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Luthiers: Creators Of Beautiful Music

Sep 15, 2008
"Beauty is only skin deep." "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." "Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart." Our culture abounds with idioms that seek to emphasize the idea that "It's what's inside that counts." Yet on some level, we all know that beauty is bankable. The high esteem in which we hold artists, the power and money accorded to fashion models, the thousands of people who flock to the Metropolitan Museum of Art every day-all of these trends support the fact that try as we might to be high-minded, humans not only worship beauty, we respect it. So while a person might be qualified for a job, you're more likely to hire him if he's attractive and well-groomed.

Similarly, while a musician's music may be enjoyable, he or she is more likely to attain star status if he or she looks good. And if you're a professional guitarist, that means you want to make sure that your instrument looks as good as possible too. After all, if you're going to be shown with your guitar in countless photographs, it becomes as much a fashion accessory as it is an instrument. Fortunately, it is possible to purchase guitars that are as beautiful as the sounds they produce.

The manufacture of stringed instruments, including guitars, is a very old business. It has existed as long as there has been a demand for such instruments, which means at least 5000 years. The people who make stringed musical instruments and repair them are called "luthiers," which comes from the term "luth," the French word for lute. Luthiers are commonly divided into two groups, those that specialize in plucked instruments and those who produce bowed instruments. The guitar, obviously, belongs to the first category, which also includes instruments like the ukulele, banjo, and Japanese shamisen.

There have been many famous luthiers over the years, some of whom have been, you should pardon the pun, instrumental in the evolution of the guitar. The 19th century Spanish luthier Antonio Torres Jurado, for instance, is credited with the development of the modern classical (nylon-string) guitar's shape, design and construction. Many of his guitars are now in the hands of private collectors, although at least one can be seen by the public at the Museum of Music in Barcelona, Spain. In the world of steel-string acoustic guitars, it was Germany's Christian Frederick Martin who developed the original concept. Martin, like Jurado, was primarily a man of the 19th century. Both are held to have been innovators and leaders in their field.

Today, as in the 19th century, individual luthiers continue to be famous for the musical instruments they create. A company, such as Gibson, Fender, or BC Rich, may be known for its guitars, but it is the luthiers who make the instruments; they are the ones who must be credited with the beauty and sound quality of the instruments. Important luthiers of the 20th include Orville Gibson, Lloyd Loar, Paul Bigsby, Les Paul, John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto among others.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for guitars, drums, keyboards, sheet music, guitar tab, and home theater audio. You can find the best marketplace at these sites for guitars, luthier, sheet music, guitar tabs, and home theater audio.
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