Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about Lutherie

Q: How do I get started making musical instruments?
A: Providing access to lutherie information is what the Guild of American Luthiers is all about. Read this short essay.

Q: Do you have a list of lutherie schools and programs?
A: See our list of Lutherie School links and read these helpful thoughts about choosing a lutherie school.

Q: I have a specific lutherie-related question. Can you help me?
A: We’re sorry, but we aren’t able to answer your specific lutherie questions. Years of informative articles are available in our books, back issues and our new online content. We suggest you join the Guild and begin accessing the incredible amount of lutherie info we’ve amassed over the years. Getting connected with luthiers in your area, as well as online, is a great way to network (see our essay about getting started in lutherie). If you have a specific question that you can’t find an answer to, contact us and we’ll try to get an answer through the Q & A Column that appears in American Lutherie.

Looking for info on luthiers or instruments

Q: Can you help me find a person to repair my instrument?
A: As the Guild is an educational organization open to all, we’re not in a position to recommend repair people. We do have a little common sense advice. If it’s a new instrument, check if your instrument is under warranty and return to where you bought it. Even if they don’t do repairs, they should know who does. If it’s an instrument built by a living luthier, contact them to find out if they’d like to do the repairs or if they recommend someone in your area. If those cases don’t apply, web searches and checking with musicians local musicians can usually help you find who is a reliable person in your area. If you have a rare or valuable instrument, do some searching to find someone who specializes in your instrument. Ask for references, look for examples on their website, etc.

Q: I have an old instrument. What is it and what is it worth?
A: Many violin shops, guitar shops, individual makers, dealers, or other music shops, will appraise instruments for a fee, unless only a couple minutes of someone's time is involved and only a verbal appraisal is given. To find the right shop or knowledgeable individual, the process is the same as for finding a competent repair person (see above). Keep in mind that “what it's worth” depends on whether you're talking about market value, that is, “What I can sell it for to a private party,” or wholesale market value, that is, “What I can sell it to a retail store for,” versus, replacement value for insurance, that is, “What it would cost me to replace the instrument with another just like it or comparable one if it were stolen, lost, or destroyed?” A couple of warnings: Beware of anyone who immediately offers to buy your instrument. There are always people who are less than scrupulous in their business dealings. Your best insurance against predatory business practices is to get more than one opinion about your instrument and, of course, be careful who you approach in the first place. Talk to musicians, teachers, other instrument makers. A careful online searches should help you find someone with the right experience and credentials to help you.

GAL Related

Q: How long does it take to receive my order? Where is my order? How much does it cost to ship my order?
A: Go to our Ordering Info page, for answers to these questions and more!

Q: Have you ever published an article about a certain person, instrument, tool, procedure or ...?
A: See our Search Article Abstracts page to search everything we’ve printed.

Q: What would it cost to advertise in American Lutherie?
A: Check out our current advertising rates.

Q: Can I put the Guild's logo on my website?
A: Yes, if you’d like to promote the Guild, we’d be delighted if you’d put our logo with a link to our site on your website. But please don’t use our logo in such a way that it appears the we are endorsing your business (see below). Here’s a Guild logo to use to link to our site. Thanks!

Q: Can I put the Guild's logo on my business card?
A: The Guild of American Luthiers retains exclusive rights to the use of its name and trademark logo. Since membership in the Guild is open to all, Guild membership is not in any way a stamp of approval and should not be used in a way that implies such approval. For this reason, we ask that members not use the logo on their business cards, stationery and so forth, as this might give the impression of some sort of endorsement. On the other hand, if members would like to promote Guild membership, we encourage them to mention that they are members, especially by linking to our website. The guiding principle is that if you're using the Guild name in order to show support for it and encouraging others to join, we approve; but if you use the Guild name or logo to show that the Guild is somehow endorsing you or your company, which we don't do, then we disapprove.

Q: How can I add my link to the GAL website?
A: We are currently listing links for lutherie schools/courses and resources for luthiers (suppliers, plans, organizations, events, etc.). If you fit one of these categories, contact us with your url and a brief description. We will try and get it uploaded as soon as possible. Please put a reciprocal link back to our website on your page.

Q: I have a large lutherie estate that I want to sell or dispose of. Can you help?
A: We have a few suggestions. Whether this is your own estate or someone who has passed away, you might want to run an ad in American Lutherie if you are hoping to sell the estate, either in pieces or whole. We don’t have any other mechanism for helping sell lutherie materials. As the Guild is a nonprofit organization, we can accept donations of woods, tools, and so on that we can either sell at our benefit auction (held at our convention), or through some other avenue. Our next convention auction will be held in July 2023, so please contact us well before then if you are interested in donating parts of a lutherie estate. In any case, contact us for more details. Donations of items made to the GAL are tax deductable in the USA based on the value placed on the item by the donor. We will send a letter of receipt with our tax number for any items donated to the Guild.