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About "master builders"...in the US....

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,913
So riddle me this....
I grew up in Germany where in order or a craftsmen job you have to go through an apprentice ship which depending on the job is between 2 and 4 years, 2 for cashiers at the grocery store, 4 for beer brewers. Most everything else clocks in at 3 years. While going through your apprentice ship you also spent a day a week in what they call Profession School (loosely translated). There are numerous tasks and projetcs that will be graded and after 3 years there will be a final, which in order to get your Journey Man cert you obviously will have to pass.
Then after I think 5 years as a Hourney Man you can take your Master Artisan cert. In order to have your own company, including apprecntice ship program etc... you have to be, or employ a master artisan. Which brings me to my question, with all the "master builder" references in boutique land, what constitutes a master builder in the US?
I know the guitar builders in Germany that atually learned the old school way will had to build a hell of an acoustic to get to journey level, not like slapping a neck on a body.
To my knowledge there is no governing body or Union over seeing this, and any one who deems it so can claim to be one? Or am I missing something here?
And what in a case of Fender, when does on of their Custon shop builders bcom a master builder?
 

pickaguitar

2011 TGP Silver Medalist
Messages
22,187
My uninformed thoughts...

I'd guess that here there is no governing body, union or accreditation.
If running your own shop or company you can automatically call yourself 'masterbuilder'.
I'd also guess that if you get hired in a custom shop you can call yourself a masterbuilder as well.

I too am interested in how Fender actually does it...
 

daddyo

Guest
Messages
11,797
Type the letters, M-A-S-T-E-R B-U-I-L-D-E-R after your name and you're a master builder. Seriously, there is no guild or accreditation in North America for carpentry or guitar making that compels you not to add these types of monikers to yourself if you choose to.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,913
Type the letters, M-A-S-T-E-R B-U-I-L-D-E-R after your name and you're a master builder. Seriously, there is no guild or accreditation in North America for carpentry or guitar making that compels you not to add these types of monikers to yourself if you choose to.
I'm aware that there isn't one. But I'd like to know how some folks get to self proclaim them as masters...
 

tastylicks

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
956
Um, yeah, this is America and I'm pretty sure it's not that official. But then most of the great guitars come from here.

As a layperson, I'll venture a guess that there is no official accreditation, and it merely means you're a) one of the super senior guys at Fender, Martin, Gibson, et al, or b) someone with equivalent experience from said companies attempting to branch off and promote yourself as such, or c) somebody who feels strongly that they are on that level or better, but is independent, with many years experience, and has decided to call himself "masterbuilder".

I'm pretty certain the "many years experience" factor would be what makes it plausible or not for potential buyers/employers.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,913
Grocery cashiers are a craftsman-level job?
No...but all jobs in Germany regardless of whether they fall under craftsmen, industrial or service industry require a government over seen apprentice ship. This is how you end up with folks actually doing their job for a long time, and opposed to a complete career change every few years like in the US.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,913
Um, yeah, this is America and I'm pretty sure it's not that official. But then most of the great guitars come from here.

As a layperson, I'll venture a guess that there is no official accreditation, and it merely means you're a) one of the super senior guys at Fender, Martin, Gibson, et al, or b) someone with equivalent experience from said companies attempting to branch off and promote yourself as such, or c) somebody who feels strongly that they are on that level or better, but is independent, with many years experience, and has decided to call himself "masterbuilder".

I'm pretty certain the "many years experience" factor would be what makes it plausible or not for potential buyers/employers.
Most great guitars? Like what? Strats and Teles as much as I dig them are not really what I have in mind. When I think of mast build I think along the lines of Stradivarius.
 

fullerplast

Senior Member
Messages
6,781
Within an organization there has to be a hierarchy to establish seniority and ability. That hierarchy and the various levels is likely to be similar but not identical between organizations. It takes years of experience and demonstration of skills for the luthiers that came through the Fender custom shop, for example, to be labeled "Master Builder". Likewise, Gibson would have it's own criteria. This would be similar to the "journeyman" concept you allude to.

Outside of an organization however, there does not seem to be much of anything to preclude anyone from simply labeling themselves a master builder. There is no diploma, certificate, or test required. Ultimately the work must speak for itself.
 

2leod

Re-Member
Messages
8,587
I'm not sure the German system should be held up as the one to emmulate. If it were the world would be lining up to buy their stuff, not just autos. And while I'm at it, how did Behringer fit into their high standards of training anyway?

In most places that have an apprenticeship system, the ideal is for the company to train the youngster (preferably still in school and at home 'cause they get paid diddly while they're in process) and then send him packing while they advertise for a skilled journeyman with "X" years experience. The company has gotten virtually free labour from the kid while showing him the ropes, cleaning the shop, demonstrating aptitude and if he's any good he'll come back in "X" years with much more experience than he would have working in the one environment. The problem is that not many companies are training in the skills (here in North America anyway) and some just wait for the good companies to train 'em up and then lure them away with better pay - they don't have to spend any time and effort training. I'm all for apprenticing (I'm a journeyman tool & die maker), but experience is king.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,913
Car, steel, printing presses, there's no short coming on German products or their demand.
Also I'm not sure what Behringer has to do wuth anything, a company that builds mass produced stuff off shore in the low cost category has very little to do with master built.

As for the concept, I went through the typical don't pay nothing apprecentice ship, and opted to not work a regular job for a few decades. Had I kept at it and stayed inGermany I woulda gotten my 6 weeks paid vacation a year and 13th month salary. Not sure how spending 3 years learning a trade is bad. No different then vocational school. But that is so beside the point.
Namely that it seems the terms "master artisan" is just used very loosely in the US. As for the work speaking or itself...really? A master artisan is some one like Startidivarius, isn't that a bit diferent then a Relic Tele?
 

jamess

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,494
IMO, a Master Builder is someone who is among the very small top slice in their craft. Whether it be violins or guitars, a Master builder is one whose work is flawless and very difficult for just anyone to duplicate. This sort of work comes from years of experience, incredible attention to detail and innovation, complete dedication to his/her craft, and natural talent.

