|Frequently Asked Questions|
We get lots of e-mails and calls asking for repair referrals for all kinds of stringed instruments. It's hard to know how to handle these requests. Yes, we may know of a luthier in the area, but we don't feel comfortable as a referral service. What we can do is point our readers and web visitors in the right direction, and with a little effort and application of some detecting skills, anyone should be able to find a competent instrument repair person, even if the instrument has to be shipped.
Please keep in mind that being a member of the Guild of American Luthiers or being linked to the GAL website does not in any way imply repair or building competence. Membership in the Guild of American Luthiers is open to all. Like the National Geographic Society, we are a nonprofit membership organization. There are no requirements for membership other than payment of dues. Our quarterly journal is the main benefit of membership. Furthermore, we are unaware of any membership organization for stringed instrument makers or repairers that can offer assurance of the competency of its members, with the possible exception of the AFVBM, the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers (www.afvbm.com), which has strict criteria for membership. At the AFVBM website you can locate members by state, which will at least give you a starting place. Keep in mind that the AFVBM is a small organization of only about 100 members, by no means the only competent violin builders and repairers.
Searching for competence becomes your job, and I hope this short article will help you with it. If you have a new instrument with a problem, take it back where you bought it. Most instruments have some kind of warranty and the store will honor it if you are persistent and have not abused the instrument. The large manufacturers have authorized independent dealers or repair shops to do warranty repairs. If you have, say, a Martin©, you can easily access their network of luthiers who are authorized by them to do warranty repairs. Go to www.martinguitar.com and select “Services,” then “Service Center Warranty Repair.” Repair shops that are the warranty shops are generally good places to take an instrument for repairs that are not warranty, since they are likely to be familiar with the particular brand and have had training or been through some certification process by the manufacturer.
If your instrument is by a individual hand maker who is still making instruments your options are slightly different. As a rule of thumb, it's always best for the maker to be given the option of doing repairs, whether they are warranty or not. If you need help locating him or her, a simple internet search should help. If you cannot find him or her by searching for the name, check some of the musical instrument maker lists. There are a variety of websites that can help including: www.13thfret.com/shops.shtml; www.acousticguitar.com, www.stringsmagazine.com.
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