A luthier (/ˈluːtiər/ LOO-ti-ər)[1] is someone who builds or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box. The word "luthier" comes from the French word luth, which means lute. A luthier was originally a maker of lutes, but the term now includes makers of stringed instruments such as the violin or guitar. A luthier does not make harps or pianos, as these require different skills and construction methods because their strings are secured to a frame.

The craft of making string instruments, or lutherie (sometimes spelled luthiery), is commonly divided into two main categories: makers of stringed instruments that are plucked or strummed, and those that are bowed.[2] Since bowed instruments require a bow, the second category includes a subtype known as a bow maker or archetier. Luthiers may also teach string-instrument making, either through apprenticeship or formal classroom instruction.

Workshop luthier
Modern luthier's workshop, Cremona (2007)
Occupation type
Instrument maker

Plucked strings


Oud maker at Mohamed Ali Street in Cairo, Egypt
Oud luthier on Mohamed Ali Street in Cairo, Egypt.

Important luthiers who specialized in the instruments of the lute family (lutes, archlutes, theorbos, vihuelas, etc.):


Madrid luthier
A luthier building classical guitars in Madrid, Spain.
Luthier Robert Benedetto in 1976
American guitar luthier Robert Benedetto in his studio (c. 1976)

Two important luthiers of the early 19th century connected with the development of the modern classical guitar are Louis Panormo and Georg Staufer.[3] Antonio Torres Jurado is credited with developing the form of classical guitar still in use today. Christian Frederick Martin of Germany developed a form that evolved into the modern steel-string acoustic guitar.

The American luthier Orville Gibson specialized in mandolins, and is credited with creating the archtop guitar. The important 20th-century American luthiers John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto made archtop guitars. Lloyd Loar worked briefly for the Gibson Guitar Corporation making mandolins and guitars. His designs for a family of arch top 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. These were the first fretted, solid-body electric guitars—though they were preceded by the cast aluminum "frying pan", a solid-body electric lap steel guitar developed and eventually patented by George Beauchamp, and built by Adolph Rickenbacher.[4] 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. Vintage guitars are often sought by collectors.

Bowed strings

Antonio stradivari
An engraver's impression of Antonio Stradivari examining an instrument
Varnishing a violin
Contemporary luthier varnishing a violin

Bowed instruments include: cello, crwth, double bass, erhu, fiddle, hudok, morin khuur, nyckelharpa, hurdy-gurdy, rabab, rebec, sarangi, viol (viola da gamba), viola, viola da braccio, viola d'amore, and violin.

The purported "inventor" of the violin is 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 progenitor of the famous Amati family of luthiers active in Cremona, Italy until the 18th century. Andrea Amati had two sons. His eldest was Antonio Amati (circa 1537–1607), and the younger, Girolamo Amati (circa 1561–1630). Girolamo is better known as Hieronymus, and together with his brother, produced many violins with labels inside the instrument reading "A&H". Antonio died having no known offspring, but Hieronymus became a father. His son Nicolò (1596–1684) was himself an important master luthier who had several apprentices of note, including Antonio Stradivari[5] (probably), Andrea Guarneri, Bartolomeo Pasta, Jacob Railich, Giovanni Battista Rogeri, Matthias Klotz, and possibly Jacob Stainer and Francesco Rugeri. It is even possible Bartolomeo Cristofori, later inventor of the piano, apprenticed under him (although census data does not support this, which paints this as a possible myth).[6]

Gasparo da Salò of Brescia (Italy) was another important early luthier of the violin family. About 80 of his instruments survive, and around 100 documents that relate to his work. He was also a double bass player and son and nephew of two violin players: Francesco and Agosti, respectively.

Gasparo Duiffopruggar of Füssen, Germany, was once incorrectly credited as the inventor of the violin. He was likely an important maker, but no documentation survives, and no instruments survive that experts unequivocally know are his.

