The End of an Era - Luthiers Mercantile is Closing It’s Doors

Last week this popped up in my email, the famous Luthiers Mercantile is closing its doors for good! Sad news indeed!

If you don’t know Luthiers Mercantile, or LMI, was THE place to buy materials to make all manners of chordophones (guitars, mandolins, etc.), tops, backs and sides, tuning machines, fret wire, glue, shellac, etc., etc.

I first purchased tonewood from LMI back in 1992 when it was under different ownership than today, that was in the days when the company would mail you a small catalog printed on newspaper and you either called in your order or sent in the order form with a check. That first purchase was tonewood to make two mountain dulcimers, and at the time I asked that it be delivered to my parents house, I was living in a remote cabin somewhere in the Sierra Nevada of California, and one day while visiting my parents there was a call for me from Luthiers Mercantile. The voice at the other end of the line wanted to double check the address, he couldn’t quite understand that there were two luthiers in my parents little small town and wanted to make sure that my order would go to the proper address. At the time, there was a small music shop in the town where my parents lived, the owners offered instrument repairs and also made mountain dulcimers for sale. After a bit of discussion the proper address was agreed upon and a few day later the wood arrived and I started building the dulcimers. I have no idea where those dulcimers are today and the music store on Front Street closed around 1994.

This week I ordered enough fret boards, bone nuts and saddles, pieces of MOP, East Indian rosewood bridge blanks and I forget what else, that will see me through the next three years at my current rate of production. I have a good cache of tonewood, I tend to buy that from individual purveyors of tonewood and there are other sources to buy fret wire, etc.

The day that LMI closes its doors for the last time, I will take down from a bookshelf the Luthiers Mercantile Catalog/Handbook published in 1992 and leaf through it, reminiscing about the first days when I started down wonderful and exciting road to become a maker of fine classical guitars.


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