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-   -   “Handcrafted” vs. “Handmade” (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=555836)

Ozarkpicker 08-25-2019 01:40 PM

“Handcrafted” vs. “Handmade”
 
What is the difference in the terms “Handmade” & “ Handcfafted” when referring to how a particular manufacturers guitars are made. I am a bit confused, because I recently heard a member here refer to Eastman acoustic guitars as being “Handcrafted”, when I’m pretty sure they are machine-made for the very most part...to keep prices lower, I suspect. But, that term would suggest they are not.

I have always thought of guitars like Bourgeois, Collings or Thompson being “Handmade”, with virtually no machinery used to build their instruments, and therefore they are made in far lower numbers than even those made by Martin, Gibson or Taylor...which I would consider more “Handcrafted” than “Handmade”.

Will someone smarter than I give a shot at this?

justonwo 08-25-2019 01:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ozarkpicker (Post 6146123)
What is the difference in the terms “Handmade” & “ Handcfafted” when referring to how a particular manufacturers guitars are made. I am a bit confused, because I recently heard a member here refer to Eastman acoustic guitars as being “Handcrafted”, when I’m pretty sure they are machine-made for the very most part...to keep prices lower, I suspect. But, that term would suggest they are not.

I have always thought of guitars like Bourgeois, Collings or Thompson being “Handmade”, with virtually no machinery used to build their instruments, and therefore they are made in far lower numbers than even those made by Martin, Gibson or Taylor...which I would consider more “Handcrafted” than “Handmade”.

Will someone smarter than I give a shot at this?

I don’t think there’s a standard associated with either of those words, so I think the usage of either could be subject to a wide variety of interpretations. Of course, no guitar I’m aware of is made with no human touch. Even guitars with CNC parts are still assembled by hand. So it’s semantics really. Any guitar maker in the world could use the term “handcrafted” or “handmade” without being totally wrong.

I think it’s probably more sensible to think of things in terms of mass production instruments vs those made one by one. In the case of the former, guitars are built to average specs with a combination of machines and humans. In the case of the latter, it’s mostly a person with jigs and hand tools/power tools. Instruments are individualized. And there are boutique companies that are somewhere in between.

frankmcr 08-25-2019 02:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ozarkpicker (Post 6146123)
What is the difference in the terms “Handmade” & “ Handcfafted” when referring to how a particular manufacturers guitars are made?

Marketing.

steveh 08-25-2019 02:14 PM

When examining a certain luthier's work, a pal of mine described the guitar as, "more homemade than handmade". I think we can all understand what he was getting it.

As for "handmade" vs. "handcrafted", I agree: Both = marketing.
In reality, I doubt there's anything substantial that distinguishes between them.

Cheers,
Steve

tbeltrans 08-25-2019 02:15 PM

As for the use of (CNC) machines, I suspect that most everybody is using something along those lines these days. I have two guitars that each were made in one-man shops, and both use machinery of one kind or another. Neither shop makes more than 10 or 12 guitars per year though.

So what does "hand made" really mean? Does a guitar built by one person, rather than 2 or more, constitute "hand made" even though machines were used? Is there a dividing line of some kind where we consider "mass produced" to be over a certain number and those shops that turn out fewer than that number are considered to be "hand made"?

I don't have any answers to these questions, but I suspect the poster who said "marketing", might be closer to the truth about this stuff. :)

Tony

Blind Dog 08-25-2019 02:20 PM

I agree, the definition's personal.

Like off-the-rack, boutique, and luthier reference standard - marketing & your personal absorption rate influence definition.

RP 08-25-2019 02:26 PM

Tomato...tomaaato.....

Fresh1985 08-25-2019 03:04 PM

I would think almost all well known makers use machines to varying degrees these days. They are much more consitent than humans could ever be at repetitive tasks.

Still I watched a recent martin factory tour video and was pleasantly suprised by the amount of handwork going on, but the video may have been a few years old and things change so quickly.

As has already been said both terms are more about marketing than anything else.

Denny B 08-25-2019 04:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ozarkpicker (Post 6146123)
What is the difference in the terms “Handmade” & “ Handcfafted” when referring to how a particular manufacturers guitars are made.

The difference is about $5,000... :wink:

Tico 08-25-2019 04:46 PM

It's not possible to make a guitar with one's bare hands.
You need tools and machines.
Even a simple electric saw is a machine.

