That is my question for discussion.  I would like to call myself a luthier, but I hesitate.  I have built 21 instruments.   They all work.  I usually say I am an amateur luthier.  

I have built 3 string guitars, 4 string guitars and 11 ukes.  Do my own fretting, have built 5 boxes, albeit rectangular

Like most of us, I am self-taught, with a lot of help from you guys in the Nation.  I've made lots of jigs to compensate for lack of power tools.

I have been at this for 1 1/2 years and have sold about 8 instruments.  I am semiretired.

What do you think?.

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that looks awesome. i have a lute dating from 1910-20 handmade in germany. the idea was to restore it but it's been sitting for the last five years still waiting:)

Very nice work Michael. The scroll work on the sound hole is amazing.

Amateur luthier  is not quite accurate either -  in that amateurs as I understand the term, do not get paid for their efforts.

If someone is willing to give me cash money for my hand built musical stringed instrument... that seems to me to convey the added accolade of Luthier. 

At the same time, I considered myself an Artist long before I ever sold an Art piece. What I consider myself is not always what others call me.

Amateur means one loves what one does, though its rarely used that way today. 

I have carved/turned pieces in 40 art museums, but typically refer to myself as a maker, or woodturner, rather than artist, though that's how I'm usually referred to. "I just make stuff"  :)


nah nah ya got it all wrong guys we're just bunch of cowboys

Cow luthiers...

John Mackay said:

"We're just a bunch of cowboys".

Kid Rock has something so say about that:

Thanks boys, this has been interesting.

My take on it, if you've built more than one then you might in strictest terms be able to call yourself a luthier (the definition appears to demand plural, stringed instruments..) and a cigar box guitar is definitely descended from the lute. But doing so may come across as conceited and may seem to diminish the achievements of guys who are at pro standard. (Disrespectful)
Should a guy who once felled a tree call himself an arborist? If you once burned some toast are you a chef? I'm much more comfortable with 'artist' myself, and I don't spend hours of my life explaining that term to others.
The best, and no disrespect intended to those who see things differently :)

I am an engineer.  I call myself that because I have qualifications and experience in engineering and I am chartered through an institution.

I am not a luthier, although I have made a few CBGs.  Similarly, I am not a plumber, but I have mended a few taps, or a carpenter, despite having made bookcases ....etc, etc.

I think that to call yourself a luthier, you have to make stringed instruments to a professional standard.  I have seen some work on CBN that would comfortably fit that description.

That's just a personal view and, if people want to call themselves luthiers, that's their choice.  A lot of technicians and mechanics (extremely useful skill sets) call themselves engineers but I don't lose sleep over it.

Does it matter?Certainly some guys here have all the attributes required to be termed luthiers albeit without formal training,somewhat akin to the first that took that title,but if you want to hedge your bets,how about 'ludicrous luthiers'?


I was going to write a detailed reply to your post, then I realized, why bother?

Titles mean little these days. Anyone can take a weekend workshop and present themselves as a professional.

So, have at it. Call yourself a luthier or the Duke of Paducah. What does it matter? 


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