Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Luthier Michael Elwell : Michael Elwell Guitars

About Michael Elwell and MichaelElwellGuitars from

Michael is a sensitive artificer dedicated to tone, playability and grace. He applies Skills he developed through years as a woodworker and pattern-maker to honor the Spanish tradition of the guitar.

Michael made a mountain dulcimer from a kit in 1975 and was enthralled by the magic of giving voice to wood and strings. Since then, he has spent many years developing the skills to be effective at this persuit. Michael attended the construction school at Port Heuneme CA, while he was in the U.S. Navy, and graduated at the top of his class. After military experience, he earned an A.S. degree in Agricultural Mechanics at Walla Walla Community College.
Later, he worked at many jobs over the years including as a millman and cabinet maker. He also did solid surface countertops and custom fabrication of yacht fittings. In 1991, he went to work as a pattern maker for a company that made industrial tooling. They had a pattern shop, foundry and machine shop. Michael had several roles there over the years including developing models and molds of objects to be manufactured, project managing from tool design through patterns, foundry, machining and assembly of tooling. In this same company, he later became the pattern department quality assurance manager identifying and addressing quality issues in the pattern shop through traing and documenting procedures.

Throughout these various jobs, Michael continued to make some musical instruments off and on over the years, mostly dulcimers and citterns. In 1996 He attended the North Woods Seminar about guitar building and repair in Big Rapids Michigan and attended Leeds Guitarmakers' School in Northhampton Massachusetts in 1998, where he made his first guitar. In 1999, he attended the American School of Lutherie in Healdsburg CA for a Classical Guitar workshop with Cynthia Burton and Jeffrey Elliott. Michael's day job ended up going to China in 2001 so he decided to take the plunge and took up construction of fine concert guitars as a full time occupation. In 2002, Michael returned to Northhampton Massachusetts for a more advanced tutorial.

Michael says, "I see this as still being in the tooling business in that a fine guitar is very much a tool of the trade for the concert guitarist. I also view this work as more Art than Science, not just a manufacturing excercise but the challanging persuit of the magical sound that can transform the performer and the listener."

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