood, how deep you can carve into it.
And what I did when I create a guitar, I'll do a layout of the body, the neck and the fret board and I'll look at each of the components and I do these drawings, I'm using Adobe illustrator, and I'll set it up full size, full scale, but then I'll look at each element, the body and the neck and the fret board separately. And what I'll do is I'll look at those elements and decide, what can I carve using just straight two dimensional, carving, and Easel. And then what elements do I need to build a 3d model and set up my other tool paths, And this is one of the nice features with Easel Pro, the ability to create a project with all your pages across the bottom, on the screen, I will set those up in the order that they're going to be done.
And you have to visualize that whole process. From start to finish and you find yourself moving pages around, which is another nice thing that they did with Easel Pro is that ability to move pages around. Because you will find that certain operations have to be done before others. And then you can move quickly through the entire process. So right now, for a typical guitar build I'll have at least a dozen pages, each one, a different cutting operation from making the fret board to making the neck and then making the body itself.
The most important tip I can give is having that ability to visualize what's going to happen when you start to carve. That way, you can set up your workflow, in such a way that makes sense and is going to yield success. Rather than have so many guys I see are they run out to Home Depot and they buy those big, sheets of that pink, polyurethane foam and they'll cut mock-ups with it to see what's going to happen.
And that sorta works, but there's a big difference between foam and Mahogany. And when you start to make those cuts into hardwood, everything kind of changes. Brandon: Did you ever change how you approach the actual design around the tool? radius of whatever turn I want? Chris Monck: Yes, it does. And in fact, there have been occasions where I'll set up a cut and I'll start to make it. And as I'm starting to make the cut, I'll think, oh wait, that bit's not long enough. I've got to stop this right now.
Or the spindle's going to plow right into the wood. So sometimes those kinds of things will escape detection. I think it'd be cool down the road if Easel Pro can have a feature where you would tell it the length of your bit, so if that exceeds the thickness of the material, you're going to get a warning because I've had that happen a couple of times. In terms of design, there are times when I'll look at a shape that I'm going to cut and I'm going to say, okay, if I make that cut with a quarter inch diameter bit, when it gets into the corner, I'm going to have a quarter inch radius. So maybe I want to think of a two pass carving operation so that I would switch bits to clean up that corner to get more of the sharp rather than the rounded.
Things like that, that, I had come across as I'm planning a project. Brandon: How do you work still with traditional power tools along with the CNC? Cause, I'm sure you're not getting a fully finished guitar right off the, the CNC? Chris Monck: it's getting really close. Brandon: is it really? Okay. Chris Monck: Yes, I'll tell you. When I was using the original X-Carve, there were operations that I thought, you know what? I can do this faster, if I just take the neck over to the drill press and drill the tuner holes.
That made sense. And there were some of them. like I was just mentioning about cleaning up a rounded corner with a two pass carving. Sometimes it's easier just to grab a chisel or a file and tweak that a little bit.
But with the X-Carve Pro, and especially like with Easel Pro, now you can drill holes. So I can set it up operations where it's drilling tuner holes, it's drilling, neck mounting, holes, bridge, mounting, holes, all that stuff that I used to do by hand it, it now just makes sense to do it with the X-Carve Pro. So I'm moving more and more away from combining the hand operations. And really, I think part of justifying the purhcase of an X-Carve Pro, you want to be able to do everything because like I tell people, listen, you can pick between equipping your shop with a bandsaw and a drill press and planers and joiners.
Or you can maybe think about just getting an X-Carve Pro. end up with a machine that can do certain incredible things that those other tools just are not going to. Brandon: I guess the X-Carve Pro decision kinda what went into that? Cause you had built your own custom CNC, right? Chris Monck: Yeah, when I had the original X-Carve, I, it was just like, this is where it's going. And if you're not going to jump on board with this technology, you're going to be left way in the dust. And at the time I was, I had really run that X-Carve the ground.
in three years I just punished it. So I was going to do an upgrade but when I started looking at the cost and everything that was going to have to do, I thought let's design and build one, and this will become one of my YouTube video series type projects. And I can also create a plan for it and sell it on my E Guitar plan's website. And so that's what I did. And I use that machine for a couple of years, but it was slightly better than the original X-Carve but I didn't realize how much better it could get until I got the X-Carve Pro. And then it's like starting over in a whole new realm of capability.
