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  #1  
Old 04-10-2022, 07:38 PM
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LanePeterson LanePeterson is offline
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Default Looking for the right luthier

I think I'm in the right place to post this, if not please let me know!


Anyway, so I've been scanning the market for sometime now for a custom build flat top steel string and am still looking for the right builder.

As much as id like to go to somebody like Froggy Bottom or something like that, I don't have a huge budget, I'm also not looking for a cheap build either, you get what you pay for.

Anyway, I was thinking of getting a Furch but I'm leaning towards a fan fret build and they don't offer that unfortunately. I was also looking at Maestro as well.

I would like a either a Redwood or an Italian Spruce Top with hopefully Madagascar Rosewood, although I am more than willing to discuss this with the builder and maybe they can recommend something to me that may be better for my style of play.
As mentioned before I would like to have fanned frets/multi scale added to it. I don't need a whole bunch of flashy shabang, although a few dazzles here and there might not hurt. Maybe a light bevel as well.

Not interested in any sunburts or anything like that by the way.

Oh and I'm looking for a Grand Auditorium Size as well, I've been interested in Modified Dreadnoughts as well, but Grand Auditorium seems like the better option for me.


Anybody got any recommendations?
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Old 04-10-2022, 07:44 PM
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Bruce Sexauer Bruce Sexauer is offline
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Every luthier has a fan club. Every player here has their favorite luthier. I suppose you can let the crowd steer you, but it really is something you ought to research yourself as styles vary enormously.
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Old 04-10-2022, 08:02 PM
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Figure out your budget and then find luthiers whose base price fit within it. Also keep in mind that all the stuff you want (Italian spruce or redwood top, Madagascar rosewood, and fan frets) all come with an additional cost on top of the base price. I can confidently say that Madagascar rosewood and fan frets typically come with significant upcharges.
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Old 04-10-2022, 10:17 PM
gitarro gitarro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LanePeterson View Post
I think I'm in the right place to post this, if not please let me know!


Anyway, so I've been scanning the market for sometime now for a custom build flat top steel string and am still looking for the right builder.

As much as id like to go to somebody like Froggy Bottom or something like that, I don't have a huge budget, I'm also not looking for a cheap build either, you get what you pay for.

Anyway, I was thinking of getting a Furch but I'm leaning towards a fan fret build and they don't offer that unfortunately. I was also looking at Maestro as well.

I would like a either a Redwood or an Italian Spruce Top with hopefully Madagascar Rosewood, although I am more than willing to discuss this with the builder and maybe they can recommend something to me that may be better for my style of play.
As mentioned before I would like to have fanned frets/multi scale added to it. I don't need a whole bunch of flashy shabang, although a few dazzles here and there might not hurt. Maybe a light bevel as well.

Not interested in any sunburts or anything like that by the way.

Oh and I'm looking for a Grand Auditorium Size as well, I've been interested in Modified Dreadnoughts as well, but Grand Auditorium seems like the better option for me.


Anybody got any recommendations?
Three important questions you need to disclose first - (1) do you want a pure fingerstyle guitar or a pure flat picker or own that can do both well ? (2) do you prefer a vintage Gibson or Martin tonality or a more contemporary overtone rich tonality or a tonality that combines both? (3) what is your budget?
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Old 04-11-2022, 05:01 AM
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LanePeterson LanePeterson is offline
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I am aware of the additional costs, this is something I have been heavily looking into for about a year now.

I'm just kind of looking into seeing what everyone else has to offer as far as advice and maybe someone they have went through themselves, that way I can look into it and decide if it's right for me. I know that everyone is different.

I'm mostly a fingerstyle with my nails and soft flat picker with some soft strumming, sometimes I like to dig into it for a dramatic chorus every so often.


I'm just looking for different ideas, I've spoke to quite a few different luthiers, I'm just wondering if there are some I may have missed, I'd love to speak with them. I'm also looking to pick the brains of the experts. I love discussing this stuff.
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Old 04-11-2022, 05:42 AM
Bill Kraus Bill Kraus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volman View Post
Figure out your budget and then find luthiers whose base price fit within it. Also keep in mind that all the stuff you want (Italian spruce or redwood top, Madagascar rosewood, and fan frets) all come with an additional cost on top of the base price. I can confidently say that Madagascar rosewood and fan frets typically come with significant upcharges.
I believe the above advice is the way to start, and will narrow your search considerably and early on.
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Old 04-11-2022, 06:10 AM
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I can say from owning all three that a spruce rosewood Goodall sounds very different to a spruce rosewood Martin, and both sound very different to a spruce rosewood Baranik. Thatís why I always choose the builder first, then choose the woods, in conversation with the builder if itís a custom build. But how to choose the builder?! We can each tell you our personal favourites but our musical preference, style of playing and physical attributes may be quite different to yours.

