Luthier

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Bow Maker or Archetier

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Clerical or OrganisingArtistic or CreativeSkill Level 1Skill Level 2Skill Level 3

 

Luthiers or Musical Instrument Makers or Repairers build, repair and restore musical instruments, and modify and tune them to owners' specifications. FutureGrowthModerateA luthier is an artisan who makes or repairs stringed instruments such as cellos, violins, guitars, mandolins, dulcimers and banjos. The word luthier comes from the French word luth, which means lute, and the art of making and repairing instruments is a centuries-old tradition.

There are two categories when it comes to making or repairing stringed instruments; instruments that are bowed, and instruments that are plucked. In most cases, a luthier will focus on making or repairing one specific instrument that they also know how to play. A musician will use the services of a luthier in order to keep his or her instrument in excellent playing condition.

Over time, an instrument changes and needs to be adjusted. Constant string tension, environmental factors, and general use all combine to push an instrument out of its ideal form. A luthier repairs stringed instruments that go through this kind of wear and tear. Luthiers also repair different kinds of physical damage, like dents or fractures, in an instrument’s body. A luthier cleans, seals, patches, and refinishes the damaged area so that it is barely noticeable. He or she then makes sure the wood is protected from further damage.

If an instrument has been unused for a long period of time and can use a 'tune-up', a luthier is the person who will get it back into playing condition.

Moulding
(Source: MI College of Contemporary Music)

ANZSCO ID: 399515

Specialisations: Piano Tuner; Guitar Technician;

Alternative names: Musical Instrument Maker or Repairer; Stringed Instrument Repairer; Violin Maker; Guitar Maker; Lute Maker; Violin Repairer; Guitar Repairer; Lute Repairer; Violin Restorer;

Knowledge, skills and attributes     

Luthiers have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also investigative, meaning they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

Some skills of a luthier may include:

  • In-depth knowledge of instrument design and repair

  • Woodworking

  • Wood machining

  • Wood gluing

  • Paint spraying

  • Acoustic listening skills

  • Finishing (lacquering wood)

  • Good interpersonal/communication skills with clients

  • Good organizational skills

  • Knowledge of how to run a business

  • Good administrative skills

  • Marketing skills

Luthier at work
(Source: CareerExplorer)

Duties and Tasks

  • Designs and makes musical instruments and instrument parts using specially selected materials and techniques similar to those used in cabinetmaking, metal pipe making, silver smithing and wood carving.

  • Tunes and repairs musical instruments.

Working conditions

Someone who is a luthier typically works in one of three places:

Factory
Factory luthiers use machinery more often than they use hand tools to create instruments. This means that they are able to make more instruments faster than if they created them by hand.

Repair Shop
This kind of luthier doesn’t make instruments, he repairs them. He or she deals solely with damaged or worn instruments and puts them back in working condition.

Self-employed
This type of luthier is one who is very passionate about instruments and music, as it can be very difficult to make a lot of money as a self-employed luthier. Having their own business means that they can have the freedom make instruments, repair them, or both.

While some luthiers rent workshops or work within another business, most work in workshops on their own property, like a converted garage. It can be a dusty and a chemical-filled environment, so having proper ventilation is very important. It is imperative that the workplace can protect all the instruments from the elements, as a humid or damp atmosphere can damage the delicate wood. Depending on the client's needs and the amount of work a luthier wants to take on, the work hours can vary. Building an instrument from scratch can take months that involves working closely with the client.


Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a Musical Instrument Maker or Repairer without formal qualifications if you are able to demonstrate your technical competency to employers. However, a certificate III or IV in musical instrument making, maintenance and repair is usually required.

 

Did You Know?

A luthier (/ˈluːtiər/ LOO-ti-ər) is a craftsperson who builds and repairs string instruments that have a neck and a sound box. The word "luthier" is originally French and comes from the French word for lute. The term was originally used for makers of lutes, but it came to be used already in French for makers of most bowed and plucked stringed instruments such as members of the violin family (including violas, cellos, and double basses) and guitars. Luthiers, however, do not make harps or pianos; these require different skills and construction methods because their strings are secured to a frame.

