Do I have the patience to wait for a luthier?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
ksemerick

Post by ksemerick » Sat May 05, 2007 3:18 am

I also waited less than 6 months for my Traphgagen, and it was well worth the wait. Outside of it resulting in my owning guitar which I think is truly great, I enjoyed meeting and speaking with Dake, and learned a lot about his philosophy and goals, and the construction of his instruments. Plus, I just feel better dealing directly with the luthier, and prefer that the people who have devoted their lives to their art/craft receive all of the benefits of my purchase.

Plus there was no marketing BS and no pressure, whcih is not the case with some of the businesses I have seen. You know the drill, every instrument is "the finest example ever seen from this maker", with "warm, round, rich basses, crystalline trebles that LEAP from the guitar" etc. Plus I was able to select the wood, and enjoyed a nice vist to Bellingham with my wife, who also enjoyed being part of the process, and that guitar is now part of our history.

I believe that, particulalry if you can meet and work with the luthier personally, you will find it an enriching experience well worth the wait.

mlfly

Post by mlfly » Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm

The guitar I bought advertised 4-6 months and it took a year. I'm sure I rushed him at the end because I was beginning to get impatient. During the course of the experience I pretty much discovered that such delays were not uncommon. I'm glad I have it but I'm not sure I would have ordered it had I known 12 months was the delivery time. I think with 4-6 months of searching, I could have found a nice guitar.However, with special tuners, a custom rosette and other small touches I specified, it's a one of a kind guitar.

One last point, after buying mine I have discovered at least 3 luthier's in the local area. One is a historic luthier and I doubt I'd pay that much for a casual hobby. One, however, builds a great mid-price guitar. I sort of wish I had purchased locally and suggest you consider it if a satisfactory guitar is available close to you. I also feel a year wouldn't be so bad if you can occasionally drop in and see the progress.

But, lest you think I'm unhappy with mine and having one built for you is a bad experience, I do want to assure you the end result is worth it.

jfdana

Post by jfdana » Sat May 05, 2007 8:31 pm

Perhaps you won't mind if I tell a story: it's all true, although the names have been obscured to protect the author.

I had ordered a guitar from a well known European maker and my intention (actually my son's idea) was to buy a great guitar for my 50th birthday. So the order was placed, deposit made, and the guitar was to be ready in 6 months. Well, time dragged on, progress was 2d only to tax reform, i.e., not happening in my lifetime. A concert artist (a friend of a friend) visited the maker and reported back that there were "guitar parts" in evidence. Wow, that's reassuring!

Well, finally the guitar was done (about a year late), and UPS picked it up on the evening of September 10, guess what year. Of course, in the ensuing mayhem, UPS lost all track of the guitar, and I really couldn't complain, given the real tragedies experienced by so many.

UPS hadn't a clue! I dutifully called them twice daily, they dutifully reported back no information ("We have no tracking data for this shipment, but don't worry" - easy for them to say), and so it went for a week. Then mysteriously, as Alexander Fleming discovering penicillin, the guitar appeared without notice on my door step.

She was beautiful, great dynamic range, color to beat the band, craftsmanship as good as anyone's, ever. A true celebration of the guitar maker's art. A guitar I really enjoyed playing; but I couldn't help but notice how dramatically prices were increasing. Finally, after a couple of years, I just couldn't take it anymore. Every nail mark sparked visions of gold coins dropping out of a hole in my pocket. Shades of Scrooge McDuck (I'm part Scot so I can say this). So I sold the guitar to a prodigy at an American conservatory, paid for by the educational trust established by his lawyer grandfather.

Well, he loved the guitar, and was musician enough not to care about the dings in the finish. He also won a major competition and then flew to a friend's house for spring break. The airline, named after a Greek letter, killed the guitar, even in a Mark Leaf case. Killed as in running the tine of a forklift completely through the case/guitar/case.

The airline's insurance paid for a new guitar (now 6k more expensive) and the grandfather bought the "totalled" (it's not just for cars) guitar for $100.

So the "kid" sends the broken guitar back to the maker for repairs (he really is a genius, I mean the kid AND the maker), gets it back, and I notice the replacement guitar on e - b a y for huge money.

So my 50th birthday guitar has had really interesting life, and I have a different really great guitar plus a good story to tell.

Sometimes dealers make a lot of sense!

