WHAT IS A HANDMADE GUITAR?

The term handmade is used a lot in marketing guitars, but what does it really mean?

Even in the largest and most mechanised guitar factories much of the work is performed by people with their hands. It is almost impossible to build a guitar any other way. There are a lot of machines and tools used in guitar production however a person always needs to be a part of the process.

Given this there are not only some great handmade guitars but also some very ordinary handmade guitars and everything in between. Many mass-produced guitars are still marketed as ‘handmade’ because it is true that people still work on them by hand. The term handmade brings up images of craftsmanship which make the instruments more appealing.

There are more important qualities which contribute to a guitar beyond being made by hand. The most important element is the craftsmanship of the maker or makers. The best guitars in the world are built by experienced artisans with a sense of pride and ‘ownership’ of the guitar building process from the initial selection of timbers right through to the final setup.

Mass Production

It is very practical to build guitars in a large mass producing factory and it can keep the cost of the finished guitar low, but is not the best situation for building top quality guitars. It is still possible to mass-produce guitars that are ‘handmade’ but usually this is a situation where the individual workers are not qualified guitar makers and do not have a passion for the instruments they are building.

Building guitars in a factory becomes a process rather than an art, where each person does some work on each guitar, maybe bending the sides, or installing the frets, but probably never sees or hears the instrument once it is finished.

Most of the guitars made these days are built this way. They are produced rather than carefully crafted. These guitars can be built to a good standard at a reasonable price but they lack the quality, attention to detail, creativity and passion that is seen in instruments built by luthiers (guitar makers) in small traditional workshops.

Individual Craftsmanship

It is only a very small number of guitars that are crafted in the way that comes to mind when most people imagine a handmade guitar. These are are instruments constructed by a single maker or a small team of makers from the beginning to the end. This method of individually crafting instruments is a fundamental characteristic of every Hancock guitar.

Our sense of artistry and creativity is what drew us to the craft of guitar making in the first place and it continues to be the driving force behind our instrument making. We are not trying to build large numbers of instruments, in fact we do not have set quotas. Our solitary goal is to produce the best possible instruments. Quantity is dictated by quality, not the other way around.

We treat every instrument as an individual piece, crafting it with passion and pride. We have a sense of ‘ownership’ of each instrument we build, not in the sense of material possession but in a creative sense. We take great pride in making every instrument as refined as possible, as perfectly crafted as possible and the best musical instrument it can possibly be.

The techniques we use are different to those used to make guitars in a factory. Traditional hand tools are used over machinery for the most part. We can use our own senses to detect subtle differences in different timbers and make fine adjustments to improve the instrument we are building. This is something which is not seen in factory-built guitars. We make no compromises in quality as every part is made with the closest attention to detail so that the finished instrument is as close to perfection as is possible.