Perhaps equally as fascinating as guitars to me has been my own personal evolution as a business person. Experience gained has been hard earned, a result of experimenting and adapting, just as challenging as research into acoustics or ergonomics.
Business is psychology, and it is strategy. The human animal is non-linear, unlike for example, the physics of vibration. Two recent books I've enjoyed have been: SuperFreakonomics (Levitt & Dubner, 2009) and Outliers: The Story of Success (Gladwell, 2008).
I would say one of the most difficult lessons learned is how to screen potential clients. Not everyone is prepared to make the journey involved in commissioning a guitar. Two common mistakes I've seen: clients who can't really afford an instrument and panic part-way through the process; also, clients who fear commitment and attempt to change features or specifications mid-build.
Both of those scenarios lead to unhappy outcomes for both of us.
I view my responsibilities differently now...not only will I build an exceptional instrument for a client, but I will take great care to make sure that individual is truly ready to successfully complete the project.
I love my clients. You provide an awesome life experience for me, a constant stream of conversations and friendships all around this amazing earth of ours.
One gift I would like to give a select few clients on the production guitars wait list is the gift of a personal build. The value of my hand built instruments has more than tripled in the past several years, and I expect that trend to continue. Which means these early production guitars are valuable investments, as well as tools with which to make music. What's a mid-1950's Strat worth these days?
So before handing over the controls to the CNC, I am shaping the initial production guitars myself, by hand. I will sign and date them as well. Just a select few. As a thank you to those who have supported me and believed in this dream.