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Thread: What is a Luthier?

  1. #1
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    Default What is a Luthier?

    This is in response to a post by Titchtheclown: "I'm not a luthier but..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Titchtheclown View Post
    When I make something like this I wonder if it increases my likelihood of becoming an "I'm not a luthier but". As we all know an I'm not a luthier but is the most knowledgeable and wise expert on all things to do with ukuleles, guitars and string instruments in general.
    Just what is a "luthier" anyway? Below is a definition:

    lu•thi•er loo͞′tē-ər►
    n. One that makes or repairs stringed instruments, such as violins.
    n. One who makes wooden stringed instruments, such as violins, guitars, etc.
    n. A person who, or a business which, makes or repairs stringed wooden musical instruments, such as lutes, violins, and guitars.


    Technically, anyone who makes a single stringed instrument is a luthier. However, I see it as anyone who builds an instrument is "practicing the art of lutherie". If one practices the art of lutherie (luthery?) does that make you a luthier? I think a person who practices the art of lutherie as a profession can be called a luthier. Just because I build a stone wall, that does not make me a stonemason even though I practice the art of stonemasonry. "I'm not a stonemason but...".

  2. #2
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    It's a question I have often thought about. I feel uncomfortable when people call me a luthier just because I've made a few good guitars and ukuleles.
    I think the difference between me and a luthier is that I make a ukulele using woods which I think would sound good and using my skills as best I can. When it turns out well, I am happy.
    A luthier, on the other hand, knows what they want to achieve before they start (in terms of tone, looks, sustain, projection.....) and builds a stringed instrument to meet those specifications.
    Other ideas welcomed.
    Miguel

  3. #3
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    I also take it as a professional description. Someone who can repair a leaky faucet is not necessarily a plumber who makes a living with this, someone who knows how to play guitar is not necessarily a guitarist. So same for luthier, it's someone who makes a living repairing and building stringed instruments.

  4. #4
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    Well, by that definition, if you've repaired a stringed instrument, you're a luthier. Any of the mods/adjustments I've done don't qualify as repairs, so I can't even pretend. Phew, dodged that one!
    Glenn

  5. #5

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    all the other analogies up above seem about right. The luthier knows all the science to building to come out with good intonation, etc along with look.
    Kind of like I'm a wrencher instead of a mechanic. I can follow point A to B putting something together, but a good mechanic understands all the physics of what makes a motorcycle works.
    Titch is a luthier for cookie tin ukes though. Some of his are great.

  6. #6
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    Tom Ziegenspeck is a luthier, he has a certificate and masters to prove it. You'll have to google him, forum won't accept his http.

  7. #7
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    When I go through immigration, I say i'm a luthier.

    I think a luthier is one who is willing to explain to everyone not a luthier (eg- those that work at immigration) what a luthier is.

  8. #8
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    I 'think' I know a few luthiers. I say 'think' because some of them, despite turning out utterly divine instruments, don't actually like being referred to as luthiers. They call themselves builders.

    I'm neither a builder or a luthier, but it's an interesting topic!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    This is in response to a post by Titchtheclown: "I'm not a luthier but..."



    Just what is a "luthier" anyway? Below is a definition:

    lu•thi•er loo͞′tē-ər►
    n. One that makes or repairs stringed instruments, such as violins.
    n. One who makes wooden stringed instruments, such as violins, guitars, etc.
    n. A person who, or a business which, makes or repairs stringed wooden musical instruments, such as lutes, violins, and guitars.


    Technically, anyone who makes a single stringed instrument is a luthier. However, I see it as anyone who builds an instrument is "practicing the art of lutherie". If one practices the art of lutherie (luthery?) does that make you a luthier? I think a person who practices the art of lutherie as a profession can be called a luthier. Just because I build a stone wall, that does not make me a stonemason even though I practice the art of stonemasonry. "I'm not a stonemason but...".
    It depends on the profession and liability.. one cannot call themselves a doctor if they can diagnose because of the stakes involved there is a strong gate keeping for the label. Actors, singers, painters are defined by their ability and the their success at creating something of value (personal or $$) with almost no gate keeping.
    A luthier is somewhere in between.. if you can build an instrument reliably and it is of value to some one then call yourself a luthier.

  10. #10
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    I guess the question then, "Is Luthierie a profession?"

    My PD consultant has me down in his notes as a 'master ukulele maker'.

    When I registered my father's death I gave his profession as 'master craftsman engineer'. No such title or professional name exists except on his death certificate.

    Sooooo, I like the idea of making things up. I'm an artisan craftsman who is a ukulele maker. And what a lucky and thankful man I am!

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