What qualifies a luthier

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
John Ray
Luthier
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Location: Granada, Spain

Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by John Ray » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:04 am

The question is a good one but it needs to be answered as two or three different ones. Anyone can call themselves a luthier and anyone can dedicate their lives to that. There are restrictions in some countries as soon as you start making money and have to pay business licences and taxes. I am unhappy with the term luthier because it causes some folks to demand an all-emcompassing knowledge of all stringed instruments. If that is the pre-requisite for being called a luthier I am certainly not one. I can fill all your needs in terms of spanish guitars but that is about where my knowledge ends. Obviously the term luthier is here to stay so I think we could be a little more generous in its definitions i.e. maker of any stringed instrument.

Being a professional in this day and age means earning a living at that particular job - sorry - dictionary definition. I think this is a very useful definition. If you can't make a living at your craft you (and your potential clients) need to look at whether you know what you are doing both technically and business-wise. There are plenty of ways to tell folks that you are serious without using the term professional. Last on the list is the question of Master Luthier, Maestro Artesano and King of the Universe. In Granada we have at least one of each (self-proclaimed) and one Dean of Guitar-makers who is also self-proclaimed and is neither Antonio Marín nor Manuel Bellido. :shock: Antonio and Manuel have there heads over their workbenches and have never claimed to be anything but guitar-makers but somehow are world-renowned, excellent artisans, have over fifty years on the job and have taught or guided innumerable makers who are now among the greats. Maestro guitarreros without a doubt. Yes, you do need that sort of resume to aspire to the title of Master.

Training is a bit like the afore-mentioned rating system, it depends who is doing it. Given that you have to do an awful lot of building to get good at building I think a lot of courses fall very short of the mark. My personal opinion is that you will benefit greatly by having a teacher or a mentor who is a successful professional and when I look at great makers I often see another great maker somewhere in their past.
John Ray
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Stephen Faulk
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Stephen Faulk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:46 am

Stephen Faulk wrote:
Michael.N. wrote:
Dan Davis wrote:
By that definition, van Gogh was not a painter. :P
No he was a painter, just very much an amateur painter. He became professional after he died. Fat lot of good that did him.
Van Gogh is , and is not a good model for a guitar maker today, but what a cool comparison. His career was taking place in a different time were the development of his work was fostered and guarded by a close rank of insiders who knew he was out ahead of the curve of the public consciousness of what art was thought to be. Today everyone knows what a guitar is or is supposed to be, had he been a more conventional craftsman working to a known standard like a guitar and not a guy assimilating and synthesizing new visual ideas he may have been a hell of a guitar maker.

He had a faithful benefactor in his brother, and he seldom sold his work, but he did barter a lot with restaurant keepers etc. He worked at a professional level and he studied outside a formal academy taking lessons and tutorials with other artists who were high level workers.

Unfortunately he did not live long enough to see his success. For my money his paintings are great, but his later drawings are the real master pieces. He died leaving a dept for iol paint and materials that was a several thousand dollars. Not only did his brother support him, but his paint supplier known to artists as Pere Tanguy truly loved him and saw how important he was. He cared about his enough to extend all that credit. Van Gogh was not selling at the time of his death but he was valued as a pro by his peers.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Stephen Eden
Luthier
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Location: Bexhill on Sea, England

Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Stephen Eden » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:46 am

If to be called a luthier already meant that you had a masterful build level, that would make the term Master Luthier redundant.

It is just a word that seems to come with an authoritative stamp on these days. I see it's meaning to the same degree as a carpenter, mechanic, plumber etc etc... I much prefer being called a guitar maker.

It is just a professional title that someone could use, if they made a living from it. Years ago, as an apprentice guitar maker I called myself a pizza delivery boy because that what I did for a living. (I didn't need a formal qualification for that either :P)

Stephen Faulk
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Stephen Faulk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 11:52 am

How do you get a guitar maker to get off your front steps?

Pay him for the pizza....

Sory Stephen old joke, could not resist.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Stephen Faulk
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Stephen Faulk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 11:55 am

A wise old guitar maker once told me: "Guitar making is not a profession, it's a neurotic hang up. "

I got a million of them. I'll be here all weekend, two shows on Sunday.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Stephen Eden
Luthier
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Location: Bexhill on Sea, England

Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Stephen Eden » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:19 pm

Haha no problem, At least I have a profession I can fall back on.

