The Impractical Guitar Maker - Why I Make Guitars, Part One

The gifted hands of these makers turn these rare old woods, ideas and dreams into beautiful musical instruments.

James Sherry, classical guitar importer

I am often asked by the people who view and play my guitars how I got into this thing called "guitar making".

My pat answer is "I couldn't afford the guitar that I really wanted".

Good classical guitars are never cheap and here are some examples of prices past and present.

When I started studying classical guitar in 1974, at the age of 12, a Jose Ramirez III 1A classical guitar cost something like $3000 to $4000 - $15,175 to $20,234 in today's money. Back then, great players such as Andres Segovia, Christopher Parkening, Liona Boyd, Douglas Niedt played a Ramirez, because those guitars were the best.

In 1990, I stopped by a well known guitar maker in New Mexico to check out one his higher end guitars. It was $3000.  I think my take home pay at the time was only $800 a month, and I had to decline because I had student loan and car payments, plus rent, which ate most of my paycheck. In today's money that guitar would cost $5725, pretty much the average price for a mid-range classical guitar today.

My guitars are priced from $4500 to $5200.

Most classical guitars top name makers here in the United States and Europe start at $7500 and go up to $40,000!

However, truth be told, the first reason I make guitars is the romance of being a guitar maker.

Now, look at the cover of this 1974 edition of Art Overholtzer's book, Classic Guitar Making. It just oozes romance!

This cover pretty much convinced me I should become a guitar maker.

What is not to love about owning and working in an old shop with tall ceilings and tall windows that look out over a quiet street.  A shop where great guitarists would come to play your latest guitars and fill the space with music by Sor, Giuliani, Tansman, Ponce, etc, and then, when they would be done with their playing,  talk would turn philosophical about how beauty enhances our world and reaches out into the cosmos...

The second and main reason I make guitars is because of their beauty.

Classical guitars and the music that is played on them captured my heart and mind a very long time ago.

Just listen to some recording by the really great classical and flamenco guitarists and you will hear the beauty, the beauty that inspires me every day to walk up the stairs to my shop and work very hard to make something that can, perhaps, match that beauty.


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