I have several custom-built guitars and in every case I chose the luthier because I had played and liked her or his guitars. Iíve also tried guitars by a whole range of other luthiers that were great for other people but not for me. My first custom build came about because I went to The Music Emporium to try a guitar by a builder I was very interested in. I gave up on that guitar in a couple of minutes and tried another by a builder Iíd never heard of. Actually playing that second guitar was a game changer for me and I now have one of my own.

So for me at least I cannot overemphasise the value of getting out there and trying out guitars, to get a feel for who builds what. No guitar shows that I know of coming up in your area, but itís also great taking road trips to get to fine guitar dealers. My Google maps tells me you can get to Dream Guitars (no affiliation) in a day. Given the investment in money for your new guitar, and the time you hope to spend playing it, can I talk you into doing a road trip to Dream, where you can try dozens of different high end guitars in a very good environment? You stand a good chance of actually finding the guitar you want, and as a minimum you will get valuable experience of various builders and guitar styles. And maybe include Sound Pure as part of the trip.
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Old 04-11-2022, 07:04 AM
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iim7V7IM7 iim7V7IM7 is offline
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Default My $.02

For what it is worth, some advice from someone who has been through this a few times for you to consider:
  1. Attend one of the luthier exhibitions (Artisan, La Conner and Woodstock) to audition different luthier’s work. Let them see you play and have meaningful conversations about sound and a potential commission. You need to like the general sound of their work. Each builder has their own sonic signature. It can be adjusted to some degree, but you need to like their center of gravity in terms of sound and aesthetics. This will increase your probability of success more than anything that I can think of.

  2. You need to understand your budget. If you have a maximum number budgetarily, you need to find a builder whose base price is well below that number. My suggestion as a general rule is find a luthier base price no more than 70% of your maximum number to allow yourself some customization in terms of woods and features. Alternatively, if you find that you are dead set on a particular luthier who is above your budget, perhaps consider a very standard guitar from them. You might in the end be happier with this route.

  3. Spend time learning how to articulate what you have liked in guitars in the past and what you have disliked. The language of sound is amazingly inconsistent! Sound can be described in terms of time (attack, bloom and decay/sustain) ad amplitude (sensitivity to touch, balance, headroom) and frequency (bass, treble, fundamentals, overtones). We hear terms like warm, bright, dark which mean different things to different players. Spend some time seeing if you can develop a common language to communicate. Be able to explain your playing style, the strength of your attack, the type of music you play, tunings you play in, and where you play it. What are your ergonomic preferences?

  4. Do NOT tell your luthier prospectively what woods to make your guitar made from. This is a mistake in my view. You are paying for their expertise and understanding of how they know how to manipulate sound within their building experience. Start by selecting a size, scale length, nut/string spacing, fret preferences etc. Talk about the items in the bullet above and let the luthier recommend a sound board to best meet your goals. After that is out of the way, let them suggest a variety of tonewood options based on your sound preferences and goals for the instrument. After this is done, discussion about aesthetics can occur.

My $.02
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Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 04-11-2022 at 04:28 PM.
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  #9  
Old 04-11-2022, 09:23 AM
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Guitars44me Guitars44me is offline
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Excellent advice throughout this thread. You really need to play different builders guitars,
To get a sense of what theyíre doing, and will do for you!

You might consider going to Tom Bowersox B. I. G. Fest in Texas. The time I went there were a lot of FAB guitars from a number of fine Luthiers.

And there were a whole bunch of really nice guitars that Attendees brought to show each other, too.