The craft of luthiers, lutherie (rarely called "luthiery", but this often refers to stringed instruments other than those in the violin family), is commonly divided into the two main categories of makers of stringed instruments that are plucked or strummed and makers of stringed instruments that are bowed. 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.

Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari

Antonio Stradivari (/ˌstrædɪˈvɑːri/, also US: /-ˈvɛəri/, Italian: [anˈtɔːnjo stradiˈvaːri]; 1644 – 18 December 1737) was an Italian luthier and a craftsman of string instruments such as violins, cellos, guitars, violas and harps. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial Strad are terms often used to refer to his instruments. It is estimated that Stradivari produced 1,116 instruments, of which 960 were violins. Around 650 instruments survived, including 450 to 512 violins.

On 14 October 2010, a 1697 Stradivari violin known as "The Molitor" was sold online by Tarisio Auctions for a world-record price of $3,600,000 to violinist Anne Akiko Meyers: at the time its price was the highest for any musical instrument sold at auction. On 21 June 2011, the Lady Blunt Stradivarius, a 1721 violin, was auctioned by Tarisio to an anonymous bidder for almost £10 million, with all proceeds going to help the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This was over four times the previous auction record for a Stradivari violin.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Bow Maker or Archetier
   Manufacturing & Production

 

Artistic or CreativeAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 1Skill Level 2Skill Level 3

 

A violin bow is a delicate tool made up of few parts. The gracefully curved stick, carved from one piece of wood, attaches to a horsehair ribbon; a tiny screw adjusts the tautness of the ribbon by moving a small piece of ebony called a frog. Bow makers craft these tools by hand. Performance-quality bows, which allow professional musicians to play violins, violas, and cellos, are made of pernambuco heartwood. Future Growth Static

ANZSCO ID: 399515

Alternative names: Archetier

YouTube: How It's Made Violin Bows
https://youtu.be/S0f9swV9Pok

 

 

 

Archetier
Archetier - Philip Smith

Did You Know?

A violin bow is a delicate tool made up of few parts. The gracefully curved stick, carved from one piece of wood, attaches to a horsehair ribbon; a tiny screw adjusts the tautness of the ribbon by moving a small piece of ebony called a frog. Bow makers craft these tools by hand. Performance-quality bows, which allow professional musicians to play violins, violas, and cellos, are made of pernambuco heartwood.

At one time, the pernambuco tree—named pau-brasil by the colonizing Portuguese—grew abundantly in Brazil, especially in the once vast Mata Atlântica, or Atlantic Forest; in fact, the country may owe its name to the tree. Pernambuco wood yields a deep purple-red dye, which was in high demand in Europe. Consequently, a lot of imported pernambuco was in Paris in the late 18th century, when an enterprising bow maker named François Xavier Tourte decided to use it. Tourte, a former watchmaker, had reconfigured the violin bow with a host of innovations—and his adoption of pernambuco revolutionized not only his craft, but music in general.

The pernambuco Tourte bow played an important role in both the standardization of the orchestra and the smoothing out, of individual instruments. The Tourte bow allows the player to produce an even tone from frog to tip.

Earlier bows allowed a completely different articulation—a softness at the beginning and end of each note—whereas the new music demanded a strong attack. Pernambuco’s physical characteristics, its heaviness, springiness, and sound transmittal properties, allowed both long legato passages.

Of several musical innovations that allowed later classical music, Tourte’s bow is considered the most important.

Bow making is a lifetime apprenticeship. “The variability of the pernambuco wood means that the artisan’s task when making a bow can’t just be format and formula,” says Rymer, a journalist. “They’re taking what Tourte gave them but accommodating the mystery of the wood.” He maintains that these bow makers, along with other instrument makers, are the last people creating an essential durable good (that is, not a luxury or ornamental item) from beginning to end by hand, individually, in a way that’s been passed down from master to apprentice. They are among the last craftsmen.

