Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Last year—maybe I mentioned it—I hired a luthier to make me an archtop guitar.
Somewhere along the way, I got this bee in my bonnet and I thought, as so many do, you only go around once in life, so you have to go for the gusto. Some people take expensive vacations. Some people buy boats ’n shit. Some people eat at Atelier Crenn and walk away heavily in debt.
Not me. I’m dropping a wad on a custom-built guitar.
I did a lot of research to decide whose guitar I wanted to own. Believe it or not, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of luthiers out there. Not as many who do archtops, but still more than you would imagine, and they all appear to do spectacular work. These are beautiful objects. Much more complex than they seem too, so they’re definitely not just thrown together.
My problem is, I never imagined last September, when I met the luthier I’d picked—a wonderful young woman out of Forrestville, California—that I still wouldn’t have the guitar a year later!
It’s been a grueling wait. And I made the mistake of following her on Instagram, so I’ve seen everything she’s done since September, when I picked the woods she would use in my instrument. I’ve worked myself into a lather thinking mine was up next, yet it never seemed to appear on her bench. So finally I had to come out and ask: Whattup?
Well, things happen in the course of a year, and things have happened in this one—for her and for us. Sue broke her arm in May. Then we were both sick with a super-flu in June and July. Similar for my luthier. She had some emergencies. Fell behind. Had to pick up more shifts at her day job (for it’s hard to make a living as a full-time luthier, just like writing …), and had the usual trade shows to do as well.
Bottom line is, it takes about 300 hours to make an archtop guitar. She told me this, and I believe her. She can make about six guitars in a year, max, so that’s about 35 hours a week to squeeze in on top of a part-time gig and a social life. Not easy, even if you love the work.
So I’m writing this just to pep-talk myself into settling down a little. Relax. It’ll come. Like everything we yearn for, you look back one day and realize the wait wasn’t all that bad.
It took me a long time to find my wife, and—well, would you look at that! This October is our 25th wedding anniversary.
Still … I want that guitar, and soon.