This is a very well discussed subject. However, it is always coming back. First, any Spanish guitar needs to be hand-crafted or hand-made. You do not put the pieces of wood in a machine and get a guitar. To understand the distinction, one must learn how guitars are made. I have a simple way to describe it:
1) Guitars can be made by a single luthier in a small shop, using hand tools, and maybe a small router and a band saw. This is what some of the luthiers I have met in Granada, Seville, Madrid, etc. work. This is how I work. Guitars done this way, are devoted a lot of time and care, specially in the set up, tuning, etc.
2) Guitars can be made in an artisanal shop. That is, a shop of about five or maybe up to ten people of which two or three are master luthiers and the others are apprentices, or advanced officers. In these shops, guitars are made the same way they are made by a single luthier. The difference is that there is a systematic approach to making the parts. That is, some of the parts are made by the apprentices, and officers, (those parts cannot be wrong because they are made in molds, using templates, etc.). the assembly and closing of the guitar is made by a master luthier. This guitars are as good as the ones made by the luthier alone, or almost as good. These shops produce anything from 4 to 6 guitars per day. Guitars made this way, pass a quality control by a veteran master, or the owner of the shop. Time devoted to detail is less, but the construction methods usually guarantee a very good product. Most of the master luthiers owners of these shops sign all the guitars produced by his or her shop.
3) Guitars can be made in a large factory, of maybe 20 to 30 people, in which the work has been designed as a production similar to the way, a car is assembled (most cars a pretty dam good!!). Normally, there is one or two master luthiers, and everyone else is dedicated to make a portion of the guitar. The quality control is done in batches. Since they produce maybe 30 to 50 guitars or more per day, they only inspect a few and extrapolate the results to the others. This is the case of most of the gutiars in the market. The luthiers usually do not sign these guitar labels.
4) Guitars can be made in a large factory, of maybe 200 people selected everyday from among more than 1,000 aspirants waiting at the door. They are selected independtly of experience of knowledge. Everyday, they are fired and invited to wait at the door the next day. Their payment is sent to their families living in another region. The state owns the factories. In other large factories, the workers are offered large quarters to sleep and live for a time. Payment or salaries are made in species and part sent to their families. The state owns the factories. These factories can process in many cases 300 or more guitars per day at a very cheap or almost slave labor. These guitars are found all over the world and sell for about $50 each or more, and include carrying bag, method, etc. The quality control is non-existing. The State uses its powers to get leverage to sell these cheap guitars in other countries without paying the proper taxations, etc. Some of these guitars can sound ok, others end up as bird nests in their owners' backyards. You get what you pay for. Beware of those.
That is my personal definition of what I see in the market today.
Last edited by Pepe Vergara on Mon Nov 06, 2006 8:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.