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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A seamstress is not a Tailor. A CBG maker is not a Luthier. Using the word Tailor or Luthier implies a higher level of expertise.

Reclamation artist sounds less poncey than luthier.


Good one!!!

Luthier is a fine word with a rich tradition. From the French word luth, meaning lute. Lutes are marvelous instruments, and if you have ever played one you will know what I mean.

So, please feel to call yourself anything you wish. However, if you want the public to know what you do, I would say "Maker of Fine Instruments." 

Or, to split hairs, "Fine Maker of Instruments." I'm okay; they're so-so.

Ah, this question. It is similar to the world of traditional wooden archery. Can a bow maker call himself a bowyer, and at what point does that title apply to a bow maker? After a certain number of weapons? After a certain level of artisty or performance of the bow? Only for certain styles of bows but not others? If he makes money and is considered a professional bowyer rather than one who makes them just for fun?

I would say yes, someone who builds any type of stringed instrument is a luthier, just as any musician who plays any instrument at all or sings is a musician.

Unless you are the school of thought that a diddley bow maker or player can only call himself a monochord zither builder or player. A chordophone is what any guitar is. Cigar box guitars are as real a guitar as any other type of guitar. 

Dane, under your definition, if someone makes a Diddley Bow (a stringed instrument), then they are a Luthier. 

I don't think it works that way.

Thankfully, Robert, you are not on the committee to decide what to call anyone. :)

A luther builds stringed instruments. That is the base definition. One string, two stings, 12 strings, they are all stringed instruments. Suppose a one string was built to standards that Torres would approve of, with a v joint headstock, a Spanish foot, mother of pearl position markers, bracing that maximizes tone and volume, the finest book matched woods, and so on? And his level of craftsmanship rivaled the best luthiers working today? 

Much like the term bowyer, it is jealously guarded by some who feel they are at a very high level, but anyone who builds a archery bow is a bowyer.

And in the end, opinions are just that. :) 


The gentleman asked for an opinion about calling himself a luthier, and I gave it. Is this somehow not permissible in your world? 

There is a call coming in to the shop of Dane Donato Luthier.......

DDL: Hello this is Dane Donato Luthier.

Caller: Do you build classical guitars?

DDL: No I do not.

Caller: Do you build steel string guitars?

DDL: Uh, no.

Caller: Do you build violins, or violas?

DDL: Sorry, no.

Caller: Then what do you build, if you say you are a Luthier?

DDL: I build cigar box guitars.

Caller: What is a cigar box guitar?

Hey Robert, I don't want to continue a petty Internet fight. I think it is safe to say anyone building any of these instruments is an artist. A quick glance around this forum shows a wealth of talent and creativity. 

The term luthier to you seems very proprietary, and that is fine, since you went to school to learn the craft. Maybe your sense of who you are as an artist is tied in to the word, or your sense of being formally trained in making guitars. 

Consider this: Is a musician who can not read music or studied formally with a professional(s), or attended a degree program a musician? Or is he or she something else?  

Dane Donato said:

"Hey Robert, I don't want to continue an internet fight."

First of all, my name is not Robert. Second, I am not fighting, I am discussing, sorry you don't know the difference.

Of course there is a lot of talent on this forum, and they can call themselves luthiers if they so desire. However, calling oneself a Luthier is not the same as being one. A seamstress is not a tailor, even though many seamstresses call themselves that. Once you begin to question their skills and training, the story falls apart.


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