Sabolovic Guitars Luthier Interview 1 Background
The relationship that I have with the guitar is not new. I got my first instrument at the age of 6.
I studied classical guitar for several years then continued to play in different musical groups. When I was a teenager, I started to work on my instruments. The first step was to customize them.
Quite quickly I was attracted to the violin making. Skillful with my hands and attracted by the fine workmanship of the materials, I immediately fell headlong into the Luthiery as an autodidact. I made my first guitar when I was 16.
It was around the age of 20 that I specialized in making Jazz arch top guitar.
I have been making them for almost 25 years today. This is my life path, my mission on earth.
Yes, even if manufacturing is my main business,
I also take care of everything that is repairs, restorations … Plucked string instruments but also quartet instruments.
It is also always a pleasure to receive clients at the workshop,
the relationship that I have with my clients is very rich.
Each instrument is the result of an original creation and a long elaboration.
Each model has its own identity, sound and aesthetics, it is unique.
Among the models I offer:
They are proposed in a “traditional” version with a wooden tailpiece, suspended pickup or more electric.
My clientele is very varied, ranging from professional musician, to simple amateur via collector. I sell a lot abroad and especially in the USA.
Many musicians seem to abandon brands like Gibson, for artisanal luthier guitars. Like an awakening of consciousness.
The computer and the networks allowed me to make myself known on an international scale.
In terms of manufacturing, all the work is artisanal, for example I do not use a CNC. All the building process adheres to the historic traditions and is performed by hand.
My guitars are made with passion they have a soul.
My clients participate in the manufacture of their instruments.
They can choose many options including wood species.
In the case of the Jazz guitar we mainly use maple and spruce.
Apart from exotic woods, the species I use are European.
These are the ones used by Italian luthiers for centuries.
I have a few very talented craftsmen who work for me, for example my mother-of-pearl logo engraved in French Polynesia.
I also have my original Sabolovic tailpiece made from bronze. Then 90% of the instrument is handcrafted in the workshop.
I especially do not want to lose this artisanal side and sell my soul to the devil !
My clients have the choice of the pickup. By default, I use Ibanez Super 58s or Benedetti Jazz. This is the ideal pickup for jazz.
I don’t use electro-acoustic sensors on jazz archtop.
I mainly use cellulosic varnishes for their quality and high gloss.
I also sometimes use water-based varnishes or do oiled finishes.
Each piece of wood, even the smallest, will have an impact on the sound of the instrument.
An ebony fingerboard sounds different than a rosewood fingerboard. A X or vertical brace also has a considerable role.
The most important element remains the thickness of the soundboard. The thinner it is, the more the low frequencies will be highlighted and the high frequencies in case of a thicker soundboard.
In the case of the arch top guitar, Each soundboard and backplate is carved in massive wood and calibrated tenth millimeter close to reveal all their acoustic qualities, providing the instrument the best sound possible.
All these aspects are defined during the development of the instrument with the customer.
I always try to advise and guide my clients as well as possible to have the desired sound.
I stay focused on making the jazz guitar.
It takes a life, I don’t have time to devote myself to amplifiers, effects … A lot of craftsmen do that very well. Its perfect like that.
The lutherie calls on many trades with innumerable facets.
There are more than 10 different trades. The job takes time, it takes a minimum of 3 years before starting to control a production, it is a job where you are constantly learning.
I’m still learning after 25 years.
You have to be patient, humble. Being a good handyman is not enough. The knowledge to be acquired is numerous, a long experience is essential. I think you also have to develop your own talents.
Basics in cabinetmaking may be welcome but the best school in my opinion is to learn directly from luthiers.
I myself offer training in my workshop. I am not convinced of the schools today.
As said previously, it is a lot of different trades which suppose a lot of very diverse material.
My workshop is an alibaba cave.
Equipping takes time, years, decades … You can’t start all at once.
A few machines like a drill press, a routeur, a few good wood chisel and obviously some first piece of wood is a good start.
Look at Stradivarius’ very sketchy tooling and the wonders he built !
We also invite you to follow him on his various social networks:
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.
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