Wood-material: my mission, as luthier.
In this article, I will talk about something that is crucial to me: my approach & how I feel about wood. I'd probably sound a little esoteric but well... this material itself, IS a mystery on many points!
When you are a luthier in a one-man's shop, you have to work in many departments. You need to build a workshop, make your trademark, sell your instruments, drive or fly to guitarshows, talk to your customers... and take care of your material: wood.
Very old figured & spalted Honduran Mahogany, from a retired luthier
It sound easy when I'm saying it like that, but having a constant & stable humidity in a workshop, is the basic-thing to avoid problems like cracks or distorsion... and I am not even speaking about potential & critical problems for your instruments.
200 YO Madagascar Rosewood, from a child-bed
So, why should you take care about this precious material? Maybe because your life could take an unexpecting turn: - You could have children, and this is what happen to luthiers who belong to a family who build instruments for generations. I am thinking about Romanillos, De Jonge or Hauser, for example. The wood you have access to, is very old... and it is still here because your ancestors took care of it! So, you could do the same for the generations to come. IMHO, this is pretty much the most amazing reason, you have to take care about your material.
- Luthier's retirement... I honestly think that I will have to work until my last breath (well, I truly hope so!). Some of my colleagues are pretty old, and some of them are still working even at 80+ YO. I am thinking about Daniel Friedrich, who were still in his workshop a couple of years before he passed away. World is changing, and there is some wood that's unobtainable these days. If you took great care of it, it is perfectly usable and that's a lot of money if you could sell it. I personally have some amazing pieces of old wood, from some of my colleagues... and I cherish it as must as I could.
- Simply because wood is a gift from Mother-Nature. I don't have to argue a lot about that but the waste of material, good enough to build an instrument, is a shame. Period.
Very old Honduran mahogany, from a furniture
The funny thing is that all this wood, don't really belong to the luthier, but to his customers. Unlike my tools or my skills, I know for a fact that my stash won't stay with me indefinitely. It is here to allow me to build amazing instruments, that are designed to last for decades.
So, in some way, a luthier is buying his material to leave a mark in history... well, this is a good excuse to buy more of it, ain't it?
Benjamin Paldacci Guitars