You know you have a good luthier when...

November 5, 2020, 3:16 PM · I'll go first: when you come in and they suggest different strings,which are cheaper than the strings you currently use, as a first option solution.

What are some other signs of a really good luthier?

Replies (17)

November 5, 2020, 3:19 PM · competency!!
November 5, 2020, 4:51 PM · They win a VSA double gold medal.
Technically, I'd call that a GREAT luthier.
November 5, 2020, 5:28 PM · They show you the Strad or del Gesu they are repairing in the back room (Probably)!
November 5, 2020, 6:17 PM · Come ooooonnnn!!! I mean for the average person, whose luthier doesn't have a strad they're working on in the back (Although, the luthier I was thinking of when I made this post probably does, lol), what are signals you have a good one, vs what are signals you're being taken for a ride.
November 5, 2020, 6:56 PM · One excellent sign of a really good luthier is that he/she will listen attentively to what your issues are and will be able (and willing) to explain how whatever they will do will improve your issues. They will watch/listen to you play if necessary. If they feel extra work is needed they will be able to explain exactly what the benefits will be and what the future problems might be if you don't have them do the suggested repairs.


November 5, 2020, 10:35 PM · While it's true that the average luthier can't show you a Strad they're working on in the back, a luthier I used to frequent (no longer with us...) one time told me--"You would love this fiddle!"--handed me a fabulous Stainer and sent me into his little room to play it for a half hour. Never say never. It takes a few visits to know if you have a good one, a few noticeable improvements on your instrument (a fabulous transformative bridge on my current violin, for ex), a time or two when they say--no, I won't take your money for that. And never a false claim.
November 6, 2020, 5:33 AM · That can fix your modern Italian violin so that it looks and plays better after the front was smashed in.
[True story]
November 6, 2020, 11:01 AM · I agree with David Bailey - if they listen carefully and thoughtfully to your request/problem description and then give you some options or make an initial recommendation. Then, if whatever they did doesn't work out, they'll keep working on it until you're happy. That said, they'll also stand up to you if you ask for unreasonable things.
November 6, 2020, 3:00 PM · A luthier who isn't arrogant and dismissive can't be any good. ;-)
Edited: November 6, 2020, 3:27 PM · Someone who can give you an idea how long something will take, how much it might cost, what the potential pitfalls are, and whether they're unsure they can do it themselves.

And who doesn't march off into the other room and start playing the clavichord when you ask for a set of gear pegs to be installed. LOL!!!

Actually I was just thinking about whether refusing to install gear pegs is like refusing to make a wedding cake for two gay people. Watching too much CNN I think...

Edited: November 6, 2020, 6:55 PM · Paul,

There is a sushi chef here in Seattle, Shiro san, who studied with Jiro, when they were both young. If you go to Shiro's sushi bar and ask for weird, modern, perhaps "fusion" sushi, as in simply non-traditional, Shiro san will direct you to another nearby sushi bar that will help you.

A good luthier will direct you to another good luthier if they have a problem with doing what you want, even though we may still lecture a bit...

November 6, 2020, 5:06 PM · honestly over $10-20,000 value I direct to more expensive super qualified luthier, but they charge 3 times my hourly rate.
November 6, 2020, 11:28 PM · When you suggest that certain superfulous things be done to your instrument and the luthier says "no, don't waste your money".I respect that....
Elise you beat me to it but when a 1860 Nicholas Villaume is brought to the shop with the top completely crushed into fourteen pieces and he says " I can rebuild it".... a TRUE ongoing litigenous story.
Edited: November 7, 2020, 2:22 AM · I like a luthier who finds nice things to say about my faithful old wreck, rather than wrinkle their nose
November 7, 2020, 6:18 AM · You know you have a good luthier when...

they don't use poetry to explain the improvements. The truth is, you, average violinist, as an ignorant, won't be able to know if someone's a good luthier. Only a good luthier will be able to tell.

In other words, you are asking a world famous chef to know if someone is a good luthier. You will only care about how the luthier treats you, all these relationship bits are what matters. If the job done is mediocre and you can't event notice, but the luthier was very friendly and open, you will recommend that luthier to every body.

November 10, 2020, 12:37 AM · An honest luthier isn't necessarily a good luthier. Surely I want my luthier to be honest, that goes without saying, but foremost I want a luthier that is not only a skilled craftsman but also one who understand how to make what correction to achieve the intended result in sound. In other words, like Lyndon eloquently stated, competent.
November 10, 2020, 10:10 AM · My luthier is constantly adjusting my violin to fit how I am developing my sound. He also deals with other issues and makes sure I am comfortable on my instrument and fixes things like chin rests and touching up the varnish. So I'd say a good luthier knows you, your instrument, and your style of playing, and tailors his services to those three things.


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