Guitar Making Tip Sumner 36 is about taking a tour of a guitar maker’s shop. You can learn a lot, and find inspiration for miles when touring a shop. It’s not as difficult as it sounds to find someone to visit, and it can make a big difference. Here is how you do it.
My First Shop Tour as a New Guitar Maker
This was the first time that I had ever been into another woodworker’s shop. Seeing the different tools, different organization, and the random projects everywhere was inspiring.
The biggest inspiration was the luthier himself, because until that point I had also never met anyone that was as passionate about making instruments as I was. Not only was he passionate, but he dragged me from area to area around the shop telling me about everything he had. He was more than happy to tell me all about each new tool, new finish, and fixture/jig that he made. It was awesome, and I truly recommend that you visit another shop early on as a guitar maker…
Finding a Shop to Tour
Unless you know someone, your biggest hurtle will be finding someone that will let you come take a tour of their shop. While this can sound difficult in the beginning, you might have more access to help in your network than you think.
The first step is to look at the people that you are already associated with. See where they are located, and see if they have a shop. You might be surprised that some of the guitar makers you follow online live close to where you do.
Not all of them will be able to take on visitors, and there are some that like building a relationship before allowing someone they don’t know into their shops. In many cases, the shops of guitar makers are inside their homes, so they can be a little shy at first. Guitar makers tend to do a lot with Their Small Shops.
Looking for a Tour in Your Forum
Sometimes, you can ask around a forum and find someone that is willing to give you a look into their workshop. An active member, that makes a lot of instruments may be used to having people over.
When you find someone like this, again build at least a bit of a relationship before asking to come over and see their shop. It can be much easier for them to allow you in once they know you a bit. It also makes them more comfortable.
Forums are great, because typically the members that have experience seeing a shop, or have someone they know that will open their doors will post a reply for you. At that point you can follow that lead until you find a shop to go see.
Touring Shops and Strangers on the Internet
The internet is full of great people, but it also has it’s share of weirdos. Any time you visit someone you met on the internet, you need to be cautious. There are a few things you can do to make the visit safer.
This is not a complete list, and you should exercise common sense and some gut instincts if you feel like a situation seems off to you. However, there are a couple things you can do to make the visit safer.
Go with someone else. Taking a second person with you means more eyes and more people on your side in case you need to exit quickly. Also, bring your phone, let someone know where you are going, and plan on a check in phone call at an arranged time. If the person does not receive the call, they will know that something is wrong.
Guitar Making Tip No. 36 Wrap-Up
Visiting a shop is one of the best experiences that you can have as a new guitar maker. There are a lot of great guitar makers that love to have visitors, and it can teach you a lot about how other people make guitars.
Don’t visit someone you just met without taking some precautions. You need to use your gut and make sure you are safe when meeting new people in their homes or shops. If you hit it off, this can be the start of a great relationship, and possibly a future mentor.
If you have any questions on Guitar Making Tip No. 36 – Tour a Shop, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.
1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners
Tip No. 36 is from my book, 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners, which has a thousand more great tips to get your first few builds on the right track. There is no secret to guitar making, just a lot of small things that you need to get right. These tips will help you.
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