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TOP: With its quality tonewoods, high-end appointments, and detailed inlay work, a pre-owned Larrivée OM- 10 is a relative bargain considering its current value of $1,600 to $2,000. BOTTOM: The OM-10 sports rosewood back and sides and a single-piece mahogany neck.
I’m a big fan of Jean Larrivée and his guitars. I used to own a Larrivée OM-10 and sold it for $1,450 in 2002. Could you provide some history on Larrivée and tell me what this guitar is worth today? I feel like Larrivée is an underappreciated luthier and I don’t hear much about him. I’m curious if I sold this guitar too cheaply!
Stan in Portland, OR
Jean Larrivée has been building for more than 40 years and many of his instruments feature beautiful inlay work. Like you, many guitarists aren’t familiar with Larrivée’s history, so before we get into the OM-10 you sold, let’s take a moment to recap the Canadian luthier’s journey.
Larrivée began studying classical guitar at the age of 20, and four years into his study, he met German classical-guitar luthier Edgar Mönch. Larrivée began an apprenticeship with the luthier in Toronto, and built two guitars under Mönch’s guidance before starting to build guitars on his own in his home workshop.
Larrivée Guitars officially launched in 1968 and Larrivée moved into his first true workshop in 1970, which was located above a theater. At first, he focused exclusively on classical guitars, but then in 1971 he built his first steel-string. After a period of extensive experimentation, he began introducing his own body styles and shapes, as well as original bracing systems and other unique features. In 1972, Larrivée married his wife Wendy, who designs and engraves the inlays on many of the company’s guitars.
Larrivée Guitars grew throughout the 1970s, and by 1976, the company had eight employees and was building between 25 and 30 guitars a month. In 1977, Larrivée moved operations to the island city of Victoria, British Columbia, providing access to the wet, coastal forests of Western Canada. Five years later, Larrivée moved the company to the mainland of British Columbia, right around the time most acoustic guitar manufacturers were going through their toughest times. But instead of consolidating operations, Larrivée began building solidbody electric guitars in 1983. Production of his electric guitars lasted through 1989, when the market had improved enough for him to focus solely on acoustics again.
The 1990s marked a resurgence in guitar manufacturing and the company moved to an 11,000 square foot factory in 1991, where they employed 35 people and built 25 guitars a day. In 1997, Larrivée Guitars introduced the lowest-priced model in their lineup with the D-03, which would firmly establish Larrivée in the acoustic guitar arena. In 1998, they moved into another new factory with 33,000 square feet, employing 100 people and producing 60 to 72 guitars per day. Three years later, Larrivée opened a U.S. factory in Southern California, just ten days before September 11, 2001.
During the next two years, Larrivée overhauled and streamlined their production process, ultimately building the 03 Series guitars in Canada and all remaining models in the U.S. In 2005 Larrivée introduced the Traditional Series guitars, and in 2008 the company again ventured into the electric realm with the RS-4 model.
Today, Larrivée is very much a family operation. Jean, his wife Wendy, son Matthew, and daughter Christine all work in the California plant where they build the company’s gloss-finish guitars. Larrivée’s other son, John Jr., operates the plant in Canada, which produces their satin-finished models. The company continues to offer several body shapes—including traditional designs and a few of Larrivée’s own—and several decoration levels for their models, from simple to highly ornate.
The Larrivée OM-10, as its name implies, has an OM-style body. Specifications include a Canadian Sitka spruce top, rosewood back and sides, abalone rosette, abalone purfling, and a mahogany neck. The OM-10 boasts other high-end features such as the ivoroid-bound ebony fretboard with deluxe abalone inlays, sterling silver headstock border with mother-ofpearl inlay, and an ebony bridge. Currently, this guitar is worth between $1,600 and $2,000 in excellent condition.
Considering what you sold it for and what it is worth today, I don’t think either party should feel cheated. Regardless of the owner, I’d treat this guitar as a treasure. Typically, you can’t buy guitars with such exquisite inlays for under $5,000, which makes this very fine flattop a relative bargain.
Zachary R. Fjestad is author of Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars, Blue Book of Electric Guitars, and Blue Book of Guitar Amplifiers. For more information, visit bluebookinc.com or email Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org.