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Old 17th December 2014
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kingofspain's Avatar

Hot Vibrato and Liko - now we're talking! Some very interesting points made here...

Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
Innovation happens very slowly in the world of lutherie.

The reason guitarists are so conservative is because the traditional designs that they're used to (those of Martin, Gibson, Fender, Torres) simply sound better to their ears.
There's no denying the truth in this statement.

Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
There are plenty of Joe Blow luthiers who think they can effevtively re-invent the wheel, but when it comes down to it, the traditional designs are really hard to beat, because they are based on the cumulative expertise of generations of brilliant luthiers, and the designs that have persevered were simply the ones that worked the best.
Here I think it's the opposite - it's not the fault of the 'Joe Blow' luthiers that guitars don't progress (although there are many examples of bad ideas to choose from), it's the fault of guitarists for not demanding progress. Speaking from experience, when 90% of customers ask for a Gibson/Fender copy, it's difficult to push any kind of real innovation. Not that - personally - I'm trying to re-invent the wheel, but I have ideas - as a luthier - that the majority of my customers aren't willing to embrace.

Originally Posted by Liko View Post
There are many possible reasons:

* More attention paid to craftsmanship - the modern Gibson models have always been mass-produced on a significant scale (the company's over 110 years old, the Les Paul wan't introduced until the late 50s), but in older days before computer automation, these things were truly hand-crafted, with one guy responsible for final assembly of a single instrument.
I'm not an expert on Gibson's early production techniques, but this is a much vaunted and realistic appraisal - a skilled individual will always out perform a machine in these circumstances.

Originally Posted by Liko View Post
* Trade secrets now lost to the art - There's a popular mentality that Antonio Stradivari knew something we don't about how to make violins.
This I don't believe...

Without detracting from Stradavari's violins, I don't believe there's anything he could know that we couldn't know now - the same is especially true for electric guitars.
The myth surrounding a Stradivarious is perhaps better deserved than the myth surrounding a '59 LesPaul, but it's a myth nonetheless.

I think Stradivari 'got it right' with his violins the same way the early Les Pauls 'got it right' as guitars. There's nothing there the right person can't disseminate and better, it's just that most users don't want them to.

Mahogany body/neck + maple cap + PAF pickups etc = a proper guitar.

English Ash + Sycamore cap + Maple neck = unknown quantity.

Most guitarists aren't willing to give the alternatives the chance they deserve, although as Hot Vibrato notes, there will come the day when the 'correct' tonewoods are unavailable for popular use.

Get ready for the revolution...