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The following is a quote from another forum in response to a guy asking about building / repairing schools:


"Just do a search on google or yahoo, there are easily a couple dozen guys out there with one training method or another and they are affordable. There are even a few colleges that teach it now, one I believe is in Indiana. It is a school that focuses on primarily violin training so also keep in mind being a luthier means building stringed instruments in general.

I found a few guys some years back that give like anywhere from 3 week to a month or two training courses and some even give you room and board for a very reasonable price that covers everything. If you're fortunate enough to live where there is a guitar factory of some type, you will often get on the job training but I suspect they will do things in a factory line system. If one guy is the best at installing bridges, that is where he is going to be placed.

If you think about it, this would be the very best set up but under the premis that each worker is in fact a luther that can do every aspect of the job, from body carving to paint to neck work to electronics. With a set up like this where everyone is a well skilled worker but each has their own little department they are best at, you're going to produce guitars efficiently and of high quality.

Buy all your parts from Asia, your wood directly from a saw mill and you're going to be able to produce better guitars than the competition here or otherwise. If you are smart, you'd buy your wood from an Amish owned sawmill and probably cut your overhead on wood in half..when compared to a major commercial supplier anyways.

I should be getting paid for this"


I responded that his last paragraph was pretty bad information to give a young guy starting out and the poster just went ballistic on me. Now, I really don't mind (especially since I am a mod on the site and can zap him :D ), but I wanted some folks with experience building to let me know what they think about his analysis. And 3 weeks to a month or two to learn everything? Is it really that easy and I'm just missing something?.

Any thoughts?

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I wouldn't worry about it. Unless I am reading that wrong. I think he is just saying that most classes you will find are 3 weeks to a couple months long. As far as getting a job at a factory to get experience. It just sounds like he is describing how he thinks things work(right, wrong or somewhere inbetween). As far as buying wood and parts. Not real accurate, but basically just his opinion. If you want to cut cost you buy at wholesale(volume) rates. The more you sell and the more you invest, the better the prices can get.

As far as where you buy your parts and or wood and being able to produce better guitars. There are a couple other little factors involved in building that will probably come into play if you are going to outperform the competition :D . I doubt that bit of info(or his opinion) is going to do much damage.


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Haven't seen you in a while, Fry.

I've never heard of Amish wood suppliers. 2 weeks might be enough time to brief a person on the basics of building and electric, but practice makes perfect. Perfecting the craft can take years. I don't consider my work even close to perfect. I'd say it's on par with a lot of pro builders, but I know I can do better, so I'll wait a bit until I do any commissioned work. I don't like how he's promoting the idea that a green builder be selling his work though.



Edited by thegarehanman
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Rich and Russ

Yeah, I normally wouldn't think twice about something like this, but I just hope that the kid who asked the question doesn't get the wrong idea about the real world. I have built for 3 years and just finished a guitar that I was really proud to show my player friends - then I took it apart to refinish it. :D The building I do for friends is for the price of parts and the understanding that I am very capable of making terrible mistakes - no promises.

Rich, so true about the wood and parts - luckily, I know this guy up in Portland...........

I still haven't started anything with the Black Limba or Spalted, but I do look at them a lot. Thanks a lot. You had mentioned a show in Tacoma - is that the American Luthier's Guild? A guy here locally mentioned it and I wasn't sure if that's the one you were talking about. I've got family there, so a trip up is a possibility.


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What exactly was the question? I don't really like the answer he posted, seems like he thinks he knows what he's talking about.

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Yeah that guy was talking out of his ass. A bunch of lutheirs working in a factory? Going to a factory to gain work experience? Buy wood from the Amish? Oh of course! Because their Amish they will naturally just happen to have alder, maple, and ash to sell in low quantities for half the going rate. You know, because they dont use computers and stuff. Well if they could build a barn surley they can widdle one of them logs down to a guitar.... :D

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Here is the original question:

It's surprising how many guitarists give me that confused look when I say the word "luthiery." For those who don't know, this is the art of building guitars.

More to the point, I'd like to learn it. I know basics, and I'm learning more basics from a friend--"basics" being those little tweaks non-pros can make to their guitars without ruining them: replacing pickups, adjusting the truss rod, getting good intonation, and so on.

But I'm thinking about starting a business in this music-deprived corner of Texas, and I don't think I can keep one running steady just replacing pickups. Apropos, I'm looking to learn how to build guitars.

Seeing as how I'm in college anyway, I'd like to spend my time paying for an education I'll use. Practically. So does anyone know of any schools of luthiery? I know Musician's Institute (Hollywood, CA) offers a certificate program in its Guitar Craft Academy, but I'm trying to keep my per-semester tuition below 10 grand. If anyone knows of any other schools of luthiery, whatever the price, or if there's anywhere to go where I'd be able to pick up a decent amount of kno"wledge in this area, please let me know. Thanks!"

My sense is that this is from a young guy asking a legitimate question - I just think he deserves an honest assessment of what the world is like.

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It seems he really wants to start a business doing this, my first answer would be to check out any local professional luthier's and see if they offer any apprenticeships. If they don't see if they'd be willing to higher an assistant from one of the better known schools and take one of their courses as well as a business course because you'll need to know how to run a business as well.

Getting a job a some factory is a lousy answer, and my opinion is the original poster has no idea what he's talking about.

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I don't think there are any real mysteries involved, at least in building electric guitars. (Seems to me building acoustic guitars is at a different level, but even still).

Ultimately, building guitars is a craft and can be learned. You can do this by trial and error, using books and this site and other information available to learn how to do it. That way takes a while and involves making a lot of mistakes, doing it the 'wrong' way, figuring that out, etc.

Going to a school, or even better, being trained by a pro luthier in an apprenticeship situation, is going to cut down on a lot of your time spent learning --you'll spend a lot less time digging out from stupid mistakes, and you'll focus more of your energy on learning what you actually need to know.

A school is also going to teach you what you need to know about wood supply and also about the business of running a business. So I vote for school.

Of course, they're going to teach you THEIR way, which you'll want to adjust to your own style down the road as you gain more experience. Sometimes along the way you gain a little humility too :D

I think the guy is saying that IF there's a friendly guitar factory in your area, and IF they're willing to let you come in, you MIGHT learn a thing or two about guitars BUT it's not the same situation as a craftsman in a shop. He's right.

On the other hand, I watched the Charvel videos (great stuff) --is THAT a factory? A workshop? Whatever, if you could get yourself into a place like that, you'd learn a LOT about modern guitar building, no question. Not exactly craftsmen there, but they get the job done.

The main unknown is the energy YOU'RE going to bring to it.

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