Da Salò made many instruments and exported to France and Spain, and probably to England. He had at least five apprentices: his son Francesco, a helper named Battista, Alexander of Marsiglia, Giacomo Lafranchini and—the most important—Giovanni Paolo Maggini. Maggini inherited da Salò's business in Brescia. Valentino Siani worked with Maggini. In 1620, Maggini moved to Florence.

Luthiers born in the mid-17th century include Giovanni Grancino, Vincenzo Rugeri, Carlo Giuseppe Testore, and his sons Carlo Antonio Testore and Paolo Antonio Testore, all from Milan. From Venice[7] 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).[8] Carlo Bergonzi (luthier) purchased Antonio Stradivari's shop a few years after the master's death. 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., Honore Derazey, Nicolas Lupot, Charles Macoutel, Charles Mennégand, and Pierre Silvestre. Nicola Utili (also known as Nicola da Castel Bolognese) (Ravenna, Italy, March 1888 – May 1962), beside traditional lute works, experimented the making of "pear-shaped" violins.

The Jérôme-Thibouville-Lamy firm started making wind instruments around 1730 at La Couture-Boussey, then moved to Mirecourt around 1760 and started making violins, guitars, mandolins, and musical accessories.

See also


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionaries
  2. ^ "Arts, Music, Instruments, Stringed". DMOZ. Retrieved 2006-11-03.
  3. ^ The Guitar (From The Renaissance To The Present Day) by Harvey Turnbull (Third Impression 1978) - Publisher: Batsford. p68 (Ponormo) and p70 (Georg Staufer) - Chapter 4 (The Development Of The Instrument)
  4. ^ Gruhn, George. "Rickenbacker Electro Spanish Guitar". Archived from the original on 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-11-04.
  5. ^ Hill, W. Henry Hill, Arthur F. Hill and Alfred E. (1963). Antonio Stradivari: His Life and Work, 1664–1737 (New Dover ed.). New York: Dover. p. 27. ISBN 0-486-20425-1.
  6. ^ Pollens, Stewart (1995) The Early Pianoforte. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  7. ^ Pio, Stefano (2004). Violin and Lute Makers of Venice 1640–1760. venezia, Italy: Venice research. p. 383. ISBN 978-88-907252-2-7.
  8. ^ Bartruff, William. "The History of the Violin". Retrieved 2006-11-03.

Further reading

Brahms guitar

Commonly referred to as the cello-guitar, the Brahms guitar was invented in 1994 by classical guitarist Paul Galbraith in collaboration with the luthier David Rubio. It was originally conceived in order to perform Johannes Brahms' Theme and Variations Opus 21a.

David Rubio's protégé, luthier Martin Woodhouse, has innovated the design and continues to build Brahms guitars.

The instrument is an eight-string guitar, adding both a high and a low string to the conventional six string guitar. The tuning adds a low A (a fifth below the standard low E, and a high A (a fourth above the standard high E), giving AEADGBEA. The guitar's frets are fanned to allow for the different string lengths. The instrument also has an external, box-shaped resonator, increasing its volume.

The Brahms guitar is held as one holds a cello, allowing ease and freedom to the body and hands.

Other adapters include Joseph Ehrenpreis, Everton Gloeden and Luiz Mantovani of the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, and Galbraith's former students Redmond O'Toole and Matthew Korbanic. The Brahms guitar is also in use by the Dublin Guitar Quartet who use the instrument in their arrangements of Philip Glass, Kevin Volans and Arvo Part string quartets.

Carlo Bergonzi (luthier)

Carlo Bergonzi (21 December 1683 – 9 February 1747) was an Italian luthier and is the first and most noted member of the Bergonzi family, an illustrious group of luthiers from Cremona, Italy, a city with a rich tradition of stringed instrument makers. Today his instruments are highly valued for their workmanship and tone. Although he was historically assumed to have first apprenticed with Hieronymus Amati or Antonio Stradivari, he is now known to have been the student of Vincenzo Rugeri.

