#1
Hello there,

For some time I've been interested in becoming a professional luthier and I would to know if any of you wonderful people here on the forum would have any tips? An apprenticeship would be fantastic, however whilst trawling the internet I've found little to nothing in terms of contact details of people within/around my local area (Liverpool, UK) does anyone have any contacts of this kind?

As I've said any tips, or if you're a luthier, etc. how did you get into the business?

Many, many thanks!
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#2
Actually, I'd like some info on this too. I've built a pair of guitars and I'm working on 2 more right now. I've done a couple setups and enjoy the work. But I know no one in the business around here and I've had no luck finding info online either. If anyone's got info in the Chicago area, let me know please.

I'd actually rather make a living building guitars than doing setups/repairs/etc, but I'd like to have a job in the industry until I can get my company off the ground. That, and the skills learned would be helpful for my builds too.
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Last edited by DuctTapeNinja at Jan 30, 2012,
#3
Well I'm still just starting out... Getting my tools built up and trying to get a few builds under my belt mostly doing setups, mods and improvements atm, but I'll offer some advice.

Working with a local luthier to learn the trade and set up yourself just isn't gonna happen, no one trains their own competition, it's not like a trade apprenticeship - much smaller market and much harder to find work. Besides, most 'tricks of the trade' come from years of experience and from what I've seen differ from luthier to luthier. Basically you come up with your own ways of doing stuff correctly, quickly and most importantly, with quality. Aside from that, get building and learn the ins and outs, and how to use the tools.

Make sure you have all the corrects equipment. Some specialised luthier tools will set you back a bundle but really are the best way to go, specialised means limited market hence the higher price. You'll also need space and an impressive set of power tools to hand.

But you can't sell anything yet (not even basic setups) until you have done two things (DTN can't remember if you were British, if not this first part will be different for you). Let HMRC, formerly Inland Revenue, know that you intend on earning money and registering self employed and signing up for self assessment, also means you have to start filing tax returns. You also (you too DTN) need (need) NEED public liability insurance, which as you're working with big power tools will not come in below the £100 mark but mine is about £140 a year and covers me properly. It covers things like if someone gets injured from your guitar and sues you (it happens) or if you have a guitar in and you balls up the repair and have to compensate the loss of the instrument (ie buy a new one). But it could be worse, I have two insurance policies now >.< one to cover carpentry too.

One final note... If you can't find anyone locally, chances are others can't either, make yourself known at music shops, back stage at local gigs etc. work will come, and you are likely to have less competition.

Oh, P.S. Devon is mine :p
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#4
Oh, and DTN just read your post properly so I dunno what you would have to do about self employment over there... And very few luthiers make their living building guitars, there's a lot of setups and repairs involved to keep the money flowing.
Epiphone Les Paul Plus Top
Jet City JCA5212RC (SLO Modded)
Ibanez WD7 Wah
Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive
TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay
TC Electronic Trinity Reverb
#5
Hung out with my local luthier on weekends and evenings, but then I moved about half a year back. Basically learn what you can if you have a local guy, then buy a book called "how to make your electric guitar play great" and then buy parts from stew mac and start working on cheap guitars and setting them up.
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#6
Quote by GABarrie
Well I'm still just starting out... Getting my tools built up and trying to get a few builds under my belt mostly doing setups, mods and improvements atm, but I'll offer some advice.

Working with a local luthier to learn the trade and set up yourself just isn't gonna happen, no one trains their own competition, it's not like a trade apprenticeship - much smaller market and much harder to find work. Besides, most 'tricks of the trade' come from years of experience and from what I've seen differ from luthier to luthier. Basically you come up with your own ways of doing stuff correctly, quickly and most importantly, with quality. Aside from that, get building and learn the ins and outs, and how to use the tools.

Make sure you have all the corrects equipment. Some specialised luthier tools will set you back a bundle but really are the best way to go, specialised means limited market hence the higher price. You'll also need space and an impressive set of power tools to hand.

But you can't sell anything yet (not even basic setups) until you have done two things (DTN can't remember if you were British, if not this first part will be different for you). Let HMRC, formerly Inland Revenue, know that you intend on earning money and registering self employed and signing up for self assessment, also means you have to start filing tax returns. You also (you too DTN) need (need) NEED public liability insurance, which as you're working with big power tools will not come in below the £100 mark but mine is about £140 a year and covers me properly. It covers things like if someone gets injured from your guitar and sues you (it happens) or if you have a guitar in and you balls up the repair and have to compensate the loss of the instrument (ie buy a new one). But it could be worse, I have two insurance policies now >.< one to cover carpentry too.

One final note... If you can't find anyone locally, chances are others can't either, make yourself known at music shops, back stage at local gigs etc. work will come, and you are likely to have less competition.

Oh, P.S. Devon is mine :p


Whilst it's going to take me a while to digest all of your advice, your response has been really, really helpful! I really can't thank you enough.

Thanks for raising the whole Public Liability thing too! That wasn't even on my radar (although it should have been seeing as my father is self employed).
Yeah, now you're gonna die wearing that stupid little hat. How does it feel?

Help me to live.


I make custom guitar wiring harnesses and I'm pretty damn good at it!
#7
Legally, I don't think you need the liability insurance to trade, but trust me you don't want that Gibson or PRS custom on your workbench thinking "the slightest mistake here and I'm buried" :p that kind of pressure causes mistakes more than it avoids them
Epiphone Les Paul Plus Top
Jet City JCA5212RC (SLO Modded)
Ibanez WD7 Wah
Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive
TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay
TC Electronic Trinity Reverb
#8
Quote by GABarrie
Legally, I don't think you need the liability insurance to trade, but trust me you don't want that Gibson or PRS custom on your workbench thinking "the slightest mistake here and I'm buried" :p that kind of pressure causes mistakes more than it avoids them



Too true!

Yeah, now you're gonna die wearing that stupid little hat. How does it feel?

Help me to live.


I make custom guitar wiring harnesses and I'm pretty damn good at it!