I pretty much ignore all manufacturer's use of these terms because there is no agreement on meaning.

Silly Moustache 08-25-2019 04:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frankmcr (Post 6146148)
Marketing.

Yeah this.

Like "Select spruce top" (which means the one next in the pile)

If a neck is shaped on a CNC machine with what does the operator press the button with ? ... his toes?

justonwo 08-25-2019 05:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Silly Moustache (Post 6146258)
Yeah this.

Like "Select spruce top" (which means the one next in the pile)

If a neck is shaped on a CNC machine with what does the operator press the button with ? ... his toes?

But it WAS selected, Andy. Carefully and lovingly.

charles Tauber 08-25-2019 05:41 PM

Neither term, handmade or handcrafted, have any real meaning anymore: they mean whatever anyone wants them to mean.

The obvious intention is to invoke sentiments that something was made the way things used to be made and that the way they used to be made was of a high quality. As anyone who has attended a Christmas craft sale with works by less skilled amateurs knows, being "handmade" is not a guarantee of quality of design or workmanship.

As others have pointed out, very, very few things are made anymore without the aid of some sort of machinery or automation.

What might be a more relevant is the distinction drawn by David Pye (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Pye_(furniture)), the workmanship of risk versus the workmanship of certainty.

Quote:

The expression “Old World Craftsmanship" is supposed to evoke images of meticulous, snowy-haired old craftsmen making unbelievably fine furniture in little workshops set up among the toadstools and gnarled roots of the Black Forest. lt - makes some people go warm all over just to think of all these good-hearted Geppetos working away on masterpieces over there in the Old World, but basically, the phrase is a brain-less banality that trivializes the idea of fine workmanship. It doesn‘t teach us how to distinguish between fine and mediocre workmanship, it just pours syrup over everything. It was the great contribution of the late British writer and craftsman David Pye to have constructed a Clear and unsentimental definition of workmanship that helps us understand how to judge its qualities. His definition is based not on whether a thing happens to be made by machine or made by hand (a distinction which he thought was pointless and futile) but instead on the chance [of screwing up the work] that exists
https://www.coursehero.com/file/1404...nship-of-risk/

jaymarsch 08-25-2019 10:42 PM

I agree that at this point in time these terms come down to how a luthier advertises what might set them apart. I remember back in 2003 when I first met Kathy Wingert, her tag line was something like “One of a kind, one at a time.” I liked what that evoked - a singular focus on a guitar that was made expressly for a specific customer taking into consideration their needs and wants. Of course, as Charles points out, that doesn’t tell you the quality of the work.
It was after playing a number of her guitars and learning about her reputation that ultimately sealed the deal.

Handcrafted, handmade, bespoke, homemade - all up for interpretation.

Best,
Jayne

merlin666 08-25-2019 10:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frankmcr (Post 6146148)
Marketing.

That's it. Typically the spoo suggests that it's done by unskilled labourers who do simple repetitive tasks and then pass it on to the next monkey. Actual luthier built guitar brands don't need to use these terms.

Malcolm Kindnes 08-26-2019 03:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frankmcr (Post 6146148)
Marketing.

Absolutely, these words mean very little in reality.

Neil K Walk 08-26-2019 04:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by frankmcr (Post 6146148)
Marketing.

Bingo. They're just buzzwords. They wouldn't be able to churn them out in significant numbers if they were whittling out bridges and necks. Odds are the human element is more in putting the machined pieces together.

iim7V7IM7 08-26-2019 04:41 AM

Forgetting the nomenclature (handmade or handcrafted), I think about artisans who respond to the properties of wood when selecting sets, thicknessing tops, backs, sides or bracing the guitar vs. those that build to target dimensions based on “average” wood properties.

tomiv9 08-26-2019 05:22 AM

Hand = Hand
Made = Crafted

Therefore using math, handmade = handcrafted.

Haasome 08-26-2019 05:26 AM

To my mind, the difference is that crafted infers an expression of quality. Crafting requires special skill and care. Being “made” does not. It is simply making something. In the case of guitar building it smells like promotional hype.

The Bard Rocks 08-26-2019 06:03 AM

It reminds me of going to a grocery store and seeing the word "homemade" on food neatly packaged in cellophane. I think it must mean that a human's hand touched it somewhere in the manufacturing process.

