The North American Guitar | Unit 9, Waterside | 44-48 Wharf Road | London | N1 7UX
Call us on 0207 835 5597 or Via Email

Why Buy Handmade?

This is a question that we are often asked when people first come across luthier-built guitars, either online or here in our showroom. What makes these instruments so much better than x/y/z and why are they so expensive?

Is it the rare and exotic materials?

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Is it the man hours?

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I can't imagine anything being better than my ......................... (insert mass produced guitar brand here) so what are you paying so much extra for? 

The attention to detail?

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The craftsmanship?

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The fact that famous players use them?

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I mean... How much better can a guitar actually be? 

These are all legitimate questions but they can only be answered to one's own satisfaction through personal experience and accrued knowledge. Perhaps the most important point in the first instance is the "I can't imagine anything being better than what I already have". 

That's true.

No one can. It would be unfair of us to expect that of anyone. 

That's where actual hands-on experience is so vital. First time visitors to our showroom are given a crash course in modern lutherie, tone woods and guitar styles. There is no hard sell at TNAG. We give you the benefit of our knowledge and experience to make an informed decision about your next instrument. 

I'm going to use a recent arrival to our showroom as a case study. This wonderful fan fret SJ by Michael Bashkin. 

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This a visually stunning instrument. Clean, elegant lines that flow beautifully. Fine details done entirely by hand that speak of hours of work in the first instance and years that have gone into developing those skills in the past. The amber position markers, the hot sand-scorched wood in the rosette, the flash of gloss finish on the end of the fretboard...

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the incredible fine detail work on the headstock...

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While these fine motor skill flourishes might not, in and of themselves, add value to this guitar as a functioning musical instrument they do demonstrate very clearly the intent with which it was created. 

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The back and sides of this guitar are Honduran Mahogany. There are hundreds of thousands of guitars in the world made from this wood available at a fraction of the cost of this instrument. This, however, is the highest quality wood that has been dried and aged properly to insure stability. The materials were chosen by the luthier to give colour and timbre to his signature sound in much the same way as a chef might choose his or her ingredients.  

Beef under the golden arches of your local McD's is a very different experience to beef selected and cooked by Alain Ducasse... 

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This guitar feels wonderful.

Playing the guitar is, when it all goes right, an extremely pleasurable, often transcendental experience. The instrument has a uniquely haptic quality with both hands engaged on the string and the sound chamber vibrating against the player's body. 

Before you've even played a note, you can feel that this particular guitar is in a different league. 

There are no rough or sharp edges, the instrument balances beautifully on the lap. The neck carve feels familiar and inviting. Like a guitar with decades of play in its history.

If you and I were to have a conversation while you held this guitar you would feel the instrument vibrating to the sound of your own voice. Not just the back, but the soundboard too...

This guitar feels alive. There is no other way to describe it. Even the lightest touch gives a full and rich note which sustains and projects beautifully. This is a truly musical instrument. 

Here it is recorded in stereo with no effects.

It's still recognisably an acoustic guitar. Martin enthusiasts will love the familiar woodiness of the tone, Gibson players will appreciated the beauty of the treble notes coming from the multi-scale design, Taylor players will enjoy the clarity and articulation of this guitar. It is familiar but it gives so much more. 

This is only possible when an instrument is built to a standard not to a budget. Where the ultimate goal is the guitar's potential as a superlative musical instrument. The guitars being made by the men and women of the modern lutherie community are, in my opinion, the finest that have ever been created. But don't take my word for it. Come and see for yourself. 

I look forward to showing you in person. For more information or to book an appointment please contact us at hello@thenorthamericanguitar.com

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