I had wanted to learn to build a guitar for several years before a realistic opportunity came up between jobs this past winter. I looked at a number of different schools across the US and Canada before settling on the Whetstone School of Lutherie.
Why Whetstone? Well, I knew I didn’t want a “paint by numbers” class, because that’s just not how I learn best, and not the experience I wanted. It was clear from the comments of previous students that Scott’s class is well structured and challenging, but with enough discussion of the nuances of guitar building to provide a real foundation for future exploration.
Upon talking with Scott and asking about the possibility of tailoring the build a bit (I really wanted to build a slot-head, 12-fret based on an L-00) Scott set our time up as a tutorial session, a one-on-one class of two weeks duration. This proved perfect for me, providing a true immersion course that satisfied my engineer’s mindset while providing the bonus value of being able to observe and participate in parts of Scott’s creative and problem-solving process as he guided me through my own build and worked through a first-ever build of his own on a gorgeous little 12-fret parlor guitar, creating and refining new templates and tweaking his design along the way.
We quickly settled into a rhythm and friendly banter, with me learning new skills and insights each day as the pieces came together and (usually) managing to focus on the day’s tasks rather than “the best way” for each step. Even though Scott said it clearly on Day 1, it took time for me to internalize that each hand-built guitar really is unique – which makes the journey more interesting and rewarding.
The results couldn’t have been better. I came away with a great little blues box that has stunned my family and friends with its quality of build and wonderful tone, a solid grasp of guitar-building basics, and a determination to experiment and learn more in my next build, and the next…
Even better, I’ve built a new friendship that I hope will sustain as long as the notes that spring from the guitar built under Scott’s guidance… ‘cause they just go on forever!