John Dana

alfalfa

Post by alfalfa » Sun May 06, 2007 1:56 am

I have indeed survived the wait for a custom ordered guitar. I think that ordering a guitar can be really special especially if you can make it out to the luthier's shop. I did so, and was able to play on several different examples of his work, experience different features/options he offers for his guitars, and then select the woods, neck shape, etc. I wanted used. Based on the guitars I played on, I knew that at worst, I'd get a good guitar and that at best, I'd get a great guitar once my custom instrument arrived. In my case, the luthier was very responsive via email whenever I had questions, and was pretty much on target regarding the wait time he'd given me. It was difficult wondering just what my new guitar would sound like, especially towards the end, but I tried my best to leave the luthier alone and let him do his thing rather than sending a barrage of "Is it ready yet?" emails. Once the guitar arrived and I got through the bonding period, I was and still am really pleased with my instrument. I equate this method of getting a guitar to having a child who contains your genetic material. There's a lot of waiting and wondering, but when the guitar is born there's a definite attachment due to the fact that you had a hand in its development. Going to a shop and picking out a guitar (rather than custom ordering one) is more like adopting a child, and can be a wonderful experience too. Even though you don't get to have it built to your custom specs, you know what you're getting into for the most part when you buy it.


By the way JFDana, how about that recording of your new Monrad (nudge nudge wink wink)?

jfdana

Post by jfdana » Sun May 06, 2007 2:24 am

OK, OK, it is a weekend, and I can come up with something!

Edited at 11:00: I just dashed off a quickie Bach: Chorale, Jesu, Joy for tonight, a simple version, but one I have played over the years. I'll put new strings on and see what I can come up with for tomorrow.

Must get sleep, must get sleep...

Allan

Post by Allan » Sun May 06, 2007 4:43 am

I'm currently waiting for a new guitar that's being made, hopefully one more month to go but you never know. I came to the conclusion that commissioning an instrument was the only way I was going to find everything I wanted in a guitar. I searched high and low but could not find the scale, wood, bracing and tuner combinations that I wanted (not to mention a soundport). I hate waiting, but at this point I feel like buying something readymade would lead me to a compromise. So there's really no choice but to wait it out......

I also look at it as a good time to study. I compiled a long list of music books from guitar programs around the world and have started buying them and reading through them all. I've learned some new and useful things about technique; I've also been kept totally amused by all the contradictory information that's swirling around out there.

Patience is not a virtue, it's an art form. Hang in there.

Allan

jfdana

Post by jfdana » Sun May 06, 2007 3:13 pm

Hey Alfalfa, I dashed off a few recordings on the Monrad (in the Early Music Mp3's). Since Audacity didn't want to talk w/iTunes, they are straight garageband w/o normalization or compression. Oh well...

JD

brian
Posts: 872
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:18 pm
Location: right here

Post by brian » Mon May 07, 2007 5:31 pm

all things considered, 6 months isn't so bad.
geez some people are chomping at the bit for nine months
to have that weird looking red thing pop out of their wife.
in comparison, six months for a hand built guitar is a piece
of cake. also, it doesn't scream it's head off at 2am.
i'd be a big fan(if possible)of visiting the builder and/or having pics
taked of it's development. kinda a guitar family photo album.
***now this doesn't apply exactly but, it does loosely>>>>>>> it's not the kill but, the thrill of the chase<<<<<<***

i just think it's an exciting time to be savored for as long as
it lasts.

aprayinbear

The Joys of waiting for the perfect guitar.

Post by aprayinbear » Tue May 08, 2007 3:52 pm

As strange as it seems, there is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction which comes from commissioning and then waiting for a guitar made just for you. I've recently received the guitar I commissioned from Federico Sheppard, of Paracho Del Norte Guitars. It is exactly what I wanted (and then some). As my old email file could tell you, Federico & I were in constant contact and he was great about sending me photo updates as he went along. Sure I was excited and at times couldn't wait to get my new guitar, but that's all a part of the process. I even chose to wait an extra month so that Eliot Fisk could play my guitar when he visited the maker recently while on concert tour.

Now I'm enjoying the process of getting to know this fine instrument and make her my own.

My advice...... take a deep breath and take the plunge. Bottom line..... a fine instrument made especially for you, no matter what you pay and how long you wait is a wonderful gift indeed!

:guitare:
Duffy

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2860
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Wed May 09, 2007 3:47 pm

Thanks everyone for all these interesting stories!
It is really great for me as a builder to hear all these differnt point of view on how long to wait for a guitar, or whether or not to buy from the builder or the dealer.
I suppose there are real pros and cons to either way. For getting that custom guitar with all the particular features you want, going direct to the builder is the only way to go. But for those people looking for a hand made classical with the standard features, it might be better to buy from a dealer; you can try every guitar in the store and pick the one most suitable.
I have a waiting list of about 4 to 6 months for my classicals. Unusual custom designed instruments can take a couple of months longer. I do custom orders and sell through dealers. I enjoy doing both, but working closely with a client does take a lot more time. The experience of making a guitar for someone is really rewarding.
My advice if you're wanting a custom guitar is this: A six month wait for a guitar from a good maker is really nothing. Most builders need time to talk to the player, figure out what kind of sound they want, and choose the woods and design elements carefully. Other things like designing rosettes and inlay work can take a lot of planning too.
I believe that the best guitars are made when the luthier has ample time to make the guitar, unrushed and not under a strict deadline. But it should also be made within the time frame agreed upon with the client.
Best of luck!
Marcus Dominelli
Dominelli Guitars

enilorac

Post by enilorac » Wed May 09, 2007 5:01 pm

I'm currently waiting for a guitar (it's due about early Octoberish), and I'm finding the wait oddly enjoyable. I love the custom features this guitar will have - it will fit me better than any instrument I've had before. I also appreciate the, well, the intent of it. The fact that the moment those pieces of wood start being shaped, they're all being worked with the intent of fitting the description the luthier and I imagined together.