Best on the quest

Paul
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Old 04-11-2022, 12:42 PM
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Default GAS ... a personal journey

I would echo what everybody has said...GAS is a interesting beast, insidious in onset and relentless, albeit with periods of calm. You will undoubtedly find that your tastes will change, either drifting towards one aspect of the guitar (size, model, sound, woods) and then shifting further or back from where you started. The more you are able to play guitars from different luthiers, the more your GAS is fueled. You will eventually discover that you need more than one instrument to satisfy your GAS...that's a turning point for many, but for some just a pit stop.

Getting over to Dream Guitars, or even TNAG or Guitar Galler in Nashville is a bonus, highly recommended, and will really help you to see what's available/possible with todays artisans...I have taken a longer route, but once you take that first leap into having a guitar made just for you by a single luthier, there's no turning back! You marvel daily at the craftmenship and beautiful creation that you hold in your hands.

I was hanging out the other day at a local luthier's shop, Rye Bear, and I was telling him of a friend (who he knows) who has a roomful of guitars that are a beauty to behold...and it just hit me...I need another guitar!

As far as cost, you need to put it into perspective...I see younger people renting the house next door for upwards of $8000 a week - just an ordinary 60 year old rancher, nothing special, although the view is great...and to think - that money could be used for a one of a kind guitar! There's also the build process and involvement in the project which is a unique experience...to be able to tell Leonardo that you want a bit more of a smile on Mona's face!!
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Old 04-11-2022, 12:58 PM
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Check out Iris guitars in Burlington Vt. These guys are handmaking a line of guitars based on classic models, and the two luthiers who run the company are some of the best in the country. These are astonishingly affordable and their reputation is very well respected.
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Old 04-11-2022, 01:23 PM
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Budget?

Have you played a fanned fret guitar? What tuning(s) are you planning on using.

I have 2 fanned fret builds going on at the moment. One will be slightly longer for CGCGCD tuning. The other will be a 26"-25" scale 7 string. For regular and DADGAD, I'm happy with 25.5" scale personally.
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Old 04-11-2022, 05:23 PM
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Hmmm . . . I would strongly consider revising your approach significantly. The best (and really ONLY reliable) way to pick a builder is to play examples of their work in person. The builder is far more important than any of the other specifications, including tonewood, as building style and technique will dictate the vast majority of the tone and response you get. And, of course, you'll be able to see in person how well the instrument is made and how much you like the feel. Not all luthiers build at the same quality or QA/QC level. It can be hard to see the differences through websites or photos.

I remember, after attending my first big guitar show in 2009, realizing how much different my opinions could be from the opinions of folks on the AGF. After doing significant web research, I narrowed my search down to a few builders going into the show. The work of some of those builders turned out to be real disappointments in person (or just not my style), while others I had never heard of were very exciting.

My sense is that you could have two people on the AGF with radically different views on what constitutes a great guitar advising you on two radically different builders even though you think you're requesting a very specific spec. I would strongly recommend you attend a show or go to a big shop to select a builder. Ideally, play a couple examples of the work from a builder you like. Then talk to them about narrowing down wood choices.

Letting the web choose a builder for you is a huge risk. It won't matter what tonewoods and specs are used if the builder doesn't float your boat.
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Old 04-11-2022, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by justonwo View Post
Hmmm . . . I would strongly consider revising your approach significantly. The best (and really ONLY reliable) way to pick a builder is to play examples of their work in person. The builder is far more important than any of the other specifications, including tonewood, as building style and technique will dictate the vast majority of the tone and response you get. And, of course, you'll be able to see in person how well the instrument is made and how much you like the feel. Not all luthiers build at the same quality or QA/QC level. It can be hard to see the differences through websites or photos.
I think this is good advice, based on commissioning a couple of guitars.
Also, I think trying to put sound into words is generally futile; sharing
with the prospective maker "I like the way this one sounds" (then another, perhaps, then maybe another) works better,
in my opinion. Being a little redundant: find a maker who has a sound you like, rather than trying to fit a sound to a maker.

Last edited by Carey; 04-11-2022 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 04-12-2022, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carey View Post
I think this is good advice, based on commissioning a couple of guitars.
Also, I think trying to put sound into words is generally futile; sharing
with the prospective maker "I like the way this one sounds" (then another, perhaps, then maybe another) works better,
in my opinion. Being a little redundant: find a maker who has a sound you like, rather than trying to fit a sound to a maker.
Yep, having a reference guitar that you and the builder have both played is hugely helpful. The woods and other specs will generally be minor variations on a core tone.
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