; luthierMusic Maker 89qxdqxd
Documents
Resources
Learning Center
Upload
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out
Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

luthierMusic Maker 89qxdqxd

VIEWS: 16 PAGES: 2

luthierMusic Maker 89qxdqxd

More Info
  • pg 1
									JOHN Le VOI - LUTHIER
After reviewing quite a few CD’s last year for             gypsy
Music Maker on the Jazz Manouche style of                  style guitars which stems from a love of the
Django Reinhardt, I thought I’d offer our                  music. I can remember hearing Reinhardt
readers an insight into one of the World’s                 recordings in my early teens and when I first
leading luthiers who specialises in making                 saw the Selmer / Maccaferri guitars I was
that style of guitar.                                      intrigued - they looked exotic. Then in 1976 I
     I first came accross John le Voi in 1980              was presented with two to refurbish. One was
          when I was making my Romantic                    a 1932 D hole which had been repaired sever-
            Guitar LP that charted for K-Tel. One          al times and finally butchered by the owner,
                 of the guitarists I used on some
                      sessions was Kevin Peek of
                       Sky fame. Kev’s a great all
                       round player and he had a
                       beautiful sounding nylon
                       strung guitar that John
                        made. Kevin gave me
                        John’s telephone number
                        and I asked him to make
                        me a double neck, nylon
                        strung 6 and 12 string. He
                        came up with a beauty.
                        The 6 string neck is strung
                         with La Bella classical                                          who had taken
                         strings and the 12 string                                        a spoke shave
                            neck with La Bella Lute                                       to the neck
                              strings (mixture of). It                                    because he
                              produces a great and                                        didn’t like the
                              unique sound and I                                          profile. He
                              still have it to this day,                                  then discov-
                               as it was the only                                         ered that there
                                one John made.                                            were dural
                                  Here’s an in depth                                      bars therein!
                                    interview I did        The other was an Eddie Freeman Special,          Quilted Maple oval 14 fret
                                     with John.            which had been stored in a garden shed
                                                           for many years. The glue had all
                                   Brett - When            gone and the instrument was in
                                  and why did you          kit form. However, having
                                start making gui-          these two to work on enabled
                             tars?                         me to study the construction,
                                                           and to see the areas that had
Le Voi - I started making guitars for a living in          caused problems. I still have
1970, but my first guitar (a twelve string) was            some of the irreparable parts
made in 1962 when I was 13, with some help                 in my workshop.
from my father. He had made a couple of
Spanish guitars, so the idea was not daunting.             Brett - Do you work alone?
As to ‘why make one’, quite simple, I could not
afford to buy at the age of 13. However, the               Le Voi - I work alone. I do
enthusiasm for making had taken root and I                 occasionally get asked if I
made a classical in 1967, with my first guitar for         would take on an apprentice,
sale in 1970. That was a flat top steel string             but the general experience
which was sold to the then roadie for King                 with luthiers in my position
Crimson.                                                   is that when the appren-
                                                           tice produces work of a
Brett - Did you initially learn your craft from any-       high enough standard,
one or are you self-taught?                                they leave and set up
                                                           their own workshops,
Le Voi - Basically, I am self-taught. In those             so you are training
days there were no courses like there are                  your competitors!
today. The guitar in principle is a simple instru-         Don’t get me wrong, I
ment if you break it down to its component                 am not being secre-
parts. Certainly there are many subtleties to              tive. I am happy to
the completed instrument, but I have always                discuss the whole
said that anyone with O level woodwork is                  business of guitar
capable of making a playable instrument. You               making with anyone
learn a lot from the first efforts !                       including other
                                                           makers. In fact, I don’t
Brett - What made you specialise in gypsy style            think I have come across
guitars?                                                   one who has been anything
                                                           but helpful when asked. There
Le Voi - These days I am know mostly for                   is a sort of kinship.
               Brett - Do you have difficulty in          do go to the Samois festival in France almost        have pickups fitted these days. As for electrics,
              finding the right wood for your gui-        every year and the Gossington Gypsy Jazz             I will make if asked, but the market is so well
              tars?                                       Guitar festival in this country. Also L’Esprit       catered for, it doesn’t happen often. However,
                                                          Manouche festival in Birmingham. For                 repairs and upgrades to electric guitars is a
             Le Voi - Generally speaking, there           the last few years the pressure of                     sizeable proportion of the repair work I do.
             is not a problem. Some timbers,              orders has not enabled me to amass
              like Rio Rosewood for example,              enough stock to mount a decent exhibit                  Brett - Is your business growing?
               are getting very expensive (partic-        of the sort needed for guitar shows as
               ularly in larger sizes) and some,          such, but the festivals do allow players                Le Voi - The business is growing at the
                for example Brazilian Mahogany,           to see what I do and discuss the guitars                moment. If I allowed myself, I could be
                are not always available but gen-         with me. Even if I do not have instruments               working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
                 erally the situation is OK at pres-      for sale at the festivals there are usually              The interest in gypsy jazz seems to be big-
                 ent. There are specialist suppli-        examples being played around the sites or                 ger than ever (as is evidenced by the
                 ers for the exotic timbers used in       on stage.                                                 number of individual makers and the
