Handcrafted Guitar vs. Handmade Guitar

I have come thoroughly to understand the manner of work under which the art of the Middle Ages was done, and that it is the only manner of work which can turn out popular art; only to discover that it is impossible to work in that manner in this profit grinding society.

William Morris, from a debate on Socialism that took place in Cambridge, England, 1884

Is the guitar on the left "handcrafted" because it will be offered for sale once it is completed? Is the guitar on the right "handmade" because it was made for my own personal use? What do you think?

I came across a blog by a guitar maker yesterday that makes wonderful looking instruments, and in this posting he had a bone to pick, he stated that only those who make a living at lutherie or were trained in the art can rightfully call themselves luthier. He went on to say that those of amateur status should call themselves just that, amateur builders. Hmm. The Oxford American English dictionary defines "luthier" as a maker of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars. Origin: late 19th cent.(emphasis mine): from French, from luth 'lute'. Again, hmm. I know I should ignore the statement and let it go. I do find it interesting that the great Spanish guitar makers-Simplicio, Hernandez, etc.-use the noun maker on their labels.

In that slick publication, Acoustic Guitar, a guitar manufacturer ran an add for their guitars that included a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that went something like this:

He who works with his hands is a laborer, he who works with his hands and his mind is a craftsman, he who works with his hands, his mind and his heart is an artist.

I am surprised that that corporation didn't use "to work is to pray", but maybe that is going too far. I'll stop ranting now, I just wanted to give you something to think about.


  1. That's good stuff to think about. Great introductory quote.


    Tico Vogt

  2. Tico: Glad to see that you check my blog every now and then, I appreciate it.

  3. wilson,

    parsing instead of packing?:-)

    I lean toward functional definitions: someone who makes stringed instruments is a luthier, while some one who doesn't...isn't! Of course there are skilled luthiers, master luthiers, would-be luthiers and dead-useless luthiers. Any of these can make a guitar by hand. Results may vary, though!

    AS for quibbling over handcrafted versus handmade, I would say the terms are equivalent; the former has a slightly toff-y feel to it, while the latter is the no-nonsense form of the idea.

  4. i find it sad that in this modern world, a thing doesn't count as "work" unless it makes money! thank you for working hard and making a beautiful craft. it's the kind of REAL work that makes the world a better place.

  5. Thanks for the encouragement, Beth!
    I'm glad someone in Colorado has found my blog! Keep working at your blog, Beth, I'd love to see some of your work!


  6. I dig the things you have talked about in this post, look forward to reading more. Thank You.


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