Hervé Berardet Luthier Interview 1 Background
First, as a child, I tried to play the guitar wih my brother.
But I was mostly interested in what was inside the guitar, how it was made. My grandad was a woodworker and I loved smelling woods as well.
In 1991, I prepared a CAP in guitar making. I was trained at ITEMM by luthiers Antoine ARROYO from St Jean-de-Luz and José GIMENEZ from Valencia. I made my first classical guitar in 1993. I first settled in Burgundy (Saône-et-Loire) and shew his guitars in exhibition. There I made classical guitars for teachers and studients from a music conservatory (Conservatoire de Mâcon).
Today I am too short in time to play the guitar and saxophone.
Indeed, I worked for the last 10 years about 6 days a week with very rare holidays, and I’ve been working these last 18 months 7 days out of 7, sometimes even during the nights, on the Osiris Project !
I used to repair double basses a few times.
As for plucked stringed instruments, I repair all types : classical, steel-stringed guitars, electric guitars, hollow-body guitars, bass guitars, jazz guitars, ukukeles….
Types of repairing : Adjustments, refurbishments, restoration of tables, varnish touch-ups, gluing of dams, electronics. Except luths, banjos, mandolines.
I love making classical guitars, but also semi-acoustic guitars and electric ones, jazz ones as well.
T H E Guitare Jazz Archtop made in association with a luthier of the quartet (Tony ECHAVIDRE), Maya a classical guitar with small body, Myo a very special Telecaster, Sanzen a steel-stringed guitar with classical body and very bluesy sound, Kyo a special TeleBaryton and of course Osiris, unique, all in one, special, innovative, singular and plural, traveling and modular !
I also make guitars on demand.
My Luthier’s credo – How I proceed to create my guitars
He aims at finding the best way of playing for the musician’s comfort (the best neck profile…). All types of play comfort are possible, especially for left-hand players.
Simplicity of lines
His target in visual design is simplicity and fineness of lines, as well as harmony of curves.
« Sensitive » Acoustics
His sensibility makes him choose different pieces of wood he then puts together in order to get the sound he needs. At the end, he obtains not only a beautiful object but a beautiful musical instrument played by finest musician fingers.
My choices in selecting woods / ecological approach for more than 25 years
Deeply concerned by wood resources, I have always been proposing woods from local forests (especially fruit woods : Wild cherry, Ash, Alisier, Cormier, Maple, Pear) or in Europe (for spruce), or woods from self-managed forests (FSC) for exotic woods, for more than 25 years. I have been promoting reforestation for several years.
As for finishing, I have been using ecological hard oil from the beginning in 1992. This oil is not toxic when applyed and is likely to respect wood and ecological environment.
Only sound boards on acoustic guitars need to be varnished so as to be protected from nail impacts.
All guitars are handmade, except some Custom shop guitars with bought necks I propose for less expensive price.
I have thought for 10 years about a very special semi hollow body : it was first made for a client, with 3 parts removable for travelling 10 years ago. Then I made the Osiris guitar. It is removable in 4 parts you can easily travel with (Travel guitar) but also modular : you get several guitars in one with different shapes and sounds. It is first and foremost a luthier’s guitar made according to the rules of the art of lutherie, but in addition it can be taken everywhere and be interchangeable. To have several guitars in one, with different sounds!
I have all types of musicians, for repairing, making or for training courses…
Yes for designing especially, I use : Qcad.
And for templates, making some tools and my custom range : Mach3 and Cambam.
It is difficult to explain ; it is a long experience of luthier which makes me advising a type of wood or another, according to the sound targeted, according to the design as well, but also according to the choice of more local woods as said before.
As said above concerning my luthier’s credo : « His sensibility makes him choose different pieces of wood he then puts together in order to get the sound he needs. At the end, he obtains not only a beautiful object but a beautiful musical instrument played by finest musician fingers. »
My suppliers : Fred’s Guitar, Bois et Buis, Bois de Lutherie, Riwoods/Rivolta, Kauffer, Madinter, I also buy fruit woods locally.
Not really, I prefer French or European suppliers : Kauffer, Riwoods, Madinter, Bois et Buis.
I make my own bridges, fretboards, guitar tailpieces in local woods.
I sometimes make my own tools for example : planers, presses, moulds
As for pickups, I try to buy local makers for handcrafted ones. From France or Europe.
I make standard circuits.
For special requests, I sometimes ask for help from an electronics tehnician in guitar pickups (Maize Instruments) or with GUITAR’N’BLUES in Nantes for my Custom range.
I prefer Nitrocellulo, French polish, and my special ecological hard oil from his beginning in 1992.
This oil is not toxic when applyed and is likely to respect wood and ecological environment.
And also oils made by a violin maker (Tony Echavidre).
There are many different systems!
The choice will depend on the budget, on the conditions according to whether it is to play in studio, on a small stage or on a bigger stage. Indeed, on a big stage, we can have problems with some sensors which will bring back feedback.
It depends on the sound requested, on the design and often the woods locally produced.
This is a long-standing experience that I use to offer them possible choices . This is a crucial stage of exchange with the musician in order to build the guitar that best suits him.
It is another work, I am not interested in making this stuff.
I work with MAIZE INSTRUMENTS in Bordeaux.
I propose training courses to make an electric guitar.
It isn’t aimed at becoming a luthier, just to have an idea and making your guitar to play with.
The schools I advise them in France : Lycée de Bédarieux , ITEMM au Mans and Echo d’artistes. In United Kingdom, there is the prestigious Newark School of Violin Making.
The profession of Luthier is a trade that requires a significant material investment to start its activity. What would you advise a young luthier to buy to start? The minimum required? And, the maximum to be in a comfortable working environment?
You often cannot afford buying all machines or tools you need.
You have to buy gradually. It depends on your activity : repairing or making. You can also make your own tools.
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