Hand made? Hand crafted? What’s the difference?
Hand made guitars!!! Hand crafted!!! These are some of the catch phrases that I commonly hear when people are demonstrating the love they feel for their guitar, and are worried that I won’t give it the loyal love and attention, as it was HAND MADE! The quality and integrity of their special guitar, the guitar they love, the guitar that made them write that hit song, or just play at home to impress and woo the wife or girlfriend. What does that really mean?????
Chris Martin, President of Martin guitars, has said: “We must move to more characteristic (read defects – in his words) wood products”. In other words, take the defects as they come as wood is a slowly yet replenishable resource, and it takes hundreds of years TO REPLENISH.
Manufactures must convince the general public to purchase a guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, classical guitar, that is marked hand made, hand crafted, maker in the English language. I can’t be certain, but I’m guessing there may be no more than 10 actual full time luthiers in any one of each of the fifty states, actually working full time, building instruments to make a moderate, or reasonable, or even great living at their art of instrument building.
Have any of you been to any of the big factories???? I was sales MANAGER AT WARMOTH GUITAR PRODUCTS YEARS AGO. Nearly everything is made by a computer numeric router! Nothing wrong with a computer numeric, for decades. Routers do spit out literally hundreds of identical necks, bodies, braces – you name it. But to label this kind of guitar building HAND crafted or Hand-made is just criminal! Its like dressing a pig in silk. You still got a pig. There’s Gibson, Martin, Taylor, Warmouth (they actually make parts for Valley Arts, Roger Sadowsky, Rose Guitars, Buddy Blaze, dozens of small electric builders who claim to make their own guitars). Gibson, Taylor, Martin, Guild, Fender, and off shore imports like Ibanez, Aria, Yamaha, and all the stuff now coming out of China, it’s still not hand made in the tradition of a single person making a guitar with his own 2 hands!!!
Custom guitars, (like the ones played Mary Chapen Carpenter, The Rolling Stones, Lindsey Buckingham, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, just to name a few), the luthiers who make these guitars are actually cutting the wood by hand, shaping it to the customers satisfaction, asking the customer what he wants and what he expects the instrument to perform, THAT’S A HAND MADE GUITAR!!!!!!
Ever notice how exactly Taylors, Gibsons, Martins, have near identical neck shapes??
So just remember when you come into my shop for work on your “hand made” guitar (as I have built many hand made guitars and basses and have learned all the tricks, by hand, and hard work), show some respect for the years we put in to the dying art of “HAND MADE GUITARS”.