That is my question for discussion.  I would like to call myself a luthier, but I hesitate.  I have built 21 instruments.   They all work.  I usually say I am an amateur luthier.  

I have built 3 string guitars, 4 string guitars and 11 ukes.  Do my own fretting, have built 5 boxes, albeit rectangular

Like most of us, I am self-taught, with a lot of help from you guys in the Nation.  I've made lots of jigs to compensate for lack of power tools.

I have been at this for 1 1/2 years and have sold about 8 instruments.  I am semiretired.

What do you think?.

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  • Maybe we should start are own cigar box guitar guild. Then we could define ourself Luthers and none could say boo.

    • I came across this luthier,  Boaz Elkayam, on youtube, I mean like up to $32,000 for an instrument....apparently he has a very good reputation!

      he was asked

      "Whats the difference between guitars made in a factory and handmade guitars"?

      He replied

      "Its like the difference between eating in a hospital and eating in a gourmet restaurant"

  • Well if I can call myself a songwriter because I write songs. I guess I can call myself a luthier cause I makes me some instruments...HAHAHA ;-)

  •  I think like most here an 'official' title isn't something we are looking to pin to the chest. 

     I get personal satisfaction at taking a plain old cigar box and picking something out from it and then building a usable instrument from the bits'n pieces which does take a measure of skill.  I try to make mine as unique as I can taking feature from the box or necks and pulling them out in the overall build.

    I get as much pleasure at giving them away when I'm finished as I do building them.  Its all about bringing a smile to someone elses face and the satisfaction I get building them.  Heres one I completed recently just to show what I mean by different.



  • WOW!! What a stirred up pile of poop. I went to wood shop in junior high school and auto shop and machine shop for four years in high school. Went to work in machine shops right out of high school and after near 20 years became an aircraft tool & die/experimental machinist with all my skills learned on the job, not in trade schools or college. I still feel that among my job skills I can rightfully call myself a professional aircraft tool and die maker. After close to 30 years in the machinist trade I got bored and dropped out. Had a vintage aircraft that needed restoring and with the guidance of a friend who was a licensed aircraft mechanic did a 4 year plus renovation from the bare tubing up, new wood spars in the wings and full recover of all of the fabric. I did all the work, my friend just observed and signed off the necessary paperwork. When I got done he told me that he would sign me off for the tests to get my airframe and power plant licenses. I bought the necessary books, studied on my own and took the tests and passed al three tests with scores over 95% and got my FAA Aircraft mechanics license. After four years as a self employed A&P Mechanic working in vintage aircraft restoration, specializing in wood and steel tube fabric covered aircraft I again studied on my own and took the test to get my inspector authorization. Again I can proudly refer to my skill set as a "FAA Licensed A&P Mechanic".

    Through all those years as a hobby I have spent many happy hours as a hot rodder/drag racer and have never been payed for those activities and in 2012, just because it sounded like fun, I built my first CBG. I'm retired now from the Aviation part of my life and any machining or welding that I do is on parts for the race car or street toy and all of my wooden structures while assembled to aircraft standards are built for fun and sound pretty when played by "real musicians".

    If someone asked me for a job title of what I do it would probably be "Hot Rodder". When asked about my CBGs I would just say I make them for fun so I guess "Maker" is about as good a title as I could come up with, but "Box and Stick Stringed Instrument Builder" works too.

    The bottom line is I think "Luthier" is fine if you like it and probably will impress some people, but at the end of the day I doubt that any title really matters. Is anyone of us going to be remembered 200 years from now as "The Stradivarius of Cigar Box Guitar Builders"? Just my two cents worth, as I sign my e-mails...

    Life is good on the lunatic fringe, Tom

    • Scary part is that many of us (certainly including me) have devoted more time and effort to deciding what to call ourselves than we have to mastering the various formulas for fret spacing or deciding how best to compensate a bridge. Speaks to our priorities. Now I'm starting to worry...

      • i don't think anyone here is losing any sleep over what to call what we do. in fact, i think if pressed, most of the members here might not even come up with the word "luthier", but just tell people we like to build CBGs...plain and simple. i recently picked up a mandolin from a local, and when i asked if they had ever taken it in to a luthier to check it's state of tune and set-up, i got a blank stare and thought i could hear coyotes howl off in the distance...haha.

        i got into this thread because i think the idea that there is an actual term for what we do is pretty cool. i would not be so pretentious as to demand to be referred to as a luthier, or that what i do is anything other than an interesting hobby.

        i find myself drawn to it on several levels....the "mechanics" of it, knowing how to fret and set up the instrument so it actually plays in a manner recognizable to more experienced musicians appeals to the logical side of me, the pure artistry of working with the raw materials and fashioning them so as to make these instruments visually appealing to others makes this hobby very rewarding on that level. i can get into having people complement me on what i have created as a thing of beauty, beyond how it plays, all day long.

        but unless i thought there was a way to benefit from putting what this hobby is into a category and making it much more "official" than i look at it now, i don't think it is a point to stress over. it just makes for semi-interesting conversation.....and yes, the few minutes i have taken out of the day to make this response could have been put to more constructive purposes...but i am not trying to save the world, here.haha.

        • there are chefs (Cordon bleu), and people who work in mcdonalds. Both provide meals.

          There are cabinet makers (ebenistes) and there are men who work in the ikea facory, both provide furniture

          I think a luthier (these all have French titles....hmmmmm....) is actually a highly skilled craftsman. There are not many people who will commit themselves to the time it takes to learn develop and fine tune the skills needed to create top class instruments (or gourmet food or fine furniture), particularly when its not the most ideal way to earn a living and get rich quick.

          • In my 65 years, I have been called  a lot of things.  What I am is not my title but the total of my skill, integrity, talent and presence.  Not to be confused with my Feng sway.  Ability to properly spell is for  another topic.

      • My point exactly TN. Who cares what we're called, it's all about what we build.

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