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The value of a good luthier

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Crowder, May 6, 2020.

  1. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
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    Jun 1, 2009
    Location:
    Chattanooga, TN
    I just got my Collings back from Custom Fretted Instruments in Sparta, TN. This is a small shop, three employees, and basically in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, they're only an hour or so from Nashville, Knoxville or Chattanooga so the location makes some sense in that respect.

    My guitar had a poorly-repaired top seam separation when I bought it. The damage was disclosed and the price was right. The only change I made after I got it was to add a shim under the saddle to raise the action a bit. I've written and gigged on it for about three years that way.

    Eventually I started fighting a sympathetic rattle that was annoying me when recording with the guitar. I decided it was time for a check up. I'm so glad I did! The guitar is even more fun to play after having the maintenance done.

    The luthier worked on the seam separation some, re-cleating the top and hide glueing it. It looks better now and I can barely feel it under my fingers. He also secured the wiring for my K&K Trinity system components to prevent them from moving and rattling. Finally he crafted a new bone saddle to replace the shimmed one.

    He didn't do anything specifically to address the sympathetic noise, but it's gone, so it was likely one or more of the things I mentioned.

    My out-the-door price was under $150 which I considered very fair for an all-round tuneup that brought my guitar back closer to where it ought to be.

    Don't skimp on repair and maintenance work! Seems like it's always worth it.
     
  2. Aloha Mark

    Aloha Mark Member

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    Apr 24, 2020
    It would be good to write a review of the store on Yelp. Spread the word about your satisfaction. I used a luthier in Georgia without consulting his customer base. That was a mistake.
     
  3. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
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    Aug 18, 2003
    Location:
    Cary, NC
    Its true of any guitar, but especially true of acoustic guitars. I have a Bourgeois Slope D in the shop right now for some adjustments. Sadly there was some movement and the setup drifted to a point that it was unplayable for me. Tech called a little while ago to say it was ready for pickup. This guitar has been barely played the past few years because of that action which is a shame since its such a fine guitar. Wish I had it during all this lockdown time, but looking forward to getting it back.
     
    Crowder likes this.
  4. Darbarian

    Darbarian Member

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    Dec 2, 2018
    I keep my luthier a secret, he’s too busy.
     
    Matt Sarad and Mister Natural like this.
  5. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I’m sure he appreciates that (?).
     
    Julio Iguana likes this.
  6. Darbarian

    Darbarian Member

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    Yeah, I’m lucky to have him work on my stuff. He’s plenty busy, and been doing it for a long time.
     
    Johnny Ninefingers likes this.
  7. darkbluemurder

    darkbluemurder Member

    Messages:
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    May 6, 2005
    Knowing a good luthier is invaluable.
     
  8. rockabilly69

    rockabilly69 Supporting Member

    Messages:
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    Nov 2, 2008
    Location:
    Ogden, Utah
    My luthier/friend is a miracle worker! Other than through this quarantine (I haven't worked since) I've played at least 5 3 hour solo gigs a week. I wear frets out fast and subject my guitars to a lot of work related wear. My friend keeps all my guitars in tip top shape. And, he's a very knowledgeable historian of electric guitar history ta boot...

    These articles about or feature my luthier Lynn Wheelwright...

    https://www.namm.org/library/oral-history/lynn-wheelwright
    http://jasobrecht.com/finding-charlie-christians-guitar-interview-lynn-wheelwright/
    https://www.amis.org/post/it-s-about-the-volume
    https://mim.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/MIM_The-Electric-Guitar-Press-Release.pdf
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/audio/a20997/who-invented-the-electric-guitar/
     
    Crowder and Johnny Ninefingers like this.
  9. JSeth

    JSeth Member

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    Jan 11, 2008
    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon... "Heart of the Valley"...
    I've told many folks that the second most important thing they'll want, after buying a really nice acoustic guitar... is to cement a relationship with a great technician... however that has to happen! A great tech who knows my preferences and does fine work is INVALUABLE....

    The best acoustic guitars in the world will play like crap if they aren't set-up properly...

    By the way, I see this all the time: Folks using the term "luthier" instead of repair technician... a luthier, to my mind, is someone who actually BUILDS instruments, while a technician is the guy who keeps them working correctly... for what it's worth? I know more than a couple luthiers who can't do setup work for beans... leastways not to my liking.
     
    Mister Natural and Route67 like this.
  10. Route67

    Route67 Member

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    Feb 26, 2017
    Agree. Personally, I wouldn’t be playing guitar at all if it wasn’t for my tech. He’s been at it since 1967, and he’s just that - a tech, not a luthier. In my part of the world there are a few of the latter who build for some famous guitar players down in California, but that’s not my niche.

    Lots of do-it-yourself types will talk online about doing their own set ups, but if you have a pro on your side it’s an invaluable advantage - some guitars are so lightly built they could almost be classified as a work in progress, and high performance to boot. Not something simply to purchase, but rather to be worked on, tweaked and maintained on a regular or seasonal basis.
     
    JSeth likes this.
  11. Parlorman

    Parlorman Silver Supporting Member

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    I've had a wonderful luthier working on my vintage acoustic guitars for over two decades. He's amazing and only about 20 minutes drive away. Among many of his claims to fame was a rebuild of Les Paul's acoustic-based prototype of the Les Paul electric.

    Sadly, he's retiring soon and I'm bummed.
     
    Crowder and Route67 like this.
  12. JSeth

    JSeth Member

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    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon... "Heart of the Valley"...
    Better start looking ow for your "new" guy! Maybe your long-time tech has trained a few paprentices who he feels are excellent in their own right? Taht could be a good place to start, although I must say that nearly every place I've lived, I've been able to connect with someone who does a good job for what I need... just have to scout out the situation...
     
  13. Parlorman

    Parlorman Silver Supporting Member

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    He actually did have an apprentice who has set up his own shop. I've used him for a few repairs. He's good, but not quite in the same league.

    There are a couple of world class luthiers nearby, but they have years-long waiting lists. One of them did all my vintage work until he became famous and unavailable.
     
    Crowder likes this.
  14. Julio Iguana

    Julio Iguana Member

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    Oct 24, 2017
    Location:
    NC
    Ditto. The good ones are hard to find.
     

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