And, it's just been night and day compared to what I used to. Brandon: so is it just that you could run it, at like higher feed? Chris Monck: Yeah, I look at the X-Carve Pro in combination with Easel Pro is a one-two punch. The first punch is the X-Carve Pro it's strength and its power. It allows me to increase those feed rates and depth of cut dramatically more than what I was able to do with my old machine by at least double. I'm carving guitar bodies at 150, 160 inches per minute.
Whereas with my previous machine, I couldn't go much beyond 80 inches per minute. Depth of cut is equal to the diameter of the bit, so quarter inch bit is a quarter inch depth of cut. And that I know I could do a lot more.
With my old machine though, it was barely a 16th of an inch in anything faster was just too much for it. So with the new X-Carve Pro, this is a dramatic increase in speed. But then the second punch is Easel Pro. And this is probably something that a lot of people haven't thought about. But, with CNC technology, most people these days still think that it is really only useful in high speed, repetitive manufacturing In truth, because the software is getting so much easier to use.
We can do a lot more, so much more easily than we could in the past. And that's one of the reasons why I stopped doing custom builds for people because now I want to focus on my custom built, but I want every guitar that I build to be unique. original and one-off. Well, CNC doesn't really make sense for that in the old way of thinking, but with easier to use software, we can do it and I'm doing it on every guitar. They're unique.
They're different. They're one of a kind, because I can create the files so fast and go right to carving. So that's the second punch is that, shortening or leveling out that learning curve for the software, which is something been so difficult I think for a lot of people. Brandon: Yeah, I've heard that too, just from folks that are just doing customized cutting boards, something pretty simple, but just the fact that you can change the name.
Chris Monck: And, I know a lot of guys who, in the years, past a lot of other small shop luthiers, who decided to take the CNC plunge. And they would see videos and they would hear people talk about it. So they go out and buy this machine, set it up. But then when they would try to tackle the software they gave up because it was too much for them. And, I tell people before you buy a CNC machine, download some demos of the software and get a feel for it before you make that decision. But the software is getting so much easier.
I can create a body in 20 minutes and then I can throw it into Meshcam Do a toolpath of 3d shapes. Then save out the SVG portions, bring those into Easel, create the pockets that I need and I'm ready to go. So if I decide, I want to do. a Les Paul style guitar.
One day I can do that or I can do a Stratocaster style guitar the next day or a V-shaped guitar. There's no limitation there anymore, but it used to be, it was so complicated to use the software that a guy would spend days and days creating the body files. And once he was done, they would just keep making that over and over.
Instead of customizing and tailoring it for different situations. So that's where I see CNC is really changing, is having that ability to do that one off those one off designs. And that's going to be key for my business going forward. Brandon: Let's say I'll come to you today, I wanted to Les Paul I've always wanted a Les Paul, how long would it take assuming you had the material? Chris Monck: If I have no files to start with, it's probably gonna take me a couple of days to build the body, the neck and the fretboard files.
And it doesn't take me very long at all, because I have so many previous examples that I can tweak and modify once it's done. say I do that on a Thursday and a Friday, take the weekend off. Then on Monday we start to cut. So on Monday morning at eight o'clock in the morning, I'm going to throw a fretboard blank onto the X-Carve. And by 9, 9:15, it's done. So I'll set that aside.
Then I'll get my net blank, clamp that down and probably by lunchtime, the neck is finished. in the afternoon, I'll grab a body blank clamp that down and I'll carve that out. Probably by two.
say three o'clock in the afternoon while that's carving, I'm standing at a work bench next to the X-Carve. I'm inserting the trust rod into the neck and then gluing the front board to the neck itself. So then by the end of the day, my neck is clapted on and the glue is drying. The body has done. So if I've got a couple hours left in the day, I'll liberate the body from the blank, cutting the tabs, and I'll take it over to, my oscillating spindle sander. And this is one of those tools that's outside of the CNC realm.
