Has anyone here ever built there own guitar? It's something I'd like to do one day. I can't think off anything more satisfying than having someone pick up your guitar and saying, 'where did you get this?!'
Is there a national certification for lutherie schools?.
A long time ago I met a grad from here that did some work to my guitar and kind of "mentored" me for a short time on guitar maintenance and repair. He seemed to know his stuff and recommended if I was interested in becoming a Luthier to check out this school. He was making a working mans living as a stringed instrument repair tech for the local school districts and did other work on the side. He had quite a workshop w/ all sorts of jigs set up for making acoustic bodies but only a few in the works at that time.
Good luck! You'll need to be patient and be able to learn from your mistakes.
I've watched shows on TV that featured really good guitar makers who were pretty philosophical about their initial attempts at making a guitar. These guys got really, really good over time, but I got the impression that it's not something that many people get "right" the first time out.
There's a group here on AGM for guitar builders that you may want to join for advice and support. There is an Italian fellow there who has been charting his progress building his first guitar. To look at the photos, it is a true work of art, as pretty as any guitar I've ever seen. But ... he says that it plays very badly. And he put months into it! Arrrgh!
I have a friend who builds guitars. He makes all of it, including the fretboard and neck, which I have discovered is extremely difficult. His guitars sell for a couple thousand dollars each, and he has sold a fair number, although this is just a side job for him. He would like it to be more than that, but it's a competitive business. Recently he had Tommy Emanuel play some of his guitars, hoping that he would want one for himself, but that hasn't worked out, yet.
What I have learned from all this is that nearly anyone can make a guitar, but that doesn't mean that the guitars most of us would make would be worth the time and effort. You really have to know what you are doing, and it is more important to have the woodworking skills than to be a musician.
My friend learned the trade from a local man who was very well-known as a luthier. He sought the man out when he had a question on a guitar he was trying to make, and the man was impressed with the quality of his work and offered to teach him his craft.
Gotta believe some sort of apprenticeship would be very valuable.
I'm actually about to embark on this adventure myself. Just this weekend I set up all the wood working equipment that I purchased to be able to do this effectively, and started making the basic jigs that are needed. I've been told that making a guitar is the easy part. It's getting it to sound good that is difficult. It often just takes time/experience, like anything else. My first build is going to be a 14 fret OM, Cuban Mahogany back and sides with a Western Red Cedar top. It will be mostly for fingerstyle. I'll try to post a few progress photos here now and then.
I Strongly encourage you to join this other AGM online group ... http://www.acousticguitarcommunity.com/group/guitarmakers
You'll haved access to a ton of experience and talent.
Thanks Jud, I will check that out. Another good forum for this sort of stuff is http://www.luthiersforum.com. Great resource, and some of the best luthiers around post there, and are very helpful.
Well there you go. Looks like you've done your homework. It's going to be challenging, but a lot of fun, I'm sure.
I've built several cigar box guitars. Here's the center of that universe:
lots of folks out there building low-tech home-made instruments
One of the things my friend discovered is that every guitar he makes generally seems to sound better, and while that is a positive, it makes it difficult for him to sell his earlier instruments. If I were seriously considering building guitars, I would start on something basic and I wouldn't invest a lot in the materials right away.
It is possible to buy guitar tops on line, and some of them are unbelievably expensive. Now my friend has actually gone down to the southern US - yeah I know, that's where many of you live - to buy his Adirondack tops. According to the guys he buys them from, some of the best sounding tops ain't especially pretty. Often the ones with the most character have some flaws, and may have growth rings that aren't very uniform. Supposedly the classic pre-War Martins and Gibsons that are so coveted now have top like this, but the top guitar makers want to build a consistent product and appearance is important, so they want a special kind of look to their tops - and those don't come cheap.
I would say that this is sort of like expecting a high quality paint job if you are buying a luxury car. And you wouldn't want to invest a lot of money in a guitar that didn't look like it was worth the money. On the other hand, a lot of nice-sounding guitars are out there with cheaper tops that sound just fine. My Seagull has a spruce top, and it's not a high grade piece of wood, but a lot good guitarists have told me they really like its sound. I like it too, but I'm biased.
Anyway, my point is that if you're making a guitar yourself, I wouldn't start with rare and expensive varieties. My friend has made some guitars with walnut sides and backs and they have a wonderful sound.
It's my understanding that Martin ships wood that is their "culls" in their kits. Stands to reason, I suppose. Wonder what percentage of Martin kits end up being playable guitars ???
I think it all depends on the skills of the builder...
A few years back some area woodsmiths had a competition to see what they could to with a single 8 foot pine 2X4. One of them made a guitar with it, and I have seen the guitar but never played it. He did a good job given the limitations.