How to Become a Luthier??

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by MikeyFingers, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. I would love nothing more then to become a professional luthier, be it custom basses or working for a bigger company. Problem is, I have no clue AT ALL how to get into the business.
    Can anyone here give me any kind of advice at all for getting into it? Schools, instructors, ANYTHING?
  2. seventhson

    seventhson Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    most of the custom boutique builders have apprentice programs. E.g.,

    if an apprenticeship is not specifically listed on their website, call the guy. Even Carl Thompson takes on apprentices. A lot of the boutique luthiers here got their chops working with Carl Thompson.
  3. Cool, that helps a lot. One question though: Would they be willing to take an apprentice who has NO experience with it at all? I don't know jack about building basses, but if they'd be willing to start from scratch, well then, I'm all over it.
  4. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    The key to becoming a good luthier?

    Ruin a lot of good wood...;)

    No really, just do it, and do lots of research. Good woodworking skills will take you very, very far.
  5. TreeChild


    Feb 28, 2005
    Wimberley, TX
    luthier school man.
  6. seventhson

    seventhson Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    yeah, in the back of guitar + bass magazines are ads for luthier schools as well.

    no experience? email the luthier to see if it will be a problem.
  7. I just finished the journeymans course at Galloup Guitars in Michigan. It's a good place to start. I finished an All-parts tele and an acoustic from scratch. Now I am looking for work repairing or building while I start my own basses on the side.


  8. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    That acoustic looks pimp-o-licious if you ask me!
  9. Thanks!!!

    It sounds better than my Taylor 314ce which I didn't expect... and the flame on the maple back and sides is just too sweet. Here's a nice shot of the back after two coats of nitrocellulose...

  10. FenderMustang45


    Jan 29, 2005
    Roberto-Venn in Phoenix is also a good school.
  11. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I concur, though I'm barely more than a hack when it comes to this hobby. It seems to me the only way to break into doing this commercially is to do it on your own for a long, long time.

    Most of the big schools want you to have a good amount of experience down before you get there (at least in woodworking), and most of the big makers want you to have some schooling in the art before even thinking about taking you on as an apprentice. If nothing else it shows that you're dedicated enough to spend your own time and money persuing it. Just think how many washouts they'd have if they took any old schmuck off the street. I for one didn't know what I was getting into when I first started hacking up blocks of wood, and I'm just starting to realize the vast depths of knowledge and skill required to actually make a modest living at it.

    If you've really got nothing going for you in terms of woodworking (i.e. no experience, no shop, no tools, nothing) then try your local trade school or woodworker's guild. Trade schools often offer night courses in tool operation and basics and your woodworker's guild (or favourite woodworking store) will likely offer weekend seminars to build your skill set. Put together a portfolio of your work and you're much more likely to get into a high class school or draw interest from someone looking for an apprentice.

    Of course, that's just my take. Since I've never been to one o' them thar fancy lootheer schools I may be way off base.

    Even if I am, practice and experience can't hurt you (unless you take off a few fingers or put out an eye).