If it's necessary, I'm finding what the X-Carve Pro I can do finishing passes that do an amazing surface finish so that all I need to do is just some light to 20 grit sanding. And then the body's done, I can start to apply grain, filler, my dyes and stains and whatever, finish them and apply to it. The next day, I take the clamps off the neck and I can insert the neck into the body.
And once that's done, I can then start to apply my finish. So really by Wednesday or Thursday, I'm applying the finish on the body and the neck and pressing in the frets and getting that ready. And then, by Friday maybe the following Monday, I'm doing final assembly. Tuesday and Wednesday set up, making sure everything plays correct. And then at that stage, because of the nature of stringed instruments, I'll hang the guitar for a couple of weeks . And let the wood and the strings
and the tension and all that settle in. We're talking about a week and a half to two weeks to fully complete a guitar. And if I do my schedule, I can do this multiple guitars at the same. So I do one guitar on Monday another on Tuesday, and then just kinda work back and forth between them all. four or five guitars can be done at once. Brandon: Yeah.
So that's crazy. You had to have. The finished, like actually hanging up.
I wasn't even thinking about all that, this finish work. I'm sure it has to take a while to drive, but yeah, from Chris Monck: Actually. another one of those areas where I'm looking for ways to reduce the labor cost because finished can take a huge amount of time. So I've switched over from oil and solvent-based finishes to modern high-tech water-based finishes, which I can be ready to buff out in a day. So that saves a tremendous amount of. Brandon: So, another area I've seen you use the X-Carve it's not just around making the finished product, but I saw you were making, I tools with the CNC.
Chris Monck: I made an aluminum fretboard radius, sanding beam. I don't know if you know this, but fretboards on a guitar, they're not flat. They may look flat, but they have a very slight radius in them.
And that can vary anywhere from a seven and a quarter inch radius all the way up to about a 20 inch radius. To fine tune it, to get it absolutely perfectly straight, true. You have to use a long radius sanding beam. And I bought a slab of half an inch thick four inches wide.
And I think it was like 20 inches long. And I clamped it down to the XR pro and carved that radius along its entire length. So I could make my own radius sanding beam. And when you look at the cost of an aluminum and extruded aluminum radius, sanding beam, they're really expensive. I paid $20 for that chunk of aluminum and made it myself.
And I've made a couple of other tools as well. I had a guy give me grief for making that radius, sanding beam on the CNC machine. He says, you need to show people how to make tools by hand. And I said, why I've got a CNC machine. It wouldn't make sense at all to do that.
yeah. Brandon: It is funny cause you're in the online world too. So you get all the YouTube comments, which are really fun, but I always find like the mindset of someone doing this as a hobby, versus doing this, to make money, there's a shift when you're like, I've got these tools, I'm going to use them to their full potential Chris Monck: Yeah, when you go into some of the woodworking supply stores, when you start adding up the cost of all the tools that you need, you very quickly are in the realm, of the new X-Carve. And you can certainly get close to the cost of an X-Carve Pro and rather than fill your shop with all these different machines, you can just, eck displays of CNC staff is growing rapidly.
Brandon: Okay, so last question, so you walk through the process of building a guitar, but if you were to start this business again, would you go about it in the same way? If someone was wanting to start a business, making instruments, or just building how would you approach it or what advice would you give? Chris Monck: When I first started out, I was, captivated by the romance of building things by hand, carving it out with a chisel and using files and spoke shaves and all that stuff. And there was definitely that mindset among guitar players and guitar builders that's how you have to build a stringed instrument is just, by hand the artisnal way. But the labor involved, there was no way I could compete, with guitars that are being made overseas and imported into the United States. There's just no way I can compete with that.
And in the beginning, when I first was building those guitars were junk. So building a guitar by hand made sense, but now there's so many of those guitars coming from overseas are of such good quality, that I've had to find a different way to be competitive. And what I've done is I have taken the X-Carve Pro and its strength, its power and its precision coupled with the ease of, Easel Pro, and now I'm looking at being able to build one-off truly custom botique, heirloom quality guitars, but at a fraction of the price of what my competition is charging for them. Because when you look at a guitar, that has all kinds of engraving, all kinds of inlay, a lot of times those guitars are priced anywhere from five to $10,000.