Stephen Faulk
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Stephen Faulk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:36 pm

I know right. I think a funny thread would be what did you have to do while you supported yourself while you learned to make guitars?

Well I worked as a male stripper at Chippendales, so I doubt at this time I will be able to fall back on that.

baah-bum-tchsssssss
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Stephen Faulk
Posts: 540
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Stephen Faulk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:36 pm

I don't get no respect.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

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Dan Davis
Luthier
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Location: Roswell, GA, USA

Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Dan Davis » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:41 pm

:bravo: Never stop when you're on a roll, Stephen.

I think based on this discussion that my labels will now read,

D. W. Davis
--------------------
I make guitars.
This is one of them.
All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out. -- Mark Twain

Alan Carruth
Luthier
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Alan Carruth » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:02 pm

What's wrong with calling yourself a 'guitar maker' when that's what you do? As somebody who does make a wide range of stringed instruments at what I hope is a decent level I'd just as soon reserve the 'luthier' title for folks who can do that, even if you don't cover ALL of the instruments.

These days there are a lot of folks who feel that you can't really master any particular instrument if you dissipate your effort by making others. I think this flies in the face of a lot of historical evidence. Stradivari, to use a well worn example, made just about everything that was in use at that time and place, and made them all very well indeed. These days there are violin makers who seem to feel that the guitar is a lower form of life, and that, as one friend put it, if a guitar touches the bench that spot is forever polluted and out of bounds for violin making. There are even a few Classical guitar makers who seem to feel that way about steel string guitars. Personally, I feel as though every instrument I've made has taught me something about wood, strings, and air, and in many cases these are things that would not have been nearly as obvious if I'd only stuck with one sort of instrument.

Anyway, what it all comes down to in the end is how the instruments work. There are some master guitar makers who work far outshines that of most luthiers, and some luthiers who can turn their hand to anything and make it work about as well as any specialist. I've seen enough of the self-styled 'Masters' fizzle out over the years that I don't particularly care what anybody calls themselves; time and the market will sort it all out.

cattanarts
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by cattanarts » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:21 pm

In my opinion there is a difference between good, profesional and master. One can be a good luthier, which means that is able to make performing instruments for amateur players, or even for some profesionals. A profesional luthier would be one that is living from instrument making and makes instruments for profesional musicians, this is, balance, quality of workmanship, quality of sound and knowledge of the materials and tools. A master luthier is one that is considered by the best players as a master, with deep knowledge and experience in instrument making, developed skills and exceptionally good instruments in every aspect, which means that they can really satisfy a profesional player. In the case of Spain, I would consider this examples: Daniel Villamor, Los Tres Barbudos etc. are good luthiers, some of them, like me, stepping to the profesional stage. Carlos Juan Busquiel, Yunah Park, Elías Bonet etc are profesional luthiers, but not masters yet (which does not mean that the don't make really nice guitars) and Ramírez III, Arcángel Fernández, Mariano Tezanos, Paulino Bernabé etc. are masters of the classical and flamenco guitar.

John higgon
Amateur luthier
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by John higgon » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:28 am

markblues wrote:
Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:28 pm
I was just wondering exactly what qualifies someone to class themselves as a luthier? Just because you build guitars, fix them? To me it would indicate a masterful build level but them maybe I'm wrong? If so, how does one qualify? Not that I'm in the business of making guitar but more because you want to know that when you have a guitar made, its going to made by someone with a recognised level skill
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Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
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Location: Germany

Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Philipp Lerche » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:47 am

Doesn't matter if the term "luthier" is right or wrong for the person who makes guitars and/or lutes.
It is the quality of the work that qualifies him, which can be proven by his reputation.

soooo :) +1 John

Btw I believe I read that a "luthier" must be able to make nice lutes, too !? Thats where the term comes from I guess. :P
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
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Keith
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Keith » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:08 pm

printer2--you piqued my curiosity. any hints about the so-called ceo/luthiers who has build 3 guitars?
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

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Ramon Amira
Teacher
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Re: What qualifies a luthier

Post by Ramon Amira » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:38 pm

It's far worse with respect to teaching. Apparently anyone who can play three chords 1-4-5 decides to become a teacher. I constantly get new students who have "studied" with these "teachers," and it's appalling and heartbreaking to see how little they have learned, and badly at that. But there's nothing to be done about it, except "Caveat Emptor."

Ramon
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