My Facebook post about luthier Wayne Henderson started getting very long, so I cropped and posted there, and I kept on writing to post here...
A luthier (/ˈluːtiər/ LOO-ti-ər) is someone who builds or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box.
I'm often asked how many guitars I have. On last count there were 8 (but don't hold me to it) which is not a lot for a musician. Really. Each has a different purpose and a different voice. My special, go-to instrument was made just for me by local luthier Ronnie Owens. It's got a cedar top and koa back and sides. There's a plumeria inlay in the headstock and the neck was carved to fit my hand. I marvel at the precision work, the exact measuring, and the art of making the wood sing. It's like Mozart composing the Eiffel Tower (if time and space were fluid <grin>).
I followed the journey as Ronnie cut and sanded the wood, carved the braces, glued it together, and sparyed the finish. I remember the night he first put the strings on. That was the night my guitar was born. It's been 11 years since I first played my guitar; although I still feel that I should say "our" guitar. In a way, Ronnie is the birth father and I'm its adopted mama.
I just started reading a wonderful book called "Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument." Wayne has made less than 600 guitars, often carving pieces with his pen knife. His guitars are compared to Stradivari's violins - that's how special they are. He's got a 10-year waiting list, but you may have to pester him to get your guitar. Grammy winning artist Ricky Skaggs was on the list but never got his instrument. Wayne said "He didn't bug me enough," Wayne limits each person to only one instrument. They hold on to it and treasure it for life. But occasionally one comes up for sale. Right now, there are two: selling for $$23,685 and 36,045.00. That's pretty good appreciation for an instrument that costs less than $5000 new.
There's another luthier I'd like to mention, Michael Bashkin. He's a world class luthier who is local to Fort Collins. He uses various exotic woods and offers customized features such as a beveled lower bout (for playing comfort) and fanned frets. Michael understands wood. He knows how to choose it, how to use it, and how to make it ring just right. His guitars are also pieces of art. Words fail me, so you'll have to visit his website to experience his extraordinary designs. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael this spring. He was very welcoming and kind.
My theory is that luthiers are a special breed. There is something about the combination of music, science, sawdust, glue, and magic that makes really nice people.
Wayne Henderson: http://www.waynehenderson.org/wayne-henderson/
Wayne playing "The Steel Guitar Rag." If you want to skip to the music, it starts at 1:11. If you're a picker, you'll want to watch from the beginning. https://youtu.be/EFgw_pplZ-Q
Michael Bashkin: http://www.bashkinguitars.com/.
If you're interested in contacting Ronnie, send me an email and I'll get you in touch.