This is also having a nice effect on my practice. I hardly ever seem to get impatient or out of sorts with practice now. Sometimes I just don't feel like cooking another ordinary meal, and preparing food seems like a chore, but if I'm making something special for a meal with a friend from out of town, the process becomes far more enjoyable, because I'm thinking of my friend and the fun we'll have together. In the same way, practice is now extra pleasant, because I'm getting ready to welcome a new friend into my musical life.

Cincy2
Posts: 809
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 4:07 pm
Location: Tampa, FL

Broker

Post by Cincy2 » Thu May 10, 2007 4:53 pm

I didn't see anyone mentioning the use of brokers. These organizations have standing orders from all of the famed luthiers that come in on a regular basis. I bought my GV Rubio Hauser this way and had it two days after I placed the order. My last and final guitar (sigh) is a P. Bernabe Imperial that is due in 6-8 weeks, also purchased through a broker. I was able to specify the tuners I wanted so its almost custom. The wait if I'd gone direct to the luthier would have been much longer.

Try http://www.classicguitar.com or http://www.guitarsinternational.com.

I've worked with both and find the owners to be very reputable and helpful is suggesting options that fit your budget.

Cincy

Nacio de Falla

Re: The Joys of waiting for the perfect guitar.

Post by Nacio de Falla » Thu May 10, 2007 5:20 pm

aprayinbear wrote:As strange as it seems, there is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction which comes from commissioning and then waiting for a guitar made just for you. I've recently received the guitar I commissioned from Federico Sheppard, of Paracho Del Norte Guitars. It is exactly what I wanted (and then some). As my old email file could tell you, Federico & I were in constant contact and he was great about sending me photo updates as he went along. Sure I was excited and at times couldn't wait to get my new guitar, but that's all a part of the process. I even chose to wait an extra month so that Eliot Fisk could play my guitar when he visited the maker recently while on concert tour.

Now I'm enjoying the process of getting to know this fine instrument and make her my own.

My advice...... take a deep breath and take the plunge. Bottom line..... a fine instrument made especially for you, no matter what you pay and how long you wait is a wonderful gift indeed!

:guitare:
Duffy
hi Duffy,

Good to hear you got your guitar!!
i was invited to go see Fisk by Federico , but i have been very busy and couldn't make it....................
Looking forward to seeing and hearing your new guitar.

Cheers!
~NdeF~

mark96

Re: Do I have the patience to wait for a luthier?

Post by mark96 » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:03 am

clave wrote:I'm contemplating having a luthier build me a guitar, but I fear I lack the patience and discipline to wait six months for it to be built, and that I will end up compiling other instruments in the interim. Theoretically, my current guitar should tide me over, but this is of little solace, as I itch for an upgrade. Has anyone here commissed a guitar and survived the wait unscathed? Was it worth it? Where did you find the strength?
When I pick up my guitar this Saturday, it will have been 14 weeks from start to finish. We (the luthier and myself) are coming together with family and friends to celebrate the completion of the guitar and its beginning as a beloved instrument of music. How can you replace that with a quick purchase of a name-your-favorite-made-in-Spain-luthier guitar? From a sales person who is happy to help but has no real connection to the guitar itself?

Having a luthier build a custom guitar just for you is unique, at least it has been for me...

Mark

David LaPlante
Luthier
Posts: 1372
Joined: Thu May 24, 2007 3:30 am
Location: Albany NY

Post by David LaPlante » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:10 pm

I think someone considering a custom project first needs to evaluate honestly what their needs are, and whether the custom route is the way to go before they pay the price and wait the wait.
Personally, when someone inquires about a custom instrument and I detect a casual approach without stating specific needs, I usually send them off to try as many guitars as they can and come up with features they would want that are not available elsewhere. Most often, they find something that suits them without having to go the custom route.
My most satisfying projects (for both myself and the customer) have been those where genuine needs existed and specs could be carefully designed to meet those needs.
I would say that if you are not sure that you can stand the wait for a custom guitar, do not order one. This is not an excercise in immediate gratification and ultimately you may make yourself, and the maker unhappy in the process.

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