First steps for those interested in getting into Luthiery.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles

Well-known member
Dec 4, 2011
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Grand Junction, Colorado
First steps for those interested in getting into Luthiery.

Luthiers get emailed with this question so I made this so I don't have to type it out everytime- if you want a copy of the file let me know.


~ Getting into Lutherie: First 10 steps ~

1- Don’t ask for a job or apprenticeship without at least having made a few instruments to show your aptitude. The following are steps on how to get to this point.

2- Instrument kits
A simple way to get started and see if you like it, are any good at, is to buy an instrument making kit. Pre bent sides are good to start with if you have no one to guide you in bending wood:
Stew Mac: and LMI:

3- Go to a reputable school of Lutherie.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of schools from around the world. (Google your area)

Tool list’s for some US schools: of luthierie

One-on-one lutherie tuition

- Robbie O’Brien (Denver, Co)
- de Jonge School of Lutherie (Chelsea, QC Canada)
- Gilet Guitars School (Sydney, Australia)

Other schools not listed in the link above.
- National School of Lutherie (Quebec, Canada)
- Northern College of Arts (Accredited, Vic, Australia)

4- Online courses
Robbie O’Brien offers excellent video courses:

5- Books + Periodicals:
Buy every book on lutherie you can, even on instruments you don’t make. The Guild of American Luthiers is a standard periodical as are their “Big Red Book” compilations Vol 1-7. and

6- YouTube videos, + dedicated Lutherie Websites
I, like many others, have free instructional videos on a variety of methods, tips and tricks in lutherie. and Frank Ford’s famous website

7- Experience in Woodworking
Community colleges and many other places offer tuition in various aspects of woodworking - getting a foundation in tools and machinery (i.e. bandsaw and table saw safety) is a must.

8- Don’t go crazy buying wood, tools, & machinery until you are sure you like lutherie.
This happens a lot- people getting excited about lutherie, then not liking the reality of it and selling off all their stuff a year later- ebay is littered with such sales. So don’t go crazy at the start.

9- Practice various techniques of (repair/finishing etc) on cheap instruments from eBay etc.

10- After this base, you may be ready to approach a repair shop or luthier for a job.

~ The QUALITY of your work is your resume- Quality is all that matters to a Luthier. ~
If the quality of your work is bad, it is irrelevant if you have gone to a lutherie school.


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While I'm a loooonnnnggggg way from getting started in lutheiry, I've always had it in the back of my head and I'd love to see what your suggestions are. As the previous poster said, it's unreadable as is. Thanks!
I managed to read it in a more or less says don’t bother looking for an apprenticeship or a job in Instrument making

Buy a kit and have a go..with the help of the internet first and see if you like it.
Here is a bigger image (I also cut a paste the text from it into the original post)



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There are a couple of threads about becoming a luthier going now, so I will throw out a few of my ideas. First of all, there has been no mention of the GAL, (Guild of American Luthiers). They are a fantastic resource. If you have any interest in instrument making, consider joining the GAL, buy a couple of their Red Books, and if possible attend one of their conventions in Tacoma WA. As a Seattle native it has been easy for me to go down to Tacoma and I have gone to many of their conventions and it has always been a mind blowing experience. It was immensely useful when I was first starting out.

Another thought for those who are thinking of building and selling instruments. Half of the job is building a quality instrument at a reasonable price, the other piece of the equation is marketing. My big break 35 years ago was when my wife showed the owner of a newly opened high end guitar store a mandolin I had made and I got an invitation to sell my instruments there. Being in a store with $5K guitars all around was instant credibility for me as well as what I learned from Rob the owner. At that time Rob was the sole US importer for Larrivee Guitars in Vancouver BC. I went up to the Larrivee factory a number of times with Rob, met and talked with Jean a lot and he was kind enough to give me some spruce wedges that were too small for guitars for me to make mandolins from.

Unfortunately, the small musical instrument stores are rapidly going away from internet pressure, but if you have one near you they may be receptive to selling your instruments on consignment. I still sell the occasional ukulele through Dusty Strings now and then.

There has been some excellent advise given in this thread.
I, in no way want to be discouraging, but will add that your success or failure in instrument making can sometimes depend on your personal expectations and attitudes.
If you have unrealistic expectations, you will soon be discouraged, as there are potentially many competing builders who are already well-established and experienced, and a significant number of these will have long-surpassed the skill levels that you hope to attain.
Start with small, realistic goals. Plan to be the best luthier in your neighbourhood within a year or two … that is more than realistic … then move on to being the best in your local area, then greater area ... and so on.
If possible, find an instrument type/size that interests you and specialise in that before branching out to cover the broader spectrum.
Remember also, that what you think of your own instruments can be encouraging and personally satisfying, but is not critically important to your commercial success… it is what your customer base thinks that ultimately counts.
I also agree that over-capitalisation should be avoided until you see signs of the possibility of achieving some of your goals.
Go slow, give it a go and see what eventuates.
There have been several informational posts from experienced builders in the currently running discussions. As a hobbyist who has built 2 guitars and 3 ukes to date, I just smile and say "Thank you" when someone says something like "That's awesome! You should sell those.". I take comments like those with a very large portion of salt, same as when friends/family say stuff like "You're a great (artist, photographer). You should be in business. I bet you'd make a lot of money."

I know people mean well when they say stuff like that, but I'm realistic about my skills. While I work hard to improve with every instrument, I have not crossed a threshold where I should be asking people to buy my wares.
This form was made to be a very quick guide in the very first steps towards making an instrument for those that know nothing about how to get into it.

It isn't meant to be a complete exposé into the realities of luthiery.
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