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Old 03-08-2018, 05:07 AM
KarenB KarenB is offline
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Default Builder/luthiers on AGF in northeast U.S.?

That's my question. Another question is, is there a difference between "builder" and "luthier?"

Thanks.
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:45 AM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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Pass on the first.

Builders realize there is a lot more to the craft than building the guitars they make. Not knocking builders as they can have the skills to build you a wonderful instrument and might have the skills to do repairs. A true luthier can build an instrument and also take on most repairs to other instruments. But that is just my thought, some consider themselves a luthier after building a handful of guitars.
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Old 03-08-2018, 07:58 AM
Ben-Had Ben-Had is offline
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Does one necessarily have to be able to work on ALL aspects (build & repair) of ALL stringed instruments to be considered a luthier? IMHO, no. My wife's uncle built and repaired violins his whole life but couldn't build a guitar and he was quite well known in the industry for his work. I consider him a luthier. I build, restore and repair guitars and can do different repairs and setups on a variety of other stringed instruments but I can't build them. Can I legitimately call myself a luthier? I don't know but I do.
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:34 AM
redir redir is offline
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I think Alan Carruth is in Massachusetts?

That's an age old argument and something that can get you 20 pages on Internet forums.

My take on it is this, I make guitars (mostly) so I consider myself to be a guitar maker. But people call me a luthier anyway. My reply is always 'Luthier? I was born and raised a Catholic.'

I have been making mandolins and ukes too. So who knows. In the end it doesn't really matter.

Now the label 'master' carries much more weight. There really is no guild as such for guitar making. at least that I know of. But one knows when one is a master builder when others in the field start to call him or her just that.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:41 AM
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iim7V7IM7 iim7V7IM7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antaren View Post
That's my question. Another question is, is there a difference between "builder" and "luthier?"

Thanks.
I also will pass on the first question as well. Here are some steel string flat top luthiers based in Northeastern states.

Maine:
Laurent Brondel
John Slobod (Circa Guitars)

New Hampshire:
Alan Carruth
Mark Hatcher

Vermont:
Adam Buchwald (Circle Strings)

Massachusetts:
Julius Borges
Burton LeGeyt
John Ostoff
TJ Thompson
Bill Tippin

Connecticut:
Dale Fairbanks
Kim Walker

New York:
Bernie Lehmann

Pennsylvania:
Stuart Dey
Frank Finnochio

Maryland:
David MacCubbin
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:09 AM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post
I also will pass on the first question as well. Here are some steel string flat top luthiers based in Northeastern states.

Maine:
Laurent Brondel
John Slobod (Circa Guitars)

New Hampshire:
Alan Carruth
Mark Hatcher

Vermont:
Adam Buchwald (Circle Strings)

Massachusetts:
Julius Borges
Burton LeGeyt
John Ostoff
TJ Thompson
Bill Tippin

Connecticut:
Dale Fairbanks
Kim Walker

New York:
Bernie Lehmann

Pennsylvania:
Stuart Dey
Frank Finnochio

Maryland:
David MacCubbin
I think we can add Randy Muth, Martin Keith, John Monteleone, Brian Howard (but moving a little south), Pat Morrisey, Dana Bourgeois, Julian Gaffney, Joe Veilette, Bruce Ackerman... Just off the top of my head...

Last edited by LouieAtienza; 03-08-2018 at 04:47 PM. Reason: Saw you had Circle Strings...
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Old 03-08-2018, 01:53 PM
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Burton LeGeyt Burton LeGeyt is offline
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Lots of us on here! I'm in Boston.

What are you looking for?

As to your other question- I have no idea. I usually refer to myself as a "builder" (or guitar builder/maker) because "luthier" sounds a little fancy to anyone who doesn't already know the word. But people who do know it love to say it I've heard Al Carruth explain what it used to mean but can't remember the exact definition.
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:21 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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As far as I can tell, the lute was the first stringed instrument to come into wide use in Eurpope that was tricky enough to make that it required a specialist; before that folks just made their own instruments. People who made stringed instruments came to be called 'luthiers'

As the guild system became established they put rules in place as to what you needed to know to become rated at various levels. One set of regs that I've seen said that in order to be rated as a master luthier you hade to go into the shop with tools and wood, but no drawings, and come out in a month with a fancy guitar, a harp, and a fiddle. Luthiers were expected to know how to make a variety of things.

C.F. Martin ended up in the US because of a dispute with the local guilds. He had studied guitar making with Stauffer in Vienna, and gotten rated there, but when he came to Germany the local violin makers refused to allow him to open a shop, since he was not rated in their guild. Rather than serve another apprenticeship he opted for another sort of ship that took him to NY.

Economically, and possibly as a matter of craft, specialization may make more sense. Some violin makers, and even Classical guitar makers, seem to feel that workking on anything else lessens one's craft; the only way to the highest levels is through deep emersion in one sort, or even model, of instrument. That can be argued, but it is certainly true that concentrating on, say, just making guitars, allows one to set up an efficient shop thhat can produce more of them and at a higher level than somebody who is not as specialized. In the old days, when transpiortation and communication were less developed than they are now you could not make a living making and selling only guitars unless you were in a big city. Now we have the internet.

