Why should I build musical instruments?
Imagine the satisfaction of hearing the rich sound of a instrument you built yourself!
Building a musical instrument is an incredibly rewarding experience. But it can be very frustrating, too.
Remember that every single one of us, pro or hobbyist, was once novice.
I want to build a perfect musical instrument even though I have no experience as a woodworker or instrument maker.
Your first instrument will not be perfect, and if you expect it to be you're setting yourself up for disappointment. That doesn't mean it won't be an instrument you're proud of!
People have written entire books on the subjects, and with good reason. There's a lot to learn when you're building a fine instrument. You need to buy or borrow some good books, and read those books carefully. We recommend books in our Bookstore. Most of them are very good; a few are excellent.
You must educate yourself in the basics of woodworking if you want to build instruments out of wood. See if there's a woodworker's club (or woodturner's club if you want to build woodwinds) in your area. They love helping out newbies. You should also investigate your local adult and community education programs to see if there's a woodworking course available.
When I should start?
People often over-think the building process to such an extent that their project is delayed by months, or even years. They could have built one or more instruments in that amount of time, and have all that knowledge and experience under their belts. We're not telling you not to think things through, but we do want you to start making sawdust as soon as you can. Don't try to account for absolutely every hypothetical problem before you start building - just start building. We promise that in a very short time you'll have plenty of non-hypothetical issues to deal with. No amount of thinking can substitute for actual building experience.
Can I build it cheaper myself?
If you have access to a well-outfitted woodworking shop and don't have to purchase any tools at all, maybe. But if you have to buy tools? Probably not.
Can an instrument built from a kit be good enough for musical purposes or be as good as a professionally made by an expert instrument maker?
Everything made by a human being has started from a kit. A kit is only a set of materialsneeded to build the instrument. It can be of different quality and be more or less appropriate for their purpose. The best instrument makers start all their instruments from a kit.
The kit can be designed for professional builders in which case no instructions are needed and the parts usually have an unfinished status or even be pieces of blank wood, metal or other materials. If the kit is designed for first-time or not skilled builders, the parts have to come practically finished and a good step-by-step instructions, pictures, tools and other aids should be attached.
The grade of completion of the parts and the quality of the materials distinguish among the kits from different providers.
Can an occasionally builder get the same quality that a professional builder gets?
A professional person is anyone that makes a living from that activity. A professional maker can be good or not and can have forty years or only one day of experience. A professional maker can have a huge background theoretical knowledge or only some ideas about its own work. Every professional had not any experience at first.
Can an occasionally builder at home, with the same kit, get the same quality that an experienced builder with a well equipped workshop?
Yes or not, depending basically on the patience and the capacity to understand and follow the instructions.
The RWC kits include exactly the same top quality materials of our renowned finished instruments designed for the most demanding musical artist. All the parts are pre-shaped up to the grade of only cutting, gluing and finishing is required. Most of those kits are designed with all the information that a first-time builder needs and can be assembled at home with only standard and easy to find tools. Many kits are sold to professional builders. Most of them have learned or improved their skills following the RWC instructions that are the result of many years experience and comments of customers.
I have decided that building instruments is what I want to do for a living. What's the best way to get started?
Instrument making can be a tough business to break into, and many people find the transition from hobby to livelihood just isn't worth it. We have seen plenty of people fail not because they lack building chops, but because they lack business acumen. It's a nice dream, but before you give up your day job build a couple of dozen instruments and sell them. Then look at what you're making per hour and reconsider if this is really something you can make a living at.
Can I take on a particularly challenging project like an spinet, hurdy-gurdy or a guitar as my first instrument?
We have had reports from many newcomers to both lutherie and woodworking of successful complex instrument as their very first lutherie project. Even when they have built it from scratch, they also report that these instruments were not perfect, but they were happy with the results, and often encouraged by their success to make another, better one.
If you're also interested in building other, more simple instruments, it does make more sense to start with one of those, then "graduate" to a more challenging instrument. But if all you really want to build is an instrument, you go right ahead.
Should I build my first instrument from scratch, or should I buy a kit?
We have had many successful first-time builders do it both ways. Making from scratch means that you will buy a set of materials (a non pre-shaped parts kit) and you will make all the parts. If a kit (with pre-manufactured parts) will make you more comfortable, buy the kit. The most important thing is to build, not to be so intimidated by the process that you never get started. If the idea of bending the sides or slotting the fretboard is what's keeping you from getting started, buy a kit, because the most important thing is just to build the instrument. How you build it doesn't matter. If it turns out well and you enjoy the process you can build the next one from scratch.
Which kit provider do you recommend?
A kit from any reputable manufacturer will likely make a fine instrument. Our customers seem to prefer the kits from Renaissace Workshop Company largely because they include both a very good set of materials and clear instructions including a fully dimensioned plan, an instructional manual that take the builder through the construction of the instrument step by step, photographs further illustrating each stage and because all the kits include free access to the 'Helpline' for any advice on construction, setting-up or playing. Moreover, all the kits are good replicas or are based after the best instruments existing in the world.
Can I modify the kit I buy to make it a different shape or size?
We don't recommend trying to alter a kit that has pre-manufactured parts. If you can't find a kit for the instrument you want, you'll be better off buying from a vendor that gives you a deal on a package of wood and materials instead of buying a kit with manufactured parts and a plan for a different instrument than the one you want to build. You'll end up doing more work trying to alter a kit than you will building from scratch.