David Harvey (luthier)

David Harvey is an American bluegrass mandolin player and luthier, responsible for the mandolins, banjos, and dobros produced by Gibson.

Eleven-string alto guitar

The eleven-string alto guitar (also known as altgitarr, archguitar, or Bolin guitar) is an extended-range classical guitar developed by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin in the 1960s.

Original Bolin instruments are now rare and valuable. The Bolin alto guitar most often has eleven strings, but Bolin also made a thirteen-string version.

The 11-string alto guitar is a multi-string classical guitar, which generally refers to classical guitars with more than six strings. Classical guitars with extra strings can have from seven to 13 or more strings. However, an 11-string is the most useful for performing lute music, particularly Bach and Weiss. The first six strings are tuned in the same intervals as the normal classic guitar. Therefore, a musician can play with conventional fingering on those strings.

In the United States, luthier Walter Stanul makes performance instruments ranging from 11 to 13-strings called the Archguitar. The design and the body shape of this guitar is similar to the vihuela, and thus it is fundamentally different from the Bolin design.

Experimental luthier

Experimental luthiers are luthiers who take part in alternative stringed instrument manufacturing (such as the guitar or violin) or create original string instruments altogether.


The fingerboard (also known as a fretboard on fretted instruments) is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.

The word "fingerboard" in other languages sometimes occurs in musical directions. In particular, the direction sul tasto (Ital., also sulla tastiera, Fr. sur la touche, G. am Griffbrett) for bowed string instruments to play with the bow above the fingerboard. This reduces the prominence of upper harmonics, giving a more ethereal tone.

Fire Emblem Gaiden

Fire Emblem Gaiden is a tactical role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Family Computer. Released in March 1992, it is the second installment in the Fire Emblem series, and the last to be developed for the Famicom. It builds upon the basic turn-based strategy gameplay of the previous title, while including new elements such as a navigable overworld. Set in the same world as its predecessor, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Gaiden follows the battles of two opposing armies on the continent of Valentia, which is torn apart by political strife involving the princess Celica and her childhood friend Alm.

The development began after the commercial success of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light: original designer and writer Shouzou Kaga returned and assumed the role of director, while Yuka Tsujiyoko and Gunpei Yokoi returned respectively as composer and producer. Kaga's main concern was addressing pacing issues from the first game, and allowing for a greater connection between players and the characters. The game was a commercial success, selling over 324,000 units as of 2002. It received mixed critical reception and was later compared to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link in its short-lived innovations. Some elements would be used in later Fire Emblem titles. A full remake, titled Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, was released worldwide on the Nintendo 3DS in May 2017.

Leading sire in France

The list below shows the leading Thoroughbred sire of racehorses in France for each year since 1887. This is determined by the amount of prize money won by the sire's progeny during the season. Due to the huge prize money of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the sire of the winner of that race has corresponded with the Leading Sire in France since 2005.

Linda Manzer

Linda Manzer (born July 2, 1952) is a Canadian master luthier renowned for her archtop, flat top, and harp guitars.

Luthier (horse)

Luthier (1965–1981) was a French Thoroughbred racehorse who was the Leading sire in France on four occasions. Bred at Baron Guy de Rothschild's Haras de Meautry, he was trained by Geoffroy Watson. Racing for Baron Rothschild at age three, Luthier won important races in France but is best remembered as a Champion sire and broodmare sire.

Nicola Amati

Nicola Amati or Nicolò or Nicolao (3 December 1596 – 12 April 1684) was an Italian Master Luthier from Cremona, Italy. Amati is one of the most well known luthier from the Casa Amati (House of Amati). Nicola was the teacher of illustrious Cremonese School luthiers such as Andrea Guarneri and Giovanni Battista Rogeri. While no clear documentation exists for being apprentices in his shop, Amati may have also apprenticed Antonio Stradivari, Francesco Rugeri, and Jacob Stainer as their work is heavily influenced by Amati.


