Andy Rothstein has been playing electric guitars for more than 30 years. However, he had a problem that lead to an idea. The problem was that guitars did not sound as well as they should. The idea was Rothstein Guitars and its website, Guitar-mod.com, which Rothstein runs with his wife, Alissa.
But Rothstein Guitars doesn’t sell guitars. The New Jersey-based business sells prewired electronic assemblies for guitars and basses. And it sells these assemblies entirely through its ecommerce site.
PeC: How did the business and the site come to be?
ROTHSTEIN: I’ve been playing for quite a long time and over the years I started getting somewhat dissatisfied with the types of guitars you would find and what types of sounds you can get out of them, which is a common story. Lots of people look to upgrade their guitars and enhance them, trick them out so to speak. However, I really wasn’t finding what I was looking for. I just had some ideas for things that I would like to see, and if I couldn’t find them that meant I had to try to work them out myself and eventually I did and one thing led to the other.
PeC: What does “tricking out” a guitar mean, exactly?
ROTHSTEIN: That means just taking the stock functionality and adding features to it.
PeC: What kind of features do you add?
ROTHSTEIN: One of the most popular configurations we offer is called the “Voodoo Tone Monster,” specifically for Stratocaster style guitars. Instead of just having the standard five pickup combinations, we offer nine by using a series of mini-switches.
We can also add quality components. For example, a stock Stratocaster will come with lower end electronics, and some people would look to upgrade things like capacitors and such. Even if they just want to stay with the stock wiring, they’ll look to add better quality parts to reduce the noise, such as pick guard shields, which is a shielding material that will minimize or reduce some of the noise that you’ll get in a guitar.
PeC: When did you launch the business?
ROTHSTEIN: In 2004.
PeC: Is the business online only?
ROTHSTEIN: Rothstein Guitars is online only, although we do periodically deal with local customers, but by appointment only.
PeC: What was the biggest challenge in creating the website?
ALISSA ROTHSTEIN: The biggest challenge was not having enough time in the day. Since I am a professional graphic/web designer, I never have a problem coming up with ideas for the design, or redesign, or other features and areas that I would like to add or implement. I’m in the process of brainstorming a new web design right now, but unfortunately it is on the backburner while I tend to my other design business clients and our guitar business customers. I’m optimistic that I will have a new site up and running sometime early to mid 2008.
PeC: What are the challenges in maintaining the website?
ALISSA ROTHSTEIN: I designed the site using templates and cascading style sheets, so maintaining and updating the site is a breeze. The only challenge that we are up against is finding the time to make the necessary changes and additions.
PeC: How do you go about marketing the site?
ROTHSTEIN: We use a variety marketing methods including an enewsletter, print advertising in Guitar World magazine, web advertising on guitar-related forums and Google AdWords.
PeC: How much do you spend on pay-per-click advertising?
ROTHSTEIN: We do a small amount, a maximum of $5 per day.
PeC: How many people does Rothstein Guitars employ?
ROTHSTEIN: In addition to Alissa and myself, we have two freelancers to help with production work (soldering, etc.).
PeC: What shopping cart do you use?
ROTHSTEIN: We use MIVA version 4.0.
PeC: Do you drop-ship any of your products?
ROTHSTEIN: All inventory is on onsite and all assemblies are wired by us.
PeC: Is shipping a challenge?
ROTHSTEIN: There were challenges at first. It used to take too much time. Now, when an order comes in, we batch them and use a MIVA module to dump the data to a spreadsheet, and then simply upload the contact info to the USPS.
PeC: How are products shipped?
ROTHSTEIN: USPS, either Priority or Express.
PeC: How many assemblies do you ship per day?
ROTHSTEIN: We get about 100 orders per quarter, and the majority of these orders are for prewired assemblies of some kind.
PeC: What mistakes have you made along the way and how would you change them?
ROTHSTEIN: The biggest mistake we made was trying to do all things without hiring any help. We now have trained a couple of freelancers to help with soldering the assemblies so we can focus more on things like product development and marketing.