The Canadian Guitar Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
hey guys, i just wanted to know what can one do to become a Luthier? What are some fundamental skills you need before even taking a course? And if you'd like, could share with me maybe something that you feel is the biggest hurdle one would expect to endure when starting?


any information would be very benificial to me. Thanks! :food-smiley-004:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
Well, I am not what I would consider a "luthier" but I do build guitars for a hobby and I have done numerous electric solidbodies, a few semi hollows and one flattop acoustic, and most recently a carved archtop.

In my opinion, what would be very beneficial to becoming a guitar builder is a good background in woodworking in general. I grew up in a wood shop and thats my business now for the last 15 or so years - building custom cabinets and furniture. I will say, the building of a guitar is basically woodwork. It is not that much of a stretch from doing a smaller custom piece of furniture - there are joints to be made, shaping to do, critical measurements, etc. If you look at it that way, it makes sense to me to become familiar with the basic woodworking skills and tools and know how rather than to try and learn the fundamentals while also trying to build a guitar.

Shaping a neck is not unlike hand shaping a queen anne style cabriole leg. Shaping compound curves either by hand or on a power sander requires the same skill sets - and some artistic ability also. Even sanding curved surfaces, you need to get the hang of working the wood into smooth, gracefully flowing lines.

I think, if I were to attept a shot at beiung a luthier, I would first go to a decent woodworking college (like Conestoga which has an awesome two and three year woodworking program) and learn the fundamentals. Then I would get a job in a custom shop which (like mine) which would allow me to not only hone my talents, but make a living while I could at the same time work on guitars in my spare time (and more than likely have access to the shop). If and when you decide to persue the guitar building full time, then you can go for it.

I would think that is a logical way to attempt a shot at being a luthier. Unless of course you could get a job working under an already established luthier and make enough money to support yourself untill you could go into business for yourself.

AJC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
ShaneCGuitar said:
hey guys, i just wanted to know what can one do to become a Luthier? What are some fundamental skills you need before even taking a course? And if you'd like, could share with me maybe something that you feel is the biggest hurdle one would expect to endure when starting?


any information would be very benificial to me. Thanks! :food-smiley-004:

I think the biggest hurdle would be getting your name out there, and showing the guitarists that what you can offer is better than the factory offerings, for the same price (or more). I think there are a lot of guitarists who like the "fender" or "gibson" on the headstock and unless you can make something that will be considerably better, it will be hard to make a sale IMO.

If you make a great guitar, then you just need to get it into the hands of some great players and I bet your name will get around. Biut thats probably easier said than done.

AJC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
644 Posts
Great advice from AJC. Get the basics down and make it a hobby. If you are any good at it, it will turn into a business on it's own if you let it. I do it as a hobby and people track me down and are willing to wait six months to a year for a guitar. I'm currently trying to avoid any more orders until I get caught up and make a nice demo guitar for myself.

So, GO FOR IT.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
As a Luthier, what I did was to, “Like Lowtones said”, Make it a hobby. When I started I got as much info like books, tapes and videos, “now DVD” to making myself more skilled in repairs, then in turn helped me to be a better builder. It was a number of years before I started it as a business. Working with guitar shops doing there repairs and my own as they trickled in, I then made the move to make it a business. Today I do both and I get repairs as far as California and Nova Scotia. It takes time and money so don’t quit your day job, slow and steady is the way.
Ajcoholic also gave some great advice. A trade like cabinet making would be an asset. I started off as a Machinist and got my schooling in Millwright. I also worked as a Welder fitter fabricator for 15 year making anything from transport trailers, grain elevators to furnaces. Any experience like this would be very helpful. It will help you in making your own tools to layout of bracing. If you have the drive you can do it!
Dennis
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so much guys! ill definately be following your advice. Are there any really good books/videos that you could recommend? And if you guys were looking for a person to hire and show them the works, what skills/traits would you personally look for in a assistant/protege?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Here are a couple of places to get book and tapes. First is Stewart MacDonald www.stewmac.com and 2nd is Luthiers Mercantile International www.lmii.com
Start off with info on fret work and setups and work your way to other things like making a bone saddle and nut. After that you can buy an acoustic guitar kit and tape and try one that way or you can take a class. This is somthing that I have done in the passed and I have been asked again to do another. You can make your own hours and take as long to do the build as you like. When that time comes that you would like to do such a thing, email me for more info on the subject.
Dennis
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Dennis, I checked out those sites and they look great! I think im going buy one of the kits they have and try it out (after i get a better understanding of the work ofcourse). Thanks again for your support man, I really appreciate it!
I'll let you know how it goes!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
I second the acoustic kits from LMI - I built a dread from one of their kits a few years ago. Great quality and you still have to do enough to make it a lot of work, and a lot of fun.

AJC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
64 Posts
AJC,

That's some nice work! In particular, the dark LP hollow or chambered body with the bigsby. Sweet!! Even your cabinets (wallunit - I'm assuming you did those too?) Did you re-case your amp and cab too?? It kinda looks like a Marshall in there. If so...Well done!! I REALLY like that upright 2X12 slant cab.

Scott
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,534 Posts
scottomy said:
AJC,

That's some nice work! In particular, the dark LP hollow or chambered body with the bigsby. Sweet!! Even your cabinets (wallunit - I'm assuming you did those too?) Did you re-case your amp and cab too?? It kinda looks like a Marshall in there. If so...Well done!! I REALLY like that upright 2X12 slant cab.

Scott

Scott,
Thanks! The amp is a Trinity 18 watt (early Marshall clone) sIII model. I built it just after last Christmas. Trinity is in Toronto, I also built their 15 watt "matchless lightning" clone. Great amps and great service! I built the 2x12 cab to go with the heads.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top