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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Meagen Wells is a prestigious boutique builder based in California, with a unique take on making custom crossover archtop guitars and mandolins.

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Want to buy a boutique instrument and don't know where to start? Our columnist offers some tips.

For many players, choosing a new guitar is easy. They simply walk into a music store and play different models until they find one that suits them best. There are many different types of players with a myriad of differing music styles and preferences, which calls for a diverse array of guitar models. Power players prefer jumbos and dreadnoughts as their go-tos, while others tend to gravitate towards smaller instruments, such as Gibson's L-00 or Martin's 000s.

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Will players who spent their quarantined time experimenting with new instruments—such as this 7-string archtop—find those guitars collecting dust as they get back to their regular routines?

While plenty of people purchased guitars over the past year-and-a-half, our columnist predicts post-pandemic gear liquidations are on the horizon.

The COVID pandemic's effects on the music industry have dominated this column for over a year. Now that most of North America is essentially acting as if COVID is in our collective rearview mirror, it might seem to be time to swivel to another topic. But is there an interesting corner of the music business untouched by the events of the last 18 months? From what we buy and how we buy it, to where we can play or listen to others playing, not to mention how we learn to play, every stage in the music-making process has been affected by COVID. It's not just that something has changed. It's more like everything has changed.

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