First Questions about Making a Musical Instrument
The last forty years have seen the revival of instrument making by professional musicians. Today it is no rare to find a professional musician performing on an instrument of his making, particularly in the field of early music where the instruments are not so knotty and their mechanisms are much more accessible to the performer.
We know that J.S.Bach always kept himself his instruments in excellent repair and also has the invention of at least three instruments attributed to him: the lute-clavier, the pedal glockenspiel and the viola pomposa (or violoncello piccolo) in an epoch when every player was to some extent an instrument maker and every instrument maker an artist.
From the point of view of our musical predecessors, and many of today's musicians, the interest in instrument making lay not in merely solving technical performance problems, but is a manifestation of the love for music, the interest to know its deepest principia and is part of being a musician. The musical fulfilment and understanding encompasses the art of instrument making and it is not understandable the divorce between two strands of what should be closely bound.
The complexity of modern instruments that require in many cases also large-scale machinery, grew away the players from the makers in the first half of the twentieth century, but when playing early music a balance of art and feasibility may be re-established when the playing and making of instruments are united.
Can I really build a musical instrument?
should I build musical instruments?
Imagine people impressed and your satisfaction of hearing the rich sound of a instrument you built yourself!
When I should start?
What is a Kit?
Should I build my first instrument from scratch, or should I buy a kit?
Unless you already have a fully-equipped workshop, in which case you obviously can prepare everything yourself, a kit is indeed well worth buying since it will provide you with all the parts needed for building an instrument and save you buying big power tools. A kit is a very good way to start with instrument building.
The most important thing is to build, not to be so intimidated by the process that you never get started. If the idea of bending the wood or slotting some parts is what's keeping you from getting started, buy a kit, because the most important thing is just to build the instrument. How you build it doesn't matter. If it turns out well and you enjoy the process you can build the next one from scratch.
to build a perfect musical instrument even though I have no experience as a
woodworker or instrument maker.
Your first instrument will not be perfect, and if you expect it to be you're setting yourself up for disappointment. That doesn't mean it won't be a very good instrument. There's a lot to learn when you're building premium instruments. Brand-name or luthier-name instruments are not perfect either. Remember that every single one of the most renowned luthiers, was once novice and probably they did not have in the beginning the information and help that you can get.
Building a musical instrument is an incredibly rewarding experience. But it can be very frustrating, if you do not have the appropriate help.
RWC has been helping folks just like you build quality musical instruments for over 40 years. After this time of helping customers build our instruments, we produce better kits and assembly instructions. We include many helpful hints, suggestions, pictures and drawings. Your job as builder of one of our kits is to do some basic assembly work, sanding, finishing and installing the hardware and strings. Most of our kits only require a basic assortment of hand tools. In addition, RWC staff is here to help you with any problem you might have during the construction process by phone, fax or email.
Though previous woodworking experience is a bonus, it isn't necessary. Many of our customers have never had any previous woodworking experience and have had great success with our kits. This is because we have designed kits that go together with minimal fitting, cutting, and shaping. You can always educate yourself deeper in woodworking. We recommend books in our Bookstore. Most of them are very good.
Can I build it cheaper myself?
Can an instrument built from a kit be good enough for musical purposes or
be as good as a professionally made by an expert instrument maker?
The kit can be designed for professional builders in which case no instructions are needed and the parts usually have an unfinished status or even be pieces of blank wood, metal and other materials. If the kit is designed for first-time or not skilled builders, the parts have to come practically finished and a good step-by-step instructions, pictures, tools and other aids should be attached.
The grade of completion of the parts and the quality of the materials distinguish among the kits from different providers.
The RWC kits include exactly the same top quality materials of our renowned finished instruments designed for the most demanding musical artists.
How finished are the parts of the RWC kits?
That means that all the work needing especial tools or difficult to make, is already done for you. To assemble our kits you can find time consuming tasks, but never difficult tasks. Time, patience and care (but not previous knowledge) is all what you'll need.
In general, the most time consuming task is the finishing. As a reference, to build a double manual harpsichord you can dedicate about 150 hours. For a flute, one hour can be enough.
Is everything included in a RWC kit?
When necessary, you will learn from the instruction manual how to make simple and cheaper tools to substitute expensive dedicated lutherie tools. Some times such tools are included in the kit.
In some instruments, decorations and accessories can be sold separately.
Please, refer to the product information to know what is included in each kit of your interest. As a general rule the kit includes all the materials to complete the kit including all the small parts with the indicated exceptions, some tools, a step-by-step manual, a full size template or drawing, a set of pictures of the making process, the license, the warranty and post sale support.
Can an occasionally builder get the same quality that a professional
Many kits are sold to professional builders. Most of them have learned or improved their skills following the RWC instructions that are the result of many years experience and comments of other customers.
Can an occasionally builder at home, with the same kit, get the same
quality that an experienced builder with a well equipped workshop?
All the parts, in most of the RWC kits, are pre-shaped up to the grade of only cutting, gluing and finishing is required. Most of our kits are designed with all the information that a first-time builder needs and can be assembled at home with only standard and easy to find basic tools. So the machines and tools of the workshop can help, but are not necessary at all.
I have decided that building instruments is what I want to do for a living.
What's the best way to get started?
Can I take on a particularly challenging project like an spinet, hurdy-gurdy or
a guitar as my first instrument?
If you're also interested in building other, more simple instruments, it does make more sense to start with one of those, then "graduate" to a more challenging instrument. But if all you really want to build is an instrument, you go right ahead.
How does RWC kits compare with their competitors?
We have hundreds of testimonials from happy customers and musicians.
Can I modify the kit I buy to make it a different shape or size?
What can I do if, by mistake, I spoil a part?
Should a part be defective or missing from your kit, a replacement will be sent out right away.
Can I get the instruction manual to see how difficult the construction of
the kit is?
If you still have doubts and you would like to read the instruction manual before buying the kit, we can sell our instruction package including the manual, drawings, template, pictures, etc as described in each product page in the paragraph 'plan' at the stated price. Then, if you decide to purchase the kit in the next three months, we will deduct the price of such plan form the price of the kit.