If what you make is guitars, and you don't have much interest or time for other sorts of instruments, then I think you're a 'guitar maker'. If you do it as well as Burton and some others do you should be proud to flaunt the title. As my sister said: "We were ADHD before there was ADHD". I find all sorts of instruments too interesting to just make one, or a few, kinds, so that makes me a 'luthier'. Whether I'm as good at all the different sorts of things I make as I 'should' be I will leave to others to decide: as has been pointed out, you're a 'master' when the other masters say you are. I do think I have learned some things from each of the different sorts of instrument that have benefitted the others. Strad made all sorts of things, and I don't think you'd get the 'dissipated' label to stick on him.
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:40 PM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben-Had View Post
Does one necessarily have to be able to work on ALL aspects (build & repair) of ALL stringed instruments to be considered a luthier? IMHO, no. My wife's uncle built and repaired violins his whole life but couldn't build a guitar and he was quite well known in the industry for his work. I consider him a luthier. I build, restore and repair guitars and can do different repairs and setups on a variety of other stringed instruments but I can't build them. Can I legitimately call myself a luthier? I don't know but I do.
Should have phrased that differently. I meant instruments as in all different kinds of guitars, I know a few that just stick to electrics. I would expect a person to be able to tackle most repair works and generally be able to make the repairs look clean. Legitimately, sure call yourself what you want, as I said that is my take on things and I know that now days it really does not matter. Now speaking of yourself and what you can do, do you think you can build yourself a good instrument given your experience?

I started working in a electronic calibration and mechanical testing and process coltrol lab. Within a month I could do most of the things asked of me. I never worked on that kind of equipment but my electronic background and mechanical experience took in the equipment, what was asked of it, what were the specs that the material had to achieve. That said, what made the job interesting was you had to troubleshoot problems, come up with solutions, design ways to get the task done. Just considered myself a technologist that fell into a fun job. When people asked what I did I just said I broke things for a living.
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Old 03-09-2018, 06:07 AM
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I am currently moving my shop from PA to Magnolia DE

I do it all, build, repair, restore.....
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Old 03-09-2018, 11:49 AM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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Most 'luthiers' in the old sense can, and usually did, do repairs on them as well. I did a lot of repair early on. This is one of those places where specialization has really caught on in the past couple of decades. I know quite a number of instrument repair people who don't build at all, and don't particularly want to. Most of them call themselves 'luthiers', and that seems to be the expectation these days: if you're luthier you do repairs. Repair is, in fact, a much different mind set from building, and usually calls for a different sort of shop setup as well. The good repair people I know are far better at much of what they do than I ever was, simply because they do more of it, all the time. Many of them do more setups in a week than I do in a year, for example. Since I call myself a luthier I'm always getting repair calls, even though I have not done repairs on a regular basis for more than 15 years. It's one of those places where language usage has gotten a little out of synch, at least from the perspective of some of us. Then again, I'm still railing against the use of 'flame' to describe wood figure when what you really mean is 'curl'. *sigh*
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:10 PM
redir redir is offline
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How about Tiger?
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Old 03-09-2018, 01:42 PM
LouieAtienza LouieAtienza is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Carruth View Post
Most 'luthiers' in the old sense can, and usually did, do repairs on them as well. I did a lot of repair early on. This is one of those places where specialization has really caught on in the past couple of decades. I know quite a number of instrument repair people who don't build at all, and don't particularly want to. Most of them call themselves 'luthiers', and that seems to be the expectation these days: if you're luthier you do repairs. Repair is, in fact, a much different mind set from building, and usually calls for a different sort of shop setup as well. The good repair people I know are far better at much of what they do than I ever was, simply because they do more of it, all the time. Many of them do more setups in a week than I do in a year, for example. Since I call myself a luthier I'm always getting repair calls, even though I have not done repairs on a regular basis for more than 15 years. It's one of those places where language usage has gotten a little out of synch, at least from the perspective of some of us. Then again, I'm still railing against the use of 'flame' to describe wood figure when what you really mean is 'curl'. *sigh*
I think however most of the great builders of today started out doing repairs, probably mainly as "bread and butter" while trying to get established. As a teenager and young adult I was never "gentle" on my guitars, and had to learn how to repair them quite a bit (especially after punching through the top of my Yamaha acoustic after drinking a bottle of tequila - never again!). My foray into building started as a teen with my quest for a carved-top electric. I figured I could just take a belt sander and some 40 grit and carve my existing electric. Finding out the guitar was plywood was disheartening, along with not calculating where that darn control cavity was! Patched it up the best I could, and gave it a paint job, which came out great. When I started working as a cabinetmaker's apprentice a few years down the road, I took the body and ran it through the thickness planer and glued solid wood on and re-carved it. And that was how the bug caught on, though had been on-and-off for a long time. The discovery of builders like Somogyi and Greenfield and others over a decade and a half ago had refueled my desire, led me to sites like MIMF and AGF, and slowly have been ramping up my own building ever since. But most my friends that were musicians or knew of musicians would seek me for setup work or repair, and I always obliged. I do find the more I concentrate on my own designs and builds, my desire to do repairs had decreased.

As to "curl" - I think that word is generally used to describe the figuring, and the other words like "flame", "fiddleback", "tiger stripe", "rope", are more descriptive as to the "type" of curl... Such as "quilt" - you can have "pillow", "blister", "popcorn"... etc., etc...
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Old 03-09-2018, 05:37 PM
KarenB KarenB is offline
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Thanks for the names and the thoughts on "builder vs. luthier." No wonder I didn't know the answer to that question!
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