To me, "hand made" implies a bit more personal care than "hand crafted", but neither has much meaning, being defined however the maker wants. If they use the word "entirely" before the rest, I'd have more confidence that human hands had a greater share of the work that went into it.

rokdog49 08-26-2019 06:09 AM

Eastman was brought up in the OP.
His supposition about Eastman is errroneous unless there has been a recent change.
From what I am able to gather in conversations with several folks very close to the company, Eastman is still doing more work with hands and rudimentary hand tools than any other "production" guitar builder. One of these folks is Ted at L.A. Guitars.
You can believe that or not but for folks to make statements to the contrary is nothing more than speculation based on nothing.
I'm not convinced Eastman uses any automated equipment at all. The last I knew they were still making the necks by hand, not CNC machines as was suggested, using basic hand tools. Eastman is still hand-spraying the finishes on the bodies.
If anyone can offer anything contrary to this, I'm willing to listen, but not unless you can at least provide some form of documentation... even if its just a conversation you had with an Eastman person.

charles Tauber 08-26-2019 06:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Bard Rocks (Post 6146569)
If they use the word "entirely" before the rest, I'd have more confidence that human hands had a greater share of the work that went into it.

Sort of like "real mother of pearl"? Not many advertise "fake mother of pearl". Something is either what it is claimed or it is not: claiming something to be something it is not is often the purpose of marketing.

If something is "handmade", it is "handmade": "entirely handmade" is superfluous. No one advertises "partially handmade". Nearly nothing in today's world is "entirely handmade", that is, made without the assistance of some machinery along the way.

I spent a few weeks learning to make furniture without any power tools or sandpaper: we used only handsaws, planes and chisels. However, we didn't fell our own trees with axes or handsaws and split our own wood with a froe: it was cut by chainsaw, likely, milled into lumber on a machine and transported to us using a machine prior to our touching it. The furniture we made was designed on a computer using CAD software. The finish we applied, linseed oil, was made using machines. Where does one draw the line in the "supply chain" to claim something was "handmade"?

Eastman, from the previous post, uses spray equipment - a compressor or turbine to deliver compressed air - rather than brushes or rags. Is that "handmade" since it uses a machine to deliver the finish to the surface of the work? Yes, a human directs the machine (sprayed finish). Is that enough to say it is "handmade"? A human directs a bulldozer: is work done with a bulldozer "handmade"? The term means whatever you want it to mean, applied however you want to apply it, the purpose of which is to invoke some Old World mystique of "quality".

For discussion sake, suppose Eastman guitars were 100% made by machine. If the instrument was exactly the same quality, would it matter if it was made with only 50% machinery-assisted? How about 25%? How about 10%? If the instrument is "the same" quality, regardless of how it was made, does it matter how it was made? (The discussion of human labour/livelihood being replaced/displaced by machines, as a social issue, is a different, longer discussion.)

Neil K Walk 08-26-2019 06:48 AM

Exactly, Charles. It's all semantics meant to create a psychological impression to the consumer. That's marketing.

Here's an example to deepen the debate: for years Larrivee has said that their guitars are "hand fitted" but many have said that they are "boutique quality on a budget." There are videos on the Youtubes about how they use CNC to carve their necks but when it comes time to put the neck on the body the human element comes into play and hand tools are used to adjust the fit.

I wouldn't be surprised that a similar process is followed by Eastman.

PorkPieGuy 08-26-2019 07:00 AM

Homemade

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/V3KGrxmic6k/maxresdefault.jpg





Handcrafted
http://michelettiguitars.com/Croz_Top_L.jpg


:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

mercy 08-26-2019 07:14 AM

home made is something you eat and handcrafted is something you dont or shouldnt if you are normal.

charles Tauber 08-26-2019 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Neil K Walk (Post 6146592)
Here's an example to deepen the debate: for years Larrivee has said that their guitars are "hand fitted" but many have said that they are "boutique quality on a budget." There are videos on the Youtubes about how they use CNC to carve their necks but when it comes time to put the neck on the body the human element comes into play and hand tools are used to adjust the fit.

How many new, out-of-the-box Larrivee guitars need a neck reset? How many new, out-of-the-box Martin guitars need a neck reset? (This is a quality of manufacturing issue: it has nothing to do with who's guitars you like better.)

