I’d like to construct a ‘family-tree’ or ‘genealogy’ of UK classical guitar-makers to identify who learned from who, who was self-taught, and the role that formal schools/colleges have played in the history of UK guitar-making. It may be that a ‘genealogy’ is the wrong way to look at it and that the history of UK guitar-making is too fragmented to construct such relationships between makers. If so, that is interesting in itself.
One reason for this, other than curiosity, is because I recently learned about the Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts. Stringed-instrument making is categorised as ‘Currently Viable’
but they identify a number of training issues relating to the viability of college courses and the difficultly of individual luthiers taking on an apprentice. The Radcliffe research doesn’t distinguish between different types of stringed-instrument making, perhaps for good reason, but as a start, I’d like to narrow my focus down to acoustic guitar makers and, in particular, those who are known (or see themselves) as part of a tradition of nylon-stringed instrument makers. If you think this categorisation is problematic, please say so. I’m just trying to start with something manageable. I realise that this raises other questions about the amateur and professional nature of guitar-making, which has been discussed here recently
. Also, it raises the question of what being taught actually means: An afternoon being shown the inside of a guitar by an established luthier is clearly not the same as spending a month or a year with them. I will deal with these issues as they arise. The main thing now, is to collect as much information as I can and then analyse it.
I’d be grateful if you could post here or PM me any thoughts or information you might have. I will do my best to verify the ‘data’ collected. If you or a maker you know, was self-taught, taught privately by someone, or went to a college (who were the teachers at the college?), then that is useful information. Once I am confident about the basic facts, I will share what I have learned and reflect on what it means for the continuation of lutherie/guitar-making in the UK.
Small disclaimer: I became interested in the teaching and learning of classical guitar making because I am having one-to-one tuition with Roy Courtnall
, which has given me some insight into the craft and its transmission. Also, I am an academic working in a university school of education and therefore a professional researcher into different aspects of informal and formal education. I’d like to apply my experience of research to my interest in lutherie. Thank you.