MacPherson Guitars Luthier Interview 1 Background

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

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier – For those who don’t know you yet, can you tell us about your background? Did you go to Luthiers school? Did you follow a training with already established Luthiers? And, if you don’t mind my asking, what did you do before embarking on this adventure? Were you a musician before becoming a luthier? Or did you do anything else? And, by the way, do you still find time to play music with your work as a Luthier?

 

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.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

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.

 

Luthier MacPherson Guitars
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

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.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

Apart from creating custom instruments, we know that you do all types of repairs and maintenance on guitars and basses, can you also take care of other types of plucked and bowed stringed instruments?

 

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.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier – Can you tell us about your current flagship models? Do you have a range that you do regularly? Do you also make unique custom models ? How did you proceed to create them ? What were your choices and your creation process? What kind of musicians do you cater to?

 

I currently offer a small range of electric and semi-solid guitars of varying styles along with a true custom service.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

Computer has become everyone’s daily life, regardless of their profession. Do you use special computer tools in the field of Luthiers? Can you tell us about them?

 

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.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier – Those who know you know that you are a great lover of beautiful woods, how do you help your customers to choose the woods of their future guitar in relation to the sound they have in mind? Can you easily find wood in your networks? If so, can you name some of your suppliers?

 

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.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

There is a huge selection of aftermarket parts. Do you work with regular suppliers or are you always on the lookout for new suppliers who can offer you something new? Do you have any examples to give us?

 

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.

 

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

When you can‘t find the parts you want at your aftermarket suppliers, do you ever create parts yourself or hire specialized craftsmen? Can you give us some examples?

 

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.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier – How do you choose the pickups for your electric instruments according ot he demands of your customers? Do you have any secrets or wiring habits? Have you ever had any very special requests, or requests that seemed strange to you from customers with special needs?

 

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.

 

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier – Varnish… Nitrocellulo, P.U (polyurethane) or French polish? What are your choices and why?

 

It really depends on the instrument, colour combinations and wood species.

 

But with most guitars I use polyurethane or natural oil for finishes.

 

 

MacPherson Guitars
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

 

How do you help your customers choose their electro-acoustic sensors?

 

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.

 

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier – Are you also interested in making amps and effects? And, if not, are you going to go in that direction like many other luthiers ? Or do you prefer to leave this part to others? (If you know the names of friends who are in this field, can you name some of them? 😉 )

 

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.

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier
MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

MacPherson Luthier – Do you have any advice for future young luthiers? Can you give them advice on training courses? Do you know of any special schools?

 

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.

 

 

MacPherson Guitars

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier

 

 

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?

 

It starts with good quality tools, learn how to maintain them and use them without injuring yourself…….

 

MacPherson Guitars

 

 

You can contact Dan MacPherson
using the contact form on his personal page on Luthiers.com here :

https://luthiers.com/listing/macpherson-guitars/

 

 

 

We also invite you to follow him on his various social networks:

 

 

 

 

MacPherson Guitars Luthier Interview 1 Background

In the coming weeks, as for others luthiers for plucked string instruments, luthiers for bowed string instruments, amps & effects makers, wood & supplies dealers, lutherie events, jobs, schools & teachers subscribers on our site, you will be able to follow our series of mini-interviews dedicated to the fascinating world of luthiers.

See you soon…

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