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What exactly IS the "Luthier's Prime Directive"?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by arnoldschnitzer, Oct 24, 2003.


  1. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    It's been said that the luthier's credo is to "do nothing that can not be reversed". What does this mean? If an instrument is built poorly, and reworking certain parts will make it a better instrument, do we turn away from this work? Is regraduation always unethical? Are neck grafts that tweak the string length and/or overstand verboten? I've heard a lot about this "prime directive", especially from "holier than thou" luthiers who seem to have all the answers. I'm confused...help me, brothers and sisters.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
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    Nnick? Nnnnniiiick? Fire up some popcorn, willya?
     
  3. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    <cracks a beer, settles into ***-groove on couch>
     
  4. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Let's see... I've got buttered, low-salt, and plain... however, I'm not making peanut butter popcorn again. Too damn messy.
     
  5. It's like when you drove that nail through the top to hold my soundpost in place, and you left enough projecting to access with a claw hammer.:)
     
  6. Seems to me like a real professional luthier would use a coarse threaded wood screw so it wouldn't project above the surface.
     
  7. No luthier with any reverence for the wood would countersink a top.
     
  8. ...driven in, of course, with a Birmingham-Screwdriver*

    - Wil

    *hammer
     
  9. When I bumped my neck off, two hours before a gig, I reattached it with 3 3"long screws. It did the job, and due to my extreme laziness, stayed that way for many years and many gigs. I have since reglued it and filled the screw holes. Just as well I'm not a luthier, I might get excommunicated.....

    I just realised, I suppose I am a luthier in a manner of speaking, in that I once made my own electric upright from scratch. The only parts I bought in were the pickup and the machineheads. I sold it after two years of gigging, and the purchaser is still gigging with it seven years later.
     
  10. I find it hard to believe that you are so proud of this butchery that you needed to brag about it twice in one month.
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    .
    Unfortuately, I believe it means luthiery doesn't get exemptions from the hassles of monthly bills and hungry mouths.
     
  12. Bob, I'm trying to alter the bass tradition.:D
    I believe uprights should have screw on necks, sorta like Taylor guitars, 'cos it'll save all those poor horses getting sent to the knackers yard to be turned into hide glue....:rolleyes:
     
  13. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    What'sa matter, Bob? Don't you like screws and lag-bolts? I just saw a Traeger neck-repair with a 3 inch bolt, though the spruce block and into the neck foot...
     
  14. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    ...From the inside, right? Yeah, I've seen a lot of that type of "butchery" myself. In fact, I put a neck graft in a Gagliano, which subsequently got trashed on a flight. The owner got it fixed somewhere in the Midwest. I saw the bass a while later for a soundpost adjustment. When I looked inside, I was nauseated to find a hex-head bolt sticking through the neck block into the neck. "The other luthier said you put the neck in wrong, and that's why it popped out in the accident", I was told. Yeah, I guess a no-gap, chalk-fitted, laser-verified, hide-glued neck joint is the wrong way to go...Let's see what happens to that bass the next time it takes a bump in the neck!
     
  15. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Nice try. I would not call your emergency repair "luthiery".
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I take it he broke the Prime Directive?
     
  17. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur GollihurMusic.com

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    Oh-oh. I think this will mean a visit from the Bass Trek Police.
     
  18. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Don't tell me you've become a religious man all of a sudden and are backing your bulldozer out of BB's temple.
     
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Arnold, your original question sounded an awful lot like it came from a man who wanted to get something off his chest. Have you sinned, Arnold? Has Temptation wiggled her ass nearby?

    Chalk-fit all you want, confession is the way to go.