A question unrelated to repairs, but frequently asked, is why I refer to myself as a luthier. According to Dictionary.com “ Luthier” is of French origin, from approximately 1875. “Luth” meant lute and “ier” implied builder of lutes. Soon it began to apply to anyone who built or repaired a stringed instrument.
When I first started building the current definition was someone who worked on more than one variety of stringed instruments. i.e.: An individual who built only mandolins was a mandolin maker but a guitar and violin builder or repairer was considered a Luthier.
Over the last 25 years it has come to include all makers and repairers of stringed instruments. Back in the mid 80’s (yes in the last century), the craft was not as well publicized as today. There were only a couple schools and most of our learning came from being apprentices.
Today there is more information about the subject and many places and opportunities to learn; so the term “luthier” is heard and used much more frequently. Also it is a great catch phrase with clients to say, “I will have my luthier inspect it or go over it for me”.
Through the years I have explained the definition to many. Sometimes it is still misunderstood. Once speaking to someone in reference to the word luthier an elderly woman overheard me and muttered “I knew you were in cahoots with the devil”. This was probably because it sounds like Lucifer. Also another time I told someone I was a luthier and they informed me they were Methodist. So it has its misinterpretations.
Whether you call us luthiers, Lutherans, or stringed instrument engineers, the point is to call us. Having your instruments adjusted and correctly maintained will allow you to participate in my tag line.
Enjoy and play daily,