Ron Thorn comes to mind.
 

trazan

Member
Messages
816
I'm not sure the German system should be held up as the one to emmulate. If it were the world would be lining up to buy their stuff, not just autos. And while I'm at it, how did Behringer fit into their high standards of training anyway?
Just auto's? You never heard of Neumann, Schoeps, RME, Steinberg, Agfa, Leica, Siemens etc etc? This is not really a US vs German quality thread but while you're onto it, ask the rest of the world which of these two countries you'd trust to offer the most dependable, precise, "master built" whatever and I'm quite sure the answer would be Germany. USA probably wins in the "mojo" department though :cool:
 

daddyo

Guest
Messages
11,797
I'm aware that there isn't one. But I'd like to know how some folks get to self proclaim them as masters...
I was half joking but on the other hand, when you think about it, anyone here can call themselves master builder and it's up to the consumer to figure it out. Now, here in Canada, you can't call yourself a plumber, a welder, auto mechanic, aircraft mechanic, or an electrician without a certificate that shows you did a four year apprenticeship with 24 weeks of classroom sessions. You can't get an electrical or plumbing permit or have an engineer review your welds without the qualification. we don't have a master designation. We have the same 4 year acrreditation for carpenter, cabinet maker, painter, drywaller finisher, carpet layers, tile setter, machinists, etc. but those requuirements aren't enforced as a prerequisite for working or bestowing titles on oneself. Computer technician? everyone is one of those here. GoGeek go.

We have a real shortage of skilled tradesmen here and craftsmen from Germany and the U.K. are especially valued as machinists, finishing carpenters, and cabinet makers.

Guitar maker? Not really a lot of those so there's no program. So name yourself.
 

fullerplast

Senior Member
Messages
6,781
Namely that it seems the terms "master artisan" is just used very loosely in the US. As for the work speaking or itself...really? A master artisan is some one like Startidivarius, isn't that a bit diferent then a Relic Tele?
I'd certainly agree about the term being used loosely....but a "master artisan" should certainly be relative to a particular field of endeavor. IOW, strange as it may seem, both Antonio Stradivari and Jonathan Wilson could be considered master artisans within their respective fields, while no one would ever put the abilities or relative importance of the two even remotely close to one another. Unless of course you choose to define "master artisan" specifically as one who builds fine violins.....or specifically as one who artificially ages fine guitars.;)
 

skeeterbuck

Member
Messages
1,668
If I'm not mistaken the Plek is from Germany and we all know what it has done for the guitar/luthier industry.
 

57special

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,804
So riddle me this....
I grew up in Germany where in order or a craftsmen job you have to go through an apprentice ship which depending on the job is between 2 and 4 years, 2 for cashiers at the grocery store, 4 for beer brewers. Most everything else clocks in at 3 years. While going through your apprentice ship you also spent a day a week in what they call Profession School (loosely translated). There are numerous tasks and projetcs that will be graded and after 3 years there will be a final, which in order to get your Journey Man cert you obviously will have to pass.
Then after I think 5 years as a Hourney Man you can take your Master Artisan cert. In order to have your own company, including apprecntice ship program etc... you have to be, or employ a master artisan. Which brings me to my question, with all the "master builder" references in boutique land, what constitutes a master builder in the US?
I know the guitar builders in Germany that atually learned the old school way will had to build a hell of an acoustic to get to journey level, not like slapping a neck on a body.
To my knowledge there is no governing body or Union over seeing this, and any one who deems it so can claim to be one? Or am I missing something here?
And what in a case of Fender, when does on of their Custon shop builders bcom a master builder?
Ed,
I started out close to 30 years ago as an Apprentice Cabinetmaker, then due to health issues changed to Carpentry, and got my ticket a few years later. Eventually i had my own apprentices, at which point i guess i could've been called a "Master Carpenter". While i did have to write tests and go to school, the whole trade system in North America is nowhere near as formalized as in Europe. The emphasis is more on making money on the job (i.e. how fast can you go without screwing up) than a methodical teaching of skills. The European trained tradesman that i've been around are generally more skilled, though sometimes slower.
Years later, I've ended up building guitars. While there is some formal training in lutherie at schools such as Roberto Venn, it is really a hodge podge. From what i understand, in Germany there was a formal school of lutherie in Bayenreuth , which trained all the great string instrument makers in Germany for generations( i.e. Wenzl Rossmeisl and his son Roger, of Rickenbacker fame).
I think the mechanical trades (plumbing, electrical )have better standards over here than the traditional ones (such as Masonry and Woodworking). Lutherie traditions are sometimes kept alive by companies (i.e. Martin, ironically started by an outcast of the German Guild system), but generally it seems to be a scramble for knowlege and skills.

There are two Guild type organizations here for luthiers, GAL and ASIA. There is a wide disparity of skills within their membership.
 

GDking

Member
Messages
2,528
I'm aware that there isn't one. But I'd like to know how some folks get to self proclaim them as masters...
The same way some attorneys claim to be a specific type of lawyer. There is no such thing as a certified "Personal Injury Lawyer" or the like, it is just something they do.

It is just spin basically but in most trades there is enough self policing where they don't get away with it for long unless they have the goods and a long history of producing them.

As a consumer it is pretty much up to you to make up your own mind. There are no boards here or certification with most all trades besides plumber, electrician and the like. Mostly involved in building or the repair of houses.
 




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