Acoustic Soundboard

Testing materials is the foundation of any scientifically based build. Here, an FFT analyzer is used to track sonic response.

Data-based building is nothing new in the acoustic-guitar world, but its impact continues to grow.

When I first took my stab at lutherie, I mostly did maintenance work. Fret work, bone nuts and saddles, and basic setups made up the bulk of my daily agenda. I was exposed to many great guitars, both acoustic and electric. And even though I played electrics out on the gig, my primary interest was always acoustic guitars. I was just obsessed with figuring out what made them tick. Once I moved into instrument making, I found it difficult to produce the concert-level quality instruments I had become so accustomed to in my repair days. I was inspired to take a more analytic approach to instrument making, which was ultimately an attempt to tighten-up the consistency, tone, and overall playing experience for my customers.

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When a guitar collector dies, a collection gets passed on and begins a new life. Here’s one collection’s story.

I’ve been in the guitar business in the same city for many decades. One of the advantages of that is I get to see a lot of great instruments we sold years ago come back again. One of the disadvantages is that many times those instruments are returning because an old customer has died or become too frail to play them. All of us who deal in used and vintage guitars love to see great gear, especially when it’s been well cared for. But when I not only recognize the guitars but also remember the owner, the opportunity to sell their instruments a second time is bittersweet.

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Luthier Maegen Wells recalls the moment she fell in love with the archtop and how it changed her world.

The archtop guitar is one of the greatest loves of my life, and over time it’s become clear that our tale is perhaps an unlikely one. I showed up late to the archtop party, and it took a while to realize our pairing was atypical. I had no idea that I had fallen head-over-heels in love with everything about what’s commonly perceived as a “jazz guitar.” No clue whatsoever. And, to be honest, I kind of miss those days. But one can only hear the question, “Why do you want to build jazz guitars if you don’t play jazz?” so many times before starting to wonder what the hell everyone’s talking about.

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Students at the O’Brien Guitars school bind their instruments following a more traditional European style of guitar making.

Finding the right school can be tough for any aspiring luthier. Here are some options to consider.

In my previous column, “So, You Want to Be a Luthier?”, I talked about the types of people attracted to lutherie training programs, some of the possibilities and options these individuals have at their disposal, and discussed both long-term and short-term training, either of which have their place for primary or supplemental training. But the question remains, what school should you choose for your lutherie training? And what might a school have to offer that would best suit your educational needs?

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