OK, So I've thought about getting a snare drum from you, and we discussed a quote. Considering that you said you were making snare drums at cost, just to get started, I thought this would be a fun idea to get one of your drums.
But being a guy that knows the value of a buck, and the fact that I work hard for my money, like everybody else does... I decided to ask PJ what it would cost to have the exact same snare drum made by Medicine Man. I've seen his work, he REALLY knows his stuff and I just wanted to see how much I would be saving by getting a drum from you, since you're making them at cost and all.
So here's what it comes down to... Bottom line:
If I buy a drum from you... Your price was $385.00 and you've never made a snare drum before. You don't know how to true bearing edges, you don't know how to apply a wrap, and you would be learning "on the job". I have no idea what the drum will sound like, or the quality of construction... Translation: A COMPLETE GAMBLE!
OR... I could buy a drum with the SAME specifications from PJ. HIS price is $325.00 after the DML 20% discount. He makes the best bearing edges I have ever seen, and his drums, every one that I have seen, is FLAWLESS. He's a complete professional in every way. From PJ, I would get a WORLD CLASS DRUM, for 60 Bucks LESS! No Gamble AT ALL!
So, the thing you should do, before you start taking peoples money is to examine HOW it is possible for PJ to make that drum for less. I'm not saying you marked the drum up a lot, I'm saying that PJ has a better handle on how to control costs!
Part of being a manufacturer is controlling the costs in your supply chain, and you clearly need some help in that area! When you're offering to make cheap snare drums for people, you're not really delivering on that promise are you? Sure you're not making any money from the endeavor, but do you REALLY expect people to pay you MORE for a drum than they would pay PJ for it? He's a PROFESSIONAL!
Building drums can be a great hobby. You can experiment with different materials, and end up with drums that will make you very proud to have them, you'll even develop your own sound in the process. But there's more to being a professional custom drum maker than drilling some holes and putting on the parts you bought. You need to get a handle on the BUSINESS end of things, as well as a few other key points that I'll outline shortly.
So let's examine just WHY your drum costs more than PJ's.
1) You don't have the skills, or the machinery to cut snare beds or bearing edges. This means that you have to buy shells that have had them cut for you, and that translates to a LOT more money right from the start AND the bearing edges will not be of the same quality that PJ is capable of doing. This is the BIGGEST piece of the puzzle that you're missing.
2) PJ, being a business man has developed relationships with his suppliers that result in better pricing, including paying less for shipping the parts TO him. You're paying retail and full shipping.
The sad part about all of this is that I don't wish to discourage you at all. I hope you CAN become a drum builder some day, but making a tom tom doesn't qualify you to call yourself a custom drum maker. Being able to drill some holes and operate a screwdriver doesn't qualify you either. The only thing that WILL qualify you is developing supply chains, learning the woodworking skills that you're currently PAYING people to do for you, and learning your craft.
Simply put, you're not a custom drum company.
You're a custom drum hobbyist, and THAT should be enough! You don't HAVE to take it to the next level! And just because you CAN doesn't mean that you SHOULD!
Have sme fun, make yourself a few drums, or even a kit, but leave the business to the professionals.
One last thing, and I mentioned this before, EVERYTIME you sell a drum at cost or below that's a drum that PJ could have made money on, at the same price. That is money that HE can't pay his mortgage with, or feed his family. You make NOTHING, he loses EVERYTHING! He's such a nice guy, he's willing to HELP you with this endeavor, but in the end, you're not seeing what it is really costing him.
We're a small community here, and we ALL wish you the very best, but you have really put the cart before the horse. I sincerely feel that you're doing yourself, and the community at large a disservice by offering these drums to people at prices which are higher than they could buy from a respected professional.
I'm NOT trying to shoot you down, I'm simply trying to give you some perspective that you may not be able to see from your unfortunately close vantage point. I'm not saying you should stop making drums for yourself or even your friends, but PLEASE make sure that people understand that THEY are funding your research and development, and that they could get a drum for less money from a company that is KNOWN to make a product that is superior to MOST of the drums on the market.
Please take this in the spirit in which is was delivered! I wish you the best in the pursuit of your hobby, but really DO consider keeping it as a hobby, and not a professional pursuit until which time you can deliver a product that is competitive both in quality and price.