Luthier aka Guitar Maker Careers
Are you a music fan? Do you enjoy the sound of stringed instruments? Have you ever considered where those stringed instruments come from? How are they made? Who designs them? How can you get a job making guitars?
Luthiers are craft artists that design, build, repair, carve, stain, and assemble string instruments like guitars, violins, basses, mandolins, cellos, or ukuleles. The art of lutherie is a complex mix of craftsmanship, science, and talent. Luthiers are the creators behind some of the world’s most inspirational stringed instruments – both acoustic and electric. Without a talented luthier, some of your favorite songs would never even exist.
The process of making a guitar requires a talented luthier with intimate knowledge of guitars. Most luthiers are guitar players who want to build their own guitar. It’s a time consuming process and guitars can quickly become very pricy instruments. Building a guitar from scratch is a challenging process that requires woodworking experience and familiarity with guitar physics. To craft a guitar, luthiers need to know about hand scrapers, guitar braces, truss rods, headstock angles, frets, bridge dynamics, scale length, electronic circuits, aesthetics, acoustics, proportion and balance, ergonomics, bridge design, and much more. It’s a complex process that takes years of hands-on experience to master.
The art of lutherie is a hard skill to learn. It’s necessary to become a master woodworker as guitars and string instruments are almost always crafted out of fine and rare woods – although some unique woods are challenging to find any more. Many luthiers learn their skills from books, blogs, online courses, home study sessions, seminars, or a subscription to American Lutherie Magazine. The absolute best way to become a luthier is to find a multi-year apprenticeship that provides hands-on learning from a reputable luthier. Unfortunately, it’s challenging to find a quality luthier apprenticeship as there are not too many people employed full time in this profession.
The process of building stringed instruments requires constant learning. Attending guitar school or getting a job repairing guitars are great ways to build experience. Ultimately, taking courses in guitar design from the Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music or earning a certification from a community college or an association are excellent ways to excel as a luthier.
Luthiers can find work in many different settings. The majority of luthiers are artists and handcraft custom, inspirational guitars for individuals or stores. Other luthiers work for larger guitar companies like Gibson. They may work in a factory creating guitars with plastic components and serial numbers. Still others work in guitar repair shops fixing guitars or restoring vintage instruments. This is a fantastic way to learn the trade.
Established luthiers are proud to build quality guitars that don’t wear out. They trade on their guitar’s quality, their clientele, and their luthier reputation. Ultimately they sell their products to high-end music stores or select individuals. Many luthiers that are self-employed get paid for each guitar they create. On average, luthiers make about $46,500 per year to build beautiful, incredible sounding guitars.
Making a living as a luthier is rewarding. Creating stringed instruments that can be plucked or strummed is a fun process. Individually crafting guitars is a fun way to mix artistic skills, musical talent, and guitar physics into a cool career. If you’re looking to find a job that blends music, art, and business, then a luthier job is the right choice for you.
Quick Facts About Luthier Careers
Job Title: Luthier, Guitar Maker
Office: Woodworking shop
Description: Design, build, and repair stringed instruments
Certifications/Education: Apprenticeship, Certification
Necessary Skills: Woodworking, Musical talent, Guitar Physics
Potential Employers: Guitar Companies, Self-Employed, Music Shops
Pay: $46,500 per year