Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Modern Builder Vault: Alquier Guitars

This French luthier's breathtaking designs embrace old-world construction techniques while flouting tradition with classic automobile aesthetics and surprising tonal versatility.

Cajun Country
Definitely not your grandpa’s resonator, the electric Cajun Country model brings modern elegance to an old-timey instrument. The version shown here features a swamp-ash body and a maple neck topped with a stainless steel fretboard. It’s outfitted with dual inputs and features both a Highlander under-saddle piezo pickup and a custom Benedetti single-coil paired with an OxyDrive internal overdrive circuit made by Gamin'3.

Luthier Jean-Yves Alquier’s interest in building guitars was sparked the moment he first held an instrument more than 20 years ago. He didn’t just want to play it—he had to know how it worked. Today, that same curiosity—and a passion for woodworking, drawing, and sculpture—continue to drive Alquier to create a variety of stunning instruments from his workshop in Le Soler, France.

Although Alquier’s background in guitar playing and listening to all types of music—from Bach to Zappa, B.B. King, and John Scofield—is hugely influential on his work, he’s equally inspired by automobile design. In fact, he says cars were the most creative design medium of the 20th century. And he aims to emulate that vibe with his guitars.

Alquier’s artistic skills were mostly self-taught for a number of years, but then in 1995 he set out to travel the world for a year, meeting instrument makers and soaking up live music in Australia, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sumatra. With a guitar on his shoulder, he visited numerous Canadian and American luthiers, too, but he says the most valuable meetings were in Asia, where he witnessed traditional instruments being built without complicated tools—including craftspeople using their feet instead of vises! These builders both fascinated him and, in his words, helped “open his mind.” In 1998, Alquier built a classical concert guitar under the supervision of master builder Thierry Jacquet in Montpelier, France, to make sure he was ready and able to be a luthier.

With a guitar on his shoulder, he visited numerous Canadian and American luthiers, too, but he says the most valuable meetings were in Asia, where he witnessed traditional instruments being built without complicated tools—including craftspeople using their feet instead of vises!

But the cutting-edge designs Alquier is known for today yield little evidence of his initial training in the strict, traditional classical community. And though Alquier continues to build classical instruments (as with his Juliette model named after his daughter), he says he doesn’t want to be “imprisoned in any style.” Even so, he contends that the conservative aspects of classical-guitar luthierie teach technique and rigor. “I think luthiers must know how to build a classical concert guitar in order to really understand guitars.”

Despite his organic introduction to instrument building and the fact that all his instruments are currently handmade, Alquier has no qualms about computer-aided guitar construction, either. In fact, he says that acquiring a CNC (computer numerical control) machine is one of his next steps. “Not having a CNC is a handicap,” he states. “A luthier must not waste time on simple, necessary operations—but he still must not fall 100 percent into the machine-made category and lose the magic of handworking.”

Asked about the “magic” of his own designs and what he thinks sets them apart, Alquier says his main goal is “to simply do the best I can do and in the most sincere way.” He then quotes French composer Erik Satie, who said, “I’ve never written a note that was not sincere,” adding, “I feel the same way about guitar building.”

Pricing and Availability
Alquier builds approximately 20 guitars a year, but he is integrating his friend and fellow builder Marc Senn into the operation to specialize in basses. Alquier’s guitars are currently only available direct. Most orders are custom, and the wait time is approximately six months. Standard models are typically finished in about three months. His instruments range from $3,800 to $12,000.

alquierguitar.com

With a team of experts on hand, we look at six workhorse vintage amps you can still find for around $1,000 or less.

If you survey the gear that shows up on stages and studios for long enough, you’ll spot some patterns in the kinds of guitar amplification players are using. There’s the rotating cast of backline badasses that do the bulk of the work cranking it out every day and night—we’re all looking at you, ’65 Deluxe Reverb reissue.

Read MoreShow less

George Benson’s Dreams Do Come True: When George Benson Meets Robert Farnonwas recorded in 1989. The collaboration came about after Quincy Jones told the guitarist that Farnon was “the greatest arranger in all the world.”

Photo by Matt Furman

The jazz-guitar master and pop superstar opens up the archive to release 1989’s Dreams Do Come True: When George Benson Meets Robert Farnon, and he promises more fresh collab tracks are on the way.

“Like everything in life, there’s always more to be discovered,”George Benson writes in the liner notes to his new archival release, Dreams Do Come True: When George Benson Meets Robert Farnon. He’s talking about meeting Farnon—the arranger, conductor, and composer with credits alongside Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Vera Lynn, among many others, plus a host of soundtracks—after Quincy Jones told the guitarist he was “the greatest arranger in all the world.”

Read MoreShow less

The new Jimi Hendrix documentary chronicles the conceptualization and construction of the legendary musician’s recording studio in Manhattan that opened less than a month before his untimely death in 1970. Watch the trailer now.

Read MoreShow less
Rivolta Guitars' Sferata | PG Plays
Rivolta Guitars' Sferata | PG Plays

PG contributor Tom Butwin dives into the Rivolta Sferata, part of the exciting new Forma series. Designed by Dennis Fano and crafted in Korea, the Sferata stands out with its lightweight simaruba wood construction and set-neck design for incredible playability.

Read MoreShow less