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A luthier is someone who makes or repairs stringed instruments. The word luthier comes from the French (its word for lute is "luth"). The makers that originally built lutes eventually built violins and other string instruments as well, but the apellation remained.

The craft of lutherie is commonly divided into two main categories: stringed instruments that are plucked or strummed, and stringed instruments that are bowed. While there are a nearly limitless variety of stringed instruments types—both historic and modern, from many places and cultures—the following lists are composed of those instruments still in use today.

In the first category are the: autoharp, banjo, bouzouki, charango, cittern, dulcimer, guitar, harp, kantele, kithara, kora, koto, lute, theorbo, archlute, angelique, torban, kobza, bandura, lyre, mandolin, oud, shamisen, sitar, ukulele, and veena.

In the second category are the: cello, crwth, double bass, erhu, fiddle, mouthbow, nyckelharpa, hurdy gurdy, rabab, rebec, sarangi, viol, viola, viola da braccio, viola d'amore, viola da gamba and violin.

Since bowed stringed instruments require a bow, this second category of luthier contains a subtype known as an "archetier", which is a French word for one who makes bows. While the division of luthiers into two categories may seem arbitrary, there are those who are passionate about the difference between these categories.


[edit] Plucked string instrument luthiers

[edit] Lutes

There are important luthiers who specialized in the instruments of the lute family (lutes, archlutes, theorbos, vihuelas etc.) specifically: Tieffenbrucker, Venere, Giovanni Tesler, Laux Maler, Martin Hoffmann, Johann Christian Hoffmann, Joachim Tielke, Thomas Edlinger, Leopold Widhalm, Böck, Hieber, Harton, Rauwolff, Unverdorben, Schelle, Mest, Elg, Jauch inter alia, and in our time: Cezar Mateus, Ray Nurse, Grant Tomlinson, Lawrence K.Brown, Andrew Rutherford, Richard Berg, Michael Schreiner, Alexander Batov, et alia.

[edit] Guitars

Two important early luthiers in the guitar category are Antonio Torres Jurado of Spain, who is credited with developing the form of classical guitar that is still in use today, and Christian Frederick Martin of Germany who developed a form which later evolved into the steel-string acoustic guitar.

Orville Gibson was an American luthier who specialized in mandolins, and is credited with creating the archtop guitar.

John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto were two important 20th century luthiers who worked with archtop guitars.

Lloyd Loar, worked briefly for the Gibson Guitar Corporation making mandolins and guitars. His designs for a family of archtop instruments (mandolin, mandola, guitar, et cetera) are held in high esteem by today's luthiers, who seek to reproduce their sound.

Paul Bigsby's innovation of the tremolo arm for archtop and electric guitars is still in use today and may have influenced Leo Fender's design for the Stratocaster solid body electric guitar, as well as the Jaguar and Jazzmaster.

Concurrent with Fender's work, guitarist Les Paul independently developed a solid body electric guitar. However both Fender and Paul were preceded by Adolph Rickenbacher's Bakelite "frying pan" solid body electric guitar developed with and patented by George Beauchamp

A company founded by luthier Friedrich Gretsch and continued by his son and grandson, Fred and Fred Jr., originally made banjos, but is more famous today for its electric guitars.

Bill and Reg May, two Australian brothers and luthiers, founded the Maton company which makes acoustic guitars.

The late Bernardo Chavez Rico began his career as a banjo and ukulele maker but went on to develop a distinctive line of electric guitars through his company, B.C. Rich.

Dana Bourgeois is a luthier who specializes in acoustic guitars; Jol Dantzig is an American luthier and one of the founders of Hamer Guitars; Paul Reed Smith, founder of PRS Guitars, makes electric guitars; and Dean Zalinsky is the founder of Dean Guitars.

Yuri Landman is an experimental luthier who builds electric guitars with 3rd bridges and other applications to enhance the colour of an electric guitar. in 2006 he built the Moodswinger.

Other luthiers include John Bailey, Richard Echeverria, Harry Fleishman, Arthur Hansel, Del Langejans, Paul Languedoc, Linda Manzer, Godefroy Maruejouls, Neal Moser, Monty Novotny, Ned Steinberger, Celso Freire, Bob Taylor, Carl Thompson, Robert Bustos, and Rick Turner.

[edit] Bowed string instrument luthiers

To put the bowed stringed luthiers into some sort of manageable order, it is prudent to begin with the purported "inventor" of the violin, Andrea Amati. Amati was originally a lute maker but turned to the new instrument form of violin in the mid 16th century. He was the progenator of the famous Amati family of luthiers active in Cremona, Italy until the 18th century. Andrea Amati's son, Nicolò, was himself an important master luthier who had several apprentices of note including Andrea Guarneri, Francesco Ruggieri, Antonio Stradivari, Giovanni Battista Rogeri, Matthias Klotz and possibly Jacob Stainer.

Two other important early luthiers of the violin family were Gasparo da Salò of Brescia Italy and Gasparo Duiffopruggar of Austria who were each originally credited with invention of the first violin. However, this attribute has since been removed but is still often incorrectly cited. da Salò had at least one important apprentice--Giovanni Paolo Maggini who inherited da Salò's business in Brescia upon da Salò's death.

Of those luthiers born in the mid 17th century, there are Giovanni Grancino, Carlo Giuseppe Testore and son Carlo Antonio Testore, all from Milan, Italy. From Venice, Italy the luthiers Matteo Goffriller, Domenico Montagnana, Sanctus Seraphin and Carlo Annibale Tononi were principals in the Venetian school of violin making (although the latter began his career in Bologna Italy). The Bergonzi family of luthiers were the successors to the Amati family in Cremona. David Tecchler who was born in Austria later worked in both Venice and Rome.

Important luthiers from the early 18th century include Nicolò Gagliano of Naples Italy, Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi of Milan and Giovanni Battista Guadagnini who roamed throughout Italy during his lifetime. From Austria originally, Leopold Widhalm later established himself in Nürnberg, Germany.

The early 19th century luthiers of the Mirecourt school of violin making in France were the Vuillaume family, Charles Jean Baptiste Collin-Mezin, and Collin-Mezin's son, Charles Collin-Mezin, Jr..

[edit] Some of the 20th century luthiers

[edit] References

[edit] Suggested reading for the luthier

  • Historical Lute Construction by Robert Lundberg, Guild of American Luthiers (2002) ISBN-10: 0962644749
  • The Complete Luthier's Library. A Useful International Critical Bibliography for the Maker and the Connoisseur of Stringed and Plucked Instruments. Bologna, Florenus Edizioni 1990. ISBN: 88-85250-01-7
  • The "Secrets" of Stradivari by Simone Fernando Sacconi
  • The art of violinmaking by Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall
  • 25 masterpieces by Guarneri del Gesù Peter Biddulph
  • Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology by Cumpiano and Natelson
  • Build your own Acoustic Guitar by Jonathan Kinkead
  • Steel String Guitar Construction by Irving Sloan
  • Classic Guitar Construction by Irving Sloane
  • Making an Archtop Guitar by Bob Benedetto
  • Big Red Books of American Lutherie by the Guild of American Luthiers
  • Lutherie Tools edited by Cindy Burton and Tim Olsen
  • Making Master Guitars by Roy Courtnall
  • Classic Guitar Making by Arthur E. Overholtzer (Out of Print)
  • Clapton's Guitar by Allen St. John
  • Make your own electric guitar by Melvyn Hiscock
  • The Fretboard Journal (quarterly magazine)

[edit] External links

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