                  instrument making and I will                                                                       interest of the mass producers) - long
                           search through timber          Brett - What problems do you encounter the                  may it continue. I think that many
                                yards anywhere,           most and how do you overcome them?                          younger players have been exited by
                                 given the opportu-                                                                   gypsy. It is a style which can be highly
                                  nity - you never        Le Voi - with just about every luthier of my                 demanding in terms of technique and
                                  know what you           acquaintance, I find the least enjoyable part of             ability, but which is so approachable.
                                  might find. The         instrument making is the finishing. By that I                       Its happy music!
                                  situation changes       mean lacquering and all the work associ-
                                    all the time.         ated with it. There are firms who will                                 Brett - How long did it take to
                                        Twenty years      do this work for you, but it means                                     establish an international
                                         ago American     losing control over an important part                                  market for your guitars?
                                          Black Walnut    of your work. Giving customers
                                          was unavail-    reasonably accurate delivery times                                      Le Voi - I sold my first instru-
                                          able except     can be difficult particularly when the                                   ment overseas back in the
                                         as a veneer      waiting list is more than several                                          mid 1970s but the Internet
                                        or veneer cut-    months. Repair work is constantly                                           has helped a lot with this
                                      ting remains, but   coming in and juggling this with                                             area of business.
                                     now its available    orders can be a problem.
                                     as a bulk                                                                                          Brett - Any advice, tips
                                     timber. The          Brett - Do you do your own pro-                                               for would-be luthiers
                                     other source of      motion and marketing?                                                         who are thinking of
Quilted Maple oval 14 fret                                                                                                             going it alone?
                                     timber is materi-
back view
                                     al reclaimed         Le Voi - I do my own marketing
from furniture, old pianos and the like. This can         and promotion. The introduction of                                        Le Voi - Be aware that it’s a
be excellent wood. Articles made many years               the Internet has been a very useful                                   risky business. In my early
ago tended to use more naturally grown materi-            tool for all luthiers I would have thought -                     years I was fortunate to be married
al (rather than plantation grown) and is often            certainly for me. My website has brought in         cats eye      to someone who was also work-
better than new material bought today. I hate             a good deal of business. With that and                            ing, so income was assured.
to see wastage and unnecessary use of scarce              word of mouth, I am kept busy. I have been                        However, making musical instru-
materials so try to use as much reclaimed                 making professionally for 35 years so my name        ments is a hugely rewarding occupation and if
material as possible. I have an all Mahogany              is known, plus every guitar of mine out there is     you are making to a good standard, there is
guitar at home, which is made from all                    an advert. One way of marketing guitars is to        always room.
reclaimed material except for the fingerboard.            give guitars to famous players for promotional
It sounds great. Some of the timber came from             purposes. I have actually been asked for gui-        Brett - Finally, who have you made guitars for ?
a piano and the rest from an old bed head-                tars on several occasions over the years but it
board!                                                    is my view that the instrument is not valued by      Le Voi - Famous players of my guitars have
                                                          the player, and if they really wanted one they       included:-
Brett - What’s the best guitar you have ever              would be prepared to buy.                            Kevin Peek (Sky)
made?                                                                                                          Robin Nolan
                                                                                                               Andy McKenzie
Le Voi - I don’t know. Firstly, they change (usu-         Brett - Do you sell your guitars through dealer-     Paul Vernon Chester
ally for the better) with age and secondly, I             ships or are they all sold via your outlet?          Nick Mellor
have made more than 450 gypsy style guitars.                                                                   Nev Willis (Djangos Mangos)
One which stands out, which I see occasionally,           Le Voi - I make mainly to private order, but I       Paul Bailey
belongs to a friend in Gloucestershire. It’s a 14         also supply Francois Charle in Paris, who is a       Dean Bradfield (Manic Street Preachers)
fret to the body D hole with all the internal con-        gypsy jazz guitar specialist, and to Elderly         Phil Grispo (Hot Club of Kings Cross)
structions - false back and sides plus reflector          instruments in America. In the last few years I      Ed Benson (editor of Just Jazz guitar maga-
etc. The 14 fret to body D hole configuration             have also supplied a few guitars to Stringphonic     zine)
was never made by Selmer, but this guitar is              in Osaka, Japan.                                     Paul Hares and of course , Paul Brett !
considered to be quite a monster - I know he
will never part with it.                                  Brett - Have you made any other style of gui-        So there you have it, if you’ve got a Gypsy in
                                                          tars?                                                your Soul visit John’s website and check out his
Brett - What guitar shows do you exhibit your                                                                  great guitars. He also sells Argentine and Galli
guitars at and do you find them a useful tool for         Le Voi - Although about 80% of my work is            strings from the site.
selling?                                                  gypsy jazz guitars, I also make steel string flat
                                                          tops, the occasional archtop and all the man-        www.myspace.com/johnlevoiguitars
Le Voi - I don’t use guitar shows as such, but I          dolin family. Nearly all my acoustic instruments     http://www.johnlevoiguitars.co.uk/

								
To top