galloup guitars

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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Students in lutherie school can build a variety of instruments depending on the program. Here we see a budding luthier rough carving the back of an archtop guitar in preparation for running and vicing.

From enrichment classes to six-month master-luthier training, here’s a big-picture view for potential lutherie students.

As many of you know, I have operated a school of lutherie for over 40 years. It all started when I took control of the Guitar Hospital repair shop from my friend Dan Erlewine in the mid ’80s. The establishment was already offering short-term training to select individuals, and, at first, I focused on teaching repairs, which was the prime area of interest for most students. Since then, my school has grown from working with one student at a time to a peak of over 20 students in a single term.

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When braces are scalloped, material is removed from the center of the brace, which makes it more flexible in this area.

Those scalloped, tapered supports do way more than just keep your flattop from caving in.

Acoustic guitar bracing is something the general guitar-buying public rarely considers. And why would they? A guitar's braces are hidden on the inside of the instrument and, with the exception of the back braces, are never seen at all. However, the fact remains: When a bracing system is combined with the soundboard's material, it has the single most profound effect on the performance of a guitar. At their best, a guitar's braces help to offer superior sound, response, and reliability. At their worst, they are either overbuilt, which makes a guitar feel laborious to play, or are underbuilt and fail prematurely. Guitarists simply need an understanding of what the various bracing styles are communicating, how they affect the soundboard, and what that might mean to the player.

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