I spent the weekend of April 11th at The Newport at Miami Beach Guitar Festival http://www.newportguitarfestivalmiamibeach.com/homepage.html
I shot a ton of video! Below is a link to my playlist, there's about ten videos there now, and it will grow pretty much daily as I get them processed. Paul Asbell and Al Petteway are both current/former Swannanoa Gathering (http://www.swangathering.com) instructors, for those of you familiar with the "Gathering" that I go to every year (Al Petteway is the Guitar Week coordinator).
- Least expensive of the custom luthier guitars: $3400
- Most expensive: a Benedetto archtop - $40,000
- Most expensive one I played: $33,000 (Ryan Dragonfly with custom Deco period inlay - video forthcoming)
- Personal Favorites:
Oriskany's parlor model, Sugita Kenji, Kevin Ryan, Erich Solomon, Schenk, Charis (looks, not sound), Benedetto, Linda Manzer (Pat Metheney's luthier), MacPherson, and Brunner Guitars (check out their Outdoor line; it comes apart at the neck to go into a REALLY teeny case, goes back together, and doesn't go out of tune significantly! http://www.brunner-guitars.com/flash/) and they sound great! They are $800-$2000, but aren't really "custom handbuilts", they are more factory-oriented, though you can custom order one. A bit pricey for the sound, but unmatchable utility!
The average guitars in the custom luthier area ran between $8,000 and $12,000. There were some $2700-$3500 S-series Breedloves that were every bit as nice as the five-figure custom stuff.
Why does a luthier charge $6000 for a custom guitar? Well, *some* of it is materials; for example it costs a luthier about $3000 to buy enough Brazilian Rosewood to do a bookmatched back and sides. There were no guitars with Brazilian that were under about $8,000. On average, from the folks I talked to about it, a $4000 guitar is about a grand in materials, and the rest is labor; they literally can take months to complete, and hundreds of man-hours. A luthier turning out 12 guitars a year (like Oriskany Guitars,
A luthier turning out 12 guitars a year and selling them for $4,000 - $6,000 is not by any financial definition a wealthy person. Johanna and Curtis of Oriskany Guitars live on Curtis' parents property, in an apartment above their 600 sq. foot workshop. But their guitars are simple, elegant, and spectacular; in fact thier 50th guitar, a small parlor model (http://www.oriskanyguitars.com/photos/sale/parlor/detail.JPG) was my absolute favorite of the custom models to play, and it was somewhere about $4300. (A relative bargain, right?)