There are several routes to become a luthier. Luthiers can be self-taught or have formal training but both will require time and patience.
Being self taught is an option that many people choose. It is usually due to the fact that they do not have access to formal training or cannot afford the fees. If you decide to be self taught, it is important to keep in mind that you will need to be very disciplined and motivated as there is no teacher keeping you on track. Before you start building guitars, it is important to learn how guitars work. This can be achieved by thoroughly reading books on guitar making and studying existing guitars. Once you are familiar with guitar anatomy and construction, you can start making your own guitar pieces and eventually build a complete guitar.
The other route would be to attend a school for luthiers. The benefit of attending a school is that you are guided through the process by experienced luthiers who will make sure you do not make any mistakes as well as teaching you valuable tips and tricks of the trade. However, this method does come at a cost which can be anywhere between $5000 – $10000 for classes that last anywhere between 6 months – 2 years.
There are many different routes that can help you become a luthier. It is possible to get a degree in instrument making and repair, or to study for a qualification at an independent school of lutherie, or to learn on the job in a workshop. It is also possible to teach yourself from books, by practicing on your own guitars, by building kits and by taking short courses.
Instruments vary so much that it is not possible to list the skills you will need. However, there are some common themes. Luthiers use a range of hand tools and machines, which may include lathes, saws, chisels, planers and routers. They have to be able to select the right materials for each particular task; examples might be different types of wood, metal alloys and glues. They will also need an understanding of acoustics as well as design skills and an eye for aesthetics.
If you want to work in a busy workshop repairing instruments for professional musicians then you will need good practical skills and experience working with tools. You should also be able to work quickly without sacrificing accuracy or quality. You may need to be able to read music too if you are repairing orchestral instruments like violins or clarinets.
The term luthier, while originally referring to a stringed instrument maker, is now used for makers of all instruments.
There are three main routes to become a luthier:
– 1st route:
– Study – usually a 3 year course, or
– Apprenticeship (initially for a set period and then usually on a rolling basis)
– 2nd route:
– Self taught through books and videos. This will take considerably longer than the other two routes. The best way to learn this way is to work alongside someone else who works in the trade and has experience.
– 3rd route:
– A combination of the above routes. This can be starting off learning on your own, then moving onto an apprenticeship or attending further education courses.
The most common route to becoming a luthier is through apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are difficult to obtain, but they are the best way to learn the craft. They guarantee a high level of quality in workmanship, and they ensure that the new builder will have a solid foundation of knowledge on which to build his or her career.
Apprenticeships allow new builders to become proficient at many different aspects of the craft and business. The apprentice will assist in building guitars, repair work, customer relations, and business management.
The apprentice will learn all the basic skills required, including:
• Wood selection
• Cutting logs into lumber
• Planing, jointing and gluing up
• Designing instruments
• Setting up tools for each process
• Laying out patterns and templates
• Cutting out bodies and necks
• Shaping necks, bodies and braces
Building an instrument requires proficiency in many different skills. The apprentice must be able to perform all of these tasks with consistency and accuracy, as well as with grace and style.
This is a guide written by luthiers for prospective luthiers. It’s not a step-by-step how-to, but rather a general introduction to the profession and life of a maker. It is a summary of the various ways to get into this field.
The first way is to be born into it. If you are very lucky, you will be born into a family of luthiers (or other artisans) who will teach you the trade from childhood, and with whom you will spend your whole working life — perhaps taking over their workshop when they retire or die. This may still be possible in some parts of the world, but it has become extremely rare in America.
The second way is to be an excellent instrument repair person and then expand your skillset and start building instruments. If you do this successfully, you will have worked very hard and have taken many years to get there, but the journey will have given you great insight into the business as well as your own capabilities as a builder. You might even have developed some ideas about design along the way which will help develop your own style and make your instruments unique in some way.
The third way is to be an excellent guitar or violin player (sometimes also mand
Luthier is a French word derived from the Latin word lutum, meaning mud or clay. The term was subsequently adopted by the Italians in the 14th and 15th centuries to describe any instrument made of wood. In English, it came to be applied specifically to stringed instruments but has now come to mean any instrument maker.
A luthier builds instruments, usually stringed instruments such as a guitar, violin, or cello. A luthier can also build lutes and viols, and other non-stringed instruments like recorders and woodwinds. A luthier may also be called a stringed instrument maker or a violin maker.
There are many ways to become a luthier. Some people go through more formal apprenticeships with master craftsmen. Others learn through experimentation and trial-and-error on their own. Still others learn at a local community college or trade school offering courses in instrument making and repair.
Many luthiers start out as woodworkers and guitar repair techs. Some begin more focused on basses, or double basses, or cellos, but find themselves drawn to guitars because of their popularity and ubiquity. So it’s safe to assume that most luthiers do indeed start out doing repairs, but what’s the best route?
It’s generally not a bad idea to learn some basic electronics and wiring, especially if you plan on repairing vintage guitars. There are many excellent books and online guides for learning how to wire pickups and pots. If you plan on working on these kinds of guitars at all, it’s worth learning. For me personally, I found that the extra knowledge made me feel more confident when working with customers’ guitars.
One important thing to keep in mind is that while learning how to do repairs can be a very valuable skill and good business strategy, unless you’re a genuine guitar tech first (meaning all you do is just repairs all day long), you’re probably going to need more than just that skill set alone. If you’ve ever looked for a job opening for a guitar builder position anywhere, chances are the only requirements listed were: must know how to use hand tools and/or power tools.