The octobass is an extremely large and rare (only 7 in existence) bowed string instrument that was first built around 1850 in Paris by the French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (1798–1875). It has three strings and is essentially a larger version of the double bass (the specimen in the collection of the Musée de la Musique in Paris measures 3.48 m (11.4 ft) in length, whereas a full-size double bass is generally approximately 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in length). Because of the extreme fingerboard length and string thickness, the musician plays it using a system of levers and pedals. It has never been produced on a large scale or used much by composers (though Hector Berlioz wrote favorably about the instrument and proposed its widespread adoption). In addition to the Paris instrument, octobasses exist in the collections of the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

In October 2016, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra was donated an octobass by the Quebec company Canimex and is now the only orchestra in the world to own one. This instrument was made by the luthier Jean-Jacques Pagès of Mirecourt, France in 2010.

Paul Languedoc

Paul Languedoc was the soundman for rock group Phish prior to the band's breakup in 2004. As the band's chief sound engineer and house mixer, he recorded their double-CD A Live One, and all 20 volumes of the Live Phish Series. He also built guitars and basses for Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon. A luthier by trade, he built his first guitar when he was 18 years old. He later spent four years working for Alan Stack at Time Guitars in Burlington, Vermont, and by the time he had joined Phish in 1986 at age 28, he had built hundreds of instruments. Since then, he has built only for Anastasio and Gordon, and his original designs have given Phish its own unique instrumental identity. Languedoc has a preference for European hardwoods of the types used for building cellos, specializing in inlay work in mother-of-pearl and abalone. Languedoc first worked with Phish on October 15, 1986, at a concert at Hunt's in Burlington, Vermont. He remained with the band until their 2004-2009 hiatus, when Phish resumed touring and recording in 2009, Paul Languedoc declined to join them, deciding to retire from the road to focus on his luthier duties. In March 2009, Garry Brown took over the task of soundman for Phish.

Gordon says Languedoc's striking instruments are only one aspect of the many talents he brings to the Phish sound. "We're really lucky to have Paul. He gives us the freedom to do our own thing."

Paul Reed Smith

Paul Reed Smith (born February 18, 1956) is a master luthier and the founder and owner of PRS Guitars, which is considered one of the top makers of high quality guitars in the United States. Smith is considered to be one of the preeminent master guitar makers in the world.

Seymour Duncan

Seymour Duncan is an American company best known for manufacturing guitar and bass pickups. They also manufacture effects pedals which are designed and assembled in America. Guitarist and luthier Seymour W. Duncan and Cathy Carter Duncan founded the company in 1976, in Santa Barbara, California.

Taylor Guitars

Taylor Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer based in El Cajon, California and is one of the largest manufacturers of acoustic guitars in the United States. They specialize in acoustic guitars and semi-hollow electric guitars. The company was founded in 1974 by Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug.


A violotta is a tenor viola (or tenor violin) invented by the German luthier Alfred Stelzner and patented in 1891. It is tuned G2–D3–A3–E4, an octave below the violin. Other instruments called "tenor violin" were tuned a step lower: F2–C3–G3–D4 (a fifth below the viola).It is rarely used by composers. One of the few works where it is used is the String Quintet in A by Felix Draeseke. It is also used in Max von Schillings' opera Der Pfeifertag (1899), and in Sergei Taneyev's String Trio in E♭ major, Op. 31 (1911).

Wuqiang County

Wuqiang County (simplified Chinese: 武强县; traditional Chinese: 武強縣; pinyin: Wǔqiáng Xiàn) is county in the southeast-central part of Hebei province, China. It is under the administration of the prefecture-level city of Hengshui, with a population of 210,000 residing in an area of 442 km2 (171 sq mi). Both China National Highway 307 and G1811 Huanghua–Shijiazhuang Expressway pass through the county.

The famous luthier Song Chung has his workshop in Wuqiang.

Étienne Vatelot

Étienne Vatelot (13 November 1925 – 13 July 2013) was a French luthier.


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