MacPherson Guitars Luthier Interview 1 Background
Discover an interview with MacPherson Guitars in English. This interview is also available in French
Vous pouvez également découvrir cette interview en français https://luthiers.com/luthier-macpherson-guitars-interview-1-background
I first started playing and simultaneously working on guitars at the age of thirteen.
Through a friend of my father I met a local professional Luthier Steve Smith (in my home town of Southend on Sea U.K.) who was the maker of the Heart and Heartwood guitars along with the early Goodfellow basses. Although at that time I was still at school, Steve took me on as an apprentice and this is really where I started to learn the rudiments of the trade.
Whilst continuing to work for Steve I set up D.M. Guitars in 1990 and started out, as most, offering setups and minor repairs. The business grew in small but steady increments and by 1996 I was taking in repair and service work for several music stores and carrying out the finishing work for Burns London, which was now under the ownership of Barry Gibson.
This association with Burns led to further work for other brands who needed finishing services such as Wal Bass, Steve Toon Guitars, JJ Hucke, Damien Probett and many others – by 2003 I was also supplying some of these brands with bodies and necks, in some cases carrying out the whole manufacturing process as well as offering my own custom instruments. Small batch production and pre-manufacture prototyping became a major part of the business around this time.
By 2010 I had decided to concentrate more on my own range guitars under my own name as MacPherson Guitars , this did mean reducing the repair and trade work but I was now in a position to focus on my original 1990 plans with the benefit of 20 years experience.
In 2016 I relocated to British Columbia, Canada and continue offering a range of hand made guitars.
Over the years I have worked on everything from Double basses to Zithers to Pianos
I do not work on bows but bowed instruments and anything else made of wood is something I comfortable working on.
I currently offer a small range of electric and semi-solid guitars of varying styles along with a true custom service.
My approach to Luthiery is very much an old school one.
I do not use CNC or any automated production methods, my main tools are my two overhead pin routers which do the roughing out work, everything else is then done by hand.
Whilst I offer advice on options and variations, I urge clients as best I can to do their own research and work out what it is they want to achieve in terms of aesthetics and tonal qualities.
The situation of telling a client what I think they want is not really how I like to work, they must be sure themselves of what they want the end results to be.
New products are always of interest, but I tend to stick with well established and trusted hardware manufactures such as Hipshot, Gotoh and Schaller.
But for pickups I lean more to smaller boutique makers as the “Hand Wound” ethos gives the guitars a more personal touch. However, if a clients is ordering a POC ( Private order Custom) then they get what they ask for – as long as it’s available.
There have been some projects over the years which have required custom made hardware, but on the whole I find the array of production parts available suit almost every need.
I prefer the smaller brands and use a number of pickup makers from around the world.
All of whom have their own unique quirks and methods, but if a client wants a set of EMG’s or Dimarzio’s for example, then that’s what they get.
It really depends on the instrument, colour combinations and wood species.
But with most guitars I use polyurethane or natural oil for finishes.
In the same way as wood choice really
I advise on what I know to be available but urge the clients to search themselves and workout what they prefer based on what information is available.
I have no desire to make effects or amps, high end amp cabinets would be an interesting project but it it’s not made of wood, it’s not my department.
I’d say for many trying to find a route into this industry, a more realistic approach would be to find a professional Luthier willing to take on an apprentice rather than taking a course that is not likely to offer any kind of professional or recognized qualification.
There are numerous collages and schools around the world offering courses and classes, I guess it depends on which discipline someone wants to pursue as to which should be chosen.
It starts with good quality tools, learn how to maintain them and use them without injuring yourself…….
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