And a lot of your younger guitar players, they're just not going to spend that. they can't afford it. The other day I did a complex inlay design on a fretboard. It took me three minutes to cut the inlay design. It took another, probably 25 minutes to cut the pocket.
Then I held my breath and I took that piece of inlay, flipped it over There were no gaps. It was perfect. So what used to take me hours and hours? We're talking several days of tedious cutting with a jeweler saw on routing by hand, took me less than 35 minutes to do it with the X-Carve. That's a game changer. And when you realize it can do that is exactly the sort of thing if I had known that was going to be possible 20 years ago, I would have jumped on it.
But at the time, it wasn't possible. Now it is. So if I was starting my business today, there are a lot of tools I have in my shop, I wouldn't even bother looking at. In fact, I've started getting rid of some of the tools because I just don't use them anymore. Looking at, how guitars are priced and what I can sell them for here in the United States and what the competition overseas is selling, but what I am now capable of doing, yeah, I would have gone down the CNC path a long time ago if that had been available at the time. Brandon: How would you get customers if you didn't have any presence or anybody didn't know about you, what would you do? Would you start creating videos and sharing again? Chris Monck: Yeah, absolutely.
I think, the internet and its capabilities are hard to deny. you go to where the people are. And the people are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, a whole host of other ones. And that's where you can go to get the most bang for your buck. And fact, I don't really spend any money on social media advertising.
I just post my videos and, a couple of promos for those videos on Twitter. And that's really all I'm doing right now. I could probably do more, I'm happy so far with how it's worked out.
But, I think for a lot of folks who don't have that marketing background. Who haven't created websites and don't know social media strategy, they're going to have to look at having someone help them do that. It's not automatic. Don't take what I've done is as a a good way to necessarily do it because I have that background. That might be something that Inventables could consider offering as a service to some of the folks who are starting a business around the X-Carve Pro is a ways to help them market that business. to recoup the cost of that machine.
Brandon: Yeah, we definitely to help, not just on the, what you do with the machine, but the whole business that you create with it. That's definitely one of the big focuses moving forward for us. But, also, like you mentioned, you got to go where the people are and you had mentioned Reverb. There's going to be some type of unique community around whatever product or somewhere that you can find and get plugged into.
And like you . Mentioned, Reverb is great. And for people not familiar, it's like a used instrument seller, is that how you'd describe it? Chris Monck: It's everything instruments. It's used instruments, it's brand new custom made parts.
I don't know if people can offer services through it. Yeah, I see a lot of brand new parts that are up for sale. if you're a, a music store in Denver, Colorado, and you want a broader reach than just your community, you can sell your parts and accessories on reverb. So they do pretty much everything.
Brandon: I appreciate you taking the time and chatting. it's always fun to catch up with all the crazy things that you're building, looking forward to see, all the stuff you make with X-Carve Pro and the videos you put out. Chris Monck: You guys are going to see something hopefully in the next month, and it's a secret project that I've been working on. can't say anything about it right now, but it will be a pretty impressive projects. So that's all I can say on it. Brandon: So stay tuned, everyone stay tuned to him.
For people that are listening that do wanna check you out, Is the website, is that the best place you send them or just Highline Guitars all over? Chris Monck: Yeah. Highline Guitars, it's a website that's in flux because, when I got the X-Carve Pro and started using it and realized what this was gonna mean for my business, I quickly jumped onto my website and rearranged a few things. I have a bunch of empty spots where there will be guitars for sale. I just haven't gotten there yet.
that's one of the pitfalls of doing everything yourself, one minute you're running the CNC machine, cutting a guitar body. The next minute you're, working on a website and then the next minute you're editing videos. Um, the Jack of all trades, a one man band, so to speak. Brandon: Yeah. There's a lot of pieces to it, but, Chris Monck: That, or my Highline G uitars YouTube channel.
Brandon: Got it. Cool. I appreciate you taking the time and chatting with me. Chris Monck: All right.