Indeed, their centuries-old tradition may be coming to an end as the supply of pernambuco wood dwindles. Dolan [a musicologist] says, “It is hard not to see poignant parallels between the challenges faced today by the pernambuco tree, artisan bow makers, and classical music more generally. They may all be under threat of extinction.”

Russ Rymer's Saving the Music Tree
Saving the Music Tree by Russ Rymer
Rymer's description of the pernambuco crisis and the bow makers' efforts to solve it appeared as the cover story of the April 2004 issue of Smithsonian magazine.


Environmental Crisis

Exploitation of the pernambuco tree dates back centuries, to the days when it was highly sought after by Europeans for its dyewood. That exploitation continued apace once pernambuco became the preferred material for musical bows. “It’s a difficult wood,” says Rymer. “The old formula for pernambuco bows was 8 to 10 tons of raw wood for a single 70-gram bow.” An entire tree could be cut down without yielding any bow-quality wood. Thanks to a more scientific approach to bow making, that old formula no longer applies, but wood waste is inevitable: Only the heartwood is suitable for a performance-quality bow.

Yet the real threat to the pernambuco tree is not bow making but deforestation. As entire sections of forest have been razed—usually to make way for eucalyptus and other cash crops—old-growth pernambuco trees have been felled at alarming rates. “I’ve heard stories of them pulling these enormous—house-sized—tractors out into the forest,” says Rymer. “They’d position them a kilometre apart, connect them with chains, and then just drive.” The old Mata Atlântica has given way to roads and plantations.

Pernambuco likes to grow in the forest among other trees; one has to hunt for it. “Their really dense wood comes from their struggling for light in the forest, twisting and turning and trying to get their own few pitiful leaves up high above the canopy, so that they can get some sunshine,” Rymer says. For this reason, planting pernambuco in a field doesn’t seem to yield the same quality of wood, just a pleasant round tree.

Once the hallmark of the eastern coast of Brazil, pernambuco is now so scarce that its wood must earn certification from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species before it can be sold.

Lasting Repercussions and New Hope


And this is where the bow makers’ problems may just be beginning. These artisans, once afraid to publicize the pernambuco crisis for fear of being blamed for it, have made great strides in helping to secure the trees’ future by calling for a moratorium on the acquisition of new wood. They believe that pulling together the existing stock will give them enough wood to last 30 years— which they hope will be sufficient to bring the tree back from the brink.

Bow makers are quickly becoming not only the end users of the wood, but also its stewards. In addition to raising awareness of the problem, these artisans donate one dollar from each new bow purchase for pernambuco restoration, and they have been traveling to Brazil to spearhead important scientific research, tree planting, and forest conservation efforts. An international bow makers’ organization has partnered with an agricultural cooperative in the cacao-growing region of Bahia, Brazil. Cacao thrives in the shade; the subsistence farmers who grow it receive money for using pernambuco trees as overstory rather than cutting them down to sell. “Classical music’s future may rest on chocolate bars,” jokes Rymer.

All these efforts look promising at the moment, but their success can’t be known until the newly planted trees have reached maturity, in 30 years. In the meantime, the bow makers wait.

Telling the Story

While the future of violin bow makers hangs in the balance, Rymer focuses on bringing their plight to a larger audience. At the moment, many musicians who depend on the bow for their art aren’t aware of the problem. The far-reaching book Rymer is writing traces the history of pernambuco from its discovery in the New World to its clash with the global economy that now threatens it. Research for the book has taken him to the receding forests of Brazil, to American motels where wood dealers have stashed contraband wood under their beds, to musical workshops around the globe, and finally to the Radcliffe Institute, where he now works on his manuscript.

(Source: Radcliffe Magazine Making the Bow)

Cello bow
(Source: Grant Violins)

 

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Material sourced from
Career Explorer [Luthier;]
MI College of Contemporary Music [Luthier; ]
Radcliffe Magazine [Making the Bow;]

JobOutlook [
Musical Instrument Makers and Repairers; ]

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