Gabriola Guitars - Philosophy
Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What is a Luthier?
 Like the word "lute", luthier shares the Arabic route "al ud", which means "of wood". Luthier refers to  a person who makes stringed instruments with wood.

2. How long did it take you to learn how to do this? Did you go to school to learn how to do this type of work?
From a very young age I have worked with wood. Since I became interested in music I began to study instrument making.  I studied with a succession of master luthiers in independent workshops and in an institutional setting. Developing the knowledge and skills to be a luthier requires the same amount of student as other specialized professions: up to thirteen years or more to become masterful.

3. How did you become interested in this work?
As a young boy I did work with a gunsmith and learned to appreciate fine wood working. Once I became interested in music, I applied that love of wood and craftsmanship to guitar making.

4. How long have you been building guitars? What do you like about guitar making
 I built my first guitar about 30 years ago. I am fascinated by the process, the history, the materials, and the outcome.

5. Are there other people who do this type of work?
The tradition  of hand building musical instruments is becoming increasingly rare, with the prevalence of computer aided mass production There are still people pursuing this craft using the traditional methods.

6. Where do you get your wood?
Traditionally woods used for instrument making come from around the world. Because of the increasing rarity and environmental degradation in many  areas of the globe, I try to source most of my wood locally. I often obtain the wood from salvaged sources.  

7. Why do you choose the woods that you choose?Every part in the construction of the guitar has different requirements. Some woods are chosen for their strength and durability. Some are chosen for lightness and tone. Some are used for a combination of these reasons, as well as for their visual beauty.

8. What woods are used? How long are they seasoned?
I use a variety of spruces, cedars, rosewoods, ebonies, and lesser known local woods such as yew, dogwood, caragana, and walnut. The woods are usually air dried for at least ten years, some as long as forty. Air drying wood over kiln drying is preferable because it facilitates chemical and structural changes that promote stability of the finished guitar. Kiln drying decreases the stability of the woods, and therefore is not as desirable.

9. How long does it take to make a guitar?
From start to finish, it takes between 100 and 300 hours.

10. How many guitars can you make in a year? 
Making guitars individually by one person makes it challenging to make more than twenty in one year.

11. Do you need to be a guitar player and a musician to be able to build guitars?
There are people who have made successful instruments who don't play. Being a guitar player and a musician does help to inform my work and also aids me to  really understand the requirements and desires of the musician when I am crafting their unique instrument.

12. Do you use special tools?
Many of the same tools used for fine woodworking, such as pattern making, are used in luthierie. It is often necessary for me to fabricate specialized tools to be able to perform certain tasks.

13. Who buys your instruments? Where do you sell them? How do people find you?
People who have specific requirements are often the ones who purchase a custom handmade guitar. Recording artists, recitalists, and serious students, as well as amateurs. Frequently they find out about my guitars by word of mouth. People purchase my guitars directly from me. 

14. Why do people buy custom handcrafted guitars?
Individual guitars are like the people who play them: unique in their voice, in their size, and in their characteristics. Having an individually crafted instrument allows the artist to express themselves in their own unique way. The guitar can be designed to sing or speak in a particular fashion.

15. From where do your designs originate? Do you create your own designs?
Most of the designs that I use are based on traditional styles, with minor or dramatic modifications as needed.