A tree emerges from the ground, grows tall and eventually becomes planks of seasoned wood in the hands of a luthier; a musician expresses music through the remarkable tone, voicing and soul of an instrument created from those planks of wood. In between, the luthier takes it through the astonishing and fascinating process of discovery, as the wood yields to the tools to form something entirely new. This process involves a myriad of fine details, countless hours of hard manual labour, a constant and continuous thought-process into the craft and a never-ending quest to imbue in each and every creation its own beautiful yet unique sound.
We can look at and admire, play and enjoy the great creations of the luthiers of 300-400 years ago, but we can also marvel at the most wonderful instruments currently being created by contemporary makers around the world. We don’t need to guess at the luthiers’ choices: why the purfling was done in a certain way, or why the F-holes were carved as they are – we can have a real conversation with modern luthiers right now in order to begin to understand the complex processes of instrument making. We also don’t need hundreds of years before we can regard them as great makers – they are already great, making very fine and beautiful instruments, and living amongst us in our own day.