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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I just recently finished a blog post on a similar topic:  the difference between art and craft.

John Roberts objects to applying "Luther" to makers of cigar box guitars and similar instruments.

Perhaps this is based on maintaining some minimum standard of quality. 

  • I object to that on the principle that such a standard is impossible to maintain.  You can always take an example that clearly meets the standard, and a series of examples, each of just a little lower quality, and at some point start a fight between two experts about where the series no longer meets the standard.

Perhaps it is based on the attitude of CBG makers that we are often, but not always, intentionally crafting instruments with a folk sound and appearance, less smooth and polished than "professional" guitars. 

  • I object to that on the principle that it begs the questions of quality and sophistication.  That is, it assumes that CBG makers and players are less sophisticated, less talented, less practiced than players of purpose-built, girl-shaped 6-string or 12-string guitars.  That is certainly true of some of us (myself included), but the top tiers of CBG makers and players are displaying a level of sophistication comparable to the top tiers of traditional guitar makers and players.  And the bottom tiers of both communities are equally awkward.

Bottom line: the dictionary definition of "luthier" is "maker of stringed instruments."  We qualify.  If you want to add "primal" or "folk" or "green" or "recycled" or "repurposed" as an adjective, fine.  If you don't, fine.

Oh, and by the way, saying that a seamstress is a lower level than a tailor is just plain sexist.  Get over it.  Look at the definitions.

One last thing:  The Guild of American Luthiers would probably not let us join.  That's okay, the popular kid clique in high school didn't like me, either.  It never bothered me that I didn't meet their standards, and it doesn't bother me that I don't meet GAL standards.  I measure myself by my own standards.

Simple quote from you blog post...“skill or ability to make or do something.”  The bottom line is that "skill" is a very subjective thing and it all turns into an esoteric decision as to at what level of skill, what title applies. Some folks build the basic stick and box style CBG and others build a Stratocaster with a cigar box as the body. Some take pride in the fact that they cut and formed all of the parts and others tale pride in only buying the best components to make their masterpieces from.

I must agree with your statement Tommy, "I measure myself by my own standards" is a good concept to live by. If we are pleased with the results of our builds it really doesn't matter what the other folks think anyway.

As for titles, they really don't matter much.

You don't need a degree in sociology to call yourself a sociologist....unless you want to teach at a university.......and ditto for other disciplines. At the same time there are far too many people with fancy degrees who actually know diddly-squat.....they are usually teachers!

When people ask me what I do in my shed I tell them I make sawdust.However when I made my lute the sawdust was of a much higher calibre !

Freakin' A!! A real lute, that's something else...serious serious work there, well done.

bloody elly johnny I nearly spat ma coffee..

not like you to make a comment ones make.

keep up ol fellalol

Ohhhhhh, that's beauty...

Yes, you generated some classy sawdust when you built that one!  Love that sound hole.

Michael Fred Johnson:

As you know from my previous post, I am a fan of Lutes. Is this a kit?

Thanks CBJ,Ron,Gary and Mark.

No John it is not built from a kit it's based on a drawing of a 16th C. instrument with some modifications.

e.g. I didn't care for the traditional way of fixing a lute neck to the bowl i.e. a big nail through the neck block.However I did like the idea of using glued strips of linen to reinforce the bowl joints,my beloved very kindly sacrificed her nice linen skirt.

Michael Fred Johnson:

It is a beautiful job. Congratulations.

but is he a luthier?????


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