"Quality" is achieved by knowing when to use a machine and when to do something by hand. That is, some things machines do better; some things are better done by hand/handtools. Knowing which is which and applying that knowledge to one's manufacturing is key.

Ludere 08-26-2019 08:30 AM

“Handcrafted” vs. “Handmade”
 
I think the real answer to the OPs question has already been stated a number of times here.
While in some industries, a specific term equates to a specific attribute or characteristic, I think the distinction between these two lacks that sort of "hard" definition.
IMHO, Handcrafted vs. Handmade is pretty much all marketing and perspective ...

case in point ...

https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-...-2FT5fcS-L.jpg

erhino41 08-26-2019 10:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rokdog49 (Post 6146573)
Eastman was brought up in the OP.
His supposition about Eastman is errroneous unless there has been a recent change.
From what I am able to gather in conversations with several folks very close to the company, Eastman is still doing more work with hands and rudimentary hand tools than any other "production" guitar builder. One of these folks is Ted at L.A. Guitars.
You can believe that or not but for folks to make statements to the contrary is nothing more than speculation based on nothing.
I'm not convinced Eastman uses any automated equipment at all. The last I knew they were still making the necks by hand, not CNC machines as was suggested, using basic hand tools. Eastman is still hand-spraying the finishes on the bodies.
If anyone can offer anything contrary to this, I'm willing to listen, but not unless you can at least provide some form of documentation... even if its just a conversation you had with an Eastman person.

I was about to make the same reply.

ljguitar 08-26-2019 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ozarkpicker (Post 6146123)
What is the difference in the terms “Handmade” & “ Handcfafted” when referring to how a particular manufacturers guitars are made. I am a bit confused, because I recently heard a member here refer to Eastman acoustic guitars as being “Handcrafted”, when I’m pretty sure they are machine-made for the very most part...to keep prices lower, I suspect. But, that term would suggest they are not.

I have always thought of guitars like Bourgeois, Collings or Thompson being “Handmade”, with virtually no machinery used to build their instruments, and therefore they are made in far lower numbers than even those made by Martin, Gibson or Taylor...which I would consider more “Handcrafted” than “Handmade”.

Will someone smarter than I give a shot at this?

Hi Ozark Picker

I understand the confusion. There is no 'official' language to differentiate between manufactured (Martin, Gibson, Taylor), from small factory (SantaCruz, Froggy Bottom, Collings) or solo builders (Olson, Bashkin, Lowden) and small team builders…(Somogyi has apprentices, McKnight…others' hands touch guitars during builds, but Tim does the main parts and voicing, Ryan…two man builds).

I've left out a lot of major names in the solo category. There are a bunch of really great solo builders and small team builders these days.

I offer this link to a short paper by Ervin Somogyi who is generally recognized as one of the greatest solo builders, and small team builders (different than small factory builders) of the 20th-21st century to date. He uses apprentices, and turns out world class (orchestral quality) guitars. He attempts to describe manufactured versus solo built (hand built). There are a lot of grades/shades of the concept of building. Every one of them I know of uses plenty of machinery. The differences in build are not caused by the machinery, but by the design and amount of customizing of tone.

Difference Between Handmade and Factory Made Guitars - CliCk

He also did a Luthier-on-Luthier podcast episode with Michael Bashkin talking about his history as a builder which is fascinating. It's available on the major podcast hosts.

One of the things Michael Bashkin explained to me when he was building my guitar in 2005 was the goal of manufacturers is that the next model will be as good as the last model and the next model following that model will be the same.

Michael's goal is that his NEXT guitar will be even better than his last guitar…continuing on to his following instruments.

There is a place for both styles (and all who fall in between). I own and play both manufactured and solo built instruments. My main guitar is solo build, but my factory built Voyage-Air is the one which travels with us in the Car, RV, plane etc.

My 1993 American Strat Plus is a custom manufactured guitar. My Indian made Telecaster which we changed pickups & electronics in is a customized inexpensive manufactured guitar. Both sound great.

One last point…I asked Michael Bashkin when I commissioned my guitar from him "Does this come with a lifetime guarantee?" and he said, "Yes, as long as I'm alive and building guitars." That's pretty much true of any solo builder.

Hope this adds to the discussion…





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